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The Girl with the Plan
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The Girl with the Plan

My early yarn-buying habits can only be described as willy nilly. I bought yarn with no purpose – pretty color or texture and it went right into my basket. I can only blame the idealism of my knitting youth – I actually thought I would do something with these random balls of wool, cotton, silk… over time, I have used a few of these yarns, but some are long gone – in other people's stashes, or donated to a worthy cause.

Now, I buy with a purpose. Almost obsessively so. Before fiber festivals, I make a list. I pull out my books and magazines and go through my "someday knits" list, writing down gauge, fiber content, yardage. I have had great luck with this method, and now, my stash is organized by project, rather than random balls of yarn.

So, when I come across some great yarn, and don't have a specific plan in mind for it – a little reverse engineering is necessary. Such was the case this past weekend…

Sarah and Lara hosted a yarn swap. There was A LOT of yarn.

Yarn Swap Yarn Swap @ Sarah's

Heather and I carpooled to Sarah's for a fun evening. Before going in, we told each other that we would not come out with much – we are both trying to use up some yarns that we already have… (can you see where this is going?)

With food, friends, and wine, I let my guard down. I came home with quite a bit of yarn. The crazy thing is is that there was still a table full when we left! In the process of all of this yarn hording, I got to meet some lovely knitters, and reconnected with some other local friends

Here's Shannon diligently working on the raglan cardigan from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (remember my version?) and a great picture of Elsbeth and Sarah.

Yarn Swap @ Sarah's Yarn Swap @ Sarah's

Yarn Swap @ Sarah's

In a moment of absentmindedness – and of hurrying out the door with all of my yarns – I forgot to bring my own knitting. Luckily, my friend Paula had a project for me to work on while we were catching up! (see the pretty blue wool?)

*More pictures of the party are here!*

I came home with some amazing yarns. A few random skeins for hats and scarves, but I tried to stick with bigger lots so I could match them up with a pattern once I got home… luckily, the two large lots I got – the gorgeous light blue alpaca/merino blend (Cascade Lana d'Oro) and the rust-colored mohair (Berroco Mohair Classic) – were easy matches for two patterns that I have had my eye on…

Cascade Lana d'Oro Berroco Mohair Classic

Ram's Horn Jacket
"Ram's Horn Jacket" from Knitting Nature – a perfect match for the blue alpaca blend, no?

Perfect Pie Shawl - Lace Border Perfect Pie Shawl - Picot Border

"Perfect Pie Shawl" from Weekend Knitting – the pattern even calls for this yarn! Now to decide on the lace edging…

Sure, I may not get around to these patterns for quite awhile, but now they can live happily in my stash with a project in mind. I can sleep easier knowing this.

I am the girl with the plan. ;)

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53 Responses

  1. Jenn

    I used to be so good about only buying yarn for one project at a time and then Cotton Ease was discontinued and I just HAD to stock up on it. So now I have a huuuuge pile of Cotton Ease just waiting to be made into…something. And then there’s sock yarn. How can you resist just one little hank of sock yarn?

    I recently cleaned up my stash and took inventory and chronicled the whole shebang on my blog. I have a list. I have a plan. Those someday knits will be MINE. Whee!

  2. Sarah

    I have the same issue with random single skeins of yarn in my stash and no clear use for them. Most of them just stay in the stash, because I find the yarn that I actually use is stuff I bought enough of for a particular project — a sweater’s worth or enough for a pair of socks.

  3. Donna

    You said you wouldn’t come out with much yarn!? Well I think you jinxed yourself from the start. I sureley wouldn’t have been able to resist. Looks like you had fun. I really wanted to go, but already had plans. Hopefully next time?! Hope you are doing well!

  4. Amy

    Sounds like such a great time! So very sad I wasn’t there this year.

  5. maryse

    yeah, i’m really bad about buying yarns nilly willy. i’ve been good in the past few months but i think i’ve just transfered my sickness by now buying fiber.


    i’m going to go through my stash in the next few weeks and figure out what i really have and find something to do with it all.

    it’s going to be painful.

  6. maryse

    and thanks for the reminder on the pie shawl. i have some silk mohair that i bought … nilly willy … that should work.

  7. Sarah

    A while ago I reorganized my stash, putting my favorites on display around my living room (having hypothesized that making my house look like a yarn shop might help me stop buying more yarn — a hypothesis which turned out to have little connection to reality). When it’s all tidy and arranged by either texture or color, I get compliments even from non-knitting visitors on the yarn-as-decoration — and I find that having it around does give me more ideas on what to do with all the pretty random skeins.

  8. ellie

    Good plan! I think we were cut from similar cloth, it’s that organizing mind. ;) xoxo

  9. kelp!

    I used to be the same way – I have many oddballs of random stuff that was pretty and/or cheap, and I’m now trying to plow my way through them.

    Yarn swaps are so fun, it looks like you guys had a great time!

  10. Claudia

    Ohhh lovely yarn you got!
    I too used to buy yarn just based on colour or texture, with no project in mind. I now do the opposite, first the pattern then the yarn – I actually quite like the idea of “chasing” a yarn for a particular project! :-)

  11. sarah b.

    Looks like such fun! Glad you came out with some great yarn that you can use! Thanks for reminding me of the Perfect Pi Shawl, too. :-)

  12. Laura

    That party sounds like a blast! I know what you mean about sleeping better at night since the yarn has a future purpose. I bet the yarn feels better about itself, too!

  13. Amber

    I really wanted to go to this (Isel sent me the invite) but I was at Mama-E’s dying yarn in her class. One day we will meet….. :) I love the light blue alpaca yarn that you picked up. So beautiful!

  14. Leslie

    Great post! My yarn-buying habits mirror yours. I am going to Stitches West in a few weeks and I am going to go with a list like yours, hoping to find just the right yarn for a few project I have in mind. Hopefully I won’t veer too far from that list! :)

  15. Vicki

    SCORE!!! Great finds and matches…I love that perfect pie shawl.

  16. Stephanie

    A plan makes me happy. Nice stash additions.

  17. Erin

    I am the same way now with my stash. I will only add yarn for specific projects. As a side note, I am thinking of making the Perfect Pie Shawl too! So many great patterns…

  18. knittingphilistine

    The Girl With The Plan has scored, indeed. There’s living proof that plan-having pays off in amazing, wooly ways!

  19. Carolina

    You’ve started a revolution over here! I need to gather the projects and match it to yarn, and vice versa. Great match on the Cascade and Ram’s Horn jacket!! I love that book and many of the patterns. If only I had thought of putting the two together..hhmmm…. :-)

  20. maya

    I am wearing my perfect pie shawl today and let me tell you, it is one of my all time favorites. Move that one up the que! ;-)

  21. Estee

    I love your choices of patterns, always. The perfect pie shawl looks gorgeous. And as for the Ram’s horn jacket, its gorgeous especially with your choice of yarn colour

  22. Jennifer

    I find that when it comes to yarn, self control is merely a suggestion.

  23. Ann

    Oooh, I love the perfect pie shawl!!
    What I want to know is – how do you keep track of all your someday-to-knit projects? I end up pulling out books and mags and before I know it, 3 hours have elapsed and I still don’t know what to make.

  24. nova

    Are we related? Your old habits and your new ones…it sounds like you are describing me! I am trying to use up the randomness in my stash, PS 2.0 will be very useful in this endeavor. I like the new yearn scores you got. Good work!

  25. Jenna

    I wish I could have been there, but it’s probalby better that I didn’t and couldn’t bring any new yarn home. YOu certainly made some major scores there! I’m glad there were good amounts there needing new homes. Add these to the queue…

  26. Sarah

    I want to participate next time! I need to get a stash first though I guess.
    All of the yarn looks great! And you already have projects in mind! Good job!

  27. Hannah aka Purloined

    Good plan! Now can you come over here and organize my stash?

  28. leslie

    How fun is that!! I love the idea of a yarn swap!….and i love all of your plans!

  29. gleek

    ah, yarn swaps! they are so much fun! and there’s all this yarn to fondle. it’s enough to drive a knitter mad! :) glad to hear you came away with some winners. it’s never easy but it looks like you really conquered that pile.

  30. Sarah

    Way to be an obsessive organizer :) It’s not a bad thing! I love the new yarn you picked up. That Ram’s Horn jacket is really fabulous. I’ve been seeing them pop up every once in a while and it’s something I’d love to put on my list. Waaaaaaaay down at the bottom though!

  31. KnitPastis

    Ohhh how I would give anything to see this “Perfect Pie Shawl” all knitted up! I just gave all of my Berrocco Mohair yarn away for someone else to use it to knit this. One of these days….I will knit a simple wrap. I might even try my hand at knitting this one if I ever get skilled enough. Gosh, I love this shawl!! You always pick the prettiest things to knit:)

  32. Katarina

    I love yarn swaps! It’s so much fun and usually includes lots of good food too! ;-)

  33. Debby

    Like you, I prefer to match yarns with patterns, so when I’m ready to start something new, I can start right away! And some yarns are discontinued so quickly, that it’s hard to go back and find it if you wait too long.

    The swap looks like a great idea — everyone finds something they can use and enjoy, and you can catch up with your friends in the process!

  34. Amy

    I am a project buyer too. My need for organization demands it.


  35. isel

    I TRY to be a project-oriented yarn buyer…emphasis on TRY, but I am getting better at it. However, swaps seem to be problematic when it comes to acquiring yarn efficiently. But guess what? I don’t care! I love my new stuff soooo much. Plus, I am stockpiling, remember? ;)

  36. Kelly

    Sounds like a fun party and looks like you walked away with some great yarns!

  37. Beth

    I wanna come to your yarn swaps ;-) What great finds. I love the Ram’s Horn Jacket. It will look great with the blue yarn.

  38. kgirlknits

    I’ve made that perfect pie shawl – it’s a lovely pattern and still one of my favourite knitted pieces! I too am adding the Ram’s horn jacket to my knit list – isn’t it fabulous? Can’t wait for Project Spectrum to start, either. Looking forward to all that lovely colour!!!!

  39. megan

    Looks like so much fun! I’ve had the perfect pie shawl on my list for quite some time too. I’m very impressed by your organization, and restraint! I try to do the same thing before fiber festivals, but then I get there and lose all self control and completely forget the list!

  40. moirae

    a gal a plan a raglan?
    nalgaranalpalaga – doesn’t really work does it?

  41. jenna

    It was meant to be! Both those patterns are fantastic matches for the yarn!!

  42. » Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin. My soul.

    [...] Just like Lolly I tended to buy – and occasionally still do – yarn on a whim. The first time I bought a huge stash of yarn was at a sale, after having been told during my knitting class that a LYS was selling off lots of yarn. Now I realize that 1 I don’t have the experience to adapt a pattern so that I can use any ole yarn I want and 2, well, let’s just stick with one. As I didn’t really realize that there was such a thing as sock yarn, I ended up using Opal sock yarn for a dress. I’m only slowly starting to understand yarn and how it ties in with the whole knitting process. It’s so much fun discovering the different textures, colours, materials and what works best for a certain project. The main problem I know have is that most LYS don’t have the exact same yarn mentioned in a pattern so I’m still on the lookout for a good mailorder site. As I love Lana Grossa, I think I will have to move to Germany to obtain my yarn. (In a cyber stylee, not literally, I’m not that obsessed… yet.) I also try to restrict my yarn buying to specific projects: I don’t buy on a whim, I only buy for a certain project. It’s a learning project. Sad side-effect is that my reading has gone down the dumpster. Boo. I really do need to finish Real Life Of Sebastian Knight. [...]

  43. Zarah

    I like to have a project in mind when I buy yarn too, but you are MUCH more organized than me when it comes to keeping a list of projects-to-knit, type of yarn and yardage required, etc. How do you keep it all organized?

  44. Dorothy B

    I love the Ram’s Horn Jacket!

    I still buy random balls of yarn. Silly me. I’m starting to get a little better though.

  45. gray la gran

    i’m curious as to the “rules” of the swap … were there any rules? how was it organized? could you only take as much as you donated?
    you scored! i’ve been trying to be project oriented when i buy yarn. i’ve been better over the last year than in the past.
    when i sewed all the time, i use to buy enough fabric for a dress. everything was a dress to me, which meant i was generally buying in 2 yd. lenghts (meaning, something sleeveless and knee length).
    and now, everything is a hat or sock, and sometimes a sweater :)
    oh, the joys of FRESH yarn!!!

  46. Sara

    I usually buy yarn for specific projects… but then it gets put aside and by the time I get around to starting said project, I already want to do something else with the yarn! It’s a viscious circle… ;-)

  47. paula

    Great to see you last weekend! Thanks so much for adding another couple inches to my scarf! ;)

  48. Miss Scarlett

    Wow – you did very well! Looks like there was some excellent yarn at the swap. Love the Ramshorn Jacket – very cool. The Cascade is a perfect choice. Looks like it might fit into PS2 for Feb/March.

  49. alison

    Wow, I *love* the Ram’s Horn Jacket!! (Great — another knitting book I have to have…)

  50. Wanda

    I like to plan to purchase my yarn too. When I go to a fiber festival (and I think I learned this from reading blogs and talking to friends), browsing through knitting boos and magazines, I find patterns that I’ve wanted to make but lack the yarn for and look for those weights and types of yarn. It really helps me to not just buy random bits of yarn. Also, I usually know how much yarn is necessary for a sweater in my size in various weights, so if I don’t have a specific project in mind, I buy enough to make a sweater and many times, I have been fortuitious in marrying yarn and a pattern later together.

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