WIP Your Stash into Shape

WIP Your Stash into Shape
Photo by Emma Louise Comerford / Unsplash

Stash overwhelm. When you first learn to knit, you never imagine it could happen to you. However, over time you begin stashing yarns, knitting needles, projects or in my case tutorials. At first the stash is energizing and inspires you to knit more, do more, make more. Then one day your stash reaches a critical mass and it becomes a sort of creative block.

This has been at the forefront of my mind lately as I try to figure out the most efficient and effective systems to create, publish and market my work. I realized that much of what I'm doing with my virtual skill stash could also be applied to a physical stash of yarn or unfinished knitting projects.

Stash Control

Ideally, if you want to tame an unruly stash, two things need to happen.

  • Stop increasing the size of your stash. If it's already overwhelming, there's no need to feed it.
  • Start de-stashing and organizing. Undoubtedly you've bought a few yarns or started a few projects that no longer fit into your overall aesthetic and those yarns/projects are scattered and taking up space all over the place.

The reality is, you're likely actively adding to your SABLE-sized (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) collection as you struggle to thin and organize it into an inspiring and useful form. But, no judgement here. I keep creating new designs and tutorials for my stash.

Divide and Conquer

As I said at the beginning, the process I'm using to sort through my virtual  stash can be applied to your physical stash. The big difference is I'm using analytics as my guide and you get to use your feelings about and relationships to your yarn and projects.

As you begin, remember there's no need to do it all at once. It took years of collecting to create your stash. Taming it is going to be an ongoing, iterative process.

Even though it's an ongoing process, I like to see that I'm making progress. Instead of trying to deal with my entire stash, I choose one section, or container, if you will. Divide the contents of your container into three categories.

  • For my digital content stash I used: Highly Performing - Average - Under Performing
  • For yarn, those categories may be: Love It - Like It - What Was I Thinking
  • For projects try: Currently Knitting - Occasionally Knitting - Buried in the Back of the Closet.

Deal with the Extremes

Of course, the automatic keepers are the Love It yarns and the Currently Knitting projects. Put the yarn someplace special and keep working on those projects.

Then do the scary part and triage the What Was I Thinking yarns and the Buried in the Back of the Closet Projects. Take a moment to consider why your yarn/project landed in this category. Can something be done to move that yarn/project into a different category or is it going to linger untouched forever?

If there's some sort of fix that will help the yarn/project land in a better category, do it now or make a plan. The yarn is nice, but you don't know what to make with it. Find a pattern. The sweater is knit, but it needs to be blocked before assembly. Get out the blocking mats this weekend.

It's not a failure to accept that there are some yarns you don't want to knit and some projects you can't finish. Let them go!

You started a shawl, lost the pattern and forgot the pattern name. Let it go! The sweater and booties for your grandson are partially knit and he's 5. Let it go! The cotton yarn you got to make dishcloths for every friend and family member hurts your hands to work with. Let it go!

Be mindful of environmental and social impacts of your de-stashing. Usable yarn that's no longer to your liking can be sold, swapped or donated. Dispose of yarn that is stained, damaged or has an odor. Projects can often be finished by friends or unraveled so the yarn can be repurposed.

Stuck in the Middle

So what about that middle category? The yarn that's ok and the projects that you return to from time to time. For my digital stash, I'm just going to let that category rest and revisit it in the next iteration of Divide and Conquer.

If you have any organizational tips, please join the conversation and share them in our Pack Chat.

There's more to explore in the learning library!