Tag Archives: yarn shopping

California stash expansion


I always seem to buy yarn while on holiday. In much the same way as what I knit on vacation will forever remind me of that holiday when I wear/use it later, so too does yarn bought while away stay tied to that place. For that reason, I decided that on this trip I wasn’t going to buy anything I could get on the ground in Toronto. I also wanted to try and buy with projects in mind (even if they’re as general as this would be good for a shawl), which forced me to pay as much attention to yardage as to colour, and (hopefully) means I’ve come out of this trip with yarn I can make good use of.


Our first stop was A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. I don’t remember when I first heard about Verb, but it has popped up on blogs with enough frequency over the last several years to make it the one shop I wanted to make sure we went to. L, always happy to explore off-the-beaten-track placed, was happy to make a detour to Oakland, a city people actively tried to dissuade us from visiting. We visited Berkley in the morning and then walked to Verb.


One of the things I knew I wanted to get was yarn to knit L a new pair of gloves. His old ones have had a good life, but there’s no way they can handle another winter, and after knitting Grace I thought Quince & Co. would be a good choice for new ones (though in the slightly heavier Chickadee). Verb had a great selection of colours, and after L chose what he wanted he left (there was a great café next to the shop) and I stayed to poke around some more.


I could have spend quite a long time in Verb, but I was overwhelmed by the choices and conscious that L was waiting (he actually came in after reading for a while because he thought he might have to do some damage control! Haha).

I really liked the way the shop was laid out, with yarn in the front third and fabric in the back. There were a ton of samples, and I really liked the display rack, which both helped to divide up the shop and let you get a sense of how the various yarns knit up. There were also lots of Judys around, dressed in a combination of knit and sewn garments, which definitely inspired me to think more about the shop’s Seam Allowance ideal of making 25% of your wardrobe.


Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap and Slate, and some lovely fabric! (I sewed my dress before I took these photos, so that double gauze is just the leftovers.)

In addition to the wool for L’s gloves, I picked up the Endless Summer Tunic pattern and some fabric: the double-gauze I used to make my Endless Summer Dress, a grey-blue cotton and hemp, and some 6.5 oz denim (destined to become this skirt, I think).

The other LYS we visited was ImagiKnit. I don’t like to push too much yarn shopping on L since it’s his vacation too, but ImagiKnit was pretty close to where we were staying, so on our last morning in San Francisco we decided to walk over after breakfast (this involved climbing/descending several huge hills, but it was totally worth it).


What a great shop! ImagiKnit is huge — its two big rooms are filled, floor to ceiling, with yarn. The first room is all animal fibres and the second is all plant and man-made fibres, and both rooms are organized like a clock, with the thickest yarn at 12 o’clock (the front windows) and then getting thinner as you walk clockwise. Genius! I walked around and around, trying to take in everything, but it was a little shelf at the back that really caught my eye, since it housed all the locally dyed yarns.


There were also a few baskets of yarn on the counter that drew me in. The owner said she had recently been to the Malabrigo warehouse/factory in Uruguay and picked up some experimental yarn. It looked just like barber-pole handspun, and was so gorgeous (and so unavailable anywhere else) that I couldn’t resist.


Top: Aurora Yarns Acquerello Middle: Quince & Co. Chickadee in Slate and Winesap Bottom: Malabrigo Dos OOAK, and Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock in Spruce.

My total haul wasn’t too bad, really: three skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee (for L’s gloves); two skeins of Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock, a fingering-weight BFL dyed in the Bay Area, in Spruce (for a shawl); a skein of Aurora Yarns Aquerello, hand-painted in Moss Beach (definitely for socks); and two skeins of one-of-a-kind Malabrigo Dos (who knows what this for — I’ll figure something out). All in all, some pretty excellent souvenirs I think!

Going Coastal


L and I had a great time in Nova Scotia last week. Mostly we spent our time hanging out with family and friends and eating really good food. It was a short trip, so there wasn’t too much sightseeing (unless you count various restaurant interiors and living rooms), but here’s a taste of our trip.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy's Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy's Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy’s Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy's Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi'kmaq god Glooscap.

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula-looking thing is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi’kmaq god Glooscap.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

I mentioned before that one of the things I was hoping to do was find some yarn. Specifically, a match to this skein. I am thrilled (and, honestly, pretty surprised) to report success! The woman who dyed this yarn lives quite close to my parents, and she invited my mum and I over to see if she could find a match. She raises sheep and has a Suri Alpaca, spins and dyes yarn. Marilyn is amazing. I didn’t take any pictures, since we were in her house, but the big basket of handspun sitting in her living room was incredible. Anyway, it turns out that the yarn I was trying to match is a wool/mohair blend dyed by her but spun at the MacAusland woolen mill in PEI. The mill doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, so there is still some VM in the finished wool, but that doesn’t bother me. Plus, Marilyn explained that the chemicals actually weaken the yarn, so if that bit of VM means my garments will last longer, I’m doubly fine with it.

I think the grey is soft enough that I'm not worried about the bumblebee effect.

I think the grey is soft enough that I’m not worried about the bumblebee effect.

She had one skein left of the colourway I wanted, so I snapped it right up. She also had a few other colours – a really beautiful green, a variegated green/gold/grey, and some undyed skeins. I was really taken with the green, but I’m trying really hard not to buy single skeins unless there’s good yardage (or a plan), so I resisted and went with the two undyed skeins instead, which gives me just under 400 yds of each colour. I really like the grey/yellow combination, and am thinking this will either become the small version of Westloop (the leading contender) or the Great Divide shawl.

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:  Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan's Island  Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeinds Swan's Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:
Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan’s Island Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeins Swan’s Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

Of course, that isn’t all I picked up. I was in a bit of a mood I guess, and before I knew it there were 10 skeins of yarn to fit into my bag on the way home. The bottom row (above) is all from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which had a ton of new stock (at least compared to my last visit) and is definitely my LYS-away-from-home (or at home, depending on how you define things). The Swan’s Island is from Loop, a yarn shop in Halifax that I’d never been to but had a chance to check out this time. The Lilac is for me and the Midnight is for a new hat for L. I have at least tentative plans for everything I bought, and have already cast on some of the Fleece Artist — spring knitting, here I come!



The weather here has been all over the place. I don’t know what I was expecting (not true, I was expecting summer), but this is not it. One day is hot the next day is so cold I feel justified in still having my wool cardigans in my closet. All of which is to say, as the weather shifts, so does what I want to be knitting.

I was actually going to buy purple, but I even changed my mind about that when I saw the yellow.

I was actually going to buy purple, but I even changed my mind about that when I saw the yellow.

Three days ago I was just about ready to put Grace down and wait till the end of the summer to finish. I even went so far as to buy some linen (Louet Euroflax in Goldenrod) to knit myself the Kit Camisole. Then the weather turned and I’m back to Grace and the linen remains unwound.

I was going to take a picture of Grace, but even though it’s bigger than it was, until I actually make some proper headway all the photos will look the same. So instead I present my latest distraction: this lovely skein of 60% seacell/40% silk laceweight that sort of fell into my lap the other day at the shop (truly: it was a gift).



What I want to do with it (knit double into a crescent garter stitch shawl) seems so boring that I’m convinced there’s a pattern out there just waiting for me to find it. I don’t know what’s going on. I have numerous lovely projects on the needles and all I can think about is casting on more. (Even though I rather suspect they’d just languish on the needles too.)

The one bright note is that I finished the first Willowherb sock and it is both lovely and fits well. So that’s something. 

From the Frolic


I’ve been on a bit of an inadvertent stash stockpile in the last few months and I think I’ve discovered what’s up (besides and obvious love of yarn): this is stress stashing. I’ve never really been someone who bought into the idea of retail therapy (hah), but yarn and clothes are very different beasts. There have been big changes at the Post in the last few months and work has been crazy and the result has been a lot of yarn coming into this little apartment (and yes, L has noticed).

I, however, am not worried, because I have a plan. Or, many plans. I bought Rachel Coopey’s Coop Knits Socks last week and, although it has not yet arrived (yes, I bought the hardcopy; it comes with a code for a digital download, so it’s win-win), I am planning. At the Frolic last weekend I picked up:



Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss (explanation behind that colourway name here). This is destined to become Willowherb. (After the Frolic, in a fit of why-didn’t-I-buy-it remorse, I swept over to the Indigodragonfly site and picked up three more skeins of this yarn in various colourways. I am well stocked now.)


I also snagged a skein of Tosh Sock in Maple Leaf (it takes a Texan to see maple leafs as anything but red, I think, but this is exactly the colour of the maple leaves that are bursting forth right now, and I love it.) I’m going to turn it into Calamint. I’m not sure what the other skein, in Spectrum, will be – maybe another pair of these?


A skein of Tosh DK, in Cosmos, also snuck home with me, and while I’m not totally sure, I suspect it’ll be a pair of Stepping-Stones for me. Every winter I tell myself to knit some thick socks and every winter I don’t; this winter I’ll have no excuse.

So, that’s the yarn. I also picked up a Sweater Stone for de-pilling and a pair of sock blockers. These are just slightly smaller than my feet, which I think is good since it leaves the sock with a little stretch to ensure a snug fit. I got a pair (set?) of the metal ones and so far I like them just fine – they remind me of my grandparents’ bathroom, because every time we visited my grandmother always had several pairs of my grandpa’s socks hanging to dry over the radiator on giant sock blockers. (This is also why I call all thick and wooly socks “Grandpa Socks.”)

I will have an update on my Happy Street shawl soon (stripes are worthy of in-progress photos since they make for such delightfully visual progress). I am knitting away and have been monogamous since casting on. It’s driving me crazy, so if I can get the third repeat finished tomorrow, I’m taking the sock out with me for a few rounds at least.

What a difference a year makes


One year ago today I registered Pans & Needles and started to blog about my knitting. I was really nervous about it too, because I felt like kind of a poseur. At the time, I wasn’t really knitting anything interesting or impressive, but I was reading blog filled with gorgeous projects and luscious yarn and even though I wasn’t there yet with my knitting, I knew that I wanted to be. You know how something becomes real when you say it out loud? Well, that’s what blogging was for me: it was me, saying out loud, that I was a knitter. I’m not usually one for public declarations, but that one felt great.

In the last year I’ve pushed myself a lot – in part because I enjoy learning new things and, in part, because pair after pair of stockinette socks makes for boring blogging. I learned lace; I learned cables; I learned how to knit continental so I could better control my fair isle tension; I knit most of a sweater; I started working in a yarn shop (and teaching knitting!); I knit all my Christmas gifts; plus, I travelled a lot. Looking back, I can hardly believe that all of those things happened in the last year (it’s also quite frightening to realize how much my stash has grown in the last year).

It has been a wonderful year and to celebrate, I bought myself a present (ha!):

I don't usually take advantage of Ganymede in this way, but a photo of books is much more exciting with a cat in it.

I don’t usually take advantage of Ganymede in this way, but a photo of books is much more exciting with a cat in it.

I have been wanting The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes for a long time, and I’ve come close to buying it a few times, so I decided it was time. When I realized I would get free shipping if I bought it with another book, it was an easy decision to add Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia. I love knitting books that you can sit and read (both of these are like that, really) and all the history Nancy Bush includes is fascinating. Also, I really want to knit these, and clearly I’m not over fancy mittens even remotely.

That was really going to be it, but then I was in the shop yesterday (working, not shopping) and I saw that we got a new shipment of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock and, well, this skein pretty much jumped right off the wall at me. I’ll pick a nice pattern from Clara’s book and cast on once I’m finished one of the pairs currently occupying my needles.

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Honey Fig. It's more purple than pink (despite this picture) and even though it isn't remotely like what I normally go for, I could not resist.

SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Honey Fig. It’s more purple than pink (despite this picture) and even though it isn’t remotely like what I normally go for, I could not resist. I think it’s because there’s a snowstorm outside (it started yesterday) and I’m dreaming of summer.

Gifts Purchases aside, the best thing about blogging, though, is that it’s made me feel like part of the knitting community, both in Toronto and online. I have met so many amazing people and been encouraged and inspired to tackle projects I may never have attempted otherwise. Thank you all for reading and commenting and encouraging and inspiring – I can’t wait to see where the next year goes.

New York yarn shops


Well, that ellipsis lasted longer than I had intended. This week got away from me, and while I could tell you all about the moose gloves (fingers are super weird to knit), I promised to write about yarn shops in New York. We left the city on Friday morning, mere hours before the VKL marketplace opened, but that was probably for the best, because I got quite an odd look from the customs guy when I told him that I had purchased “shirts, books, and yarn,” so it’s definitely good that everything came under the allowed amount because I think they would have been very confused about how to charge duty on yarn.

Anyway, we really only made it two yarn shops, because I didn’t want to highjack the trip and, while L and I are generally very supportive and indulgent of each other, I try not to push it. Also, we did this part of the trip on his birthday.

First up was Lion Brand Studios. I’ve never actually knit with any Lion Brand anything before (I’m not sure it’s that big a deal in Canada, but I might be wrong about that), but I had heard about its amazing window displays and wanted to see the shop in person. Let me just say, even if you intend to buy nothing, it is still worth a visit. The front window was incredible (despite the scaffolding erected in front of it) and the shop itself is small and cozy and fun.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.


Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan's feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan’s feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

One of my favourite things in the shop was the “Testing Wall,” where you could get some yarn and swatch it before buying. This is so smart, and something I’d love to see more of. I didn’t take advantage of it while we were there (it being L’s birthday and all), but I definitely would on a future visit.

Such a good idea.

Such a good idea.

I also really enjoyed that the knitting-related decor didn’t end with the window display. I didn’t even notice this needle light shade when I first passed it, and while I was taking a picture another woman came to see what I was doing and laughed when she noticed it. Genius.


What to do with your giant-needle collection.

Next up was Purl Soho, which was the real destination. I’ve been reading their blog since I first started knitting, and very much wanted to see the shop in person. It was getting dark (and cold) by the time we got there, so I didn’t get a shot of the window, but I did take this one from just inside the front door.


It’s a bit deceptive how big this makes the shop look, but the back half is all sewing and fabric. Yarn wise, they had many beautiful things, but I knew what I wanted, and I wanted Brooklyn Tweed (which you cannot get in Canadian shops, at least as far as I know). I splurged a little (it’s New York!) and bought five skeins of Shelter: two in Plume, two in Hayloft, and one in Snowbound. We went and grabbed lemonade (why? I couldn’t say) and I started swatching.

Yum yum yum. The hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it's tricky to photograph.

Yum yum yum. The Hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it’s tricky to photograph.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

I have definite plans for this purchase, but they remain secret for now. I will say, though, that Shelter is a dream to knit with. It’s rustic and lofty a very soft, which is everything I want to knit with right now – I just need to finish those moose gloves! Speaking of which, I should really go do that since I’m just four fingers and a thumb from finished. Have a lovely weekend!

Not bad for a Saturday morning


It turns out awesome things can happen when you get up and out of the house early-ish on a Saturday morning. L and I live really close to one of (in my opinion) Toronto’s best neighbourhood farmer’s markets. Truly, Wychwood Barns is a credit to the city, and it’s one of our favourite things about where we live. We don’t always make it on a Saturday morning, but we try – it’s where we buy our coffee beans (we get the Wychwood Barns blend, of course), it’s where we buy a lot of our hearty produce, and now, it’s where I can buy wool. That’s right. Locally grown and milled wool, just steps from my house.

For most of the year the Stoddart Farm booth is only at the market on the last Saturday of the month, but in the run up to Christmas, Silvia (farmer extraordinaire) tells me she will be there every week, and I am pretty friggin’ excited about that. I mean, look at what I got!

Just the thing to relieve those February blues (or greys, whatever).

That’s 408 yards of locally grown wool – 70% Romney wool and 30% mohair – in a 100g light fingering weight. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet (it is beautifully soft, so I’m thinking shawl), but I know that I’m going to save it for February, when I need to see some green lusciousness. And really, would you look at that colour? It made my day.

Um, yes please.

Silvia raises the sheep and the mohair goats herself, and then hand paints the wool using environmentally friendly dyes. The wool itself is milled just a few hours from the city, in Elora, making the whole enterprise super-local. I didn’t have my camera with me, but her market table is a riot of colour, with yarns in numerous weights and batts and roving too. That she is the sweetest person just tops it all off. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back next week and pick up a skein of fiery orange/red laceweight I saw.

That I got this alongside Fair Trade coffee and an awesome breakfast cinnamon bun probably means that this weekend is too good to be true and I’m now bound for disaster, but oh well, I’m thinking this yarn was worth it.

Yarn crawl


I have had a rough couple of days, which involved my computer crashing and my hard drive needing to be erased, and well, the only way I know to solve that kind of stress is knitting. So let’s talk yarn, shall we?

As you know, I packed the Spruce Jaywalkers plus an insurance skein of Indigodragonfly as trip knitting. This was more than enough wool to see me through my trip, but I’ll admit to leaving a little extra room in the top of my bag for one or two skeins of souvenir wool – something I wouldn’t be able to get in Toronto.

This was the plan, and it lasted for a whole day. On Day 1, we drove to Baddeck. Baadeck Yarns was closed, so I didn’t buy wool. Instead, L and I went out for a nice dinner and walked around the town, and then holed up in our room to watch a movie (we were both exhausted). I had cast on the Spruce Jaywalkers on the plane, but because I drove from the airport, there wasn’t much done. I knit, we watched silly TV – nothing crazy.

The next day, we left Baddeck and headed north to the Cape Breton Highlands National Post. L drove, so I knit on my socks. Then we passed a sign that said something like “viewpoint: 500m.” We turned a corner, and sure enough, there was a great view (this happens pretty much nonstop on the Cabot Trail, just so you know). We saw a little parking area to the right and decided to pull off and take a picture. We got out of the car, and I glanced up at the sign in the parking lot and, well, I saw this:

I swear I didn’t notice the sheep sign when we pulled in.

I decided to just pop in and see what they had. You know, be polite. After all, we were in their parking lot, intending to stand on their picnic table to take a picture; it seemed rude not to at least make a casual perusal of their wares. That’s when I saw the yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. 2-ply, worsted-weight, milled in PEI at MacAusland’s Woollen Mills from Maritime sheep, yarn, for $4.50 a skein. Casually (by which I mean, after picking up and putting down a half-dozen skeins and exclaiming about the colours) I asked about the yardage. At $4.50, I figured it had to be paltry. Nope: 200 yds per. At $4.50. I bought a sweater’s worth.

Originally, I was going to get a dark blue, but then L pointed out that I always wear blue, and I looked down at my outfit ready to contradict him and realized I was, indeed, wearing all blue. I think green is a nice spice up.

We got back on the road, and, as you know, had a lovely time camping. That yarn, though – well, I thought about that yarn a lot. I went through my mental catalogue of sweater patterns I’ve been wanting to make, and I narrowed it down to two. During the more painful hikes (and I was in pain), I’m a little embarrassed to say that thinking about that yarn and what I was going to knit with it distracted me enough to get me through. Should I knit the Shapely Boyfriend, for which I had enough wool in the car, or should I stop in on the way back and pick up the skeins necessary to knit Kate Davies’ Bláithín?

Look at me, knitting my Spruce Jaywalkers, not even thinking about the yarn in the car. So dedicated.


The morning we left the park, we stopped in a Tim Horton’s for coffee and I made L look at the two sweaters and tell me what he thought. His solution: buy the extra skeins since it’s cheap and decide later. The man is a genius.

I am pretty much sold on Bláithín now, I must say.

Despite this windfall of lovely (and affordable!) yarn, I still wanted to stop in at Baadeck Yarns. I was so beside myself that I forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it’s a woolly heaven. Pat carries everything you could ever want, but because I was on a mission to find yarns I couldn’t get in Toronto, I went for the Handmaiden custom colourways. The Handmaiden is the daughter of the Fleece Artist (who is based in Cape Breton) and let me just say, an eye for colour runs in the family. I splurged. I bought three skeins of Casbah (a merino, cashmere, nylon blend in a fingering weight). I figured that for all in all (considering my super deal on the PEI wool), I was doing okay.

Two skeins of Lupin, which is enough to make almost any shawl I want, plus a skein in Bras d’Or Lakes, which will become socks, probably for my mum.

By the time I got to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, though, I was starting to feel a little guilty about the money I’d spent. I mean, I work in a yarn store, so maybe all of this was a little excessive? I went in and was immediately overwhelmed. They had so much Fleece Artist. And so much new stuff in general. Honestly, I couldn’t choose and after making a tour and touching a lot of wool, I left empty-handed. The next day, though, I was feeling a little incomplete (and also maybe a little ridiculous). There had been a basket of Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, a 100% superwash merino sock yarn, in this beautiful mottled brown and copper colourway, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was convinced it was going to be gone by the time we got back, but I decided we should go anyway, just in case.

Gaspereau Valley Fibre’s designated greeter.

It was there. Three skeins, and it was even lovelier than I had remembered. I asked Manda, the manager, what colourway she thought it was and, based on the colourcard, we estimated Earth. Well, that sold me. I bought two skeins, which are slightly different, but if alternated should be fairly seamless. I’m thinking about a shawl.

Honestly, how could I pass this up?

All in all, it’s quite a hall, and my stash has officially reached a critical point (it is overflowing its containment area). Honestly, though, I don’t care. I mean, look at this! And all wool that was a now-or-never purchase, and that I have tentative plans for. So no worries.

Samya looks skeptical, but I think that’s because I stole her bench.

Yarn accident


Since I started knitting a little over a year and a half ago (oh sure, I learned when I was 8, but I’m not counting that) I have been accumulating a stash. This has absolutely not been by design. When I was first learning and heard/read stories about knitters with entire closets or even rooms dedicated to yarn, I was astounded. Not because I think it’s a waste of space (no one with as many books as I have could cast aspersions on anyone else’s use of space), but simply because I couldn’t imagine buying that much yarn without having a plan to use it.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry

That, of course, was where I was wrong. At least in my case, I almost always have some sort of plan in the back of my head when I buy yarn. Sometimes it’s something really specific, sometimes it’s a little looser, but usually I have an idea in there lurking and then I see the yarn and the two come together and, bam, purchase. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’m just enchanted by the colour, but so far, that’s more the exception than the rule.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Nova Scotia

Still, I’ve managed to accumulate a little stash. It isn’t huge, but it’s there, and I could happily knit from it for months (I am a slowish knitter, which helps). It was all going well too, until a couple of weeks ago when I had what might be called a yarn accident. I was at work, just browsing the Internet during some downtime, when I stumbled across Colorsong Yarn (warning: very tempting site), purveyors of Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden yarns. I should have known I was sunk. I am a sucker for both gorgeous colours and things tied to Nova Scotia (my home province), and these dyers are a double whammy.

Fleece Artist BFL socks in Blomidon

I thought, at first, that I was just going to look. And I did. I looked and looked and looked. But I didn’t buy anything. Instead, I tucked a few colourways into my memory and left the site before anything dangerous happened. When I was still thinking about it the next day, I knew I was in trouble. I thought that, maybe like a food craving, just having another look would satisfy me, but no. Instead, that little look resulted in me buying five skeins of Fleece Artist sock yarn (three BFL sock, two Merino fingering) – after all, with shipping costs, you have to make it worth it, right?

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Spruce

I almost never shop online. Sometimes I buy books online that I can’t find in my local independent bookshop, but generally, I avoid Internet shopping for two big reasons: 1) I like to support local businesses, and 2) I can’t really tell how much I’m getting. I know that sounds silly, but I’m serious. Five skeins of sock yarn on the Internet? Nothing. Five skeins of sock yarn when I’m in my LYS and all I have to put my purchase in is my purse because I’m on my bike and a bag won’t do? Too much – I’ll hem and haw and then whittle my choice down to one (or, maybe, two).

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Seafoam

The package arrived on Friday, and even though I’ve been feeling a little guilty about the purchase, the excitement I felt when I saw it made me feel like I’d done the right thing. I cannot wait to knit these into things (probably socks, who are we kidding) that will show off their gorgeous colours (but not until the sweater is done; I’m standing firm). Yarn accident, yes, but no regrets (yet).

The whole haul. Sigh.

A Cautionary Tale

Yarn splurge

Last weekend I went into Lettuce Knit to exchange some wool (I had an extra, unwound skein of the wool I used for Almondine, so I thought I’d plan ahead and get something for the next pair of socks). I had just started the Happy-Go-Lucky socks, and thought I’d ask Natalie what she thought – I’m still new to colourwork and wanted to make sure I was doing things properly. For the record, this is how far along I was:


Just a bit of top.

At that point, I could get my foot through without any trouble. Nonetheless, Natalie took one look at them and said “be careful.” Her warning: She has highly-arched feet and there are some socks she just can’t get her foot into. I thought about that for a minute and then decided to just got for it. I was knitting above gauge, I thought, surely that will save me. Still, her warning haunted me all week, and when I Friday rolled around and I was halfway through the foot I thought I should check. The heel did seem small to me, and I was (secretly) a little worried. I couldn’t get my foot through. It was because the socks were still on the needles I reasoned, and plowed on.

Still, I was worried. I went to work that night and then spent all my downtime on Ravelry looking at projects I could start on the weekend in case these socks decided not to fit. I need to do this. I need to plan for the worst so that if it doesn’t happen, I can rejoice, and if it does I have something else planned already so no worries. I picked two patterns (this one and this one) and decided that I’d finish the Happy-Go-Lucky toe on Saturday morning and then go buy the necessary wool for the other patterns. No big deal.

Of course, then the sock fit. Only barely, to be fair, but I got it on and it was comfortable and lovely. Perfect, right? Well, yes and no. You see, in all my planning for ways to not be horribly disappointed in case they didn’t fit, I got kind of excited about these other projects.


Half of a pair. Secretly, I'm pretty pleased about how this looks – especially the surprise stripes on the sole.

That meant I went to the yarn store anyway.

Yarn splurge

Three skeins each of Cascade 220 Heathers in colourway 4008 (for the scarf) and three of Malabrigo sock in colourway Ochre (for the sweater).

I have been swatching ever since. I will cast on the second sock this week, but I might also cast on a sweater. Maybe today. Maybe right now. You see what happens when you preplan for disaster?