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February 22, 2004: Yarn, oh yarn

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A few years ago my older sister and I went to a Cross Stitch convention in Sacramento. The convention center was packed with displays of cross stitching both beautiful and awesome in its complexity, as well as row after row of vendor booths selling every conceivable cross stitch item known to womankind. There were kids. There was thread. There was cloth of every sort, needles, thread organizing gadgets, lights, sewing stands the list was endless.

So when my friend (the one who's been teaching me to knit) noted a month or two ago that there was going to be a similar convention for knitting and crocheting in Oakland, I jumped at the chance to go. And in preparation for such a convention I mulled over how long it has taken me to do the projects I've done so far, calculated out how long it might take me to finish a few more projects, based on stitch to length and width ratios and other vague measurements, and decided that this meant that I needed to buy yarn. Obviously, it was fate.

Of course, it being in Oakland, this meant we had to get an early start. I crawled out of bed with just enough time to feed the cats, take a shower, and pack a quick lunch. Then I nudged Richard awake long enough to ask him to sort through a few piles of his stuff in the garage (because the garage organization project could not move forward without it!), drove to the next town to pick up my friend, and we were off.

We got there early enough to find a perfect parking spot right in front of the convention center, and then joined a rapidly growing throng of hundreds and hundreds of woman, all wearing things they had knitted, or carting in-progress projects, or trailing balls of yarn, everywhere we turned. There was a little time before the doors opened so we found a table and joined two other women one of whom was working on a shawl and one of who was working on a hat. We rapidly traded names and details of our respective projects (since naturally we brought our own knitting along) and when the doors opened we joined the throngs of people lining up to buy tickets to enter knitting nirvana.

I could have spent so much money at this convention. It takes an incredible amount of willpower to walk into this kind of thing and not purchase anything. The fact that I had specific projects to find yarn for was my only saving grace. We wandered up and down the aisles and I fingered dozens and dozens of skeins. There are more varieties of wool available than I had ever known existed, and they come in any color imaginable. There were tables crammed with pattern books or heaped with skeins of yarn in wool and cotton and hemp and any other fiber that could conceivably be spun into yarn, including hair of dog. There were hand carved knitting needles and spinning implements for those who like to start from scratch, and entire displays of specially dyed yarn that knits into intricately patterned socks with nothing more than a simple garter stitch. We spent the first few hours blissfully wandering from booth to booth, daydreaming of having the time and money and wrist strength to not only afford all the yarn we wanted, but to somehow manage to make all the projects we'd have to make to justify the yarn expense.

I did manage to find the yarn for my next three projects, diving excitedly into an untidy heap of alpaca wool to find just the right shades of brown, and then sorting through pile after pile of an entire rainbow of others to find pale green that melts into a watery greenish blue just for variety, and a purple that is more blue than red. I also succumbed to a particularly gorgeous skein of hand-dyed variegated pale purple that included enough yardage for me to make several things as soon as I can figure out just what I should use it for just because I could not resist. After all, the other yarn purchases aren't really for me, so I decided I was allowed to get something for myself too.

It is hard, now, to have all this yarn. I want to start one of the next projects immediately, if only to work with something far more vibrant and fresh than the dark olive green I chose for the sweater I'm working on. But I am trying to be firm with myself. Only one project at a time. Once this one is done then I can have the delicious joy of trying to decide which one to start next.

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