It started out so simple. It really did. It was even kind of inconspicuous and easy to miss before things went awry... You see I started crocheting when I was six. I started out with a single ball of yarn and an extra crochet hook my grandmother didn't need any longer. I made lots and lots of potholders that loosely resembled a trapezoid or parallelogram. Eventually I got better and I started buying yarn for specific projects -- but even then I was so little that one project at a time was enough. In those days, there was no STASH.
But then the days of my love for acrylic yarns grew weary and I ventured into my first LYS and I got the fever. You know the one. The fever which only lots and lots of protein fiber fumes can abate? Yeah that one.
It started out as a bag of yarn in the closet. It was always there, waiting for me to come for it. For some years it waited a long time and I think that's when the seed of greed took hold. When I finally learned to knit and my projects started taking longer to complete than I could go without buying yarn, it started to grow. Like the cookie monster and his prey, I threw yarn into the stash that was never seen or heard from again. In the dark it grew. And GREW.
When we moved into the new house, we had to make sure there was a room for it. When my beautiful wife started knitting, we suddenly had a pair of them and I knew that something would have to be done. Our constant fiber exposure would eventually mean that the house was too small for us and the stash -- and I draw the line at it having its own property.
This January, I figured it out. I finally realized that the only way to persuade myself to knit from the Stash was to know what was in it. If this situation sounds familiar to you, please join me in beating back the Stash!
To achieve Stash Behavioral Modification (SBM) and become ZEN with your fibery mass, consider the following approach.
You will need:
- A LOT of floor space, preferably CLEAN floor space.
- A few hundred zip lock bags (2 or 2.5 gallon preferably)
- Lots of time (because sifting through the onion like layers of your stash will take a while)
- A computer and a Ravelry account
A well managed stash can be attained through the help of Ravelry (and it should help because the ease with which it provides knitters access to trending patterns and yarns is partially responsible for the ever-occurring STASH Monster...). Ravelry gives you a place to store, favorite, and queue patterns. It also gives you a place to manage your yarns -- even with a picture of each one should you so desire.
- The first step is to print out or make working copies of patterns for which you have already purchased yarn.
- Enter the yarn in your Ravelry Stash.
- Place yarn and pattern (and any other required materials -- i.e. beads, waste yarn, buttons, etc..) into the zip lock bag and seal it up.
- Add the pattern to your Ravelry Queue and "Use Stash Yarn" on the queue item page to tie your stashed yarn to this specific project.
- Continue in this manner until you have bagged up each existing yarn/pattern pair.
- Next, find and print patterns for the yarns which you do not yet have a project in mind and bag those together after adding the project to your queue.
- What you will finally be left with is yarn in one of three categories:
- Yarn that is part of your CORE stash. This yarn is special to you and anything you made with it would be a disappointment. Don't laugh, you know you have some. This yarn serves as inspiration for your inner knitting muse. Add it to your Ravelry Stash and then display it prettily in a cabinet somewhere.
- Leftover yarn from previous projects. There's not enough to really do anything with this, but there is too much to throw it away. It's decision time -- You must throw it away or sort it by weight and bag each weight with the intention of using it at some point for a traveller's blanket or a Beekeeper's quilt, etc... I would NOT add this to your Ravelry stash.
- Yarn you once loved but which has fallen out of favor. This would include any of those neon colors from the 80's and any of those oranges and greens from the 50's, 60's, or 70's... My suggestion for this is either A.) Start a charity knitting stash or B.) Donate/throw away this yarn. Again, do not add this to your Ravelry stash.
Voila! You have now whipped that Stash into shape. Your yarn is organized with its respective pattern. It is in your Ravelry Stash and hopefully your Ravelry Queue:
The only thing left to do is sort the queue order and store your projects as Long-Term, Short-Term, and Current WIPs.
This process can be daunting, but I promise it's worth it. You will feel terrible about it while you are knee deep in your living room trying to sort this much yarn, but again -- it's worth it in the end.
I began this process last weekend and sorted through all 154 yarns (who knows how many skeins). I have organized most of it into 30 queued projects:
But now I know I have all the charity knitting yarn I could possibly need and my Core Stash yarns are prettily stored in a cabinet in the craft room... :-)
And, to be honest, the amount of time I know it will take me to knit my queue is enough to keep me from pulling out my charge card at the LYS -- or at least to keep me from pulling it out for yarn anyway!
Good luck organizing your stash everyone!
Next week we will attack needle control!