Is there anything more humbling, dare I say embarrassing, at least for a knitter than coming face to face with the whole of your Knitting Materials? This would include Stash (all of it), unfinished projects (old, new, and reaaaally old), & Tools both large and small (everything from swifts and winders to all 18 of your floating tapestry needles). Well this is what happens when knitters move. And generally the amount of years you’ve lived in your own Knitting Paradise exponentially increases the scope of just how many loads you’ll be making out to that van.
Aside from about 13 days of travel, my life has been eaten by a stressful urban move. And while I absolutely love the architecture of Brooklyn brownstones, and wouldn’t trade them for anything, Moving Day is probably the only time I find myself truly cursing the day I ever heard the term “3rd flood walk-up”. And when you move from one “3rd floor walk-up” to another, by my math, it’s more like a “6th floor walk-up”. Multiply that by every box of yarn you own (knitting books too) and you might find yourself wistful and dreamy for even the smallest of elevators.
Of course it’s not all drama, especially in hindsight. I’m in a place with great light and more space (for all that yarn) and while it’s easy to complain, I really do appreciate a good purge every few years. Which brings me to today’s post about being honest about what we have, and more importantly what we, as knitters, need.
It makes sense that our knitting palettes become more refined as our craftsmanship does. That happens in any artistic discipline. And in studying what I’ve held onto over the years, I began doing what I do whenever I’m faced with an overabundance of information — organizing and categorizing. In doing so, I’ve started to notice that my stash (which I used to brag as very modest… somehow I don’t feel comfortable with this description any longer) falling into three main groups.
The first is the group that is most obvious and, I think, most important. Those are yarns that really excite me. Often recent acquisitions, or older, special acquisitions that still retain that spark that gets ideas running around like crazy in my head. These are the yarns that usually live on top of a given pile or drawer, or at least are never far enough away that I can’t have immediate access to them. These yarns have no surprises — I know I have them, I know I want them, and I know I’d make a fuss if someone took them away from me. These yarns have evolved with me and I believe are very valuable in terms of how I use my time as I continue to make projects with my collection of materials.
The second group is actually the hardest for me to reconcile. These are yarns that, at one time or another gave me The Spark, but have not retained it as I’ve grown as a knitter. These are yarns I definitely still like a lot, but I wouldn’t say I love, or couldn’t live without (if I’m really honest). These are the yarns I’d be grateful for if I ended up stranded in the arctic with nothing but yarn and time… but the yarns that,over the long run, will probably end up taking up the most room and take the longest time for me to give away because I *might* use them. When I finally do end up stranded in the Arctic and somehow my yarn is magically there with me, maybe I’ll kick myself for getting rid of much of this group, but until that happens, I probably will appreciate the extra space (both physical and headspace) they allow.
The third group is easy — it’s the group that randomly finds its way in and sneaks around my generally thorough screening process (which, when you’re living small, is very very important). This includes all the yarn that has been given to me when people are cleaning their apartments and know that I’m a knitter, or yarns that were so reasonably priced that I couldn’t bear to see them go to waste, even though that’s kinda what they’re doing anyway. Now they’re just doing it in my closet. Or they could just be those few odd mystery “What-Was-I-Thinking” skeins. There are some of those too.
All this to say that I’m being diligent and most of all honest with myself about what I need and what is surely overabundance. Too much yarn sitting un-knit starts making me feel nervous and greedy, especially if I think how much more beautiful this yarn is in the hands of someone who is enjoying every stitch.
Among other things that were lurking in the shadows: baskets of unfinished projects, some of which I promptly frogged for salvaging yarn (Group 1), and others that genuinely got me excited again and have rematerialized alongside my current project baskets.
And then there was my trusty (dusty) minstrel… just waiting to be used to turn all that excess fiber (did I mention, there is fiber too?) into more… yep, yarn.
I’m committing to at least giving this all a good try and passing on some wonderful materials to appreciative fingers. And with the survivors of the purge? Well I think I’ll just get knitting with those.