I finally finished my As We Go Stripey Blanket!
The poor thing was sitting there, finished but for some ends to weave in and an edging for months. All of a sudden, I picked it up and did the finishing in one night! Funny how that happens. I’ve been snuggling under it for a few days and it’s so warm and cheerful. Woody likes it, too. Putting his mouse on it is a great compliment!
I crocheted this blanket out of leftover balls of yarn from previous projects, and yarn that I had purchased for projects that somehow didn’t get made. It greatly reduced my “yarn stash.” This is Yay! and Thrifty! and making something useful from items I have. It is also sobering — if this was really Life During Wartime this blanket most likely wouldn’t have been created in the same manner, or for the same use. Crochet uses more yarn than knitting, and was deemed “wasteful” during WWII. Knitting, which uses less yarn was the thing to do. The idea of having a grand “yarn stash” during the war probably didn’t exist. People were trying to clothe their families and also knit for soldiers. I’ve read much more about people unravelling previously knitted garments to reuse the wool than trying to dream up ways to use up their “stash.” I would also not be snuggling up under this blanket. A soldier, hospital, or relief agency would have been the recipient of my work, most likely in the form of plain knitted squares which would have been put together with the squares of others to be made into a blanket.
I can’t help but muse on privilege and our current handmade culture when thinking about these facts. If you surf the craft blogs of most Western crafters, overflowing yarn stashes are an issue more than not having any yarn to use. This is a problem I am not immune to! I had to institute a no yarn buying ultimatum in 2008 — and I still buy very little yarn these days. I had a philosophy that if it was a supply to make something by hand, it wasn’t “bad” spending like, say, another lipstick or another pair of shoes. That illogic caught up to me quickly! Something I’ve only recently started thinking of is where my yarn comes from and how it is produced. Who makes it and how are they treated? What dyes are used and are they environmentally sound? Can local food philosophies be applied to yarn?
Right now I’d like to take a little step back — pledge to continue to use the yarn I have, and promise that my next yarn purchase considers the questions I’ve asked above. My local farmers market has a stall selling hanks of wool from an alpaca farmer (who sometimes brings an alpaca for a visit!). That sounds more like how I’d like my future yarn purchases to go. And how about projects? I will certainly be more conscious of what kinds of projects stretch yarn usage (vs. what kinds of projects are yarn eaters). I also want to make sure I work on things I truly need. This is my fourth handmade blanket — I think we have enough. I can still use more washcloths and sweaters and I’ve found shawls so useful, too, and only have three. I always need socks. I have a few cute hats but only one very warm hat. I could use another super warm one. And what about making something for others? I already knit for friends and family, but I’m going to keep open for an opportunity to knit for a cause I believe in that feels right. I’ll know it when I see it 🙂
I didn’t imagine finishing a blanket would be so fraught with complexity! But there you go!