Smoke and chocolate

Knitter, blogger and urban gardening adventurer Crazy Aunt Purl has something radical to say about saving money:

I have found over and over again the number one way to increase the amount of money you have in the bank is to just stop spending it.

More than once, I’ve thought about doing just that — the way I think about, say, climbing Everest on a package tour; or getting my back and shoulders and arms tattooed like a Japanese gangster’s, all covered in secret ink under my clothes; or throwing out all my clutter and painting my floors and walls white like in a chic Swedish apartment; or what it would feel like to walk on the moon and whether it’d feel crunchy under my feet; or the first thing I’d do if I became President.

Dammit how do you keep these shallow-depth-of-field photos from going all brooklyntweed on ya
Dammit how do you keep these shallow-depth-of-field photos from going all brooklyntweed on ya

The idea of saving money by only buying necessities for awhile floats and bobs before me like a soap bubble that pops soundlessly right around lunchtime, when I realize I’ve left my lunch in the fridge at home again or just forgotten to make it at all. Because lunch? Not negotiable. Totally necessary. And then half an hour and a Financial District sandwich later, I’m ten bucks poorer and that much further from liquidity.

Or I’ll drop a few bucks for a pattern and suddenly I’m at a yarn store, picking out something in a weight or blend or color I don’t have because that yarn is necessary to the project. The boxes and boxes of yarn I already have are slated for the sweaters I’ve been meaning to knit for a year; the one-off skeins in the stash are too small or too big or the wrong weight; and some are “special” and meant to be saved for I dunno what, to be used I dunno when.

I almost did it again with the Daybreak shawl I’ve been stalking since a Ravelry friend test-knitted one. I bought the pattern the day it came out and within an hour was figuring out how to fit a run for sock yarn into my day, because to get started on the pattern, I needed to buy yarn.

Wait — what?

I’ve worn holes in my socks, my other bra broke a month ago and I haven’t replaced it, and it’s been the better part of a year since I paid for a grown-up haircut. (I’ve been cutting it myself ever since, when I’m not talking my friends into trimming it with rusty scissors as we drink Pabst Blue Ribbon on the porch.) My bank account is dangerously thin, the layoffs happening all throughout my social circle and industry keep looming like ghosts, I have crap in the way of savings if something goes wrong … and in the meantime, I keep making runs to the Salvation Army with clothes I’ve gotten tired of, the trunk I keep fabric in is jammed so full it won’t close, I’ve already used up all the wall space for the posters and art prints I keep buying and framing, and I’m finally running out of places to put my yarn.

Wait — what?

Oh hell no, I thought, and nixed the yarn store. Instead I attacked my stash like a wounded lion, tearing through it mercilessly, trying to dig up something as sexy as a couple skeins of Noro sock yarn. It didn’t seem likely, since I’d been lusting after Noro Sock for weeks without a project that called for it, and half the fun of getting the pattern was gonna be finally getting a crack at that yarn.

I came to a DK-weight Malabrigo silk/merino blend — it was too thick and too dark, but it had a nice shine to it, so I set it aside and grudgingly kept digging. A minute later, I pulled up a glossy two-ply alpaca yarn in the deepest cocoa color I’ve ever seen. “It’s nice,” I thought, and plopped it onto my desk.

“Nope,” I thought as I pulled out box after box, “too bright, too dull, not enough contrast, not enough yardage, too fuzzy, not fuzzy enough — and what the hell was I thinking with this one?”

I turned back to the two I’d set aside — maybe they’d work? They were both too thick but not exactly the same weight. They seemed too dark for stripes, too, and stripes were the point of the whole shawl.

But something happened when I put the yarns next to each other. The dark brown and the dark gray both had a shine to them, but next to each other, they practically glowed. They looked deep, silky, impossibly rich. The sight of those two yarns side by side pulled me right back into a cool afternoon with friends in a wood-fired hot tub, holding an impromptu Scotch-with-chocolate tasting. As I twisted strands of the two colors together, I could practically taste the way the silky, bitter, slightly salted chocolate had eased into the dark, smoky peat of the ten-year-old single malt, and how the alcohol had glinted around the edges of my tongue.

The hell with the fact the yarn’s too thick. The hell with the sock yarn I can’t afford. The hell with never having enough when I’m up to my neck in stuff. I think I’ve found a winner.

Take a look!