Wednesday, 20 January 2021

The Buy Less Year

Goals are not black and white. They are more than actions attained or not with no in-between. In fact, goals work best when they can be fine tuned while we walk in that direction and learn more about what we didn't know. At best, goals are simply a starting point.

And yet, the term goal setting has taken on a rigid, all or nothing, overtone that doesn't appeal to me. Words matter - to us and to those we hope will support us. I prefer to use the phrase setting an intention so that I can move in a new direction, step-by-step, correcting as I go. I believe that room for adjustment is crucial for success because what I'm really saying is that I want to find a way to do something different. The easiest way is typically by not overcomplicating the issue. 

The amount of storage space in my new studio is slightly less than at my previous studio. I was able to get all of my supplies into the cupboard only it's stuffed full. When I pull out yarn or a piece of fabric, it's hard work getting it back in smoothly which translates into a mess with a lack of flow as opposed to room for fabulous finds. 

I thought about a buy nothing year for roughly two seconds. And let it go. Totally unrealistic. Definitely not attainable. Hardly doable. It would have lasted only until my next trip to the fabric store. I am weak in the face of fabric, especially fabulous fabric on sale, like the linen currently on buy one meter, get two free, at a nearby store.

I'm also somewhat impulsive when auditioning options like the buttons for the turquoise sweater in my last posting. First, I looked through my button collection and chose a darker lime button except I only had three so I went to the store to buy more. The same button was in a different, brighter, dye lot so I bought six of them and six of another green, just in case. When I got home, both were not quite right and I ended up using white buttons from stash. Five out, twelve in, is not going to accomplish any de-stashing. Luckily, the button jars are not stuffed to overflowing like fabric and yarn but even so. 

I believe in supporting those who support us. I try to shop close to home and outward. Our local fabric store is a franchise owned by a couple who live here in the community. The fact that it exists is one of the reasons I chose to move to this city. I couldn't imagine living any place without a fabric store. I am glad it's here and I'd like it to stay so obviously I need to spend some money to help that happen. 

BUT... I also believe in limits and I know that there is an amount of stash that is productive for me and an amount that is paralyzing.  Eighty percent of capacity works. A hundred percent and beyond does not. Since I'm closer to a hundred than eighty, I am calling this the buy less year with the intention of shopping at home first and only buying what I truly need and/or can fit into the studio. 

That means somehow working myself down to that eighty percent level by sewing the fabric, refashioning the garments, playing with the remnants, and knitting the yarn that I already have while trying my hardest not to falter in the face of fabulous fabric on sale and ending up bringing it home and attempting to somehow fit it into an already full cupboard. Including buttons! Including all shiny objects.

The scarf I've shown in this posting is knit from one end to the other starting with six stitches and ending with close to two hundred. It's a free pattern called Cascade by Brian Smith Designs. Mine is loosely based on the pattern. I started out the same six stitches but detoured rather quickly into my own random positioning of stripes. 

I picked the pattern to use yarn remnants from other projects. The pattern calls for five different colours... and I thought I had used five... until I took this picture. There's four in mine. They are similar but not identical in weight with some slightly thicker and others slightly thinner. The really fun part was creating the colour changes. The stitch is a simple garter stitch that increases by one every two rows. Finished, the scarf is really long. Shown on my blocking board below, the wing span is over a hundred inches, possibly because I ended up with more rows than Brian's pattern called for. 


To block the scarf, I started by pinning the straight edge along one continuous line. To get the correct angle, and another straight line on the opposite edge, I placed a measuring tape between pins at both ends and moved the knitting forward until it could be pinned along the edge. 

Then I folded the straight edge back on itself, pinning it along the same line on the board. Once that was in place, I aligned the fold with one of the horizontal measuring lines and determined the second angle. It's not identical. Where needed, the pins are inserted flatter so I can place...

.. the measuring tape along the second angle. I block my knitted items dry rather than soaking them. Once they are pinned in place, I spray the surface heavily with hot water and let it thoroughly dry. In this case, I sprayed the bottom layer first before folding over the second one, pinning and spraying it.

I'm quite happy with how the scarf turned out and there are still remnants from this project to say nothing of the other balls in stash. I have no option but to believe that remnants breed in the night. They are never ending. I guess I'll be knitting more striped items. 

Do you have any spending intentions for your studio this year?
Do you like working with remnants?

Talk soon - Myrna

- intentions


  1. I like your intention of buying less rather than those that declare no fabric or yarn etc for the year or only from stash for 2021 etc! I know for me that isn't going to happen, but less and more intentional can. I did find though that if I have too much, as you said, it can stifle and overwhelm the creativity and in the first parts of the Covid pandemic when going out was totally impossible, making do and being totally creative with what was at home, was wonderful. I need more of that and strive to do that more often, even now, since shopping is still difficult. I do love working with remnants, both fabric and yarn too

    1. I did drive by a fabric store today and not go in. This is good. I too have enjoyed the creative push of using what I have. Keep having fun.