how to <3 your book: a tutorial

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While it’s kind of obvious I have a certain obsession for knitting and things made from wool, not many of you likely know that I also have a deep love and appreciation for Japanese art and textiles.

For me the easiest – and least expensive – way of indulging in this love is combining beautiful Japanese papers with the art of origami. Lately I’ve been going a little nuts making these origami heart bookmarkers so I thought I’d spread the love and show you how you can make your own.

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To make these bookmarkers, you will need:

- a square sheet of paper any kind of paper will do (I like to use chiyogami paper but it can be a little fussy to work with if you are new to making origami)

- a metal ruler and cutting blade or simply a pair of scissors

- a cutting board (not shown) if you are using a cutting blade

- glue (optional) 

- a cup of tea (optional but highly recommended)

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 Fold your square sheet of paper in half and cut along the crease. If you are using patterned paper, you may like to keep the direction of the pattern in mind.

Put aside one half of the paper as you will only need one half to make your bookmarker. 

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 If you are using patterned paper, flip your piece of paper over so that the printed side is facing down. Fold your paper in half from the bottom up. Press the crease firmly.

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Fold the paper in half again, from left to right. Press the crease firmly and unfold. There will now be a crease line in the centre of the long rectangle.

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Take the bottom right hand corner and bring it up, carefully aligning the bottom edge along the centre crease line. To get a nice crisp fold, I like to use the handle of the cutting blade and press it firmly along the fold.  

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 Repeat for the other side.

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Flip your partially made heart over so that you can see a little triangular shaped “pocket” facing towards you.

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Take one side of the top section and fold it down one third of the way down and press the crease firmly. Repeat for other side.

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Take one corner (there are four) and fold it down, aligning the two edges. Repeat for all four corners. 

The paper is getting much thicker now, so you may find it hard to press the fold and get the paper to lie relatively flat. While origami purists may prefer to leave the folds just like this, I find these corners like to “pop up”, making it a little bulky and awkward to slip in a book so I like to put a spot of glue in each corner to keep them down.

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 This it what your finished heart will look like on the reverse side.

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And here it is on the “right”, or facing side.

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DSC_0379Now, whenever your reading time is over and you don’t want to lose your place in your book, you can put your heart to use by slipping several pages into the little backside “pocket”. So much kinder than dog-earring the page, don’t you agree? 

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DSC_0390You may find origami heart making a bit addictive but that’s okay! I’m not sure you can ever have “enough” love for your books.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Have fun making lots of love, your books will thank you for it! XO

A Happy Sunday

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Today has been a day full of family and friends, of sunshine after days of clouds and rain, when the air is heavy with the scent of lilacs and it seems everywhere I turn there is an abundance of new blossoms and tender greens to behold. It’s hard not to feel grateful for it all. 

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So, with all goodness this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Caroline Van Dyk will get to share another source of happiness for me lately with this skein of Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL yarn. Congratulations, Caroline! I hope you will enjoy this little sampling of a beautiful yarn. I will email you shortly with a request for your mailing address.

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Thank you to all you participated, I had SO MUCH FUN checking out all the different patterns you had in mind for this yarn. A number of patterns have now been added to my wish-to-knit list, which, of course, is always another good thing in my books.

Lastly, I’d like to wish Vicky of Baerenwolle, a very happy birthday!

And to all of you, I wish you a happy Sunday, I hope your day has been as full of love as mine has. XO

p.s. I hope you don’t mind me sharing how EXCITED I am to have been selected as one of the lucky winners of the squamKAL competition! Thank you to all the wonderful people who were involved in putting it all together – I’m still pinching myself!

my flyWHEEL challenge + a giveaway!

 

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Well, I did it. I finished knitting my Stonecrop shawl in just over a week, whew! And just in time to enter the flywheel/squamKAL2015 contest, too.  

While this amount of knitting (roughly 850yds) in this short amount of time was a challenge for me (and definitely NOT sustainable), it was lots of fun (and definitely made more so because I had a friend to knit with me, thank you Valerie!). I’m completely in love with this pattern and this yarn.

And the best news? I have one leftover skein of Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL * to share with one of you! Hurray!

To enter this giveaway, please leave me a comment in this post including your email address as well as what you pattern you think you would like to knit with it (just because I’m nosey that way). Contest closes Saturday, May 16th, 2015 at midnight EST. I will randomly draw a name and announce the lucky winner May 17th, 2015 by the end of the day. I will ship internationally, so anyone can enter. 

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Wishing you a most wonderful wool-filled day!

* in the colour “Bancroft

new friends

 

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So.  A couple of weeks ago I may have had a moment (read: I totally had a moment) when my unwavering commitment to knitting through my stash yarn, well, wavered (read: fainted dead to the floor). It happened within moments of first reading this post, which lead to reading the details of this one (it’s a KAL and I’m in!) and then seeing this page over here.

My poor stash didn’t stand a chance.

Of course, I can come up with tons of excuses to justify my faithlessness but really comes down to this, Harrisville flyWHEEL hit all my weak spots.

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It’s wool.

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It’s fuzzy.

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It comes in the most gorgeous colours. I chose the colour Bancoft.

Some of the proceeds are going to a very good cause. To quote from the Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL page: A portion of the proceeds for each skein sold will go towards restoring the hydropower installation, so that we can produce clean energy from that very same waterway. The water that flows through our mill is reason Harrisville was established. 

It gives me an excuse to knit a pattern I’ve had my eye on since last fall. And I have a friend who’s knitting it too – the best kind of KALs include friends!

I figure special occasion gifts like Mother’s Day and birthdays, even if they are self-gifted, don’t really factor in to the working-from-stash-only commitment, these gifts have special exemption status. Besides, I think I may have said working-from-stash-mostly….but then, I don’t have the heart to go back and check.

And last, but not least, buying that yarn gave me that extra kick in the pants I needed to get Florence done. I thought it was kind of perfect how the yarn arrived the day after I cast off. And while my Florence is far from perfect (fodder for another post maybe?), we are becoming fast friends. Who can ask for more?

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What about you? Have you made any new yarny friends lately? Do tell.

Wishing you a lovely day!

p.s. Thank you to everyone who has left such thoughtful and encouraging comments over the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned a lot but most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Going at a slower pace, I’m feeling better these days, hurray!

moments of grace


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Hello friends. Things on my end continue to be busy with me not always feeling up to the challenge of keeping up. However, I’m beginning to see this time of my life as a bit of a reckoning, a time when I have no choice but to acknowledge that even on a good day I’m a slow poke, that it takes me longer to do things than most. By accepting this aspect of myself, I also accept the need to start setting better boundaries and better goals that respect my slow nature and make for a happier me (and those around me, too).

Naturally when I’m feeling low on energy as I have been of late, I move slower than a snail and my need for limiting the things I do grows stronger as a result. So instead of feeling guilty or worse, like a failure, for not keeping up, I’m trying to see all the advantages of having to limit my activities so that I can enjoy the ones I want to do and do a thorough job on the ones I need to do.

As an aside, of course I question the need to share such personal reflections but I thought some of you might be able to relate and share what works for you. I hope my sharing might dispel any myths that I may have inadvertently created here that my life is all knitting and quiet. However,  I also deeply fear that in sharing I sound like a bit of a whiner. I guess the fact remains that everyone has challenges in their life and this living with frequent low energy happens to be one of mine. Maybe talking about it here can make difference. 

So, all of this to say, today I thought I’d share a few random moments of happiness I’ve encountered this past week, moments that reflect the activities I’ve chosen to “fill my cup” so to speak, moments of grace.

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Nature walks! Exploring, investigating, discovering and re-discovering nature in every season brings a kind of joy that is hard to put into words. Witnessing our natural world wake up after a long winter feels a bit akin to watching any new life being born. I know it sounds clichéd, but life really is a miracle and no minor one at that.

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Wool. Wearing. Knitting. This year’s cold spring here in the Valley has been a bit of a grace, giving me a bit more time to say farewell (until autumn) and to knit a few more exciting things with the hope that I may yet have occasion to wear them (before autumn). I had a couple of days with no time to knit but then one of the things I love best about knitting is knowing that my projects aren’t going anywhere, they will always be there waiting for my return. It’s a kind of lovely faithfulness, don’t you think?

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Basking in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun. I want to soak in all this soft, golden splendour and keep it stored up within in me. I read a quote in this book recently that suggests sunshine is one of the six undeniable doctors (water, rest, air, exercise and diet being the others). I agree, most definitely. 

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Drinking warm things. A sweet friend recently gave me a pouch of this tea. So good! Nothing feels quite as comforting and uplifting when you’re tired as a quiet moment (in between all the noisy, chaotic ones) with a cup of something warm.

One of the best things I like best about being slow and about slowing down is that time feels like it’s slowing down along with me. Because of this, a beautiful, happy moment stretches out long enough to dwell in and decidedly savour these precious gifts of my days.

How about you? What happy moments have you been savouring lately? What is the activity you most like to do when you’re feeling low on energy? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a lovely week!

p.s. One of the things I’m having a hard time with lately is keeping up my blog visits (and comments). Those of you who may have been noticing my absence, please know I hope to catch up soon, I really do love to know and see what you’re up to. xo

so quiet

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For one reason or another, I’ve been feeling especially tired these past few weeks (low iron levels and lingering cold bug – you are such a bore!). As a result, I’ve been feeling kind of quiet, too, finding myself not only lacking in the energy department but in the writing department as well.

So, instead of sharing my own words here today, I thought I would share some of the quietly mediative words that have been resonating deeply with me in the hopes that you will enjoy their gentle wisdom also.

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 Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it.

   -Simone Weil 

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Beauty should be quiet enough so you can take it or leave it.  

  – Elizabeth Gordon  (Hmm, definitely an idea to ponder.)

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Sitting quietly, doing nothing                                                                                                        Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself                                       

   -Zenrin, The Gospel according to Zen

 

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what was elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. 

   – Mahatma Gandhi

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 Be rather restrained than over-luxurious in colour, or you weary the eye.

   – William Morris 

(Perhaps that quote explains my renewed love for quiet colour in recent months…)

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There are times when a bird calls                                                                                                     or a breeze rustles the branches                                                                                                      or a dog barks from a distant home                                                                                                          and I must fall silent and listen.

My soul returns to  forgotten places                                                                                                  where a thousand years ago                                                                                                               the birds and the wind blowing                                                                                                      were more like my brothers.

 – Hermann Hesse, from There Are Times

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And finally, a personal favourite, the closing haiku from the book Hi, Koo! :

becoming so quiet                                                                                                                                  Zero sound                                                                                                                                         only breath

- Jon J Muth

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Wishing you a lovely day! 

p.s. Added April 22nd, 2015 – DO you have a favourite “quiet” quote you’d like to share – please do, I love to read it! XO

spring shifting

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These days, I find myself in a shifting stage of life. Actually, it seems as though my days are much like this season we’re in now, moving from winter into spring, feeling the power of the sun gaining strength and noticing how the world is responding in turn. Much like I’m basking in this changing spring light and enjoying its happy warmth whenever I can, I’m savouring the unique qualities of this stage in my life, too, mindful of how precious it is. (Perhaps this explains why there have been fewer posts here?)

Of course, the knitter in me is very aware of how quickly this particular time is passing, too, of how the days of wool wearing are dwindling. I, in turn, am rushing to get as many projects done before that precious window of wool-wearing-time is over so I can have the immediate gratification of wearing the fruits of my labour. (Who doesn’t love a bit of immediate gratification?)

Do any of you find yourselves in the same frame of mind? While it really shouldn’t come as any surprise, it strikes me how weather dependent we knitters are.

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So, ever hopeful in my knitting ambitions, there is a Celes in the works. I’m using this yarn I was given by a dear friend (it’s from Ontario – hurray!). Isn’t it beautiful? I think it reflects the beauty of the giver, too.

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There’s also an Aristida Shawl, (very much inspired by Lori’s lovely version), in the most wonderful yarn (hand-dyed by a most wonderful person).

The changing of seasons always make me feel as though I am on the brink of a new adventure, one that is full of hope and one when so much is possible. Of all the qualities this season has to offer, one thing I love most about spring is how it invites us outdoors, free from the appendages of all those heavy and time consuming outdoor layers (especially for those of us with young children to dress) and, yet, still allows for a few luxurious comforts of woollen things. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Of course, there’s all that you can do outside in spring that you can’t do in winter.

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Knit. (That’s Florence coming along ever so slowly.)

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Wear flip-flops while there’s still snow on the ground (and not freeze your toes).

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Witness the sheer joy that happens on a yellow-brown lawn. (A brown lawn doesn’t induce this kind of happiness in the fall)

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Admire the sun on bare branches, (knowing they won’t be bare for much longer).

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Listen to the sounds of a (summer) homecoming.

Spring is good in my part of the world, how about yours? Are you feeling the gentle shift of things, too?

Wishing you a lovely day!

knitting through doubt

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Late last November when the magnitude of my stash really started to hit me hard (maybe it was finding yarn in every room in the house) and my resolution to work through it was growing, my first conscious stash busting project took form in this shawl.

I had been holding on to some lovely Shetland yarn for years and years (my guess is somewhere between 7-10), waiting for the perfect pattern to come along. Staring at this fuzzy pile of unrealized knitting potential, I finally admitted that the “perfect” project wasn’t just going to land at my feet and knew that I would have to go searching for it instead. Jared Flood’s Terra seemed to fit the bill, well, perfectly.

Excited by the prospect of having a new shawl in time for Christmas, I cast on and happily knit and knit until I discovered that I wasn’t knitting so happily anymore. Doubt had set in. I doubted the yarn – was it soft enough to wear so close to my neck? I doubted my pattern-to-yarn matchmaking skills – was I making a lovely pattern boring with my pale grey-white yarn? Mostly, I doubted my patience to work through all those garter ridge rows that I kept messing up (give me lace – I’m fine, give me a simple garter stitch pattern – I’m hopeless, go figure).

So, I followed the adage “when in doubt, do nothing” and put it aside for four months and made myself a different shawl for Christmas (details coming soon). It wasn’t until last week that I decided to either finish it or frog it. As you can see, I chose to finish it, despite the doubt that lingered. In fact, it seemed the doubt increased with every garter-stitch row I knit. When I finally made it to the lace section, suddenly all the doubt vanished, the knitting elements I had doubted made “sense” and voilà, I had a new shawl for Easter, too!

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Lesson learned: when in doubt it is wise to press the pause button and have a think-through but sometimes you just have to work past the doubt for an answer to emerge. In my case, the answer was I had indeed found the “perfect” pattern for my beautiful yarn which, I’m happy to report, has now realized its full knitted potential*. Hurray!

Don’t you just love when that happens? Has it happened to you recently?

Wishing you a lovely day!

* details here

enough – at odds

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Last week I wrote a bit about the things I really like about working mostly from my yarn stash, the things that have made my knitting pursuits easier and how working form my stash has really confirmed my natural tendencies towards fuzzy, more “rustic” natural yarns.

So now that I’ve got my yarn preferences figured out and more than enough of that kind of yarn at hand, you might think that everything would fall into place in terms of lining up my projects and loving everything I make. I’m happy to report that for the most part, it does, except when I come across a pattern I really like that requires a round, “smooth” yarn. This very thing happened most recently when I saw that Liesl put a call out for test knitters for the cutest little hat.

When I first saw Liesl’s Clara May Hat, I instantly fell for the textured stitch patterns she had chosen that give the hat a laid back, folksy feel, in other words, the kind of design qualities I’m drawn to. Naturally, I rushed to sign myself up right away.

Having learned the hard way years ago of the importance of using a round, smooth and crisp yarn for textured patterns, I knew I would have to look beyond my stash for the right yarn to knit the Clara May Hat. Happy for an excuse to visit a yarn shop, I selected a yarn I thought would yield good stitch definition. You can imagine my frustration when my swatch quickly revealed how wrong my choice in yarn was. My love for soft, natural and fuzzy yarn strikes again and made a fuzzy, sloppy mess of the textured stitches. Ugh.

the "bad" yarn I'm referring to is the brown sample on top - this was the only photo I took before ripping it apart

the “bad” yarn I’m referring to is the brown sample on top – this was the only photo I took before ripping it apart, the dark grey sample underneath shows Cascade 220 – not bad but not very exciting either

Wanting to produce a good finished test for Liesl while also respecting my financial limitations, I dug deep into the corners of my stash. I came up with one skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, already wound (had I used any of it? I couldn’t remember) and knew it would be good match for Clara May. And it was good, really good actually, until I got several inches in and that sinking feeling of maybe not having enough yarn to finish kicked in. Ugh (again).

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Manos Silk Blend

Not wanting to play yarn chicken on a deadline, I found another yarn that swatched up “good enough” and, knowing I had lots of that, I started again and finally finished it, satisfied I had made the hat but still slightly disappointed because I knew it could have been better.

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Wabi-Sabi Organic Shetland, “good enough”

And yet, not end this tale on a sour note, the experience has given me a warm new hat made with a yarn I really do love (its so Shetland-y soft!), a new appreciation for test knitters and blog writing material to boot. All in all, not too shabby at the end of the day.

Thankfully, some patterns with textured stitches, like Bonnie’s (Blue Peninsula) On the Other Hand fingerless mittens, are more flexible. Bonnie’s sample for this pattern uses a lovely hand-dyed fingering weight that, being round and smooth, shows off the slightly textured lace stitches beautifully. While the yarn I used for the pair I knit didn’t have quite the same effect, its fuzzy, rustic characteristics lent a gentle halo that, in my mind at least, made up for the lack of crisp stitch definition.

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I couldn’t be happier with these new mitts – now, if only it would warm up enough for me to wear them outside!

All of this to say (in a very long winded way), even the challenges of working almost exclusively from my yarn stash so far this year have provided me with the great benefit of better yarn wisdom, of learning how to think more critically about matching patterns with yarn and knowing that, for now, my love for highly textured knitting projects will just have to wait.

What about you, do the patterns you like and the yarn you love ever butt heads? I’m curious, how do you resolve that conflict?

Wishing you a lovely day and to those of you who observe and celebrate, a blessed Holy Week and very happy Easter!

what is enough?

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Since I writing this post, I’ve been frequently revisiting my chosen word for 2015 “enough”, particularly in relation to my rather large yarn stash. To be honest, I feel embarrassed to have acquired so much yarn over the years and yet, still (to this day) want more.

Thankfully, I am far from alone in my desire to work through and, thus, reduce my stash. I’m definitely sure I’m not alone in loving Felicia’s series of posts on her blog The Craft Sessions, where she’s been writing about the challenges of using her own stash and respecting her budget in her goals to create a handmade wardrobe for herself. In reading these posts, not only do I find myself nodding along in agreement with her words as well as many of those shared in the comments section, but I’m also gaining new insight into how I think about my own process and goal of using up at least 50% of my stash. 

Perhaps my greatest insight (and answer to the question in today’s title) is summed up in this wonderful quote shared in Felicia’s post here:

“Enough is as good as a feast.”
– Mary Poppins

How very true, I mean there’s only so much we can eat (or knit) after all. Everything beyond that goes uneaten (unused), perhaps indefinitely and that likelihood to go “uneaten” grows exponentially whenever more yarn is added to the table, so to speak. This insight has been a great motivator to stay committed to my goal as it aligns with my deeper, core values and my wish to live those more authentically too.

So, today I thought I’d like to say how after two months of living my intentions of knitting (98%) from my “stash only”, I have discovered a few really wonderful benefits – one of which being the absolute luxury of not having to leave the house to buy yarn (have I mentioned what a homebody/hermit I am? – this benefit ranks really high on my list) and spend money in the process. Having my stash to draw from is a bit like having a nice savings account (sadly one that doesn’t collect interest, that would be too good!) right at my finger tips.

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In working with my stash, I’ve also gained a deeper insight into my yarn preferences as well. While I’ve always known how much I love natural, fuzzy and somewhat rustic yarn, it hasn’t been until I’ve had to really go through and characterize my yarn in terms of what kind of pattern would suit it, have I truly understood the depths of that love. As it turns out, I really DO love minimally processed, fuzzy yarn.

Of course, that insight in itself has presented its own set of challenges, too, but I think I shall save that discussion for next week along with a few exciting projects that demonstrate those challenges quite well (if I do say so myself).

How about you? Are you choosing to work though your stash rather than add to it this year? How is it going? What are you learning about this process and about yourself? What have been the benefits for you?

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Wishing you a wonderful week! I’ll be away for the next several days so please forgive me if I’m a little late in responding to your comments and trust that I read and love each and every one (I am especially grateful for all the truly lovely comments shared in my last post and those shared over at Vibeke’s – thank you, I am deeply touched!)