Her Handspun Habit: 6 Good Reasons for Keeping a Well-Stocked Fiber Stash

How do you spell stash? Is it “s-h-a-m-e,” by chance, or more along the lines of “g-u-i-l-t?”

Well, today I’m here to argue in favor of the fiber stash and the wealth of opportunities it can bring to your spinning life. Please feel free to use any of my assertions on your own family members.

But first, a short story:

Between when I got my first wheel and was given my second, I had very little fiber to spin. I told myself that this was purposeful, that I didn’t want my fiber stash to blossom in that way that commercial yarn stashes tend to do. I didn’t even have a plastic bin for my fiber. I didn’t need one.

But the truth was, my lack of stash was negatively affecting my spinning. I was afraid to use what I had—scared to try new ideas, worried I’d ruin the pretty, etc. I beat myself up when a spin didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned, even though I was still new to a wheel—a time when experimentation in spinning is especially important. Every bump of fiber was “The Precious.”

I just didn’t have the ability to purchase much at that time, when I was rebuilding my life. Fortunately, others could see what was happening. Boxes full of fiber began arriving at my doorstep. As a very dear friend said, “I just wanted you to have a bin full of fiber, Debbie.”

Just as newer spinners tend to hold onto their fiber with a “death grip,” it was only once I had a true abundance of fiber to play with that I was able to let go of the real emotional grip that had been keeping me from growing in my spinning abilities. Once I came into the mindset that “there is always more fiber,” my spinning completely changed.

So, how much fiber should a spinner stash? That’s an entirely individual equation, based on your needs, living and storage space (said the woman currently storing three unwashed fleeces in the backseat of her car), income and debt levels, and so on.

Why stash?

1. Color and texture can change your mood for the better.
I’m not talking about that fleeting feeling when you impulsively buy a bump of pretty fiber; I’m talking about real mood alteration. Next time you’re feeling low, spend 30 minutes to an hour surrounded by your fiber stash. Open your bins, carefully touch that which calls to you. Sit on the floor surrounded by colors you love—and some you don’t! You will leave feeling grateful and content with all you have.

fiber stash

It’s hard to be sad surrounded by such colors.

2. Your stash is a source of inspiration.
Here’s a little-known secret: stashing is about more than spinning. Building a stash is also about creativity. Sometimes a hand-painted fiber or a handful of locks just speak to you. Whether it’s the color, the crimp, or even the reminder of the happy outing that brought you there in the first place, revisiting this old friend when you pop open your bin should be a pleasant experience. You’ll know if and when the time is right to spin it into its next phase. Stop pressuring yourself to spin every single bump you own.

3. Your stash provides a means of introspection.
Perusing it can help you see how you’ve grown and changed as a spinner and crafter. Maybe you once spun only prepared combed top but now enjoy combing your own. Perhaps you went on a neons bender after a particularly bad breakup, but your more recent acquisitions reflect a more mellow you. Maybe you love every single item in your stash and wouldn’t change a thing.

fiber stash

Ready to spin whatever you like.

4. Your stash is your spinning pantry.
This one’s obvious: It sure is nice to have a well stocked pantry.

5. Having a lot means you can give a little.
There are spinners out there with little or even nothing to spin next. There are also future spinners who need some nice fiber to get started with. It feels so good to share.

6. Supporting small artisan farms and businesses helps keep our craft alive.
Period.

Look, I’m not suggesting that it’s okay to purchase fiber with reckless abandon, nor to the point where your family can’t pay the bills because of your Herculean stashquisitions. I’m simply advocating that we step back for a wider view of the extra gifts that fiber stash can deliver.

From where I stand, there is no shame in stash. Love yours to the fullest.

—Debbie

Once you’ve achieved a truly excellent stash, check out 5 tips for living with it.


Celebrate your stash!

 

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