by Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner
Our Philosophy of Stash
I’ve been knitting for about six months now. I have, therefore, reached the point that I do not remember Life Without Knitting. Knit knit knit. It’s so damn good. Why is it so good? (That is not my question. It’s just rhetorical. Why oh why is knitting so.dang.good?)
Here’s the thing. The other day I was knitting while sitting on the 30 Gallon Double Tuff Hardy Boy Rubberoid Container that holds my absolutely minimalist starter stash. You know, a few hanks that I have picked up here and there because they were purty and/or they were 20 percent off and/or they were hand dyed by some lady at school—that sort of thing. Clicking away, I noticed something.
What I noticed is that the lid would not stay on the container. It kept bouncing me off (which totally messed up my gauge).
Problem Ladies: I don’t mind telling you that I am not a small woman. I got to thinking, if this is six months’ worth of accumulated yarn, what will my stash look like in six years? What will my house look like? And will my husband and I still be living at the same address?
My question to you is this: Do you have any advice on how to keep stash acquisition from getting out of control?
Although we realize the burden that a burgeoning stash can impose on one’s household, one’s budget, and one’s relationship with one’s life partner, we do not—repeat, do NOT—go in for “yarn diets” and “knit from your stash for a whole year” and other exercises in self-denial. Despite everything, we still happen to think that buying yarn is the absolute best, most pleasurable use of any extra cash one comes into. But we have learned, over time, that some kinds of stash are more satisfying than others. If you buy the right kind of yarn, you will enjoy having it around, you will not need to give it to the Tiny Tots Day Camp to make kid mohair God’s Eyes with, and you might even knit it up. Ponder our tips:
(Exception to Rule Number One: Souvenir skeins. If you are going on a trip, you are quite naturally going to end up buying a skein of yarn from every yarn shop you come across in your journey. This is a cost of doing business as a knitter. Make these skeins into Baby Surprise Jackets.)
This is the rule that has saved the Problem Ladies from financial ruin and deep unhappiness. There are certain yarns that each of us is always going to be interested in knitting, until the day they pry the needles from our cold, stiff claws. One of us, for example, has a tendency to look at a pattern for a cashmere sweater and think, “Wouldn’t that be awesome in indigo-dyed denim yarn?” Another of us is always going to be knitting socks. Staple yarns, or “flour and sugar” yarns, are the yarns you find yourself actually running out of (once in a while). These are the yarns you can stash without fear. Figure out what they are, and steer the credit card in that direction.
It turns out we were wrong. Magpie may be gone, but the spinners kept making beautiful Aran weight woolen yarns. Maybe not EXACTLY as good as the late, great Magpie but, as it turns out, pretty alluring stuff. And when a yarn has been discontinued, designers tend to stop writing patterns for it. This is when those bargain bags start to weigh you down. Have faith, people: they will keep making wonderful yarns. You can buy them when you need them. There is no need to stockpile.