October 18, 2009

And this is why I stash

I think non-knitters have trouble with the stash concept. To non-knitters, having yarn and not knitting it means you do not like that yarn.

If a non-knitter gifted that yarn to a knitter, it might seem like the knitter doesn't really like the yarn at all. For example, a particular friend of mine just can't understand why I would ignore the 400 yards of gorgeous cashmere he gave me. He thinks I don't like the cashmere.

Knitters know not liking cashmere is impossible. But I do think there are several factors at work in the stashing and project selection process.

1. Non-knitters don't really understand just how much yarn some of us actually have. There is more yarn in my stash than I could possibly knit in the foreseeable future. Not knitting a particular yarn is, admittedly, at least partially due to the fact that I am a fickle, fickle tramp when it comes to new yarn. But it's also due to the sheer amount of other yarn in the stash. I don't really knit all that much, and I have a shitload of yarn. Therefore, the backlog is substantial.


Monkey, in Fiber Confections hand-dyed merino. Stashed December 2008. Project started July 2009.

2. Sometimes I don't knit precisely because I love the yarn so much. I am waiting for the perfect project that will best complement a particularly gorgeous yarn. Such is the case with my cashmere stash. And honestly, I think some sock yarns are prettier in the skein than they could ever be knit up.


Auracania Ranco, Multy. Yarn stashed April 2008. Unknit.

3. The stash is a constant source of joy and inspiration. I browse my stash the way I browse cookbooks, to remind me of all the possibilities that are out there. And because it just makes me happy. I may not knit something immediately, but visiting my stash reminds me what I could be knitting with. And as I browse patterns, I mentally align pattern to stash, and every now and then there is a spark. The perfect alignment of pattern and yarn and (this is crucial) the desire to knit this particular pattern in this particular yarn immediately.


Chevron Scarf, in J Knits Superwash Me Light Sock, Reno and Colorado colorways. Stashed March 2007. Project started September 2009.

4. Sometimes I just want to knit and not think. I keep self-striping sock yarn on hand for just that urge. A stockinette sock is soothing, like a glass of wine (or three) or a long hot shower. It doesn't challenge me, I don't have to think about how it's going to turn out (cough *toosmall* cough), I don't even need to read a pattern.


Uh, some kind of striping yarn. Maybe Trekking? Meilenweit Megaboots? Purchased at some point, somewhere.

My stash is not just for those rare occasions, when I look at the yarn and know exactly what it must become. Though that is nice. I stash because I like knowing I have something easy to knit. I stash because yarn is beautiful and because it gives me pleasure to look at it and touch it and imagine what it could become.

Also, because I can't pass up nice tweed when it's on sale, but that's another matter entirely.

How about you? Why do you stash? Are you saving up anything particularly juicy?


dogwithbooks said...

I treat my stash the way I do my books - as an ever-growing collection, something that I must always have possession of. I like to browse through it like you do - to the exclusion of actually knitting with my yarn because collecting and possessing it is too good.

Karen said...

Every non-knitter who loves a knitter should read this!! Including my best friend who says things like "I bought you "somenonyarngift" for "birthdayChristmasetc" so you would have something nice for YOU that wasn't yarn." She just doesn't seem to get it that yarn is all I really want!!!!

Quinn said...

Dirty, dirty hoarder! I can see how this all ends. In 20 years A&E will film as some life coach pleads with you to donate that cashmere to needy knitters so that that the health board doesn't evict you.

Sarah said...

Of course I understand! You would be so proud of me. I keep buying yarn with no purpose in mind but just because I have to have it. And my cashmere is just waiting for the perfect project, for all I know the pattern isn't written yet.

Jenny said...

You know what? You are just a tease. A dirty tease. You write a blog post or two, and then STOP again! WTH?! You're living in one of the greatest cities in the world! Frickin' POST!

Becka said...

I stash specifically when I have a project in mind, and I finally need the yarn. MY problem are all the odds and ends that accumulate, because I can't bear to throw out even a yard of anything...I've been saving them all for a lengthwise odds'n'ends scarf.