Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm Stickin to Scarves.

So the weekend of the Big 12 Championship (which I refuse to discuss) I made the kids each a back and gold Tiger Spirit hat of their very own.

I used Vanna's Choice yarn, as it was the cheapest (and only) yarn I could find in the colors I wanted.

Pros - I made all three hats from one ball of each color, $2.99 a ball. Quite economical.

Cons - It itches like bloody hell and nobody will wear the damn things.

Bottom Line - THIS ST_FF S_CKS. Buy a vowel.

So then I got the idea to make a hat that someone would actually wear, and fueled by my recent mastery of the Feather and Fan Scarf (currently blocking), I thought I might tackle Foliage, in the Fall issue of Knitty.

First of all, it took me forever to distribute the eight stitches and knit the first round on the double-point needles. Then I finally got to the part where you switch over to circs, and I am pretty sure I had it perfect up until that point. And then I was reminded why I can't do any pattern that requires me to actually pay attention to what I'm doing. I am constantly interrupted. CONSTANTLY.

I know how to do all of the necessary stitches, and yes, I can count to 100, but every time I'd start a round with eight repeats in it, one of the Apes would barge in to tattle on another of the Apes for something. I worked feverishly for two days on Foliage and finally realized that my handiwork looked nothing like the picture. So I took it apart, and, quite remarkably, didn't cry. Thank God for meds.

So scarves, once again, will be my holiday gift of choice for teachers and friends.

Oh, and remember how we had $50, one tank of gas, a gallon of milk and whatever food there is in the house to live on for ten days? We have done really well without spending a single dime on the debit card. I used my breadmaker a few times and dug to the very back of the freezer for stuff I could make for dinner. You'll know we've hit rock bottom when I make the frozen salmon filets that have been in my freezer for about a year.

I also sold about $40 worth of stuff on Craigslist last week (enough to get some groceries and put a little gas in the van), plus I got a $10 rebate check in the mail, got paid on PayPal for a mystery shop I did, and I got quite creative with other ideas for saving money.

For example, I remembered that we have AAA (or, as Tito calls it "Chik Fil A"), which entitles us to a few free gallons if we run out of gas somewhere on the road. I figured I would drive the van on fumes until it finally died, call AAA and get me some free gas, if it came to that. Then I decided that was too white trash, even for me.

So in trying to conserve gas and to concurrently minimize the temptation to spend money, I spent most of the last two weeks at home, looking for things I could either sell or otherwise get rid of. I found some cheap crappy plastic DPN's I had bought at Hobby Lobby a long time ago.

For some reason I had two identical sets of size 4's that I'd never opened, so I decided to see if Hobby Lobby would let me exchange them. I know most LYS's won't let you return needles, but I figured they probably wouldn't have a Needles Exemption in their return policy.

I only got half of their value, since I didn't have a receipt, but it wound up being a little over $4.00 in store credit. Not a lot, but certainly better than nothing, and as a bonus, I got rid of some shitty needles.

So a few days later, after the Foliage Fiasco, I told Beeb I'd make her friends some scarves in that pukey Hobby Lobby Frosting yarn that I have in my stash, and she could give them as Christmas presents. She wanted me to make a green one for her friend Lola, the only color I didn't already have. So Pie and I went to Hobby Lobby to see if it even came in green. I was armed with $4.76 in store credit and a 40% Off Any One Item coupon.

Lo and behold, Frosting does come in a mint green, so I grabbed a skein (marked $3.99) and got in the checkout line.

"Oh, you can't use your coupon. This is already on sale."

It is?

"Yeah, you see, this is a type of yarn called eyelash, and the eyelash yarn is on sale for 99 cents."

It is?

"Uh huh!"

Well, shoot, I'll go get some more!

I walked back to the yarn area thinking, She's wrong, this shit's not on sale, there's an actual Yarn Bee Yarn called Eyelash, THAT's what's on sale, not the whole darn eyelash genre. And I'm not even sure Frosting falls into that category anyway, but I'm not gonna question it - fuck her if she doesn't know what's on sale and what's not.

Long story short, I got four balls of Frosting for FREE. So I'm making Christmas scarves with no out-of-pocket expenses. Brilliant.

During this time I also managed to give a TON of stuff away. I gave away four sets of nice flannel sheets and a full-sized comforter to a woman on Freecycle who was collecting for a man who was down on his luck. Then a woman on Craigslist was collecting for a family with three little girls, so I gave away all of the My Little Ponys in the house as well as all of the Sweet Streets buildings and accessories. I also gave two girls' comforters and matching shams, some books, some dolls and three winter coats.

It felt great to help give some little kids a Christmas, after having been the Adopt-A-Family family ourselves, two years in a row. Nothing makes you mindful of how much you have like giving your excess away. And I was so proud of the kids for helping me look around for things that the little girls might like.

And I also need to say how great the kids have been about not asking for much for Christmas. They really understand how the house and the van have left us with less money for extras, and we are all in agreement that the house and the van are well worth the sacrifices we find ourselves making. After May I won't have the childcare expense anymore, plus I'll be able to look for something part-time, so that will help. Until then, it's Craigslist.

Wanna buy a gently used, authentic Coach purse, cheap?


ACCL said...

There is nothing like a killer deal!

I bought a skien of that Vanna White shit too. But I bought it to knit fun fur xmess trees that I saw on a blog...uh, somewhere.

Robin said...

We were in a similar financial situation a few years ago. We learned a lot about not buying stuff we don't need, getting rid of the stuff we don't want, and generally living frugally. Now that we're in a better place, we've stuck with it. But the kids still have too many toys.

sophanne said...

Behold Your Brilliance. Rock On PennyKarma!

oh and Vanna- here's your f_cking Vowel

Elspeth said...

Great job! I'm impressed on your frugality and the kids' generosity.

Eryn said...

Hooray for craig's list!

I almost spit my coffee on the keyboard when you said "...that's too white trash even for me." I've thought about doing that too!

Batty said...

Free yarn is always good. It's not your fault nobody properly trained that woman to know her merchandise.

What you are doing is simply wonderful. I've been going through the house and looking at all the crap I have in here, and there are people who really need it. You're amazing for helping them by sharing. It'll come back to you in a good way.

Bezzie said...

Aw, I thought Vanna's stuff wasn't too bad. It's not Simply Soft soft, but it's not Red Heart scratchy.

Score on the frosting! Although I kind of wish it was real frosting. Imagine what you could do with four cans of frosting!

Ed said...

Stuff the 'white trash' thing, go and get the petrol, you've paid for it. Think about how many times you've called AAA against how much you've paid out.

And what can you say about the apes other than they're brilliant for helping out.

JRS said...

I agree with Ed. I'd go get the gas. After all, you *have* paid for it.

I won't talk about the football fiasco either. Not so much the game, but the ridiculous bowl assignments afterwards. I hate Kansas even more now. Illinois too.

I was knitting Mizzou Monkey socks during the game, but it obviously didn't bring them any luck. Too bad the hats are too itchy, cuz they're cute!

I made Foliage, but only because I was able to get in some no-interruption knitting time. I cannot do any sort of lace if there is anyone else around!

Elizabeth said...

I wonder if the Vanna yarn will improve with a trip through the washer? Even Red Heart improves with a trip through the washer, right before it becomes a webby, pilly mess.

When we were still renting in Madison, trying to sell our house in upstate NY and trying to buy a house here, our money was tight. Like, literally, plan for every dime tight. It's good to know you can get through those times: makes you feel ready for whatever life will throw at you.

And I can't do lace with my kids around, either. Only when I know they're asleep.

shiguy4076 said...

I hear you about the constant interruptions. I feel like I'm constantly saying wait a second mommy's in the middle of a row.

I've been there so Kudo's on saving money. I agree about gas. You've paid for it.

turtlegirl76 said...

I had an ex that used to have to call AAA for gas. Not because he didn't have the $. He was pretty well off actually. He was just too fucking lazy to bother filling up his car.

Jo said...

Vanna's choice is scratchy itchy? I have touched it in Michael's and wondered. I think her colours are rather blah.

My kid just loses every other hat I make her!

cpurl17 said...

You may take the frugality Queen crown from the Bez this year!

Dulcedosa said...

Sell your Coach bag on eBay! I've sold all mine at a very decent price.

I've got some yarn you can have if you want it. I'm still trying to destash and I've got A LOT of Lion Brand Kool Wool, Homespun, Jiffy and Wool-Ease that I can send you.
Matter of fact, I've got a box of Jiffy (lilac) all boxed up for someone that didn't send the money from Raverly. It's in my trunk ready to go to a new home.

Additionally, I've got a bunch of stuff ready to donate to the local Ronald McDonald house. A bunch of brand new board games, stuffed animals and crafts that I grew out of like cross stitch.

I hear you about digging for loose change. I'm strapped, too. *sigh* *flails fist at the air*