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Hoarding is such a dirty word

August 21, 2012

My name is Julie and I have a STASH.

Yes, it is true, I own a little yarn.

I might own more than a little bit of yarn.

Some might go so far as to say I own a lot of yarn.

My husband, if he ever dug through it all, might refer to it as a hoard, but that is completely untrue.

It is a nice, well behaved, well stocked stash of yarn. In fact, my yarn stash just might be one of the most organized things on my house. I know where the yarn is stored, I know how I have it organized, I know where to find what I am looking for. It is just a wee bit excessive.

When I started knitting, long ago, back in the day, I didn’t know squat about yarn. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I knew that they sold yarn and needles and places such as Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics and Walmart and that I could knit with that. And knit I did. After a couple of bad episodes with acrylic yarns and hats that didn’t keep my baby boy’s head warm and stretched out after just one wearing, I started to learn that you got out of your knitting what you put in. I started to look for yarns that had some wool in them. Once I got comfortable making a pattern, then I would go and buy enough yarn to make several of those items. I started to fall into the trap of, “if I have the yarn, THEN I can knit this . . .” And for a while I did make just those things that I had yarn for. They were quick and easy items that were made with bulky to super bulky yarns. Lions Brand Thick and Quick was a favorite yarn of mine.

I loved those bulky yarns, I couldn’t imagine knitting with thinner stuff. The first worsted weight hat I made for my husband I swore was going to be my last. It seemed to take forever! Eventually, after about 6 months of knitting, I got up the courage to venture into the local yarn shop (LYS) a couple of blocks from my house. I think I almost passed out from all the yarn fumes emanating from this place. The yarns I saw were beautiful. They were so bright and shiny and soft and so much better than the yarn I had been using. I fell in love with wool. I learned that merino wool was magical to knit with. My knits benefited from this as well. They started to look so much better. They were warm. They held their shape. It was then that I purchased my very first skein of sock yarn. I drank the Kool Aid and with the help of The Yarn Harlot and her wonderful instructions on how to knit a sock, I ventured into the land of fingerling weight yarn. Needless to say, between one of my LYS’s store closing sale, discovering two NEW yarns shops close to me, knitting blogs, online yarn shops and independent dyers, I was hooked. I started accumulating yarn.

At first, it’s just a basket in the corner. It actually compliments the décor and makes your house look more homey. Then there are two baskets of yarn, one in the living room, one in the family room. Not wanting those to get unruly, you start moving some of the yarn to your bedroom, where it will be out of the way. Since the bedroom worked so well, you go and buy an underbed storage tote and stick some skeins in there, so that they won’t take up room or get dusty. One turns into two storage containers because you found a great deal on some close out alpaca last week. Two turns into three because you discover that there is an OUTLET store of one of the local yarn shops who has everything at least 50% OFF!

Having a stash isn’t a bad thing. There are many very practical reasons to have plenty of yarn on hand. Good, solid, logical reasons. Yarn stores have weird hours. What if you want to start a new project at 5:00 am or 9:30 pm? I haven’t found one 24 hour yarn store yet. God help me if I do. What if the project you are working on is giving you fits and you just can’t figure out a section? Instead of beating yourself up about it, maybe it is better just to go wind up a ball of beautiful variegated sock yarn and cast on for a nice, plain, easy sock in stockinette. Something to take the edge off for a while until you feel up to tackling the difficult project again. Yarn is also a great insulator. If it gets to be too cold I can just cover up with my skeins and be warm and safe and secure.

My stash has come in quite handy when I have needed to get a tentative knitter started. Just last month, when Kim was in town, Mom and I decided she needed to knit her own Color Affection shawl. Only problem was, she didn’t have any yarn for it and we were going to be hours away from the nearest yarn shop. No problem, I dived into the stash and put together a shopping bag full of yarn in the colors she suggested and brought it up to the cabin. She picked three skeins of sock yarn and cast on for her shawl. I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have a vast selection of fingerling weight yarn to choose from. All that Peaches and Cream cotton yarn that I picked up for a dollar a ball? I have started countless people on their first knitting projects with that. Last weekend I taught my son’s best friend how to knit and sent him home with yarn and needles. I have so far been successful in ignoring my son’s accusations that I “broke him.” Every 10 yr old boy should know how to knit.

Contained in each and every skein of yarn in my stash is potential. Every yard represents something that could be. A skein of fingerling weight yarn could become socks, or a pair of mittens, or a baby sweater to welcome a new life to this world. It could be a shawl to warm the shoulders of a loved one. It could be a knitting animal to bring a laugh and smile to someone’s face. Bulky yarns? Quick knit sweaters, or hats, or warm and fuzzy mittens. All that 100% worsted weight wool in that bag over there? Felted slippers of course. Or mittens. Or a bag. I get so excited holding a new skein of yarn and imagining what I could knit with it. The possibilities are intoxicating.

I have yarn in the stash that will probably never get knit into anything. Not because it is bad yarn or ugly yarn, but because those skeins hold memories. The four skeins of cashmere/wool yarn I bought at the little yarn shop I dragged my family to in Fairbanks, Alaska? The store where I originally went intending on buying just one little skein of qiviut but couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money? I love that yarn for what it could have been. Those skeins of yarn I bought last year in Boulder, Colorado? That weekend was one of the biggest weekend’s of my husband’s career. I love to see that yarn and remember how much life changed during that weekend. The sock yarn I bought in Duluth, the weekend of my eldest’s son’s last away hockey tournament ever? Who can knit with that? Especially when the colorway is “Steel and Ice”? I have the most beautiful skein of lace weight deep purple suri alpaca. I am too scared to ever knit with that. Especially since I could have fed my family for two days on what I paid for it.

I am also a sucker for the names of yarn colors. Contained in my stash are some beauties. There are “To Infinity and Beyond”, “As you Wish”, “Jabberwocky” and “What a Wonderful World”. Throw in the fabulous names of “Have Fun Storming the Castle” not to mention the all time best name ever, “People Are Particularly Stupid Today; I Cannot Speak To Any More Of Them” and you can see my problem, can’t you?

My mother in law started knitting at about the same time I did. She couldn’t understand how I could buy yarn without having any idea what I was going to do with it. And yet, last week, when the yarn shop near the cabin was having a 30% sale (or 40% if you spent more than $200) she was on the phone with me, reading off colors for me to check out on the yarn’s website. I ended up with 5 skeins of yarn. Mom ended up with over twice that many. We got 40% off too. How quickly one can succumb when in the presence of yarn fumes.

Do I have enough yarn? Possibly. Have I gone from having a STASH to a SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)? I don’t think so. I am still in my 30s. I am quite confident that I am going to live for at least another 50 years. That’s a lot of knitting time. All I have to do is knit 3 skeins a year and I will have used it all up in 40, 45 years. I can totally knit WAY more than that, can’t I?? Now that I think about it, I might need some more yarn. Good thing I have a $20 gift certificate at one of my favorite yarn shops . . .

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2012 7:49 am

    Julie, now I know who to leave my SABLE to – I will send you my blog on that topic soon. Hope you wu
    Ill be at FPA conference in SA TX? What colors are your stash favorites?

  2. August 26, 2012 8:07 am

    Sadly, I won’t be making the trek to SA. We are trying to juggle all of the places we want to go next year and SA didn’t make the cut. I’m hoping MB gets invited back down to Atlanta and I can tag along with him then. 🙂
    As for colors, anything expect for pastels is fair game. I love deep, dark saturated colors. Or heathers. Or… Anything but pink? :-). How about you? I’m thinking you might need some handspun to compliment your stash.

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