Dr. Stashlove or: How I Learned to Stop Stashing and Use My Yarn
Your yarn stash is sneaky. You go along, buying yarn willy-nilly, never realizing that you’re feeding a monster. Handspun alpaca for a cardigan? Yes, please! Self-striping cashmere-blend sock yarn? Don’t mind if I do! BOGO dishcloth cotton? How could I say no? One by one, the yarn keeps trickling in, until reality (and a 600-yd skein of merino) smacks you in the face:
The yarn stash has taken over.
Once you realize that your yarn is out of control, it takes a little while to figure out what you’re going to do about it. There are five stages of stash reckoning.
You hide your yarn stash in a closet. If you can’t see it falling off the shelves, it’s not there, right? It doesn’t exist if you don’t look under the bed.
You begin to resent the stash. Why is it even there, nagging you to knit more and pointing out your failure to make 97 pairs of socks? How dare it do anything other than bring you joy!
You make an “arrangement” with the stash: you will only bring more yarn into the stash once you have used up all the laceweight yarn. Two shawls out, one skein of yarn in.
Why bother knitting at all? The stash will never be smaller. You have reached STABLE (STash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), and there’s no point in even trying to tame the yarn beast.
Wait, yarn is an inanimate object—you can do whatever you want with it! Knit, play cat’s cradle, give it away, make string art, tie up a tree branch, burn it in a bonfire, whatever! You are the master of your stash.
Once you’ve regained authority over your stash, it’s just a matter of getting it under control. Here are three key steps to reducing the size of your stash:
1. Stop buying yarn.
This is the hardest step. We love yarn. It’s how we got into this crazy mess in the first place. It’s difficult to walk away from a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed silk or a great bargain on sock yarn. If you don’t have the self-control to go completely cold sheep, you can work on going “stash neutral”, only buying more yarn when you’ve used an equal amount of your stash.
This brings us to the next point:
2. Use your stash.
There was a reason you bought that yarn in the first place, and it probably wasn’t to be buried in a plastic bin for the rest of its life. Did you choose it for a sweater that you never made? Revisit your queue and find which pattern is was originally destined to be, then actually make the thing.
If that pattern no longer appeals to you, find a different pattern and cast on. Do you have single skeins that are beautiful, but not enough for a big project? Make a hat or a pair of mittens. Try arm knitting. Let your yarn fulfill its fibery destiny!
3. Give it away.
We all have a limited amount of knitting time on this crazy planet; don’t waste it on yarn you don’t love. Yes, you can find a pattern for every yarn. However, you don’t have to. If the yarn no longer speaks to you, let it go. Take some of your yarn stash to your crafting group and let your friends take whatever they like. Drop it off at a thrift store. Call and ask if your local daycare or senior center could use it. Someone else will enjoy it; there’s no reason it needs to take up space in your home or your psyche.
Where are you in your yarn stash journey? Are you still growing your stash or weeding it out?