Getting yarn or knitting books in the mail, of course!
I've been getting rid of some of my knitting books and receiving yarn in return ... as well as some yarn from a dear friend who was buried under (and I'm always willing to help in similar situations -- I know, I'm a living saint!) ....
Anyway, the fun thing about getting bits of yarn from others is the ability to really go wild with designing. And earlier this week, I received the perfect book for knitting on the wild side: Anna Zilboorg's Magnificent Mittens and Socks . This book is wonderful -- fun to read and learn new techniques and the color combinations are spectacular! I like how she explains just how much yarn you'd need (like 50 yards of each or 10 yards of bits) .... which is great, especially for stash-busting knitting like I want to do. And I love the style of these mittens -- big cuffs that go over jackets to keep wrists and sleeves warm and dry.
Another great book for playing with "oddments" is Color by Kristin: How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits, by color-knitter extraordinaire, Kristin Nicholas. (For a full review of this book, click here.) Or how about some of the Fair Isle (including Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting or The Art of Fair Isle Knitting: History, Technique, Color and Pattern by Ann Feitelson) or Norwegian books (Norwegian Handknits is gorgeous and I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of Lucinda Guy's newest, Northern Knits) that are available now?
Color-knitting is fun to play with yarns ... especially when you get them in trades or gifting from other knitters!
Mary C. Gildersleeve
By Hand, With Heart -- hand-knit designs