knitting · stash · yarn

Knitting in 500 Square Feet: My Stash

It’s been a week and a half since my trip to the Spinrite tent sale. Before the trip, my stash was composed of half balls left over from making three baby blankets. There were also a few balls left over from my inexpert yarn buying skills from my university days, when I made this pink afghan. Finally, there was one full ball of yarn, a deep teal that I’d bought partially just because I liked it and partially because I had planned on working it in to one of those colourful baby blankets.

My stash fit in a single wicker basket, shoved carefully out of the way beneath a dresser. It was never in the way. It never provided a challenge of storage. But, as the fiber arts ensnared my attention and made my fingers itch for project after project, it quickly became insufficient. I wanted to be able to look at my yarn collection and easily pick out a new project. I wanted to keep up my pace. I didn’t want to take a break between each finished project while yarn shopping.

Enter the Spinrite tent sale.

Over the past month or so, I have realized there are two different kinds of fiber artists when it comes to the yarn stash thing.

The Stash Minimalist: These knitters, crocheters, and spinners are responsible. They only buy the yarn they need for a specific project. In fact, many of them are also one-project-only artists. They buy the yarn they need for a specific project, and then knit that yarn before they buy more. Some minimalists buy lots of yarn, but know exactly what they’re going to do with every ball they buy before they buy it. Their stashes end up looking a lot like mine used to: half balls and excess from projects, but not much more.

These knitters care less about the yarn itself and more about what that yarn can become. For them, the importance of yarn is the in potential it carries in each twisted thread.

The Stash Enthusiast: These fiber artists have whole rooms dedicated to their stashes. Shelves and shelves. Boxes packed away of every type of yarn imaginable. Cheap. Expensive. They love it all. Some of them could probably open a store with their stash. This is the kind of knitter or crocheter who walks away from every yarn store with a ball or five that they bought just because they like it – no other reason, no plan in place of what to do with it. Plain and simple, they love yarn.

These knitters care about the potential contained in each twisted skein of yarn too, don’t get me wrong. But, for them, the joy found in yarn is in the yarn itself, the softness of the thread beneath ones fingers, the brilliant colours of well-dyed fibers.

Of course, these are exaggerated generalizations. You can’t peg knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners, and all other manner of fiber artists into two narrowly defined categories, but I think there may be a spectrum here. Unfortunately, my stash fit into the Minimalist category, but my knitting interests were developing into the Enthusiast category. I wanted yarn. Lots of yarn.

With this attitude, I went to the Spinrite tent sale. It’s no surprise, then, that I came home with far more yarn than I meant to. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to work my way through it in time for the sale again next year. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be able to work my way through it in time for sale in two years. But that pile of yarn makes me unendingly happy none-the-less.

The whole lot hardly fits on my kitchen table. Of course, this brings me to a new problem. A single wicker basket tucked away out of sight is no longer exactly an option. Where on earth am I going to put it all? We have 500 square feet of living space at the moment. Our home is not exactly set up for a stash that stretches for miles.

We have a pantry in our back entryway. It’s a little bit of a mess. It’s a part of the house that is so easy to close to the door on. We used to share it with our previous tenants, our food filling half and theirs tucked into the other half. Since they’ve been gone, I’ve done a good job of filling the shelves, messily piling bits and bobs, loose papers, games, and random napkins. I knew I could consolidate, organize, and find a little space for my yarn. Scratch that. A lot of space for my yarn.

It’s the perfect spot really. It’s out of the way. Hardly noticeable. But it’s easy to see what I have and sort through the find the next yarn for a new project.

I know: my stash is nothing compared to that of a lifelong knitter. I’m just starting out, I guess.

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