December 29, 2010

The Great Stash Bust of 2011

As a knitter (and occasional crocheter) I can't resist buying yarn. Whenever I pass a yarn store, whether it be a chain or a local yarn store (LYS), I must go in. The problem is, I almost never need anything and almost always buy something. I typically buy yarn for projects as they come up, so going to the yarn store without a plan is dangerous AND expensive. It is especially bad with my LYS. There are three of them in my general vicinity, and although my favorite one recently closed (RIP), the others have a fairly decent selection of yarns I love. I walk in and am immediately swept up into a feeling of what can only be described as calm yet giddy excitement. There are so many different yarns to look at, touch, rub on my face (yes... I rub yarn on my face. This may sound crazy, but once you pick up a super soft skein if yarn and rub it on your face, you will understand).  I have a routine when I step into a LYS. I look around, choose one side of the store, and make a pass over everything. Then I go back to the ones that stood out to me, and spend anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour having an internal conversation with myself about what I could use that specific yarn for.

I have to buy yarn from a LYS whenever I go in. Part of it is that I'm addicted to the feeling I get when the transaction is completed at the register and I know that the yarn in my hands is mine to do whatever I want with it. The possibilities are endless...and by endless, I mean limited to the scope of my not so vast ability. Another reason I have to purchase something is that I love local yarn stores. I love that there is a shop dedicated to selling the one thing I love more than anything (ok, ok, I love my cat Cindy more than anything, but I would say that yarn comes in a close second, tied with boy, my parents, and bloody marys). I also know that owning a yarn store can't be the most profitable venture, and I want to do my part, however small, to help keep them open. When my favorite yarn store closed, I was heartbroken. Whenever I drive by the building (an adorable little house that was PERFECT for a yarn store), I get excited and plan on stopping before I realize that it's now a doctors office...which makes me sad.

Although I love to support local businesses whenever I can, sometimes I am guilty of buying yarn from chain craft stores. Sometimes you need inexpensive acrylic yarn for certain projects, you know? There is a Beverly's (a chain of craft stores that is limited to California) around the corner from my house. Yes... around the corner. Luckily, Beverly's yarn selection is lacking, so it isn't as dangerous as it could be.

I also buy yarn online. KnitPicks is a great site for inexpensive yarns, but I do my best to avoid it unless I want yarn for a specific project... because I learned the hard way how dangerous it is. They have lots of lovely yarns of all different fibers, weights, colors, not to mention knitting accessories and books... and if you spend $45, the shipping is free. Do you see what I mean about that dangerous bit? On several (and by several I mean this has happened at least 5 or 6 times) occasions, I have gone to their website intending to simply browse for ideas. This has led to me adding a few skeins to my cart, only to realize that if I add several more I will get free shipping! This means one or two random skeins of some bright colored sock yarn or thick, hand-dyed wool gets added to my cart and I eagerly anticipate their arrival at my home. I rip open the package (because my goldfish memory means that I forget what I've ordered almost as soon  as I click the confirmation button) and crow over my treasures for a few minutes before I realize my problem. What can I do with one skein of sock yarn? What was I thinking? One skein would make one sock... or half a lace scarf... or.... or..... and so it gets tossed into my stash, where it mingles with numerous other yarns that were also impulsive purchases.

You can clearly see my conundrum. If I am not buying for a specific project, I buy one or two random skeins that are essentially useless unless I come up with some sort of grand plan for them (one such grand plan involved two seperate skeins of sock yarn that are coming together nicely as a scarf). Not to mention I have tons of little balls of yarn leftover from projects. It is a rare occasion when a project uses one or several complete skeins of yarn. Typically there can be anywhere from almost an entire skein to several feet of yarn left. Since I am a hoarder in training, I can't throw these away. I store the smallest little balls in a bag in my yarn trunk, full of brilliant plans for their future.

There is one final component to my yarn collection. I tend to receive yarn from people. This ranges from one or two skeins that are given to me as gifts , or bags of yarn that I inherit from friends who had grand knitting plans that fell flat. The yarn in these bags run the gamut - small little balls left over from attempts at scarves, huge skeins of acrylic yarn, fancy designer yarns... and of course, I welcome them all with open arms. To date I have received three cardboard boxes of yarn from three seperate friends. I am not complaining, don't get me wrong, but until recently I haven't realized how much yarn I have accumulated.

This leads me to the point of this rambling blog entry- my 2011 new years resolution. I have a terrible track record when it comes to new years resolutions, but I vow to keep this one (maybe my new years resoultion should be to keep my resoulton?). I will not buy any new yarn until I use the majority of the yarn I have stashed away. I am calling it the "great stash bust of 2011". I still haven't defined "majority" yet... because I know it will not be possible to use up ALL of my yarn. I have skeins stashed away that are intended for specific projects, so those will not be included. I also have some yarns that I feel might be impossible to incorporate, like eyelash yarn. I don't understand why people like eyelash yarn, but I have somehow come to posess far too much of it (and none of it was purchased by yours truely).

I have some ideas of what I am going to do with all this yarn. The little balls of leftover yarn will be turned into some sort of hideously amazing granny square blanket. The insane amount of other yarns will be turned into hats and scarves for various friends and family members. Once everyone is tired of receiving these items, I will donate the remainder to homeless shelters.

There is one caveat to this endevor, and that is Amaya. Amaya, my NYC friend, has discovered that if she buys me yarn, I will make stuff for her. As I type this, a package is on its way to me from her that is filled with various skeins of yarn that she chose for several projects she has requested of me. This is a win-win for both of us. I get to work with nice, high-quality yarns (Amaya has expensive taste) that magically show up at my house for free, and she gets lovingly hand-knitted objects. So while I have resolved to not buy myself any more yarn, this doesn't mean that people can't buy yarn for me.

While I am excited about this endeavor, I am also slightly nervous. I know myself pretty darn well, and I know that I get tired of things easily. I am worried that I will rapidly tire of trudging through my yarn stash, because it will all become old, boring stuff. There won't be that thrill of encountering new yarns (well, except for when I stumble across yarns I forgot I purchased). However, I will hold onto the knowledge that I will be able to buy yarn again in the future, and when I do it will be glorious. 

On December 24th I purchased two different skeins of yarn at a cute little yarn and book store that I found in Murphys, California while waiting to meet a group of old friends (can friends from high school be considered old friends if we graduated from high school 5 years ago?). At the time I hadn't decided that they would be my last new skeins of yarn for awhile, but now that I have come to that decision I don't think I could have made a better choice. The memory of shopping in that little store while Frank Sinatra crooned Christmas carols and the proprietor wrapped last minute holiday gifts at the front counter will bring a smile to my face as I begin plugging my way through almost ten years of yarn accumulation.
My last two new skeins of yarn
The best part is I've already started on this little adventure! While visiting my parents for Christmas, I knit a hat for boy's cousin out of leftover yarn. It was a great way to begin something so daunting, especially when I didn't even realize I was doing it!
Close-up of the stitch pattern of the hat
Just to prove to you that this project is no small task, I would like to submit some photos for evidence.
This is where my yarn lives. Innocent enough, right?
Until you open it....
It is madness inside.
Yes, there are unfinished projects in here.
Lots and lots of tangles
My crazy collection of frilly, almost useless yarns
These pictures don't quite do it justice, because you can't see the depth of the yarn in the trunk. Trust me, there is a lot in there, and I bet this is going to take me forever.
Happy New Year to everyone!

1 comment:

  1. 1. You have serious problems - yarn and otherwise.
    2. You are adorable.
    3. I have never, ever been exposed to the word "skein" so many times in such a brief period. I'm kinda freaking out.
    4. I didn't realize you liked bloody mary's so much. Awesome.
    5. Are you certain it was Frank Sinatra? I have found that people tend to get him, Johnny Mercer, and Bing Crosby confused, although generally only regarding xmas music. I think it has something to do with the sleigh bells jingling in the background.
    6. A serious suggestion for maintaining your resolution: lay out all of your non-project-specific yarn and 3 cardboard boxes. Leave the room. Better yet, leave the house. Have the boy toss yarn haphazardly into the boxes (as boys are wont to do) and tape boxes closed securely. Any yarn that doesn't fit into the boxes goes back into the trunk. Label the taped boxes with "do not open until" dates. (Feb 1, Apr 1, Jul 1 -- each date is later because you're still going to have leftover from the trunk and the previous box).

    If possible, have boy stash boxes away. They don't have to be hidden, per se, just somewhere he is more likely to go than you. (For instance, the patio storage closet is almost solely my domain. Tracy thinks there are spiders in there.)

    Now you have the yarn you already identified for specific projects and some miscellaneous yarn to get you through January. In one month you get to open box #1 and, goodness, look at all this great yarn you forgot about! Then 2 months later, an even bigger surprise. And, come July -- well, let's just say it's gonna blow your mind.

    Happy New Year. Good luck. ;-)