On using up my stash: Part II

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through December and just weeks away from a new year. When I wrote Part I (about using up my fabric stash), I already had Part II in the back of my mind, and it seemed like it would be a very long time until I reached it.

Once I got writing today, I actually thought I hadn’t written Part I that long ago, and was surprised to see that it had been a full year since. Isn’t that just time for you, though.

Anyways, Part II is about my yarn stash. I set a goal for myself last year that I wouldn’t buy new yarn until I had used up what I had in my stash. I started out having set this goal with about 4 sweater-quantities worth of yarn, plus some random skeins here and there. Considering I spend, on average, 2 months on a sweater, I knew it would be at least an 8-month endeavour. It seemed a long ways away, but I was determined to stick to it. I made this goal with a caveat – that I could buy yarn I needed to finish a project using yarn I already had, and that I wasn’t required to use up yarn that was leftover from making something else.

During that time, I began a job working at a yarn store. Customers gawked when I told them that I was on a “yarn fast” until I used up what I had. The truth is, it was hard to resist the yarn all around me, but it wasn’t that hard. This is mainly because having a large yarn stash stresses me out.

Yup. I get a bit anxious having a lot of yarn on hand. This is because I know how I function when it comes to my projects – I’m fickle. Sometimes I change my mind every day, sometimes even every hour, regarding what I want to make next. I also only work on one project at a time (the knitting community calls this “monogamous knitting”). So, if I buy yarn to make a certain project when I’ve already got something on the go, I may have changed my mind by the time I’m ready to use that yarn.

Remember how I mentioned starting this “challenge” with about 4 sweater quantities (to you non-knitters, this means enough yarn in one type and colour to use for a sweater project – usually requiring upwards of 3 skeins of yarn)? Of those, I ended up making something different with 2 of those, and spent a lot of time puzzling over what to do with it once I had decided that I no longer liked the projects I had bought them for.

I didn’t want to be doing that anymore. I didn’t want to have yarn I had purchased weighing on me. My goal was to get to a point where I would finish a project, and the next day I could go to work and buy yarn for what my heart desires at that moment. And I could cast on that project that night, not having to worry about more projects already waiting to be started.

I kinda slipped up once. But not really, because it didn’t delay my goal of finishing up my stash before the new year. In the summer, just as I had finished my Tensile sweater, Caitlin Hunter had released the Misurina tee. See, it was about timing. I had just finished a sweater that took me a good two months. It was hot. It was August. And my next (and last) project was a long-sleeved turtleneck that I was not planning on wearing any time soon. I had fallen in love with the Misurina tee, and I also knew I could wear it while the weather was still warm.

My Tensile sweater

I bought the yarn and the pattern and the whole thing was finished in 3 weeks – I was still able to start my turtleneck Rosier at my aimed starting date of mid-September.

My Misurina tee
My Rosier sweater – the last one on my stash-busting list!

I also had another small slip-up (I’m only human, after all) and bought yarn to make a Ranunculus tee while it was still summer and I was craving another lightweight knit tee. It doesn’t weigh on me, though, because now that it’s cold I don’t feel I need to knit it right away. I also expect it to be a relatively quick project.

Anyways, I haven’t yet gotten to have the experience of popping in to the store ready to pick what I want to make next. That’s because I pre-ordered yarn to make the project I’m currently working on, knowing it would arrive as I finished the last sweater on my list.

But once I’m done? My stash conscience should be clear.

I treat my yarn stash so differently from my fabric stash because I can use up a piece of fabric in a day, and decide on a whim which of my fabrics I’d like to use. I’m okay with having a lot of fabric on hand, so I can make what suits my mood that day. Ironically, I’ve had so little time to sew lately that my fabric stash bin has been remaining quite full and hasn’t been seeing a lot of activity.

But with my yarn stash, I move through it more slowly. My knitting time is limited and therefore very precious to me. I put a lot of thought into what I make and what yarn I choose to buy to make it.

I think I’m not like most knitters. Most knitters I’ve met love to add to their stash and see each skein of yarn as part of a collection. And I get it, I see my fabric collection the same way. But when it comes to yarn, a lot of thought goes into it before it comes home with me, and impulse purchases just don’t jive with me (I will admit, though, that I have been impulse buying knitting books over the past months – what! I like having a resource library).

So, dear reader, what sort of yarn stash do you have? Do you see a beautiful skein and buy it just to have, or do you buy yarn only when you’re ready to use it? I’d love to know!

The beautiful skeins I just had to have for a Ranunculus top

2 thoughts on “On using up my stash: Part II

  1. Interesting read! I’m on a fabric fast (because I like to buy fabric at a much faster rate than I sew…) and am technically on a yarn fast too but that doesn’t require any effort for some reason. I knit very slowly and have too much yarn (at least 6 sweater quantities and plenty of sock yarn), but haven’t bought much new yarn for 5 years. I look forward to having my yarn take up less space and am making an effort not to rush with anything. My habit of unravelling old sweaters and reusing the yarn isn’t exactly helping with reducing my stash, though 😂


    1. Thanks for reading through my stash ramblings, Gudrun 🙂 5 years is really impressive! It’s also really nice to hear that others are like me in feeling that they don’t need to add more to their yarn stash until they’ve used up what they have. I would not have the heart to unravel sweaters though – I have this thing where I don’t like to knit with the same yarn twice, so I wouldn’t have it in me to use it up for something else. Good for you for making sure the yarn of those sweaters gets put to good use though 🙂 🙂


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