Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Great Stash Reduction Challenge Part One

Every artisan keeps an inventory of materials in the same way that a cook keeps a pantry full of basic ingredients. We call it our "stash". The stash includes the fundamentals such as yarn, fibres, dyes, accessories for sewing and items for embellishing.

And yet the stash is a lot more than things. It is full of future projects, ideas that have yet to crystallize and plans to do great things. There may even be a few memories tucked into it.

The stash is the starting point for many projects. We play with ideas by arranging yarns together to see how colours and textures mix. Like a cook, we often go to the stash to find something to spice up an otherwise bland piece. Or perhaps one truly lovely piece of yarn becomes the inspiration for an entire project and we arrange the rest of the ingredients to show it off.

We all need our stash.

But there is a hidden menace lurking in the cupboard. The stash grows and it keeps on growing in spite of our best intentions. You start by purchasing basic materials for a project but of course, you paid attention to the label that said "buy enough of the same dye lot to complete the project". You are cautious and so you end up with material left over. Add it to the stash.

During a trip you visit a specialty yarn shop. You must buy the yarn as you may never come that way again besides it is so beautiful it won't last and you have just the project in mind. The same happens when you go to a conference or a show with vendors. Everything looks wonderful and you are so full of inspiration from the conference that you just must have the fibre to fulfill all those wonderful ideas. The shelves and boxes start to fill up.

Yarn and fibre are expensive, so when you see a bargain you are tempted to snap it up. You might not have an immediate plan for it but you know that it will come in handy and it is your favourite colour. Now you are hooked on buying and dreaming about what you can make. You buy more storage accessories. You start inflitrating additional cupboards.

Next you will be haunting thrift shops and stash exchanges. The shelves won't hold any more. You start stashing material into plastic bags, green garbage bags if you have become a true yarn junkie. Spouses start to grumble ineffectively as you rearrange their "stuff" to make more room for your stash.

Finding a specific item is like going on an archeological dig. You keep finding items you can't remember buying.

Your stash is out of control. It is time for an intervention. And thus was born The Great Stash Reduction Challenge.

Check the next blog for more on how the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners plan to wrestle with this problem and have some fun.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Blahs

The holiday season is over. The happy obligations that kept us so busy last month are no longer there to obscure the shorter days, rain or snow and darker skies. We don't have that looming deadline with some wrapping paper, to keep us working on that unfinished Xmas gift. Maybe you have nothing to do but to bug your better half to take down the Xmas lights.

The January Blah's are upon us. What to do? What to do? One option is to get one of those daylight lamps, a blanket, some sherry and a good book. But that's not us, is it?

A better option might be to finish off that "almost made it" Xmas present so that it is ready for next year. You don't want to put it away just yet because you know that everytime you dig into the cupboard it will be sitting there like a guilty reminder. You don't want that lovely yarn to turn into a moth haven. Not inspired? Think of it as getting a head start on your Xmas shopping for 2011.

Nothing to finish off, then go shopping! That always works for me. Pull out those sample cards or visit a yarn shop.

Spend the money you made at that Xmas craft sale. If you sold something, then you've justified replenishing your stash. If you feel you don't have the room for more yarn, then buy some storage equipment or books.

At this time of year, we all need some colour in our world. If you cannot fly off to a tropical paradise then try working with tropical colours. Surround yourself with bright, warm colours and some steel band music and a glass of tropical punch. Think fushia, turquoise, cayenne, scarlet, tangerine, emerald green or lime. Forget for the moment the colours with names like, stone or slate, olive or kaki.

If you start now, you can have that project finished and ready to use by the time the warm weather arrives. Too many times I've been inspired to make something that I needed right then. This year, I plan to get a head start by weaving yardage for a summer wrap now. It is bright blue and fuschia and reminds me of a very gaudy Hawaiian print.

Can't think of a project to start? This is a great time to find and record some inspiration. Get the camera out and take some photos. The picture of the snowy grate reminds me of an openwork weaving using a cramming and denting technique.

I like the subtle colours of the wild rose hips against the yellow of the grasses.

If you live in Oceanside, try my favourite activity, beach combing after a storm. The fresh shells still have their bright colours, the wet stones show off their patterns and the seaweed is strewn along the sand like ribbons. If you are observant, you'll find inspiration even on a grey day.
Finally, if none of the above work for you, then pack up some clothes, a small project that you can work on and fly off to an exotic location. Oh yes, don't forget your camera.