Stash dilemma / fear of variegation

Stash item: yarn. 225yds Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in color 37-forest (greens and blues).

If I were blind, I’d love this yarn

Photo close-up of blotchy stripes in my Clapotis. I like stash stories, so I will note that I scored this yarn as part of a $1 bag of odd balls at a thrift store in Seattle. I reached through a barricade of unsorted furniture and parts of vacuum cleaners for a bag of unidentified but potentially worthwhile yarn. I felt suitably triumphant once I realized it was not only 100% wool, it was brand name artisan yarn. Word. I love thrift scores.

The wool is very, very soft, and machine washable to boot. I understood immediately why Lorna’s Laces had a reputation. Way to go, reputations! Helping me make $1 purchase decisions.

The only catch is that I’ve never liked variegated yarn. It looks lovely in a skein or ball, but the blotchy, broken stripes that happen when it is knitted up remind me of all the knitting I hate. It looks like church sale dishcloths or acrylic slippers.

To me, there’s a reason you never see commercial clothes made from variegated yarn. Tweedy, sure. Striped, sure. Even space-dyed. But blotchy? No. Variegated colourways are one of my warning signs of knitting for knitting’s sake, of knitting things that are only cool to people who know how knitting works, of giving in to the hype.

Can Clapotis save me from variegation?

Since this yarn feels so nice, I decided to keep an open mind and try it out by finally making a Clapotis. Clapotis being another item with a glowing reputation: a scarf with dropped stitches, which uses variegation to create diagonal stripes.

I got through the set-up rows only by virtue of my determination to give this yarn a chance. Blotch city.

After dropping the first stitch to make a ladder down the middle of the fabric, I thought Clapotis might save me after all. The column of stitches left intact was short enough that the variegation looked like real stripes. Most of the stripes stretched across the entire column, without looking too broken. Cool!

But. Once I got about a foot into the scarf, the piece got large enough to start manifesting larger-scale colour patterns and it blotched up again.

Can I save Clapotis from myself?

It was a drag to lose motivation at that point. I’ve had a lot of knitting momentum since the weather became obviously autumnal a few weeks ago. If I had photos, I’d tell you about the cool scarf and hat I invented, but projects with no images are boring.

I had a little executive meeting with myself about this blotchy Clapotis. I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to make out of the yarn, so there was no point saving the yarn for later. It would be silly to try to sell one ball that had been partly knitted up, so again there was no reason to unravel the project.

Someone would probably like this scarf— strangers on the bus said they liked the colours. (Strangers on the bus love to talk about knitting. Oh man. “What are you making there?“) Maybe I should finish it.

It would be satisfying for me to get this entire unit of stash to the fledgling stage, and at that point it would probably find a home one way or another. Mainly though, it would be out of my stash closet.

Most of all, I’m committed to depleting my crafting stash. I love ambitious super-projects such as documenting just how much crafting potential was contained in my closet when I declared a moratorium on new purchases in September 2005. Even a variegated (but reputable) scarf could contribute to the super-project.

Can I save Clapotis and me from my knitter’s ego?

Someone will get this scarf for Christmas, I guess. It will be a lovely present but it seems like a generic choice. And I don’t think of myself as a knitter who gives the gift of variegated scarves. I give the gift of custom-designed complicated shit that doesn’t rely on gimmicky yarn!

Zing— maybe this needs to be an exercise in humility! That is actually more motivational that the prospect of giving this scarf to a loving home.

In summary, priorities are hilarious.


There’s more.