This is why I’m a packrat

You never know when something is going to come in handy. A scrap of leather is useful for practicing a stitch technique, ten beads of a certain color is enough to make a design, and patterns for things I might never knit could be totally awesome for beadwork. There’s so much crossover in the crafting world. Don’t like the fluffiness of a particular yarn? Stuff something with it. Have a length of wire leftover that’s too short for the project you’re working on? Maybe it’s the right length for wrapping a single bead or securing your knitting temporarily while you block it. Nothing is single-use!

On that same topic, one of the projects I’ve been working on hit a standstill the other day. I started with two medium-small rolls of grayish-brown handspun wool, and worked out a color chart that would strike the right balance of delicate and bold. I cast on some mitts (two at a time, of course), color charted to my little heart’s joy, thumb-gussetted like a champ, and then promptly ran out of yarn just after joining after the thumb gusset. I tried willing myself to pull it all out and start over, but it wasn’t going to happen. I tried matching other recent handspuns, but nothing matched in any convincing way. I thought about colorblocking, but with the charts around the wrists it just wouldn’t have worked. Packrat tendencies to the rescue!


This ball of yarn has been lurking in my stash for about eight years. I have no idea where it came from, and frankly, I’ve put it in the donation pile several times over the years. You may be able to tell from the photo how inconsistent and thick it is. It’s quite obviously handspun, and it’s just so dense. There’s not enough of it to make a rug or something like that, but there was too much of it to chop it up and use it as stuffing. Plus, the density. It just wasn’t usable, but I couldn’t part with it for some reason.

So, when combing through my yarn dresser for possible solutions to the yarn shortage, I discovered the remarkable color match. Even given its ridiculous density, the mystery yarn isn’t particularly scratchy or stiff, so I had a brilliant, though time consuming, idea.


I went through the first few yards off the ball, fluffing it up and unwrapping some of that ridiculously dense twisting. I then re-spun it, matching the thickness of the yarn I used for the first 3/4 of the mitts. I know the match isn’t perfect, but it is damned close! If I hadn’t told you, would you have noticed?


Either way, they’re done, and I’m satisfied. That’s another pair for Rendezvous, which makes me happy.

Also on the topic of hoarding is the idea of using things for more than one type of craft. I’ve been meandering through Pinterest and a couple of my beading books looking for color charts to practice with, and I’ve found some, but very few that are graphed out. When choosing the chart for the mitts above, though, I realized that the ratty folder of knitting color charts I love so much (the ones I creatively mashed up for the Frankensocks) are just the kind of angular, repetitive grids perfect for doing beadwork. I haven’t rigged up my beading loom yet, but stitching onto leather is an excellent opportunity to use these banded patterns!


I need to pay closer attention to bead thickness, since these blue beads are all a little deeper than the white ones and the rows got slightly skewed. Once I get that under control, the sky (and my patience) is the limit! Some of the more complex ones would be excellent for larger projects, like bags or large barrettes. Oh boy, am I inspired!



5 thoughts on “This is why I’m a packrat

  1. I’m going to become a demo sample knitter for Millie’s shop. That means that now not only do I have to follow a pattern EXACTLY (no cheating by clever improvements allowed) I will actually have to use the specified yarn for the pattern!!!!

    Wtf? I’ve never EVER done this, it will be a huge step out of my comfort zone. I’m not even sure I know how?!

    But free yarn and after the knit sits in her shop for three months or so I get it back. I’m going to knit some crazy cool expensive yarn sweater. Norah Gaugin here I come!


    1. You lucky rat! That’s the dream, isn’t it? Send pictures!

      Although, either one of us would be tormented by that whole ‘following patterns exactly’ thing. Surrendering the freedom to not follow directions? The things we’re willing to do for free yarn…


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