today's thoughts

The most recent episode, "Stash Control", was a refreshing take on what it means to stash. Hannah Fettig's guest was her husband, Abe. He is a software developer who wrote the code for the Stashbot app (I don't have it...yet), and also happens to be a man of many hobbies, hobbies that involve collecting things like stereo equipment and old cameras. It was so interesting to hear the two of them discuss what it means to have a stash, why it's important, what the purpose is, and how to stash in an intelligent way.

Hearing their stories of stashing was so familiar. Man/woman finds hobby, buys supplies for said hobby, acquires lots of stash (be it yarn or photography equipment or home-brew supplies, or whatever it is) really quickly before having a sense of what will truly be useful, then feels guilty about the money spent and storage space required, eventually purges the excess and learns to stash smarter. Is this your story? (How about a show of hands?)

It's certainly true for me. I've been knitting since I was about 8 or 9 years old, but I didn't start stashing yarn until my early twenties when knitting was the new yoga and...well, I've told this story many times. My point is, I'm much wiser than I was 7 or 8 years ago. I'm better at gauging what colors and styles are flattering on me, I'm much more realistic about what gifts I should knit and for who, and I'm stashing much smarter now.

My tastes haven't changed (I never did like novelty yarns much) so much as they have become more refined. I know myself better as a person and as a knitter: I find scarves tedious; I almost always knit plain socks; I love the look of lace shawls but knitting them makes me nuts; I never tire of knitting cables; I wear gray even though I probably shouldn't; I'm a sucker for hats and cowls; I love knitting with wool and wool/alpaca blends; I do not trust superwash wools for reasons both environmental and gauge-related (except for socks); fuzzy yarns annoy me; I do not wear sweaters with 3/4 sleeves or large scoop necks or an asymmetrical shape or wide collars but I love cowl necks and you can never have too many cardigans.

My stash was starting to take up too much space and weigh on my conscience, so I sold a fair amount of yarn that I knew I wouldn't use or enjoy using. It has felt really good to let it go. Once it's gone, I don't miss it. I only regret having spent the money on it in the first place, and the emotional baggage of having it in my house when it should have stayed in the store. I've learned there's no point in buying yarn that I don't really love. If you spend $50 on yarn because it's on sale, you're not really saving any money if you don't end up knitting the yarn, or worse, if you knit it out of obligation instead of enjoyment. Isn't it better to save that $50 for something you know you'll enjoy using? I consider myself a responsible, rational person, but it still took me a long time to learn that lesson. I'm glad to know I'm not alone.

I'm still working on this. I still have too much yarn. I've bought yarn this year, but only for a couple of specific projects that I cast on for right away (well, except for that one skein of Mountain Colors from our vacation in Michigan...) But I'm getting smarter, not only the yarn buying but the projects I make. I don't buy 10 skeins of sock yarn in mid-November actually believing I'll get every pair done by Christmas, nor do I make heavily cabled alpaca scarves for people who live in the deep South (I actually did that once in a moment of very bad judgment; the recipient was very gracious but I'm sure she didn't ever need to use it). I don't make stuff for my kids unless they ask for it.

So that's my story. What about you? Are you smarter about stashing and project management, as it were, than you used to be?


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