Secrets of The Yarn Collectors


That's how many there are in response to Monday's post. (Actually, they are still rolling in…here comes number 1569, from Isabeau M.!) That unprecedented amount of feedback has left me somewhat stunned. I read through the first 200 or so, laughing and reading them aloud to my also-stunned husband, and then I realized I had meetings to go to and a post to write for today, so had to put them aside for a bit. I will read every single one of them myself, I promise—I wouldn't want to miss a single hilarious story about how Candi can justify buying yarn because her husband just bought himself a plane, or how Fiberlicious has 46 sweaters' worth of yarn and her friends are on their way to do an intervention.

Fleece Artist SeaWool, since you asked!

There is one comment, however, that needs to be addressed. Folks, we need to do a Knitting Daily Community Intervention for Vanessa, who says that she does not have a stash and thus does not know how to be a yarn collector:

I will browse for hours and never buy anything. Thing is, I start to look for a specific project and then I get sidetracked and start looking at yet another yarn and in the end I have nothing accomplished. Either that or I just don't know between which 2834382 yarns to choose! I need to be told HOW to be a yarn collector!

Vanessa, we are here to help. Here are some of our secrets to building a great stash, er, collection:

Basic Techniques of the Yarn Collector

1. Petting the Yarn
Reach out and lightly stroke the yarn with the fingers of one hand. Don't use too much pressure, just pet the surface so you can feel the yarn's softness and texture.

2. Cheek Testing
Quickly, so that no one can object, pick up the skein in one hand and rub the yarn lightly against your cheek. Tilt your head slightly so that you can get the most facial surface area against the yarn. If you find yourself quietly humming or purring during this activity, go with that. It is a natural reaction to piece of yarn art. (The knitter-yarn bond is beginning to form at this point.)

The knitter-yarn bond in action

3. Color Admiration
Hold the skein out in front of you, moving it at different angles as though it were a crystal and you wished to see the light reflect off of it from different angles. Walk to the window and admire the color as it looks under natural light. Hold the skein to your skin and notice how well it looks with your coloring.

4. Content Test
Read the label (don't let go of the yarn itself, keep stroking it with a finger or thumb); coo over the various lovely things which have made up this wonderful skein.

5. Distance and Resistance Test
Put the yarn down where you found it and walk away. Watch every other person in the store like a hawk to see if they go near your yarn. If someone looks like they are going to pick up Your Yarn, swoop in and grab it and say something like, "oh THERE it is, I am so glad I found one more skein of the EXACT SHADE OF (insert yarn color here) for my mother's birthday sweater, Whew!" This tactic tells you how much you really want the yarn: If you cannot stand to see another knitter even hover next to the shelf your yarn is on, you need to buy the yarn. If you can tolerate another knitter walking around the shop with your yarn, pick another yarn and start over. (It wasn't meant to be.)

Other Advice For the Blossoming Yarn Collector

Start small.
Sock yarn really doesn't count as stash, as many wise knitters in the comments have pointed out, so that's a non-threatening place to start. Pretty colors and reasonable prices; and you may even actually knit a sock out of it someday.

Bring a yarn friend.
A yarn friend is someone who says things like, "You deserve a little treat today," or "That is so beautiful; I bet you won't find one of those again anytime soon" or "It's just one skein of yarn, it won't kill your budget"–encouraging phrases that help you break down your resistance to buying non-practical collectibles such as Yarn. Art objects are for the soul, for the joy of the heart; a good yarn friend can encourage you to follow your heart and not your head whilst in the yarn shop.

And finally: The most successful yarn collectors have stopped asking themselves "But what would I make with it?" every time they see a skein they love in the shop. They buy for the love of the yarn, for the fuzzy delight the yarn brings to their lives. Yarn isn't just the project you can knit with it; yarn is its own joy, in and unto itself.

Or at least, that's what I'm learning from your comments. Yarn Collectors, Unite! Do you have any yarn-collecting secrets to share? Any tips for beginners? How do you decide whether a yarn is worthy to be collected or not?

And just for kicks and giggles, I put together a list of the free patterns on our site which require just a single ball/skein of yarn just in case you are inspired to use some of those onesies in your stash.

Projects Requiring One Skein
Garter Mug Cozies
Mesh Gloves
Fingerless Silk Mitts (Crochet)
Feminine Mittens
Slanting Stitches Hat (Crochet)
Quick Cuffs (Crochet)
Crocheted Lamb
Lace Cap (Crochet)
Get The Skinny Scarves (Crochet)
Knitted Cuddlies (solid colors)
Vine Lace Baby Hat
Better Than Booties Baby Socks
Traveling Rib Tie

Tomorrow (Thursday, April 24) is the LAST DAY you will be able to download the Garter Mug Cozies, so if you haven't gotten your copy, download it now!

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? A bit more past the hem of the New Skinnier Gathered Pullover.

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