If you knit or crochet long enough, you may end up receiving yarn as gifts from friends or family.
This can be wonderful if those people know what brands you like to craft with and/or your preferred color palette. But it can also present an awkward situation for you if the yarn you’ve been gifted is not quite ideal.
Most family or friends, even if they are crafters, will default to Big Box Store yarns because of 1) ease of access, and 2) price point. This isn’t necessarily bad. Even the most experienced crafter probably still uses some Big Box yarns. I love Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice for amigurumi, and I’ve mentioned before my fondness for Patons Kroy sock.
But what happens when you receive something that you just cannot find a use for? Something that is too scratchy, or you’re allergic to it, or you hate the color. There are some solutions.
You could re-gift the yarn. Take it to your craft group and see if anyone will give it a good home. Or donate it to a school (I have done this with skein scraps, elementary art teachers are VERY appreciative of fee supplies) or a retirement home. This only works if the person who gifted it does not pay attention to your crafting habits.
Even better, make something with it for the person who gifted it to you! WARNING, this can lead to the problem perpetuating itself as that person continues to gift you more of the same yarn.
But what if the yarn was bought in some special way, or is such a large quantity that you know the gifter will notice if you never use it? This is the dilemma that I have.
A couple of years ago I received two sweater quantities of yarn from my boyfriend’s mother, when she and her husband took a trip to Ireland. This was BEYOND generous of her. I knew ahead of time that she going to look for yarn for me. Dez had mentioned to me, and then she asked me about what I liked to use and how much you needed for a sweater. I tried my best to explain how it depended on the yarn weight.
What she brought back was two sweater quantities of very rustic yarn types, one in a cream color (Aran Woolen Mills), one in a burgundy red (Blarney Woollen Mills Donegal Tweed ) and I decided to make the most of it. The Donegal Tweed could totally be a coat type sweater, I’ll have a shirt on underneath!
Well, I recently did some swatching with this yarn, and it is possibly the roughest on my hands that a yarn has ever been. Even after washing the swatch in some Eucalan, it did not changed. It did not “bloom” or soften in the slightest. It still feels like yarn that would be better of as a carpet. I have no idea what to do with this yarn. There’s no way she will forget about gifting this yarn after having it take up so much room in her luggage on vacation. This yarn is going to live in my closet for who knows how long, because I have to keep it. This yarn makes me think of the excerpts from A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes, in which more than one contributor mentions the feelings of guilt sometimes connected to yarn left to languish in the deepest corner of your stash. I haven’t swatched with the cream Aran yet, but it is softer than the Donegal Tweed. Still very rustic but I may have better luck turning this one into something wearable to abate that stash guilt. Hopefully.