Six years ago, before I had my first child, I took out every ball, hank, skein, and cake of yarn in my home and put them in one place. And THIS is what I saw…
This is about 250 skeins/balls/cakes of yarn. I won’t even attempt to calculate the total yardage. It made me realise that I needed to be more selective about what I add to my stash. Back then, I took steps to be more aware of what I have and what I am tempted to buy to prevent stash overload. So, I thought I’d check in with you and my stash to let you know how that’s been going for me.
Looking at what you have and observing your buying and stashing trends goes a long way toward building stash awareness. Is there a certain color you gravitate towards or a color you have but never ever use? Do you buy sock yarn and never use it? Is most of your stash just waiting for the right project? Know what you have and why you have it, especially if it was purchased without a specific project in mind.
I did this myself and try to do it annually. Generally, I have A LOT more blue yarn than any other color. I find this surprising since I really love pink, green, and yellow. It made sense though when I peeked in my closet and noticed that I have more blue than any other color. Interesting how my yarn stash is helping me notice trends in other fibers too. Another trend is that the yarn I covet most is the blended soft stuff. I also notice that if it is in hank form, it gets pushed back in my queue because with work and kids, finding alone time to wind yarn is rare and when I am alone I’d almost always need to sleep.
Steps to Stash Awareness & Curbing
- Before buying or acquiring yarn, consider what they will become. This applies to any craft supplies for that matter. Nice to be able to help inanimate objects fulfill their destiny, isn’t it? Well, doing that with yarn takes lots of practice or a bit of divine inspiration so observe it, notice trends, and consider what can be done.
- Avoid clubs that don’t match what you need to be buying. When you sign up for a yarn club, realize this probably won’t keep you from buying other yarn as well. For this reason, choose your yarn club based on the colorways produced recently for the company’s other clubs and also weight of the yarn you’ll receive. If you love knitting with heavier weights, skip the sock club signup. This Spring, I signed up for the Smudge Yarns club which was a variety, not just one weight so it suited me perfectly and I ended up with three instalments that are unique to my stash.
- Forgive yourself for past impulse buys and move on. Just because you loved it enough to buy it doesn’t mean you need to remain loyal to it forever. If the colorway, fibre content, or weight doesn’t work for you anymore, let it go. This is when swaps or destashing come into play. Very handy. And I’ve also been known to just give something away. I recently bought some yarn that looked lovely in the photos, but when it arrived it was just so purple. Purple is my kryptonite. It had to go, so I made a little care package for a friend and gave it to her.
- Keep your stash organized so you know what you have and where it is stored. I’ll probably write a separate post sometime solely focused on stash management because I love to organize things. But the basics of how it works for me is that I have a cabinet with partial skeins in one section, lace weights in another section, and three medium plastic storage bins within it to hold specific families of yarn, such as artisan-dyed yarn from Ireland, Sirdar Crofter, and gradient sets. Then I have two footlockers to hold everything else. The red footlocker holds all my single skeins generally and that tends to be sock weight or interesting yarns I’ve come across in my travels that are waiting for the right project, such as a shawl. The black footlocker holds multiple skeins of the same yarn, which are awaiting a larger project, such as a sweater. I maintain a detailed record of all my yarn in my Ravelry stash as well so I can easily search when queueing a project.
How to Use Your Neglected Stash
1) Knit something for charity. Help someone else with your skills, putting your stash to work in the process.
2) Knit with multiple strands of yarn at once on larger needles. This will make a soft bathmat or thick throw blanket. Yes, I know it seems nuts, but the project will fly and you’re using yarn that deserves to fulfill its fiber destiny. Just be sure all yarns used are the same washability and of similar fibers. The photo above is a baby blanket being knit with four or five strands held together.
3) Share or swap with friends. A friend could be about to go out and buy one of the neglected stashed yarns. I’ve given several balls away lately, but still it barely makes a dent and it’s hard to decide what to part with when I am still hoping I can just…
4) Knit faster. This is a favorite idea and somewhat unrealistic. I can only knit as fast as I can and if a pattern is involved that slows me down while no pattern can be boring so I lack the enthusiasm that helps me knit faster. But overall, I would like to knit faster.
5) Plan ahead with baby gifts. With friends expanding their families, wouldn’t it be great if I knitted up a few spare baby blankets and jumpers so when friends are expecting I have a gift handy. I do this, but must admit the stack of ready-made gifts is harder to store than my stash. Last year, I packed the items up to store away from my desk to limit clutter then forgot about them! So, just like the stash, knowing what you have and where it’s located is essential.
Projects to Knit for Stash Busting
Bulky & Super Bulky (or many strands at once)
Knitted Basket by Bonny Bonafilla
Marian designed designed by Jane Richmond
Midwinter’s Night Cowl designed by Evin Bail O’Keeffe (that’s me!)
Bulky Mobius Cowl designed by Haley Waxberg
Drop Stitch Cowl designed by Abi Gregorio
Super Soft Merino Hats for Everyone designed by Purl Soho
Worsted & Aran
Honeycomb Tea Cosy designed by Evin Bail O’Keeffe (shown above)
Ten Stitch Zigzag designed by Frankie Brown
New Frontier Shawl designed by Smudge Yarns
Doddy Toy Ball designed by Carol Feller
Stash Busting Monster designed by Kimberly K. Davis
Cupid’s Arrow Cowl designed by Evin Bail O’Keeffe
DK & Sport
Striped Stash Busting Scarf designed by Carol Ibbetson
Ten Stitch Blanket designed by Frankie Brown
Sideways Triangle Scarf designed by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas
Double Spinning Star designed by Frankie Brown
Pathways Blanket designed by Frankie Brown
Fingering & Lace
Happy Out Mitts designed by Suzanne McEndoo
Knitted Patchwork Recipe designed by Martine Ellis
The Beekeeper’s Quilt design by Tiny Owl Knits
Ten Stitch Corner designed by Frankie Brown
Leftie designed by Martina Behm
Syrian Squares designed by Frankie Brown
What tips do you have for stash busting?