My (new) sewing space

I just re-organized quite a bit so that all my crafting materials are in one room, and my desk and schoolwork are in another: having the sewing machine next to my computer was too good for procrastination.

I pulled a table and an old TV cart out of the basement, and now one wall of my bedroom looks like this:

(I haven’t found a chair yet. The step-stool works okay for now.)

If you turn to your left while sitting at the table, you see this:

All of my fabric, fiber and yarn in one place. There was some serious tetris-like packing going on while I organized this, and I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to be like packing a suitcase for a trip: on day one, everything fits, but by day three, you can’t shove it all back in no matter how hard you try. So far, though, it’s been great incentive to use what I have and work from stash, because I simply don’t have enough space for more fabric to join me.

The bookshelf below actually holds a lot of books that ought to be in my study, but they fit here, so I have to get up and go get them, if I suddenly need something on Troilus and Criseyde, or on how to date manuscripts, or late medieval literacy rates. The top right shelf is history/biography that’s not related to school: I call it the “shelf of depressing” because it’s all things like Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, and a biography of Ernest Shackleton, and 1491, and so on. Interesting stuff, but a lot of lying, betrayal and death, none of which is fictional.

But back to crafting. Here’s a closer view of just the supplies, not the books:

The basic layout is: top row fiber, second row mostly fabric (but some fiber on the right), bottom row mostly knitting stuff (but fabric & books on the left).

There’s very little on those racks that isn’t yarn, fiber or fabric, so I’m using an old TV cart to hold tools & supplies. When I’m not using it, it fits snugly under the table like so:

The cart’s organization is still something of a work-in-progress itself, but it’s working well so far. The top left is a box that holds my rotary cutters and scissors and sewing machine feet, as well as any small random things that I don’t want to have to get up to put away right away. The top left is my sewing kit, with chalk pencils, velcro, binding tape, needles, pins, a pincushion, etc. Behind them is a work-in-progress: my second Mabel bag, which is waiting on the arrival of more fusible interfacing.

On the bottom left, there’s a box that holds my bags of scrap fabric. On the right, there’s a little Lane cedar box. When it opens up, you see:

Some of these are spools I’ve had for years (from well before I knew how to pick thread) and I’m planning on gradually replacing my thread with better quality as it runs out, but for now, I’m using what I have.

The top of the tv cart is where I lay out works-in-progress. The tabletop I’m using as my bench is only about 18″x36″, so the extra space is handy.

Speaking of the tabletop, here’s what it looks like close up. The left side has pieces for my Kitchen Window quilt:

The center is where the rotary cutting mat lives! It has pieces of the Hot Pink Quilts baby quilt I’m making for our downstairs neighbors, who just had a baby boy:

The right is where the sewing machine lives. I move it to the back when I’m cutting, or line it up along the edge of the table. It’s not perfect, but it works!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with it: it makes a distinct space where I can sew and quilt, which doesn’t overlap with my desk at all.

I do have to be careful, though — if I leave the tv cart out, I can’t get into my closet! Gotta love living in NYC.

PS: I’m still de-stashing fabric and a little bit of spinning fiber.

Knitting stash mini-tour

I tend to acquire things and hang onto them. With books, okay, that’s fine. I just finished my MLS, I’m in graduate school in medieval history: books are easy to justify. With yarn and fiber, however… well, I’ve been knitting for about eight or nine years now, and spinning just a couple fewer. And in that time I’ve gone to Rhinebeck and a couple of local fiber fairs in Indiana and lived near lovely, wonderful, friendly LYSes that had great sales. Turns out, that all adds up. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?

That’s all the yarn and fiber I own, all in one place. There was a time when I would have looked at a photograph like that and thought “Man, is she nuts, or what?” Now I look at it and think that, but I also sometimes think “but there’s nothing I want to work on!”

In case it’s hard to see what’s going on in that enormous set of wire racks, here’s a mini-tour of the yarn. (I’ll do fiber and fabric on another day.)

Today we’ll start with the lower half, which is all yarn.

In the lower-right-hand corner, there’s all the yarn that is destined to become sweaters. The brown will be the Indigo Playmate sweater from Wendy Bernard’s Custom Knits. The blue and purple will both be cabled cardigans, though I haven’t settled on a pattern or design for either of them. The red are balls that go with a cabled cardigan I’ve got on the shelf for now: it’s about halfway finished, and I’ll love it when it’s done, but right now it’s driving me crazy.
The other main collection of commercial yarn is my stash of sock yarn:

The purpley-grey in the top right does not want to be socks, so I’m planning on making it into some kind of wrap or scarf. The Lorna’s Laces below it (light blue and black) pools like crazy if I knit it into socks my size, so I’ll have to find someone with small feet whom I like enough to give hand-knit socks. (Sadly, this rules out absolutely every member of my immediate family. We all have huge feet.) The ones I’m looking forward to knitting with the most are the two greens. (Well, and the second skein of Claudia hand-painted, because it’s so sproingy!)

The majority of the rest of my yarn stash is handspun. There are the natural-colored yarns:

The lighter yarn is for a sweater: probably the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, if I got the yardage and weight of the yarn right. The darker is for colorwork with a lighter yarn that I haven’t finished yet.

There are the dyed yarns:

The enormous green skeins are enough for a sweater for someone else, but not for me — there is a downside to being 5’11” with long arms and a long torso, and it’s that spinning up for a sweater takes a little longer. The white-pink-green-yellow is probably going to be socks for a child: I dyed the fiber with easter egg dyes and it ended up a little too pastel for my taste. The rest mostly tend toward lace-weight, so I’ll be knitting a good number of light, lace pieces in the future.

Overall, I love spinning with color, but I find it hard to get enough fiber to make any particularly sizable project — and I only need so many hats and mittens, even in the Northeast.

If you happen to spin, what do you do with small quantities of handspun yarn? If you don’t spin, what would you like to do with it, if you had a couple hundred yards of handspun colorful yarn?