The stash, our treasure. Almost all crafters have one, not just fiber enthusiasts. But what is a stash? What can it do for us? And how could we get more out of it? As I am organizing mine, I started thinking about this and tried to figure out what others have said about this subject before. There is a lot on how to store or sort it and on how to work only from stash and making it smaller. But very little on what a stash is and means and why we have one in the first place. So, here are my two cents about this subject.
What Is in a Stash?
The most obvious thing is yarn of course. What type of yarn you have depends on what kind of projects you usually knit. I have mostly sock yarn. I love knitting socks and when I started building my stash that was the type of yarn you could get in pretty hand dyed variants most readily. And I can use sock yarn for cowls, scarfs, shawls, gloves, (kids’) sweaters and more, so it’s also very versatile. I also have some lace yarn (from back when I could still block lace shawls, the pre-wolfling-era). In recent years I’ve tried to branch out a little. I have a few sweaters worth of worsted weight now and bit of DK weight around as well. And some spinning fiber, also from the pre-wolfling-era. I can’t have the spinning wheel standing out in the open without them messing with it.
But your stash is not only your yarn. All the patterns and knitting books you own, both digitally and in print, all the buttons, zippers and other closures – all of these I would count as part of your stash as well. The same for your knitting tools: the many needles, stitch markers, project bags, yarn bowls and more. I consider everything we need for our craft to be part of the stash.
What Does It Mean to Us?
The stash is raw potential. It holds all of our hopes and dreams (as it pertains to our craft) and it inspires us. It can bring us joy. Which knitter doesn’t find it hard not to smile when seeing images of pretty yarn? Beautifully sorted and stored? Or just lying out as in the marketplace during a wool festival?
Our stash can also hold memories for us. I still have yarn I bought on Papa Wolf and my Christmas vacation in Salzburg when I was pregnant with Little Wolf. Every time I see it, I think back to that time and am reminded of what it felt like when Little Wolf was kicking away inside of me whenever Papa Wolf fell asleep on my belly. And I still have leftovers of the yarn I knit a pair of socks with on our honeymoon to Helsinki. Where it was icy cold in March and the ocean had frozen over where it hit the land. (Note: Finland is beautiful.)
Why Do We Keep Adding to the Stash?
Because we love it. Yarn is beautiful and soft, and we could turn it into so many different things by what seems like very slow magic. Knitting needles can be so beautiful and colorful and brighten up your space, and you feel like you never have enough of them anyway. We buy knitting books because we loved the patterns in them and wanted to knit them – even if it may take us a few years to get around to it. We add to it because we want to remember certain times of our lives. And we add to it because sudden inspiration struck us when we saw this particular skein and we knew just what it should be. We add to it because it is at least part of the source of our inspiration and it can work as a mood board for us.
How Big Is Big Enough? Or Too Big?
That is the big question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it can’t be answered in a blanket statement. As long as you are happy with your stash and do not feel overwhelmed by it, as long as you can afford stash acquisition without going into debt (preferably), as long as it’s not hurting anyone, it is not too big.
If you (or your loved ones) feel uncomfortable with it, if it doesn’t bring you joy anymore, then it has become too big.
It may be too small if you need to buy new yarn or tools every time you start a new project – unless you like it that way.
What Can It Do for You?
As I’ve said before your stash can be your inspiration. Because it can work as a mood board, it can aid your creativity. You may come up with ideas for designs or just suddenly have a thought for a great present for a beloved person.
On top of that, a stash can be beautiful to look at. It can decorate your space or craft room, brighten up otherwise dull rooms. Especially during the grey months (fall and winter) the colorful books and buttons, needles and yarn can bring life and warmth to your home. And they are much easier to take care of than plants. (I at least can’t keep plants alive.)
How to Help Your Stash to Do Its Job
For your stash to do all this for you a bit of work is usually necessary.
First of all, you should know what you have. Catalogue your stash yarn if it helps (you could add it all on Ravelry). Take photos and make lists and store it so that you’ll be able to find it again quickly. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t use it. That means you end up buying things that are the same or similar to what you already own. How many of us keep on purchasing knitting needles because you can never find the right size, although you know you have some somewhere? And how many tape measures do we own? How much yarn of similar color and weight?
Organize your stash. Sort the yarn by color and weight and keep it in sight (if possible) and within easy reach. You won’t use yarn that isn’t easy to reach. And then it stops being part of the stash and becomes a collection. (I speak from experience.) Store your needles by type and size and your books and magazines in a way that makes it possible for you to find what you are looking for quickly. (If you have a lot of books and magazines it might be good to keep your library on Ravelry up to date, so you always know where to find which pattern and what patterns you have.) Same goes for all of your other tools. Even if you don’t have much room, you can have your craft space ordered and look nice. Pinterest has plenty of ideas for craft rooms and areas.
One last tip: At least twice a year, take out all of the yarn. Look through it. What you don’t like anymore (tastes change) you can give away. Everything else, check for moths and put it back if it’s clear. Even if you don’t think you have moths, there may be some. If you find a moth infestation, wash the infested yarn – and everything else around it – and once it’s dried put it in the freezer for 24 hours. That should take care of them. You can also buy moth traps to keep them from multiplying.
What does your stash mean to you? What is your most prized possession in the stash? Do you have yarn you don’t plan on using, if so why? Please let me know in the comments below!
On my to-buy-list: A Stash of One’s Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting go of Yarn (*) by Clara Parkes. I love reading books about knitting and knitters a lot, and this must be the only book entirely on stash and yarn out there (at least the only one I could find). Once I get to reading it, I’ll let you know what I thought of it! I did enjoy Clara Parkes’ The Yarn Whisperer (*), so I’m looking forward to reading this.
I am still organizing my stash, cataloging it and trying to find out what I have. At the rate at which I’m going, this will take a while. My stash is rather large it seems, but I’ve had ten years to build it. Once I’m done I plan to show it to you. Whenever that may be.
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Nadja, thank you! I can now admit that I’m drowning in yarn. My stash is in the garage, in my wardrobe, in lovely cane baskets beside my butt-worn chair, in the blanket box, and in nearly every cupboard – bar kitchen. If I did a big cull, I could probably use my side of the garage for its intended purpose. If I culled in the house, we could probably move somewhere a lot smaller. Okay, okay … I also use most of my hatchback as storage. Oh. And then there’s my sister’s country property with all its wonderful sheds. I may need professional help. Let’s see how the culls go first. ?
How large your stash is, doesn’t matter – as long as you are happy with it. 🙂 I think it’s important to know what you have so you can use it. And to accept it. There was recently a discussion on Twitter about stash and that we really shouldn’t hide it but stand by it. It does sound like you have a lot but only trim down your stash if you feel oppressed by it and don’t hide what you have. You can’t love something you’re hiding and neither can it bring you joy. Organize it and have fun with it!
As I started going through my stash, I did find things I didn’t like anymore. It’s grown over the last ten years to the size it has now. I was bound to find things that just didn’t suit my taste anymore. I’m sure you’ll find such things yourself as well. What’s more, I found a lot of things I didn’t even know I had anymore and fell in love with all over again.
Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad you liked my post. I enjoyed writing it, too. Let me know how going through your stash turns out for you!