Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Friday, January 10, 2014

Stash Wars: My Vintage Yarn Obsession

Given my "d'ruthers", I much prefer to knit with wool yarn over synthetic or cotton yarn any day. I think it was the knitting expert Elizabeth Zimmerman whose writings turned me on to it. Wool yarn has a liveliness to it that feels truly different when you knit or crochet it--which, I suppose, is natural considering that it comes from a living being and not a laboratory. I can't really explain it; it's just something I sense when I work with it and touch the resulting fabric. It's more substantial, more springy--no matter what the weight of the yarn.

The down side of knitting with wool is that it's jolly expensive! Unless, perhaps, you have your own sheep and know how to spin.

I don't. 

Therefore, when I come across a stash of high-quality wool, wool-blend, or novelty yarn someone is offering for sale at a garage sale or a rummage sale (church rummage sales are the best for this, I find) I know no shame. For the past two years I have been ruthlessly snatching every ball or skein of good vintage yarn I can find and adding them to my stash for future use. Estate sales, thrift shops... Just get out of my way! Someday, I figure, I will find just the right project for each type and will use it up.

Dare I share with you the depths of my yarn hoarding depravity? Of course I do!

Here I have several skeins of vintage Bernat Mohairspun, which is 66% mohair, 17% wool, and 17% nylon. There are no barcodes on these babies!

This heap of dusty pink boucle yarn is Spinnerin Astralon, "the light-weight bulky yarn for fashion lovers". It's made of orlon and nylon. Nubby sweaters were very popular in the 1960s, and I'm guessing this harks back to that era. 

Here's a good example of what I'm talking about. This partially completed sweater was one I was thrilled to find at an estate sale in a senior community. The granddaughters of the woman who made this and were handling the sale were selling as much fabric, yarn, or clothing as one could fit into a large box--for $1 apiece! Boy, did I bring home a haul!

I will probably unravel the piece and salvage the yarn for another project, as there's no pattern left for me to complete it. The blue yarn is Bernat Astrakhan Yarn and it's 60% wool and 40% mohair. The cream-colored contrasting yarn is Spinnerin Linette, a wool and irish linen yarn imported from Switzerland. Cool, huh?

There was also a sweater she had nearly completed, and by a bit of clever rummaging and digging, I unearthed the pattern she was using, and so I brought the whole shebang home, hoping I can someday pick up where she left off and finish it. This gal was good! I stuffed the sweater, still on the needles, into my box and I hope I can do as good a job completing it as she did on the first 3 1/2 pieces. It's not of wool, but it's so well done, who cares? (As if I don't have enough unfinished projects of my own, I bring home someone else's! I told you it was an obsession.)

How cool is this? The knitter put the pockets in seamlessly at the same time as she knit the front panels. She also has both front panels on the same needle so she could ensure the panels were exactly the same length. She did the sleeves that way, too! Wish I'd known this woman.

I'll never get through at this rate, so I'll combine some descriptions. Here are beatiful balls of golden Italian mohair (from Sears--that tells you how old this is), Bucilla Mist-Aire wool/mohair/nylon blend, and unmarked balls of what I think is angora. Treasure! I hate to think what this would cost me if I were to go out and try to buy this type of yarn new. 

Here's a recent acquisition, 4 skeins of surpringly bright 85% wool, 15% mohair skeins in a bulky weight Lamb's Pride yarn made in Nebraska. I don't know when these were made, maybe not that long ago, but the price on each skein is $7.99. I doubt I paid more than 79 cents apiece for them, if that much.

Both Etsy and eBay have also been good sources for me for vintage yarn at bargain prices. Type in "destash" or "yarn lot" and you'll find excellent deals. I have to be careful about looking because it sets up a frantic yearning to buy...  Like some kind of yarn Gollum, I wants it! 
Wool yarn...vintage...preciousssssss........

Here's a lot of beautiful rich red and black Italian-made Bucilla Flame yarn which I bought from a seller on Etsy. It's 60% acrylic, 40% wool, and my camera does not do justice to its rich, ruby color! 

I was also tickled to find five skeins of this vivid orange Columbia-Minerva Zephyr fingering yarn in 50% wool/50% nylon. Think of the fun baby sweaters and hats I could make with this--phooey on pastels!

Not that I don't like pastels--I do. Here are some premium brushed acrylic yarns, superwash wool yarns, and vintage wool baby yarns and fingering yarns.

Okay, two more, then I'll quit, I promise. Even though I have more I could show you! 

This yarn is actually a deep rust color, darker than it appears in this photo. It's not wool, but 100% acrylic of a good quality, being Unger Miranda, made in France. I have a big bagful of this yarn, and I'm eager to make it into a cardigan or a beautifully textured pullover sweater of some sort. It came from the $1/box estate sale I mentioned earlier. I'll be lucky ever to stumble on a yarn trove like this again.

And lastly, from the same sale, is one you'd never guess. Take a look at this, and tell me what your first reaction is.
If you're thinking Red Heart yarn, worsted weight, variegated, you'd be correct. If you're thinking cheap, dreary acrylic Red Heart worsted weight variegated, you'd be wrong! This is 100% wool. I saved the label and tucked it away somewhere, because I was so surprised when I found this. I don't think Red Heart has produced wool yarn in decades. I have just the one skein (oh, and it was an actual old-fashioned skein that had to be rolled into a ball, not one of the modern era pull-out skeins) so it will become a terrific hat or other small project someday. Maybe I'll do some checking and see if I can find out when it was made.

Okay, I need to sign off and stuff all this back into boxes and bins and let you swoon with envy and desire for a while. It's time to quit blogging about knitting and actually do some knitting, so I'll be off the proverbial radar screen for a bit until I have something tangible to show you. Feel free to bug me about my progress--I need the nagging.

1 comment :

  1. Stumbled here, and I enjoyed this post.😊