Budgeting For Yarn Purchases

How do you budget for yarn purchases? Do you fund a separate budget category for yarn purchases?  

As a designer, I often get yarn support from dyers for my designs (which is a totally awesome perk!) or I purchase yarn with the proceeds of pattern sales, but what about personal knitting? Instead of a separate category for funding hobbies we like to categorize yarn purchases and spread the expense around.  For example:

Souvenir Yarn

Souvenir yarn is included in our vacation budget.  When we plan a vacation and plan how we're funding the vacation, yarn is included.  It's a given that I will scope out yarn stores before we even leave our house on vacation and that when we've reached our destination I will go to the nearest LYS and pick up some yarn (preferably yarn and dyers that are local to our vacation destination).

Yarn For Gifts

Yarn that I purchase to make gifts is included in our gift budget.  

Yarn For People I Live With

Yarn that I use to make items for myself, the Husbeast, or the Kidlets comes out of our clothing budget.  

Feeding The Stash

Yarn that I purchase without a project in mind for no reason other than because it's beautiful and squishy and I *have* to have it comes from our entertainment budget.  It takes 10-20 hours to knit a pair of socks (depending on foot size and pattern complexity), so if I pay $30 for a skein of sock yarn, I'm paying $2 per hour of entertainment value (assuming I spend 15 hours knitting with it).  I can't even go to a movie for $2 per hour AND when I'm finished with the $30 skein of sock yarn I have a beautiful, useful pair of socks in addition to 15 hours of entertainment.  It's a win-win.  

Knitting Is My Meditation

Knitting is good for my mental health and, therefore by extension, the mental health of those around me.  Sometimes yarn comes from our health and wellness budget since it really is part of my health and wellness plan.  

We also plan my husband's golf hobby by category.  It works well for us.  How do you budget for your hobbies?

Are Knitting And Stashing Two Separate Hobbies?

stashing.jpg

A few months ago I posted this meme on my Instagram feed and quickly received many comments from knitters saying they consider knitting and yarn collecting to be 2 separate but related hobbies.  I hadn't considered it until I saw this meme, but I think it's true.  

In addition to skeins that have projects planned for them, I have lots of yarn that (as of right now) I have no plans for at all, other than to admire it, pet it occasionally, and stash it. 

I have souvenir yarn from trips I've taken, one of a kind skeins that were too pretty not to bring home, limited edition and discontinued colourways, unique fibres and fibre blends, and yarns from various fibre festivals I've attended.  This definitely sounds like a collection apart from a stash of yarn to be knit, doesn't it?   (As an aside,  it's amazing how quickly I can develop an emotional attachment to a skein of yarn.  Seriously). 

I'm definitely both a knitter and a yarn collector.  Do you consider your stash to be part of your knitting hobby or a separate hobby altogether?

A Lifetime Supply Of Sock Yarn? Yes, Please!!


The lovely people at Yarn Canada contacted me and asked me to help them spread the word about a contest they're hosting where the winner will receive a lifetime supply of sock yarn - this is totally my kind of contest, and I've already entered.

They sent me this press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Win Socks for Life! Well the yarn, you’re on your own after that.
(Vancouver, BC) “To be fair, it’s actually only a 25 year supply, so we can only hope the winner dies early to keep me an honest woman.” - Nikki Smith, VP YarnCanada.ca
After extensive research YarnCanada.ca discovered two key issues which continue to plague the world which we’d like to help bring to an end.
  1. Some people have hobbies other than knitting (idiots)
  2. Other (marginally insane) people buy socks at Costco 
“With one final blow we’ll give someone years of knitting and make it so they never need to succumb to Fruit of the Loom again.” - Robert Matherson, YarnCanada.ca
Don’t want to use all the yarn to make socks? That’s okay, no hard feelings.
Yes, some marriages may end as the winner ignores her husband in a multi-year knitting frenzy. But that’s simply a risk we must take. On the other hand, maybe getting non-terrible socks for Christmas could bring families closer together.
The prize will go to whomever can show how their life will most be changed by winning and what you will do with the prize.
Anything could happen:
“I’ll use the yarn to start a knitting business on Etsy!” - Beth C, Winnipeg
“My friends always get together to watch The Bachelor, but goodness it’s boring, now I’ll have something to do to keep me distracted.” - Janet G, Toronto
“Honestly I have no self control. With all that yarn I’ll knit non-stop, stay up for days and miss work. I’ll get fired, not be able to pay rent and get kicked out of my apartment. But… I’d have so many socks!” - Samantha T, Vancouver
“I’ll knit them all up as fast as I can and give them to charity.” – Nicole

Whatever the reason, let us know why knitting is important to you and how a lifetime supply of sock yarn would change your life.

Enter to Win a Lifetime Supply of Socks

So if free yarn is your thing click on the link and enter!  Good luck and happy knitting!

Left Over Sock Yarn

One of the by-products of being a sock knitter is that you accumulate leftover sock yarn.  I have a few bins of leftover sock yarn.  (yes, bins - that's not a typo).

two boxes of leftover sock yarn that I use for swatching new pattern ideas


Sometimes, in my head, I plan to make the most epic sock yarn blanket ever! I haven't cast it on yet, there's always too much other knitting to do.

There are lots of things to do with leftover sock yarn.  You could:

*create a magic ball  and then knit all the things with it.  (my magic ball would be the size of a beach ball)
*create a blanket of mitred squares - these seem so popular right now.
*make a Beekeeper's Quilt. (confession: I made a few of these hexipuffs then got bored so I stuffed them with cat nip gave them to my cat)
*make small toys or amigurumi projects.
*create mini skeins to trade with and gift to your yarnie friends.
*make cup cozies.
*make earbud cozies.  (I really like these)
*make chapstick cozies. (these make great keychains)
*yarnbomb something!
What do you do with leftover sock yarn?

Hello! Long time no blog!


Hey Knitters!

It's been a while since I've blogged.  I've missed talking to you!  Because I miss talking to you, I'm working behind the scenes to make some changes to my business model and schedule so that I will have more time to do things I enjoy - like blogging more regularly!

I'm hoping to touch base with you at least once per week (hopefully more!) so watch this space!

In other news, In an effort to support indy dyers, I'm going to be using indy dyed yarns as often as possible in my designs.  I've teamed up with the lovely Melanie of Go Knit Yourself to offer a coupon code to all of her customers.  With any purchase of her scrumptious yarn, you will get a coupon code for a 25% discount on any pattern in my Ravelry Store.  Her yarns are beautiful.  A sampling of her sock weight yarn can be found here.  


Here are some pics of a few of my personal favourites:
Berries



Pistachio

Cabernet


I'm so happy to be back!  Happy knitting!

My Favourite Sock Yarns

I knit a lot of socks, and I have worked with a lot of sock yarn.  There are a few brands of sock yarn that are my absolute favourite.  When I see my favourite sock yarns on sale I pick up a few skeins to feed the stash so I always have some on hand when inspiration strikes.

Here are a few of my favourite sock yarns (in no particular order):

KnitPicks Stroll - I love this yarn.  It is soft, affordable and available in so many awesome colours.  It is also one of my favourite solid yarns to design with.  Heart & Sole and Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey were both designed with KnitPicks Stroll Brights.
 
Heart & Sole

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
KnitPicks Felici - Sometimes you want to knit a nice, plain, vanilla sock and let the yarn do all the work.  Felici is soft, affordable, washes really well and is long lasting.  This yarn is only available as a 'special reserve' yarn now, but when you can get it, it comes in a lot of cool colourways; 'Baker Street' and 'Time Traveller' are my two favourite Felici yarns.

Patons Kroy - This is my work horse yarn.  I have socks knit from Kroy sock yarn that are over 5 years old now and still going strong.  I have never designed a pattern specifically for this yarn, but it is the yarn I most frequently use when I make socks for myself, the Husbeast and the Kidlets.

Indigodragonfly MerGoat Sock - This indie dyed yarn is so soft, so nice to work with and her colours are phenomenal.  She also has the coolest colour names ever! My design, Moriarty was designed using MerGoat Sock in the "In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king." colourway.
Moriarty
Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine - This is another yarn that is available in beautiful solid colours.  The alpaca content of this yarn gives it a lovely haze and makes it super soft to work with.  It is widely available and affordable.  My design, SouthPaw Socks was designed using Ultra Alpaca Fine.
SouthPaw Socks

One of my most recent favourite sock yarns is Turtle Toes by Turtlepurl yarns.   This is another yarn that does all the work for you.  When I knit it up it feels like magic.  Her colours and striping sequences are awesome and the yarn is so squishy and lovely.  I really love that the yarn comes in two separate 50gram skeins that are identically dyed so that (as long as you start both skeins at the same end) you end up with identical socks.  

Do you have a favourite sock yarn?  Tell me about it.  I am always looking for sock yarn inspiration. 

The opinions expressed in this post are my own.  I have not been compensated by any of the yarn companies mentioned or asked to provide a review of any of the yarns.  

How To Choose Sock Yarn

If you are going to spend 15-20 hours knitting a pair of socks, it is important to choose a yarn that you love to look at, feels good against your skin, will be durable, suitable for your climate, and requires upkeep that is compatible with your lifestyle. 

Here are some factors to consider when choosing yarn for socks:

Washability:

Most sock yarns are contain some degree of animal fibre.  Animal fibre must be hand washed (or machine washed on the hand wash setting) and can *never* see the inside of a dryer or it will felt (read: shrink to fit a toddler).  If you have no time or interest in handwashing socks, look for sock yarns with 'Superwash' on the label.  Superwash yarns have been processed to prevent the felting process and can be machine washed with your regular laundry.   Always check the washing instructions on the yarn label before you buy. 

Durability

No article of clothing takes the same beating as a pair of socks.  It’s important to pick fibre(s) that are durable and long lasting.  The longest wearing sock yarns have some degree of nylon re-enforcement.  Sock yarns typically have a nylon content of 10-25% to make them more durable as well as more elastic. 

A 100% acrylic sock might be really durable and long-lasting, but will lack the warmth of wool and other animal fibres. 

Elasticity

Socks need to have good elasticity and memory to bounce back to shape after we stretch them by pulling them on and off over our heel.  Wool is naturally more elastic than other natural fibres like alpaca, angora or cashmere.  In other words, a 100% cashmere sock will not retain its shape very long.  A cashmere blend of 75% wool, 10% cashmere and 15% nylon will let you have the feel of cashmere with the durability and elasticity of wool and nylon.

This being said, there are knitters who are staunchly against knitting with any man made fibre or superwash (processed) wools.  If this is you, it is important to choose a wool that has a high twist, long staple length and high degree of natural elasticity; corriedale and BFL come to mind.

Warmth

Consider your climate.  If it is usually warm where you live, a cotton/nylon or completely acrylic sock yarn might be best for you.  If it gets cold where you live, a wool blend will be the warmest option for your feet.

Thickness

Most sock yarns are fingering weight.  This weight is ideal if you want to be able to wear your socks inside your everyday shoes.  Light fingering and sport weight also make good everyday socks.

Thicker yarns, like worsted weight or bulky make ideal house socks and boot socks

Shopping

It typically takes 100gram/ 3.5 ounces (400 yards/ 365 metres) of fingering weight yarn to make an adult pair of socks.  If you are knitting for very large feet or if you like the leg of your socks to be super long, you may need more yarn than that.  Keep this in mind when you are shopping as some yarns are sold in 100gram/ 3.5 ounce skeins while others are sold in 50gram/ 1.75 ounce or even 25 gram/ .875 ounce skeins.

If you are buying your yarn in person you have the advantage of being able to feel the yarn.  Consider how it will feel against the skin of your feet and calves.  The skin of your feet and calves may be more or less sensitive than the skin on your hands and face. 

Light coloured yarns  will show dirt more easily and be more difficult to clean.  Dark coloured yarns can be a bitch to knit with (especially if you drop a stitch!) so go for something in the middle.   Self-striping and self-patterning yarns are a great choice because they are fun to knit with and non-knitters are always super impressed and think you did something magical to make the stripes/pattern when really it was the yarn that did all the work.

What To Do When Your Cat Eats Yarn

On Friday, I posted a picture of our handsome cat, Neville, doing what he does best - hanging out near the yarn. 
 
Here is another picture of him laying across my computer while I am trying to work. His handsome looks and charming personality help him get away with a lot. 
 
Though he loves yarn, he never interferes with my knitting.  Usually he loves yarn from afar: naps in the yarn room and laying with me while I knit.  Last week while going through my box of scrap yarn, he took a partial ball of KnitPicks City Tweek HW in the colourway 'Kitten'.  We took it away from him as soon as we noticed, but apparently he had already eaten some. 
 
Imagine my surprise when, while I was on a conference call, Neville ran past me with about 12 inches of yarn hanging out of his butt.  I panicked.  I hung up on my call (without saying goodbye), and called my friend.  She came right over.  I called the vet.  He advised me not to pull the yarn out (this was never an option in my mind, anyway).  
 
We spent the next 15 minutes and several cat treats trying to lure Neville out from under one of the kids' beds - at this point he knew something was up.  We finally wrangled him, got him into his carrier and made an emergency trip to the vet. 
 
The vet 'examined the area' and safely removed the yarn.  He then tried to give it back to me. Seriously, he thought I 'might want it'  It was about 18 inches long. 
 
We were very lucky that none of the yarn had wrapped around his intestines or knotted itself and created a blockage.  The vet told me (sternly) that we had the best possible outcome.  He has seen cats die from eating string and yarn.  He has had to perform major surgery, dissecting cats and removing pieces of yarn that become tangled around their intestines. 
 
In our case, the biggest injury Neville suffered was a bruised ego and a blow to his kitty-dignity. 
 
The yarn room door is now closed at all times.  WIPS are kept in project bags when not being used,  and Neville is not allowed to be in the yarn room (the kids like to do homework in there, often Neville sits with them).  
Scary lesson learned: cats and yarn do not mix.

Too Sick to Knit

So, apparently one can become too sick to knit.  I have an awful cold/throat infection/ear infection/fever combo that has literally knocked me off my feet.  The thought of even knitting something simple like stockinette stitch or plain garter is overwhelming right now.  The past few days I have mostly just laid around feeling sorry for myself and watching Netflix.

Prior to the viral-infection-from-Hell, I picked up my Cecily Twinset again and I am almost finished the first lace insert:
I love it.  It is going to look so pretty when it is blocked!

Here's how the entire cardigan is looking so far:
As modelled by the lovely Stella (we name our mannequins).  Fingering weight sweaters take a long time, people!

I also have some stash enhancement this week.  Knitpicks brought Felici back for a limited time in some limited colourways.  Felici has some strange power over me.  I become weak when it is available and have to order it.  As one knitter observed on Twitter, Felici has become the McRib of the yarn world.

So I ordered this:
My favourite is the 'Baker Street' colourway - I am a huge "Sherlock" fan, Husbeast picked the purple for socks for him and I picked the green for socks for me.  The orange is from the Knitpicks Dishie line.  I have never used Dishie, and it was on sale so I thought it was a good opporunity to try it out.  I have an idea for a market bag that this might work well for.  And a couple of little double-sided crochet hooks.  I use them as zipper pulls on all my Filofaxes (another expensive hobby I have) so that I always have access to them in case of  a dropped stitch.

Hopefully next week this viral-infection-from-Hell will be gone and I will have gotten some more knitting done.


Off the Needles

I finally finished and blocked my "Tea with Jam & Bread" by Heidi Kirrmaier. 
I love how it turned out.  I knit it one size too big on purpose.  I wanted a boyfriend-type-sweater. I also left the sleeves a little long.  The neck line is a bit wider than I would like.  I noticed from other knitter's comments that I am not the first to complain about the wide neck.  If I were to re-knit it I would cast on on for the neckline in the size small.  I cast on the m2 size. I am considering frogging the neck and tightening it up a bit

The yarn is super soft and cozy.  
I used KniPicks City Tweed in 'kitten' and 'toad'.  The purple accent is a lone skein Cascade 220 Tweed from my stash.  I would link to them, but I am blogging in the fly today from my phone and the Blogger app doesn't seem to have a feature to add hyperlinks :/. 

I think I will either cast on "En Pointe Pullover" or "Wink" as my next sweater. 

My Precious


I went to a new knitting group last night.  I met lots of awesome, nice knitters, had a yummy hot chocolate with a cookie and the entire evening was lovely!

One of the knitters, Lynne, gave me this adorable project bag (!)

I love it.   It is made by Zig Zag stitches and is lined with red polka dot fabric.  I am not usually smitten by cutesy knitting notions, but I am seriously smitten with this little project bag. It currently holds the Husbeast's Doctor Who socks. 

I also brought these three lovelies home with me:
My friend, Anna from Mythic Yarn (she is on Etsy) is having a buy 2 get 1 free sale so I jumped all over these three beauties. the plum colour will become a hat to match my "Wisp" Cowl (which was made from the same yarn)


 and the two chocolates are going to become a large shawl/wrap. Chocolate brown is my favourite neutral. It is my black. 

This is the first yarn purchase I have made since cyber Monday which is a long time in knitting years, so I am kind of proud of that. 

#WearYourKnitting

Apparently there is a movement afoot to encourage knitters/crocheters/fibre artists to show off all their handmade lovelies by snapping a selfie of themselves wearing handmade goodies and then posting the selfies to social media with the hashtag #WearYourKnitting.

I happen to do this all the time without the hashtag.  I will be adding the hashtag going forward.

Here are a few recent knitting selfies I have posted to Instagram and Twitter:


Wearing my "Wisp" cowl from Knitty Magazine (Yarn by MythicYarn)


Wearing my 'Striped Study Shawl' by Veera Valmaki (Yarn is KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in Springtime and Kindling)


Wearing a bulky, Alpaca, dropped stitch cowl (one of the designs that will be featured in an upcoming book - Yay)

I also post a lot of handmade sock selfies. My Instagram feed is basically yarn and knitting porn and my Twitter Feed is mostly the random thoughts that pop into my head with a spattering of knitting and yarn porn. 

I hope I see more fibre enthusiasts using the #WearYourKnitting Hashtag. 


Coming Soon

With Christmas and New Year celebrations behind us, my thoughts have turned to love - and by love I mean socks with hearts on them!

I have cast on 3 times for these socks.  I had envisioned a very different, larger heart motif, but it did not translate from my head to the needles very well, which is often the case so I have learned to integrate these false starts into the knitting process.  I try to accept them for what they are and not take it personally or punish the project by putting it in time out.

This is very bright yarn. It is the 'Brights' series of yarns by KnitPicks Stroll.  I love KnitPicks yarns, the colours and quality are excellent and shipping is quick and reasonable.  Shipping is a big consideration for me since shipping to Canada tends to be an expensive and sometimes lengthy process.  KnitPicks did not compensate me in anyway to say nice things, this is my honest, unsolicited opinion.

These socks are super quick to knit because the colourwork is done using mosaic knitting instead of stranded knitting.  That's right, no stranded knitting.  Mosaic knitting uses slipped stitches to achieve colourwork patterns - so you only work one colour at a time.  One colour per row = fast project.  I am thinking of writing up this design, but have not made up my mind for sure.  This design would also make adorable mittens or a hat.

I am using an afterthought heel on this sock.  You can see the scrap yarn in the photo that is currently in place of where the heel will go.  I am usually a heel flap and gusset kind of girl, but I think the afterthought heel will be more aesthetically pleasing in this case.  Still trying to decide if I want to add any hearts to the top of the foot.  That might be heart overkill.  The hearts go all the way around the leg of the sock.

Here is a picture of the front of the leg.  Hearts everywhere.

I might have to make a second pair of these; now my Husbeast wants a pair.  He loves loud socks.  He is an uber-conservative investment banking type but under his conservative dark suit, if you look down toward his feet he wears the funkiest socks he can find - which is probably why we get along so well; I fill his need for awesome-funky socks and he fills my need for someone who will wear my awesome-funky socks.

I have not decided on a name for these socks yet.  If you have any ideas let me know.  If I use your suggestion for a name, I will gift you a copy of the pattern.

Things I ♥

My friend Anna is a very talented woman. She beads, she knits, she crochets, she spins and she dyes absolutely beautiful yarn.  Her yarn is my favourite yarn.  I have used it here:
Pattern is 'Noggin' by me!  see pattern page for more details

And here:
Pattern is "Ume" by Andrea Rengal available on Ravelry



And here: 
Pattern is "Color Affection" by  Veera Välimäki
 And in many, many more projects too numerous to list here.  Anna has gone global and is now offering her yarn to knitters and crocheters everywhere via her Etsy store.

You can also find her on Ravelry as MythicYarn.  She also has a Ravelry Group. 

Most of my favourite yarns have been from indie dyers.  Do you have a favourite indie dyer?  I would love to hear about them!

New Pattern

My latest hat pattern, Noggin just went live on Ravelry.

I designed this hat to show off the beautiful variations in hand-dyed  and variegated yarn with short colour repeats.

This is a great pattern for that one skein of fingering weight, aritisan yarn in your stash that you want to show off but aren't sure how - this simple pattern lets the yarn shine without any texture or stitch patterns to compete with its beauty.  The contrast of vertical stripes against the horizontal stripes is interesting and a little unexpected

Instructions are included for a child-size hat and a teen/adult size hat in both beanie and slouchy style.



The brim of the child size hat measures 14 inches/ 38 centimetres unstretched.  The brim of the teen/adult size hat meaures 18 inches/ 45 centimetres unstretched - measured flat before grafting.



I was able to make both of these hats - an adult sized slouchy and a kids beanie with one 100gram skein of yarn and still have enough yarn left over for a pom pom!
I dyed the yarn used in the sample myself - with the help of Anna my friend any Dyeing guru over at Mythic Yarn.

Noggin is 50% off until Midnight EST on Wednesday December 17th, 2014!!!

Happy Mail


A little bit of joy was delivered to me by a man in a brown suit.  His sleigh had the letters "UPS" on the side and he always brings happiness and cheer to our home.  He actually brings yarn, but that's pretty much the same thing!
This is my haul from the "KnitPicks really big sale" last week.  I was so happy about the return of Felici self-striping that I got 8(!) skeins of 'Time Traveller' - we really have a deep love of all things Dr. Who in our house - and a lot of neon.  My daughter is immersed in a neon phase right now (similar to the neon phase I was briefly immersed in during the mid 80s) and I am partial to a neutral paired with a bright colour; I think it brightens up dreary winter days. I also ordered "Mosaic Knitting" by Barbara Walker. It was so inexpensive there compared to in Canada and you cannot beat the $7 flat rate shipping.  I just have to decide what to cast on first.