All of you knitters and crocheters out there know how the story goes. You’re young, you’re in love with this new crafting thing and you just can’t stop yourself. You have to have yarn in order to knit (or crochet). You buy a skein. Then, you use up that skein but your project isn’t finished yet. Who knew that anything could use up more than a skein of yarn?? You go back to the craft store to buy more yarn. While you’re there, you see another color that you really, really like, so you add it on to your purchase with no idea what you’re going to do with it, but it’s just so PERFECT and so gorgeous that you know you will make something completely amazing with it.
You start scanning the internet for the perfect project for that yummy skein that you just bought, but everything that you really want to make requires two skeins – or more! But you only bought one. Now, what?
That’s right. Back to the craft store. But, you know, it’s a fun place to browse around in, so it’s not so bad.
Before you know it, you have amassed a basket full of wool in the living room, a storage tub full of acrylic blends in the closet, a wheeled storage box full of fingering weight under the bed, a stack of tubs full of yarn in the corner and you’re using another one as a nightstand. Your family all know that they will receive something made with yarn for birthdays and definitely for Christmas and you can be commonly identified as “the one over there in the handknit shawl/hat/scarf/sweater.” You justify all of this yarn with the knowledge that you can always create a gift for someone out of your yarn stash at any time. You will never be without a project to work on. Boredom no longer exists.
Tell me, am I the only one?
So, you decide to slow down on the yarn. Use up some of your precious hoard before you buy more. We call this a “yarn diet” and it works about as well as a calorie-counting diet does, especially when the holidays roll around and you start planning out your gift projects. You paw excitedly through your bins and boxes of yarn looking for the right yarn for every project. You find a skein or two, but either the colors you have aren’t quite right or the color is perfect but it’s too chunky or too fine (gift projects need to work up quickly, after all, if you’re going to get them all done), or the yarn you want to use isn’t machine washable (all gift knits should be machine washable), or whatever. SO, you get online and order yarn for all of your holiday projects. This is most of your Christmas shopping, so you’re really saving money, right? DIY is the way to go.
So, you start making things. You use a lot of the yarn that you bought for the holiday gift projects, but there’s always some left over to feed the stash some more. But hey, there are birthday presents to make, too! And every once in a while you have to make something for yourself. You’ll get to it.
And then, you decide to make a rule for yourself. You must finish one project before you can buy yarn for a new project. I don’t know about you, but that resolution doesn’t usually last long for me. I am not a monogamous knitter. My creative brain comes up with ideas for new projects faster than I can knit them up. I actually have a Trello board set up to keep track of my new ideas and which stages my projects are in. Now, if I could just get my workspace that organized, I would be unstoppable! [cue evil laugh]
Sorry, I’m getting a little off track. I might have had enough caffeine today. Back to the subject.
After a while, though, (there is no set amount of time, as individual results may vary) you find that your stash has grown beyond your ability to work up within your lifetime. It’s a horrifying thought, but the truth is that it’s time to push some of your babies out into the wide world.
Now, the way I see it, there are four different approaches to this dilemma.
Method number one: charity projects.
Now, charity projects are fabulous, and definitely a worthy use of your time and your yarn (check out http://www.knotsoflove.org/nicu-blanket-patterns, http://www.binkypatrol.org and http://www.warmupamerica.org/, for example) and they do have the potential to use up a lot of your stash, but when you have amassed more than you can work up within your lifetime, the problem still remains.
Method number two: gift some of your yarn to a friend.
I have done this, but in very limited amounts. I once gifted some of my precious handspun (by me) yarn to a very good friend as a Christmas gift because I knew that she would properly appreciate it. And I still, technically, “made” it for her, since it was my handspun.
Method number three: donate to a thrift store.
I actually did this last Summer. I took every storage tub full of yarn that I had, opened them up and looked at every single skein/ball/cake of yarn in each box and asked myself if I would really enjoy working with it in any way. I know that’s a pretty broad question, but it was my first time. I found that about 1/3 of my stash was actually yarn that I didn’t like the feel of or didn’t even want to look at. Wow! Into the donate box it went! And then into the back of my car and then directly to the thrift store before I could change my mind.
It was really nice, actually. I now know that I can go to my yarn stash at any time and I will only find lovely yarn that I know I really want to work with. My stash is so much more inspirational, now. Which can actually cause me to spend a lot of time dreaming up more projects, if I’m not careful. With great creativity comes great responsibility, I guess. I mean, the kids need me to cook dinner. I can’t just dream about my yarn all day.
Method number four (which realistically isn’t an option when we’re talking about something with as much crafting potential as yarn): throw it away.
Yup. Into the landfill. I know, it’s not really an option for me, either, but I just thought I’d throw it out there (ha ha) in the interest of being thorough.
If you can’t bear to take any of these approaches to your excess yarn, you can always continue to hoard it and let your children and grandchildren deal with it someday after you’re gone. I actually loved using the yarn, crochet hooks and knitting needles that I inherited from my husband’s grandmother, but she really didn’t have that much yarn stored up. And every time I use one of her crochet hooks, I think of her, which makes me smile. I sincerely hope that there is someone else in your life who will love what you leave behind (someday) in your stash, too. And I hope that you will stay creative, in one form or another, until the end of your days.
Craft on, friends.