Spring Cleaning, Part 1: The Stash

Hi friends — happy second day of spring for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere!

I’ve mentioned in passing here a few times that I’m trying to get my knitting life a bit more organized.  In the spirit of spring cleaning, here’s the first post in what I imagine will be a multi-part series thining about how we handle stash, longstanding unfinished objects, and finished knits we don’t use.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how getting my stash catalogued in Ravelry has been helpful to me in spring project planning and avoiding unnecessary yarn purchases (though if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I fell off the wagon a bit recently …)

Having my stash catalogued also has also allowed me to reckon a bit with its size.  I have yarn … a lot of yarn. I’ve been buying collecting for over a decade.  Clearly, I buy at a much faster rate than I knit.  On the one hand, I love the yarn I have, and I love that, if I want to start a new project, I definitely have lots of options.  On the other hand, the size of my stash has begun to stress me out a bit.  I’ve moved around a lot in the last six years, and I will say, it gets hard constantly moving my “collection.”

As my stash has grown, along with my worries over its size, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my yarn buying habits.  My purchases tend to fall into two categories: the first (and I think larger category) is yarn purchased for specific patterns.  Especially sweaters. I love handknit sweaters, and I really love planning to make them (well, I really love knitting project planning in general!) But, at least in the past few years, I can’t knit sweaters as fast as I buy yarn to make them.  So I have a very long queue of sweaters, with yarns already purchased, waiting to be made — and yet, I see a new pattern come out, get excited, and buy more sweater yarn (that falling off the wagon purchase, for instance, is .. you guessed it: for a sweater!)  The second, smaller category is the yarn I purchase off the cuff: often because I’ve visited a new yarn shop and want to support them, or I’m travelling and want to buy souvenir yarn, or I get an email about some amazing and oh-so-limited edition yarn … I’m sure you know what I mean! These tend to be smaller purchases, usually of fingering weight yarn,  and a lot of times, I have vague plans to knit socks with them (man, if I had a pair of socks for every single skein of sock yarn I’d bought …. well, I think I could wear a different pair of socks every day for quite awhile!)

So the question becomes: why do I keep buying yarn?  Part of it, of course, is changes in my taste and changes in what’s available.  While superwash merino is great, I have a LOT of it in my stash — so a lot of my more recent purchases have been to try other breed-specific wools.  A new small yarn company or indie dyer seems to pop up every day, and it’s easy to be tempted.  And the fact that I so often buy yarn for specific projects means, at least in the past, I have been reluctant to go stash diving when a new pattern comes out: even if I have a yarn in my stash that might be suited for a newly released pattern, it’s **meant** for something else that I still want to also make! In the past year, I’ve tried to be a lot better about using what I have, regardless of if it was slated for something else, telling myself, when I’m actually ready to make that something else, I can always get more yarn.  But I think the biggest reason I keep buying more yarn is–if you haven’t hung out here long enough to figure this out–I really. love. knitting.  I am constantly thinking about knitting — about yarn, about a current project, about one I want to start.  I feel like I never have as much knitting time as I’d like (probably because I would be happy to be constantly knitting …).  For me, planning projects and buying yarn holds with it the promise that, somehow, I will squeeze in that sweater.  That suddenly I’ll finish everything I’m working on, start everything I have planned, and make time for every new thing that catches my eye.

If it weren’t for moving, etc., I think I’d be less worried about all this.  But the thing is, I have to pack up my apartment again in two months.  And I have a lot of yarn.  Ravelry has a handy feature that allows you to download the stash you’ve entered asan Excel spreadsheet and then you can total up your yardage and grams. And I have almost 92,000 yards of yarn.  That’s fifty-two miles worth of yarn.  It’s 27,238 grams.  And that’s not even all my yarn (though it is the majority — just missing some partial skeins, etc.) [Side bar:  despite all my talk in this post about Ravelry’s stash function helping me understand how much I have, I didn’t actually download the spreadsheet and do the totals until midway through writing this post.  And boy, was it a shock.  Like, I had to step away from the computer and have a cup of tea shock.  I knew I had a lot of yarn, but I had no idea I had that much.]

Which brings me to another great part of having your stash on Ravelry — it makes it easy to start destashing. Because the fact of the matter is, no matter how good I am in the future … how much knitting from stash I do, how many future yarn purchases I resist making … I have too much yarn.  I’ll never be one of those people who has no stash, and only buys yarn for projects they’re about to start. But I would like to slim the stash down. Because fifty two miles of yarn is a lot to move. Because I would like to not feel guilty when I want to try a new yarn, or support a new LYS.  And mostly because, (in my humble opinion, at least) I have some really pretty yarn, and it deserves to be knit with!

So today, I thoguht I’d show you some little bits and bobs from my stash that I’m trying to rehome.  There’s a lot more over on my Ravelry destash page — and more will probably make it’s way there in the coming months (because: 52 miles!) But today, I thought it’d be fun to show you a few things — because it’s always fun to see pictures of yarn, right? (and we can laugh at some of my silly decisions!) and, who knows,  maybe something will take your fancy (if so, feel free to leave a comment here, and I’ll email you, or message me over on Ravelry)

Some of the stuff I’m destashing are pretty recent, impulse purchases. Like this lovely skein of Loop Studio Plus I bought in the fall becuse I needed a pick me up, wandered to Loop, and got this, even though it really wasn’t right for the hat I wanted to knit with it:

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Some of it needs to go because I’ve (gasp!) realized I’m allergic to alpaca yarn …

Like this (now discontinued) Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette (which I originally bought to make Coraline), a sportweight blend of alpaca/merino/silk:

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8 balls (1137 yds), $56 

And these two dreamy skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca, that to be honest, I don’t remember purchasing (oops!):

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Some of it is so pretty, it’s hard to imagine getting rid of … but I have no plans for it. Like this beautiful worsted weight Orange Flower Yarn:

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6 skeins (1308 yds), $100

Or this stunning Lakes Yarn DK … (bought for a Gin and Tonic, which I love and really want to make, but I just finished a cream sweater, and have another one languishing on the needles — spring cleaning is all about being realistic)

2017-03-21 16.03.36.jpg

Sometimes as I catalogued, I realized I had yarns that were just too similar. Like, I love blue-green sock yarn as much as the next person, but how did I end up with skeins this similar?!

2017-03-21 16.07.00.jpg
Left to right: Sundara Sock, Brooklyn Handspun Soft Spun Plus, Sunshine Yarns Soft Sock ($20 each)

Some things I’ve realized I’m just not going to knit soon … like this cute Morehouse Merinoo Scarf kit I got many moons ago:

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And some of these special skeins are just too pretty to keep sitting, unused:

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From left to right: Kismet Fiber Works Abundant DK ($22); The Uncommon Thread Everday Sport ($22); The Uncommon Thread Everday Luxury ($28)

I might pop in with another one or two flashes of the (de)stash over the next month or two, but if you’d like to poke around my Ravelry destash page, you can find it here.  And my big stash is (almost) all catalogued here … I’m pretty serious about spring cleaning, so if you see something you like, even if it’s not listed for sale, give me a shout!

And look out soon for some more spring cleaning posts on wrestingly with longstanding UFOs (I’m going to need some advice!) and what to do with handknits you don’t wear or use!

Are you a stasher?  I’m always eager to hear people’s stash management tips, so feel free to share in the comments!




27 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning, Part 1: The Stash”

    1. Well — thus far, I have mostly just held on to them and moved them around with me, but that’s getting silly! So I’m going to do a post soon (hopefully next week, but possibly the week after) trying to brainstorm some stuff to do with the ones I have and ask for some suggestions!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m in a similar situation to yourself – it looks like I could be moving country at the end of the year – so the stash-bursting race has begun! I have three IKEA storage boxes of stash though I only really rummage through one of them (my nice stash box, which has my special preferred yarns). I’m trying to knit from stash this year and allowing myself only to buy souvenir yarn, but I really just don’t knit fast enough!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I always need to force myself to at least look through the other baskets, just in case there’s something in there that can be used, but I usually always ended up knitting from the favourite box!


    1. That’s excellent! Though I have bought a little yarn this year, so far I’ve been sticking to my plan to be more thoughtful about any stash enhancement … and the impending move is making me a lot more conscious of it! The yarn I bought last week I’m planning to start knitting with next week, so that’s good at least!


  2. I was right there with you – “Yeah, reduce the stash! Live less cluttered!” etc. – and then I saw that gorgeous Orange Flower worsted and my reptile brain shouted me down. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This actually made me laugh out loud! I love the idea of lizard brain taking over when it comes to yarn – maybe we could come up wiht a special name for that — our sheep brain? Ha! Isnt’ that Orange Flower gorgeous? I sighed a little when I put it up for sale — but it’s too pretty to sit and not be knit with!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would take that gorgeous yarn off your hands, but I just set my own stash-busting goal. I’m allowing for new purchases, but not until planned projects and random skeins are worked through. Sigh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, and I thought my stash was bad. Mind you, I haven’t calculated the mileage yet. I tend to count the number of boxes/bags it’s all located/stuffed into and it’s well in double digits. I have about 10 SQs of stash but am okay with that as I also like knitting sweaters and while I have a plan for all of them, if a new pattern comes up I’m happy to re-allocate stash to another project. It’s all those single skeins of beautiful 4ply that I need to use up. And laceweight. I’m all about doubling up at the moment to create thicker weights that knit faster and use up the stash quicker.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mileage calculation was really surprising. Because while I do have a lot of yarn, it is fairly well contained — I have two of these giant ziploc storage bags full, one plastic storage bin, and then some other bits and bobs in 2-3 smaller bags. So I was really surprised when the totals came in!! I’m in a really similar position. For the most part, I’m fine with all the SQs I have — there’s just a few that I’ve realized I wont’ knit with because they duplicate stuff I already have, or because they have alpaca and it makes me itch too much. But figuring out what to do with all those single skeins of 4 ply is so hard! I like the idea of doubling up to stash bush! Going to keep that in mind!


  4. Good for you taking on a realistic destashing! I am a stasher with very similar buying habits–I buy sweater-weights of yarn, single skeins to support LYSs, and I am quite the saver–so I am probably not the one to consult here!

    My stash is hovering somewhere around 42 miles and right now my management approach is to be both brutally realistic about what I have and to give myself permission to knit, because as you mentioned, a lack of queued projects is not a problem! For the past two years I have kept a spreadsheet with one tab for yards purchased and another for yards knitted, then a third tab with a formula that shows me the ratio of yards purchased to those knitted. I could track yards knitted against the entire, growing stash but that would not be as encouraging.

    Giving myself permission to knit is much harder: the dirty dishes glower, the dusty floors disapprove, but just when I am about to get up and do the things I *should* do, a cat will come settle down on my lap and give me another half hour of knitting time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I love your idea of the spreadsheet — and the ratio you’ve hit on for yarn purchased v. yarn bought seems to be the right one! When I have a bit more time, I’m going to start working on cleaning up the Ravelry generated spreadsheet and maybe try to do something similar — it would be nice to see how my yarn in/yarn out is looking!
      And I 100% agree on the permission to knit: I know I am just a happier person if I get a bit of daily knitting in. So this year, I’ve made it a priority to try to knit, even if it’s just a bit, each day; but yeah, giving yourself permission when you know you need it is so, so important! We probably won’t remember that day our sink piled up with dishes, but we will remember knitting our favorite sweater, right? 😀


  5. You are tempting me so much right now and I am supposed to be on a yarn diet (except for my YarnBox Sock Club) and knitting from the stash this year 🙂 Have you thought about doing a blanket where you put together similar colors / different weights (to make a bulky yarn) and make a simple blanket with your lovely yarn? Tin Can Knits just had a post on a blanket they did using that method and it turned out stunning! That way you get to keep some of your lovely yarn and make something useful too for those cooler days / nights.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohhh I will have to head over to Tin Can Knits and check that out! I have thought about blankets before — I really like the barn raising blanket, out of sock yarn (and might have started some squares once) but becauese it was fingering weight, I just didn’t get too far. But combining some yarn to knit at a larger gauge could be a great idea! Thanks, Paula 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The blanket is called Marley; however I would think that you could just do a simple garter stitch blanket and it would turn out lovely. Plus, it would eat up yarn and go pretty fast with large needles 🙂 I’ve been longing to make a blanket out of sock yarn and even have a small stash going of mini skeins to accomplish that goal. I just need to get started on it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting! I’ve long had great intentions about cataloguing my stash using Ravelry, but when it comes down to it, it always seems like a more daunting task than I can manage. I love tracking things, though, and the idea that I could track the miles of yarn in my stash has kind of taken hold of my brain. This just might be the impetus I need to get me going! Thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am definitely a stasher, I’m trying to curb the buying without much restating because I really love all of my yarn. There’s some that needs to go but I find it really hard to let go of because I think I may need it. Even though I have the capability to go and purchase more if I need it. I’ll enjoy watching your progress.

    Liked by 1 person

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