Stashbusting. For knitters, it is one of the most controversial words there is.
If you don’t have a stash, feel free to stop reading, unless you’re really curious about the psychology of stashing, and how to talk to people who stash. (Interested in how stash happens? Read this.)
If you have a stash, a pile of yarn tucked away for a rainy day, you know what I’m talking about. There’s probably yarn bought ten years ago for something you intended to make, but never got around to making. And the odd skein of something precious, only you can’t find something you want to make with it.
If you have a stash, no matter how big, you probably have a mental catalog of what’s in it and even the project you were going to make with it. The laceweight baby alpaca that was going to be a shawl, the sweater’s worth of yak yarn you paid cash for while your husband was looking the other way, the skeins of yarn in every shade that were meant to be something amazing but are now just sitting there.
If you have a stash, it probably also has scraps of yarn leftover from other projects. Whether it’s a lot or a little, you never know when you might need it, so it gets added to the stash.
If you have a stash, you probably go to the yarn store just to see what’s new, what sparks your interest today. And you can’t resist walking out with three or four projects’ worth of yarn, even though you only came in for one skein of sock yarn.
If you have a stash, you probably have guilt.
Having a stash means you have to protect it from moths. That takes work, and often it means you don’t feel like you can display it out on the shelves (which is what makes it so appealing in the yarn store in the first place). You feel guilty that your beautiful yarn must be hidden away in a plastic bin at the back of a closet.
Having a stash means guilt when you buy yarn only to discover you already had exactly what you needed.
Having a stash means you might be spending more time shopping for yarn than actually knitting with it. If that’s what brings you joy, that’s one thing, but you’re probably feeling some guilt when you look at that credit card statement at the end of the month.
Having a stash means you want to make so many, many beautiful things, but there will never be enough time. If you’re like me, you probably have some guilt over that.
I’m not here to say that having a stash of yarn (or anything else for that matter) is bad. What’s bad is the meaning we attach to it – consciously or unconsciously – and the fact that when our stashes are too big, we often feel dragged down by them rather than uplifted by them.
But there’s hope.
You just have to say no.
You have to know what to say no to, and what you’re saying yes to. Because “No” makes way for “Yes.”
But before you can say “Yes!” to what you want, you probably need to learn how to say no to all that other stuff.
The magical thing is, when you start to say “No” to the things you never really wanted (or the things you don’t want anymore), there’s a whole lot of space left for “Yes!”
So when it comes to your stash, you have to face it, head on, and say “No,” say goodbye, let go of the things that pull you down, so the bits of stash that really lift you up can do that.
For the No’s:
Even if you can’t let all the “No’s” go all at once, make a plan to phase them out. Immediately, they will stop draining your energy, and you’ll feel like your load has been lightened – mentally and physically.
For the Yes's:
If your overall goal is to make your stash manageable again, you will be well on your way.
The key to keeping a manageable stash is not necessarily to eliminate stash altogether, but to be mindful of what you have and why. If you walk into the yarn store with the thought that you’ll just be throwing or giving the yarn away again in six months, will it really be worth it to spend your money on it now?
More often than not, this inner monologue is what saves me hundreds of dollars on yarn each month:
“I’m working on that shawl right now, and I have all the yarn I need. Then I’m going to finish those socks, and I have all the yarn for that. After that, I’ll knit that top, and I have everything I need for that. I do want to run by the yarn store to pick up some yarn for the shawl I want to make after that, but they’ll probably have it next week. Plus, the time I spend driving to and from the yarn store is time I can spend actually knitting. And if the store runs out, I can always order it online. There’s always more where that came from.”
And if all of that isn’t enough to keep me from the yarn store, then that’s fine.
The moment you say “Yes!” to acting on your desire is the real beginning. You just have to know what that desire is.
And there’s always more where that came from.
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