Mini Skeins (Weight vs Yardage)

6 Mar

Today I want to talk about mini skeins because that’s what I’ve been up to for the last two weeks. Making lots and lots of mini skeins. Why, you ask?

Well, I was able to find a great price on Madelinetosh Tosh Sock yarn, which normally retails for $25-27/skein and bought a bunch, with the intent to finish my Linen Stitch scarf that I had begun two years ago in my attempt to use up sock yarn scraps. Who knew that it ate yarn like crazy and who knew that I wouldn’t have enough scraps? Me, the queen of yarn hoarding not have enough yarn? I know, right?

Anyway, I bought something like 18 skeins of all different colors. (yes, I know you’re doing the math in your head and thinking….that’s like $400!) Yes, it was a lot of money to drop on yarn but my plan was to wind off whatever odd amount I needed from each skein and destash the rest of the yarn by making mini skein sets, thereby offsetting the cost a bit.

Little did I realize it was gonna be so much work, not to mention that there is no set amount regarding how big a mini skein is supposed to be. Some people do 5g, some do 15 yds, 40 yards, 50 yards, 10g and so on and so on. I couldn’t decide what would be the most appealing. (mind you, the goal is to get rid of these yarns asap so I could recoup some of the cost) So, I took a poll on Ravelry and the winner was…..25yds. That’s my preferred size too, because it enables those Hexipuff lovers to make 2 Hexipuff with each mini skein since each puff takes approx 10-12yds.

Some folks wrote in to say that they prefer 5g or any of the skeins that go by weight instead of yardage because it’s more accurate than winding on a niddy noddy due to tension issues. That got me thinking…..

Unless one invested in a jeweler’s scale (aka drug dealer scale), most digital scales that we own do not go into decimal points for grams. That means a huge variation as far as yardage is concerned. Anything from 4.55 – 5.45g would show up on the scale as 5 grams. In a fine yarn like fingering weight sock yarns, that’s a difference of 3.6 yards. Yeah, that’s a lot, especially in such a small size skein. We’re talking 18% variation! (that’s like getting a 41g ball when the ball band says 50g. If this happened with a commercially made yarn from a LYS, you can be sure I’d march in there with burning torches)

So, what is this tension issue that was discussed regarding mini skeins sold by yardages? Well, it just means that depending on how tightly the yarn was wound on a niddy noddy (or a chairback), there would be variation in the length because yarn is so stretchy. If you took a yard of yarn, laid it on the floor and measured it, it would be a slightly different length when measured taut. But would this variation be more or less than the 18% (from using the not-so-accurate scale)?

No way to find out unless I tested it out, right?

So I wound up my Tosh Sock 25 times on a 1 yd niddy noddy as tightly as humanly possible. I couldn’t even peel the yarn off from the niddy noddy so I literally had to unwind the whole skein. Normally, I wouldn’t wind any of my yarns this tight but I wanted to see what the difference in yardage would be for a tightly wound skein vs a loosely wound skein.

Super tight skein

Next, I took that very same “25 yd” skein and wound it super loosely on the same niddy noddy. This time, the yarn was barely hanging on and was practically slipping off the niddty noddy. Once again, I don’t normally wind this loose but all for science, I tell ya!

Loose as goose skein

What was the difference? Drum roll please…….3.7yds. Hmmm… that’s about the same as the scale!

So, what is the conclusion here? Well, I’d like to think the actual variation from skein to skein when wound on a niddy noddy would be closer to 1.5 yds because I do not wind super tight nor super loose. (i went back and wound the same skein on the same niddy noddy using my normal tension and came within 1.5 yards of the super tight skein.)

As for those people who use the scale to make their mini skeins, can you measure your yarn closest to 5g? Would you know if it was 4.6 or 5.4?

Well, here’s my solution: wind up all the mini skeins into 25 yards and weigh all of them to double check that the weight falls in the 7g range. Double the work, but it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and it’s a peace of mind knowing none of them are totally off. Now, back to the grind….(or shall I say “wind”?)

12,000 skeins and counting…

12 Feb

So, how have folks been for the last few months? Getting much headway on your New Year’s Resolutions?

As for me, I’ve been busy knitting more and spending less time on Ravelry. I mean, not by a whole lot but still, I’m making headway as far as finishing projects is concerned. And of course, I’ve been yarn shopping.

Yesterday, I got curious as to how much I actually had. Since I’ve got 99% of my stash uploaded onto my Ravelry page, it didn’t take long for me to figure out exactly how many skeins I had. (if you didn’t know about the Excel spreadsheet function on Ravelry’s yarn page, I suggest you check it out. It’s an awesome tool to keep your out-of-control yarn inventory in check)

Well, the final tally….drumroll please……12,000 skeins(!!!!)

12,000 skeins? OMFG!


In the course of a year or so, I somehow amassed 1500 skeins. WTF? That didn’t make much sense to me. So I backtracked and tried to see where the sudden surge in numbers occurred. Turns out, I was deluding myself previously by entering all my cone yarns as 1 skein. Technically, it is one skein, right? But c’mon now. Considering most of my cones weigh anywhere from 2-4 pounds, they should not be counted as single skeins. So when I finished adding all my cone yarns that were previously not entered into my Rav stash page and accounted for them appropriately (i.e a 1kg cone would be entered as an equivalent of 10 skeins), the skein total shot up big time, despite my multiple destash attempts.

And I won’t lie – I did accrue some yarns on the way too (Ravelry destashes, Craftsy,, Knit Picks, etc)

So, my goal for the next several months is to get that 12,000 down to a more reasonable 10,000 (relatively speaking! Yes, I know that number is no where near reasonable for most people), which is why I started Round 1 of my destash. Here’s the plan:

  • Round 1: Hand-dyed Yarns, lux yarns, and thinner yarns in skein form (I don’t have time to set up my swift/yarnwinder and cake these up)
  • Round 2: Bulky yarns (knitting with fat needles seem to hurt my wrists and elbow)
  • Round 3: Undyed yarns (I got rid of a ton a few months ago but still have quite a bit left)
  • Round 4: Random skeins that I’ll group into heavily discounted grab bags
  • Round 5: Cottons and acrylics (I don’t have a ton of these but still, no sense in holding onto them when I know I won’t be knitting with them)

I posted the destash today on Ravelry and got several people commenting that selling a whole 41 skeins won’t even put a dent in the 12000. True, but I like to parse stuff out little by little. Doing an overhaul is too chaotic and many people hit decision fatigue when they’re faced with too many choices so I’m using a bit of marketing psychology here. Hey, gotta start somewhere right? One step at a time. And mind you, you won’t see a single ball of yarn in sight when you walk into my house (because they’ve been relegated to one room + attic) so I guess it’s not causing problems for anyone else.

Let the stash down begin!

Merry X-mas! Happy Holidays!

24 Dec

Our family is not Christian and do not celebrate any of the holidays in December but I still want to wish you all a happy end of the year holidays. The big day for us is New Year’s Day so we’re all flying over to Phoenix, AZ where my in-laws are spending their winter. (they have multiple houses. Don’t ask.) Did I mention that end-of-the-year airplane tix prices are mucho inflated? I’m talking $2700 for a family of 5 (not including an under 2 year old who gets to fly free because she’ll be sitting in my lap)?

Anyway, what I want to talk about in this post is the holiday sales. Knitting specific, of course.

  • WEBS ( is having their end-of-the-year clearance sale. I almost bought some stuff, until I realized I would have to pay postage, which I loathe. So I passed, cuz hey, I’ve got tons of yarn already.
  • Knit Picks has a mystery grab bag promotion right now, with coupon code: MYSTERY, where you receive a bag of mystery yarn (mostly Brava, their 100% acrylic yarn) with $35 purchase. They’re running a lux yarn sale at the same time so if you need some nice yarns for the new year, now’s your chance. For some reason, the code wouldn’t work for me, so I took it as a sign that I shouldn’t buy anything. (here’s hoping they have a nice sale after X-mas)
  • Jimmy Beans Wool typically has Madtosh and other nice yarns heavily discounted during Black Friday and post-Christmas on their Wool Watcher
  • Paradise Fibers has a free shipping deal going on until the end of the year. Coupon code:DECSHIP
  • NordicMart has all the Drops/Garnstudio alpaca and alpaca blend yarns for 25% off

That’s about it for now. I’ve been pretty out of the yarn sale info these days since I’m trying to destash. Forgive me for the lack of info. At least you can stay away from spending more money, right?

My Brief Encounter With Dyakcraft Darn Pretties

15 Dec

So you’ve heard of yarn snobs. Well, have you heard of needles snobs? It’s those folks who look down on factory manufactured needles and insist that artisan/handmade stuff is best. (if you’ve read my previous posts, you know how i feel about that.) In that category, you’ve got Dyakcraft needles for wood, Signature Needles for metal, and Blackthorn needles for carbon fiber DPNs. And yes, they are all really pricey.

Despite my love of trying all things new, I do have a mental budget and just could not for the life of me spend that kind of money, fully knowing that I’ve already got enough needles for a sweatshop of knitters. I mean, $342 for a small set of DPNs? Are you out of your freakin mind?! (yes, that’s how much a Signature Needle DPN set costs)

Well, I wasn’t gonna back down that easy. An interchangeable set from Dyakcraft was a relatively affordable $150. Sure, the wait time was 12 months but they didn’t require payment until the item was ready to ship so I figured, what did I have to lose?

Fast forward 12 months (that would be last December), and I had in my hands my very own “snooty” needles. Hahaha!

Dyakcraft Darn Pretties – They took a darn long time getting to me!

The needle case that came with it was cute but totally useless and despite the gushing reviews on Ravelry by Dyakcraft fanatics, I wasn’t floored by these needles. Yes, they were nice and smooth with almost seamless joins and all but what can I say? I had big expectations and these were just ok in my opinion. Sure, they were better than the Knit Picks needles, but they also cost 3-4 times as much and waiting 1 year for needles is just plain ridiculous.

Since I tend to save the nice stuff, just in case I might wear the needles out, I used the Darn Pretties all of twice, to knit sample swatches.

Fast forward another 8 months and bam! Rutland PlyWood, which supplied the rainbow colored Dymondwood to Dyakcraft, had a huge fire and could no longer supply the wood. All of a sudden, more people were scrambling for the Darn Pretty needles, now that it was clear Dyakcraft would no longer take orders. (no wood = no needles)

Normally, I hoard stuff. Yes, I hoard a lot of yarn and then some. I probably would have held onto my Darn Pretties feeling smug that I had what others couldn’t buy. But, no. That wouldn’t be fair. And my ever dwindling bank account balance wouldn’t be too happy about that either. So I let them go at a fair price – what i paid (i probably could have jacked up the price and left with quite a profit but that’s not my game). The whole transaction, from posting the sale with pics to answering interested messages to receiving the money took all of 3 minutes. Yeah, they sold like hotcakes. Whoever you are, enjoy the needles!

Now as for those Signature and Blackthorn DPNs….anyone want to lend me theirs so I can test drive them?

Yarn Dyeing with Food Safe Dyes

6 Dec

I’ve been rather busy lately (no, not because of Thanksgiving and its subsequent discount sales, although I must say that I did partake in a few of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals that were simply too good to pass up…)

For the month of November, I was spending a lot of time perfecting my home dyeing skills in order to do a presentation for my local knitting guild. Yep, I did something called “Yarn Dyeing with Food Safe Dyes,” where I did a demo of simple acid dyeing techniques using Kool-Aid, food coloring, and red onion skin water (which I had prepared at home in advance). Since many indie dyers come to the our knitting guild to speak and talk about their yarns but never discuss in detail HOW their yarns are dyed, I figured ‘Hey, let’s see how those are dyed live! Can’t be that hard…I dye them at home all the time!’

Well, the dyeing and demo was pretty easy. But the logistics of bringing all the supplies and trying to accomplish all the dyeing without a kitchen was much more difficult. What amounted to simply bringing a pot of water to boil and dumping yarn and Kool-Aid in required me to bring 3-4 boxloads of supplies and equipment. Yeah, shoulda thought of that. Haha.

Here are some of the yarns from the demo night.

Handpainted using Kool-Aid dyes and then steam set. Pretty clown-barfy, right?

Dyed in a pot with a blend of red, yellow and caramel food coloring with citric acid added later. Came out surprisingly even/solid

Super simple mason jar dyeing result. Just add wet yarn into a glass jar with boiling water and Kool-Aid mixed in. Wait until the water turns clear and voila!

Cone Yarns Pt III – The Brands

5 Oct

Today I’d like to talk about the specific brands behind these cone yarns I buy. I figure, since there’s so little info out there regarding some of these brands that it helps to share what I know.

The Knitting Yarn Companies that Sell Cones


These you’re well aware of, because you probably own some of these yarns, in skein form.

  • Lion Brand
  • Louet
  • Brown Sheep Company
  • Jaggerspun
  • Noro (yes, they do make cones for weavers)
  • Habu Textile
  • Baruffa/Lane Borgosesia

The Weaving/Machine Knitting Yarn Companies

I try to steer away from any weaving yarns because frankly, they’re coarser/rougher, often used for rugs and even the 100% cashmere yarns tend to be of the lower quality type. (and I know this from experience. Imagine my surprise at having purchased a 100% cashmere yarn just to be left with a really scratchy swatch. WTF?)

  • JaggerSpun
  • Rennie of Scotland
  • Kilcarra
  • Harrisville
  • Barlett Yarns
  • UKI
  • Silk City Fibers
  • Valley Yarns/WEBS

Undyed Yarn Bases (typically sold wholesale only)

  • Amtex/Elitespun
  • Henry’s Attic
  • Ashland Bay
  • Wool2Dye4

Textile Mill Cones

These are the cones from industrial factories where they produce the retail store knits. It could be anything from Chanel to Hugo Boss, Burberry to those no name budget sweaters you find at the Gap. Of course, the cones would not have the brand label but the name of the textile mill.

  • Loro Piana
  • Lora & Festa
  • Cariaggi
  • Johnstons of Elgin
  • Filati Modesto Biagioli
  • Lineapiu
  • Amicale
  • Natural Fantasy
  • UPW (HK)
  • Barrie
  • Zegna Baruffa/Lane Borgosesia
  • Botto Poala
  • Todd & Duncan
  • Hilaturas Ribe

and these are just the ones I’m aware of (most of these brands I own. Some, like the rustic Harrisville and Barlett Yarns I do not) Take a look at this entire list of Italian textile mills. Knowing that these mills don’t sell yarn to the public, I have no idea how they make their way into private hands (with the exception of Colourmart that sell mill ends from British textile mills). But they have a way of popping up on Ebay and yours truly has been snapping these babies up. (I should mention that I just dropped $1000+ on cone yarns in the last month. Yeah, it’s a bad addiction)

Cone Yarns Pt II – My Love Affair with Cone Yarns

28 Sep

I’ve mentioned it before in several other posts but I really love cone yarns. (don’t know what they are? They’re yarn wound onto cones, typically in large quantities like 1lb+)

smaller cones. lotsa colors!

They were my first yarn purchases and to this day I still buy them why do I love them?

1) They’re economical (it’s like bulk pricing. Since you’re buying a lot, you get a break)

2) Less ends to weave in after you’re done knitting. (only 2 ends to weave in when you’re done with your blanket/afghan. Hooray!)

3) It takes up less space to store (especially helpful when you have as big of a stash as I do)

4) Faster to knit since you don’t have to bother with joining yarn like you do with balls/skeins.

5) You can create any thickness of yarn since most cones are lace/fingering weight. If I hold them 3-6 strands, I can create Dk, worsted, aran, bulky whatever.

Recently, I’ve gone on a cone yarn binge and basically ran my checking account dry buying one too many of these babies. Many were purchased on Ebay by a knitter who decided she didn’t have the space to store all these cones and was destashing her many (and I mean MANY) luxury cone yarns. She lives in NYC so I would imagine storage space is limited. And that brings me to Silk City Fibers.

What’s that, you ask? Well, if you’re a weaver or a machine knitter, I’m sure you’re familiar with them but for the regular knitter, they’re probably unknown. I could count only a handful of times I’ve seen their yarns sold through retail outlet like Elann or Webs. Well, they’re a wholesale only distributor of cone yarns located in a Northern NJ town called Paterson. (If you live in NYC or the nearby suburbs, definitely go check out their monthly Warehouse Outlet Day. It happens once a month – the second Saturday of every month and they sell off their overstock and discount cone yarns for dirt cheap. And while they carry a lot of funky novelty stuff, they also have tons of luxury yarns like merino, silk, and cashmere. In fact, their current special is $50/lb for their 100% Italian spun cashmere. Yeah, you read that right. $50 a pound. If you consider that ho hum wool like Cascade 220 go for about $45/lb, you can really see how low that price is. (100% cashmere in LYSs usually sell for something like $360-$400/lb since they’re typically 25g balls and you’d need to purchase a brick ton to get a full pound. pretty insane, right?)

I was told by someone who’s been to the warehouse that you can get any of their yarns off their regular inventory when you go there. Considering they only sell wholesale and would require something like a 300lb+ purchase to get those prices, I think it’s something to take advantage of if you live nearby. (Kinda out of the way for me, seeing as I live in Oregon but hey, I used to live in NJ and pass by Paterson all the time. Too bad I didn’t knit back then and didn’t even know the existence of Silk City Fibers.)

And the sale comes to an end…

24 Aug

Well, thank you to all those folks who came to my garage sale. Big hugs all around.

That said, I didn’t see several people that I thought would show. And from a revenue perspective, this sale was kind of a bust. Don’t get me wrong, I sold a ton. $1000 is no chump change. But compared to the prior sale when the final tally was $1700, it’s a big difference.

So what was different from the last sale? What caused such a big decrease in sales?

Here’s what I can surmise:
1) The Craigslist ad went out too late. I should have posted about 2 weeks in advance so there would have been more exposure. I only posted the day before this time so hardly anyone saw that ad.

2) There was another local knitter destashing 2000 skeins of yarn the same time I was holding my sale. (NE Portland, so a good 20 miles away but still, it’s competition) Seeing as she basically copied my X000 skein destash and the Fri-Sat 10-4PM time, looks like we’ve got a copycat. It didn’t help that she was moving and getting rid of everything for a dollar/skein. Yeah, it could be hideous novelty yarn or scratchy acrylic but a dollar is still a dollar.

3) Timing. The last sale was held on June 25th. This time around it was August 23rd. Maybe people aren’t in the mood to buy wool yarn when it’s 90 degrees outside? Note to self: have the next sale in June

Oh well, that’s ok. Not like I was desperate to get rid of the yarn anyway. (get rid of yarn? gasp! Oh no, I’m simply letting others adopt them from me so they can give them more love. Get rid of…. blasphemy!)

As I mentioned before, my finances are just fine with or without the yarn (thank gawd!) so I don’t have to destash everything like a firesale and sell em for $1 to get quick cash or anything. Speaking of which, I don’t understand these people that are on Ravelry destashing all these expensive handdyed yarns to fix their car/repair their roof/pay for medical bills, etc. Seriously, people. You should not be spending your “rainy day fund” on yarn. Especially $25-30/skein yarn. If you can’t afford it, just don’t buy it. (Reminds of a story about Asian teenagers pimping themselves out to creepy middle aged guys so they could go buy Louis Vuitton bags. Ok, kind of a stretch but….)

Oh look at me, I’m ranting again! LOL

Inventory List Coming Soon…

20 Aug

Yeah, I know. The big inventory list. You have no idea how many people sent me messages asking how much I’m selling certain yarns for because I had all the garage sale yarns marked as “Will Trade or Sell” on Ravelry.

I now have a copy-paste blurb for anyone sending me destash related messages:

I’m only selling these locally for a garage sale I’m having next weekend. (didn’t want to hassle with the packaging/shipping and added cost) Thanks for your interest though!

So, the big question is, what am I selling and for how much? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know? (Me too!)
It’s a big time suck to try to come up with this spreadsheet because I have to make sure I actually have the yarn in my possession (yes, sometimes I can’t find certain yarns regardless of what my Rav stash info says) and adding to the spreadsheet is a pain in the ass because I keep finding more yarns I want to get rid of while digging out my yarn closet.

Man, I’ve got quite the work cut out for me, since I have to go clean my garage so it’s presentable. (I mean, it’s pretty clean, thank goodness, but I need to rearrange stuff so people can walk in and browse around. (I told you I practically have my own yarn shop, didn’t I?)

Oh, and did I mention I have three young children, including a very clingy 14 month old baby? Gah, what have I gotten myself into?!!

At any rate, I will post the spreadsheet soon. I promise!

My Annual Yarn Garage Sale 8/22-8/23/2014

12 Aug

Yeah, baby. It’s on again.

Having skipped last year due to my having a baby, I’ve once again accumulated waaay too much yarn (is there such a thing?)

So here it is, for the third time. My annual 1000+ skein destash. If you’ve been to my sales before, you know what it’s like.

Lots of good yarns at super low prices. I’m destashing all my duplicate magazines for a flat $1/issue so if you’ve been needing some hard copies of Interweave, Vogue Knitting, Knitscene and other big name publications from the last 7 years, drop on by! And I’ve finally accepted that I don’t like knitting with workhorse wools. Goodbye Cascade 220, German sock yarns and similar wool yarns! And of course, for the yarn snobs, I’ve got handdyed stuff set aside too. Madelinetosh, Sanguine Gryphon, Lorna’s Laces, and much more!  I’ve got some new Hiya Hiya and Knitter’s Pride needles in the mix as well. All at 40-75% off retail. (Oh, did I mention there’s no novelty yarns or half used stuff?Everything brand spanking new and all items kept in pristine condition. Non-smoking, no pets, no bugs, no hairs, nada.)

Here’s the knitty gritty ;)


Date:  8/22-8/23 Friday-Saturday
Time:  10AM-4PM
Place: edited for privacy
Payment: Cash or checks accepted



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