This is a post about how I consider buying yarn and knitting with yarn to be 2 different hobbies. It is also a post about how great I think Ravelry is.
I used to crochet, mostly afghans (or the beginnings of afghans that would then sit in bags in the attic; you know the drill). I preferred Red Heart for afghans because it comes in a million colors (and you can always find solids that perfectly match the variegateds), costs about $2/lb (very important when you’re 12; still important 17 years later), and was pretty much all my local Ben Franklin carried. I have absolutely no interest in entering into the Is Chain Store Acrylic The Greatest Thing Ever Or Is Producing It How Satan Spends His Free Time debate (except to say that, whatever else he’s doing down there, Satan can’t be making acrylic; acrylic melts). But I do know my own opinion, which is Yaaaaaaaay Red Heart! I can still get distracted by the entire wall of the stuff at A C Moore. I mean, it goes all the way to the ceiling and it has so many colors, you guys. Anyway, my point is, back when I crocheted, my other hobby was buying Red Heart. It turns out I can’t knit with Red Heart, though. I find it just a little too uncomfortably stiff, which isn’t a problem with crochet, since you’re only working with 1 stitch at a time. And I can’t crochet anymore, so when it came time to give all my Red Heart away to a friend who feels the same way I do about it, it did not surprise me to find that it filled an entire trash bag, overflowed a little, and ripped the side.
My buying-yarn-without-a-project-in-mind habit didn’t start for real until after I learned how to knit. Since I only ever crocheted afghans (though I did try a sweater once), I always bought yarn intending to use it for an afghan. Therefore, even if I didn’t have a specific afghan in mind, I was at least buying yarn with a purpose. Once I learned how to knit, though, I wanted to knit everything. Also, once I got my first taste of higher-end yarn (oh, it was Dream In Color Smooshy in Deep Sea Flower; mmmmmmmmmm) the yarn buying started to separate from the project planning a bit.
Well, to an extent. I can buy a skein of sock yarn knowing I’ll make socks out of it, even if I’m going to have that yarn for a year before I cast on those socks. So, there you go – I can buy a skein of sock yarn whenever I want! And I’ll buy a single skein of anything I think is pretty figuring I can probably make a hat or fingerless gloves or something out of it. So, hello, 20 or so single skeins of Cascade 220 and Patons Classic Wool. But I have been indulging my ooooooh-that’s-purrrrrty gene all along as well. Sometimes I buy just because it feels/looks nice – hence the several skeins of laceweight with not a shawl in sight. Over the last few years I have amassed quite a bit of stuff without having any idea what might be done with it.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with this method. I believe that hobbies are for fun-making and we don’t need to impose all these rules on them or talk about “being bad” vs “being good”. I have never gone on a “yarn diet”, for example, and I don’t hide yarn from my husband or lie to him about how much I buy. I think as long as you’re not taking money away from your household to spend on your hobby, then you’re ok, and I have never spent the rent money on anything but rent. However. I do have that other hobby – the one where I knit – and when I’m taking part in that one, I like to actually make things. Hats, socks, sweaters. Those things are made out of yarn. So, if I’m choosing a new project to knit and I don’t have yarn for it, and I go out and buy yarn for it without checking the several full drawers in the living room, well that just seems like I’m not taking full advantage of my resources, you know?
Enter Ravelry. My, but I do enjoy this website. (Want to know who else has knit a certain pattern in the exact same yarn and colorway as you? Want to know what to do with exactly 105 yards of something or other? Looking for all the afghans people have made featuring Nintendo characters in some fashion? Done, done, and done. But I digress.) According to Ravelry, I have 7 pages of patterns in my queue and 114 different yarns. Until a week or so ago I wasn’t really seeing much connection between the two. Now, however, I have assigned yarns to about a third of the first page. It doesn’t seem like much, but I’m actually really happy with that number, because it represents several months’ worth of knitting time.
Even just matching up the patterns and the yarns has taken some time, but really this website makes it all so easy. Click the pattern, click the tab showing all the yarns people have used – they even show you which yarns people have used you also own now; all this website has to do is start making me breakfast and my life will be complete – and find something suitable of my own. Or, for the patterns I really want to make but don’t own anything appropriate to make it out of, I can browse around a bit to find what I would like to use, and then I have a shopping list for the next time I’m yarn shopping. No more buying 3 or 4 various skeins of whatever strikes my fancy if I know I really need 2 skeins of Smooshy for that scarf I’ve had my eye on. After a few evenings’ clicking and browsing and thinking, I now have plans for:
- 2 skeins of Cascade 220
- 1 skein of Mocha’s Fiber Connection Phoebe
- that gorgeous purplesparkleyyum skein of Schaefer Anne
- a sweater’s worth of Patons Classic Wool Merino
- some Koigu that’s on its way in a trade along with 1 more skein I already have; and
- a sweater’s worth of Noro Kureyon
The Kureyon was my first planned-for purchase I tried out my new plan on; the new plan is working already! I also have 5 more projects I’ve picked out yarn for and now I’m just waiting for the cash to accumulate a bit.