Saturday, April 01, 2006

flash your stash (warning: slightly preachy)

I wasn't sure if I was going to do the "flash your stash" thing. On one hand, I'm a nosy person who loves to see what other folks have hiding in the closets. On the other hand, despite the nosiness, I'm often put off by what often amounts to bragging about how much a person has spent on such and such luxury yarn they may or may not even have a plan for. Chalk it up to part jealousy and part being raised to treat luxury purchases as very rare and well planned out events. Also, I've seen the attitude in some places that you're not a "real" knitter or truly dedicated to the craft if you don't find yourself with a compulsive need to buy and horde yarn. Insert expletive of your choice here. (I realize this is not an attitude held by all, or even many, but when I see it it really gets my goat. Don't try to define my interest in something by the size of my wallet or the contents of my underbed storage space.)

My stash is probably pretty small (and shrinking), compared to much of what's out there in knitting blog land. Much of it is in use for current projects, of which I don't have many on the needles. (The count is temporarily up to 4, but will be back down to 3 when I finish Sockapaloooza knitting next week.) Of course I've made some silly, unplanned purchases in the past. But I quickly learned that that's not my style. I'd much rather have a small stash of sock yarn (because a sock should always be on the needles), and yarn for whatever project I'm currently knitting or planning to start in the very near future. (I'm also not averse to having some J&S and other colorwork-friendly yarn sitting around, as that's the kind of yarn that one inevitably has leftovers of, and is best saved for incorporating into future colorwork projects rather than knit up just for the sake of using it up.) I know there is often a thrill associated with making a yarn purchase. I prefer for that thrill to be accentuated by the knowledge that I'm not only buying the yarn, but that I'll get to start knitting with it really, really soon. When I start a new project, I don't want it to be because I have to use up the yarn that's been sitting in my stash for 5 (10, 15...) years. I want it to be because I really, really want to knit that project, and because I just bought the perfect yarn for that very purpose. I don't want to be a glutton. I want to have the patience to wait an extra day or week or month for the perfect yarn, rather than have a whole yarn store's worth in my stash, "just in case". I would prefer to buy storage units and tupperware containers to store hand-knit sweaters and socks, not to store extra stash. SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) is not for me. For me I find it to be a sad and frightening concept. I want my life to be about the things I create, and the beauty and inspiration I add to the world. I don't want my life to be about the purchased objects I'll leave behind one day.

I have too much yarn. My project, for as long as it takes, is to use up as much of what I already own as possible. (As I mentioned above, I'm okay with keeping some sock yarn and colorwork yarn in the stash.) Money is extremely tight right now, and I don't have the money to buy yarn for the projects I most long for. The projects I'm knitting now (two small gauge colorwork sweaters) will take through the Spring to finish. After that, I have one or two projects that are not for me, but which I've committed to, and for which I'll have to make relatively small purchases. The rest of the projects I knit this year? Whether for me, for friends, for family, or for charity, it will come from what I own. I don't want to have an entire drawer full of leftover worsted weight yarn, but that's what I have now. Yes, I may be aching to knit an aran cardigan for myself, but that will come only after I knit the yarn leftovers. Yes, I may have been talking about knitting the Autumn Color Cardigan (from the cover of Sweaters From Camp) for well over a year, now. That will come after I knit the yarn leftovers. Not only will this save me money, but it will also provide myself, friends, family, and strangers in need, with warm woolly goodies. There will be plenty of time for Am Kamin, St. Brigid, and more fabulous colorwork sweaters in the future. For now, I need to do a little Spring (and Summer, and Autumn, and Winter) cleaning.

But I took photos of my yarn, as it's hard to pass up an excuse for yarn organization, and to use the fun label tools on Flickr. And with that said, here's my "stash". I only posted thumbnails here. Clicking on them will bring you to Flickr, where each photo has multiple labels describing what the yarn is, as well as notes on what I may use it for.

yarn I'm currently using:
stash (WIP), March27

mostly sock yarn (mostly leftovers):
stash (mostly socks), March27

misc. leftovers (mostly worsted weight):
stash (etc.), March27

an ill fitting sweater that I need to finishing frogging before I can re-knit:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your stash! I enjoyed looking at the pictures with notes, and appreciate your thoughts on "stashing."

(Ingeborg is beautiful! I've looked at the pattern before and I hadn't considered making it in NatureSpun...!)

4/01/2006 12:24 PM  
Blogger Kit said...

I feel the same way about yarn hoarding/stashing. Sock yarn seems excusable because it's the 'potato chips' of knitting. But larger projects take careful considering, budgetting, and working. That, in itself, makes it a rewarding process.

And that's a very pretty way to organize your stash. :)

4/01/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for showing your stash. I appreciate what you said. I have a huge stash (most of what I have is for specified projects) and no question I bought many things when I saw them with some impulsivity although I have also learned that there are sweaters whose yarn becomes discontinued and I really like to knit with the intentioned yarn. I don't think I experience glee in the acquisition, I wish I could knit so much faster than my eye can see. The knitting world has changed so much and there is so much lovely stuff out there. After having done the FYS for the first time I can safely say that I am not going to buy any more yarn for a year so that I can focus on knitting what I have because that is in essence why we buy the wool. I absolutely agree that a true "knitter" is not defined by their ability to buy, hoard or brag about your purchases - there is a competitive feel about it all. I hope I don't insult others by my excitement in buying a particular wool - I really want to knit what I buy and I am definitely not buying to show it off on my blog or anywhere else. I so appreciate your attitude and approach and absolutely admire your ability to monitor yourself so well (which to me is not about financial circumstances - I have plenty of friends without money who will buy anyway) - there is alot of wool pressure and also justification about why we did/didn't buy wool. I appreciate the opportunity to see your stash which is beautifully presented. Thanks for the thoughts!

4/01/2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

Even though I've been watching its progress since the beginning, I'm always impressed with how beautiful your Ingeborg is.

I agree with your attitudes towards yarn stashes. I've gone to knitting groups at which I'm looked at askance because I'm not interested in hording yarn simply because I want to. I'm a lucky college student with a good job, but I only buy yarn if I have a specific project in mind for it. Even my yarn-buying expeditions are controlled; I save for them and splurge on several projects every six months.

Thanks for showing your stash -- I always admire your project choices!

4/01/2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my stashing philosophy is similar to yours. I have a small stash compared to so much of what is out there, but I actually don't get any pleasure from knowing it exists. It makes me feel a little guilty.

In my opinion, the best argument for NOT having much of a stash, which you put forward above, is that if you buy yarn just before knitting a specific project, you get to begin using it immediately -- no letting it gather dust in the closet for 5 years first. The pleasure of that is my big motivation for keeping my stash as small as I can.

4/01/2006 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I heartily agree and have (mostly) adopted your philosophy of yarn use and purchasing!

4/01/2006 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh thank goodness, I'm not alone!

Having too much stash just frustrates me and makes me feel pressured. This summer I plan to sell or donate a lot of the (fairly tiny, sock yarn excluded) stash I've collected. I just hate having it over my head; I'd rather, as you said, buy the yarn right before I start the project (again, socks excluded!). I rarely knit sweaters, but I have a couple of bags of yarn waiting for them - that's just silly, and rather wasteful. Someone else might actually MAKE a sweater with that 220 or Possum Worsted, instead of tempting the moth gods by storing it forever.
I think most people do the stash flash in the ideal spirit - I particularly liked knit and tonic's take, and I've seen some stunning yarnography on flickr - but it's just not my bag, baby.

4/02/2006 1:38 AM  
Blogger elka said...

I envy your control. I *used* to have a small stash carrying only a few projects worth of stuff[and lace yarn Elka's alternate universe answer to sock yarn] but then stuff I liked started getting discontinued ~ rowan DLT anyone?~ and I went nuts. Now I buy yarn en masse and am disgusted by all the excess. Truth be told sometimes its just easier to buy something for a project instead of shopping the stash. Which is overly large

4/02/2006 3:26 AM  
Blogger Becki said...

I heartily agree with everything you've said. I only buy yarn when I have something specific to make. I currently have about 50 single skeins hiding underneath my bed, though. My grandmother used to receive free sample skeins (I wish I knew from where), and 20 years after she died the family suddenly decided to give them all to me. Currently working on a blanket...Maybe I'll take pictures later.

4/02/2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

This is only my 1st year of buying any wool at all, since I've only been knitting for 1 yr now. I crocheted for 30 yrs & bought only acrylic, which is cheaper. Of course there's always left overs from a project like afghans. I use to donate those to my grandmother & she knitted mittens for great-grandchildren and charity. Since she past away, I've used the left overs for my Mom's Granny afghan & charity projects. But darn, there's always yarn in my closet for the next 3 or 4 projects I have planned. [I have 17 grandchildren] So I appreciate your opinion on the Stash. But I think that "Flash Your Stash" is a great "reality check" for a lot of us and a time to organize & replan our knitting efforts. Thanks for reaffirming that!

4/02/2006 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's exactly what I do too - only sock yarn and colourwork yarn allowed without a specific project (that I'm starting soon). Sometimes I envy the people who can buy whatever yarns they like, on a whim, but then - I knit as much as I have time for, and I don't have to use crap, so I'm not really missing anything.

4/02/2006 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valid points. Refreshing to see another POV. I guess in the end it just goes back to the old saying to each their own eh?

4/03/2006 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate your comments and your opinion. I hope to be like that too. I am lucky to have what I have and I have more than enough. I am exited to use it all and feel the thrill would be great to buy yarn for a project and only that project and start it right away. Having a lot of yarn for a lot of projects makes me feel some pressure. I'd rather really enjoy and appreciate each project. I think I'd probably accomplish more that way too! Thanks for sharing.

4/03/2006 8:50 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Amen! I'm one of those knitters who feels guilty having more yarn on hand than projects in the queue, but I do treat myself to some extravagances once in a while. For example, I'd been thinking about ordering some Lion and Lamb for a few weeks, to make (what else) the Clapotis, but was really, really torn on whether or not to spend the money. But I've had a rough couple of weeks, found out my dear kitty has cancer and probably not long to live, and knew that spending a little on myself (rather than just on vet bills!) would cheer me up enormously. It was a well-thought-out purchase, but not one I took lightly. Sometimes we just have to indulge, you know? Take it easy, and don't worry so much about the Knittyboard comment Zib left...after all, it's just The Internet. ;)

4/03/2006 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly I haven't been blog-trawling lately, I hadn't heard anything about "flash your stash". I'd say my yarn collection is about the size of yours, maybe one more drawer's worth, but almost certainly in the "I could use all this up in about a year if I knit some really ugly oddball hats" range. And I probably wouldn't bother showing it, either, since except for some 10-yard skeins of my handspun, there's nothing you can't find at almost any LYS.

Interestingly, I've been feeling exactly the same way, lately--like I've got too much that I'm never going to get around to using. So I Ebayed some cotton that I knit one small thing from and hated, donated the ugly, ugly acrylic someone gave me, made some Christmas/Dulaan project plans for my bag of oddballs, and decided not to buy any more yarn than is needed to finish half-done projects until I move in the next year or so.

Anyhow, thanks for sharing.

4/03/2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I absolutely love that black and white colorwork sweater you've got in that first picture! It's beautiful.

I tend to agree with you about the larger stashes. Even my stash makes me feel pressured, rather than inspired. A little stash gets my creative juices flowing, a lot of stash makes me tense.

4/03/2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think it's cool that you only have what you need. I admire the self control. :) Especially since I have none, judging by my stash size. There's no current plans to croak before I've knitted up my projects. :)

4/03/2006 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you too. I was beginning to feel like there was something wrong with me for not having mountains of yarn hidden away. I know if I did buy yarn just 'because', that when I eventually decided what I wanted to make with it, 10 to 1 I wouldn't have enough.

4/03/2006 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for making me think this morning. I used to hord art supplies (in a prior life as an art book binder). Right after I was divorced and had to move into a MUCH smaller home with my two children -- one I really had no idea how I was going to pay for -- I discovered that my art supplies took more space than my clothes and the children's clothes and toys put together. That moment probably triggered me to stop making art. For a year I let my very creative young children paint with expensive water colors, draw with expensive oil pastels, and make collages out of expensive art papers. I exulted when I ran out of something. I don't know why I haven't applied that lesson to my yarn stash, but it's not too late. Thanks for the inspiration.

4/04/2006 9:40 AM  

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