Sometimes a stash can become overwhelming rather than exciting. Every maker should know when it is time to ditch the stash.
I don't think SABLE is something to aim for.
I don't believe in SABLE. This means "Stash acquisition beyond life expectancy" and this literally happens to knitters and crocheters. Every now and then you will see a post sharing photos of an estate clearance and there are mountains and mountains of balls of yarn. We often joke about our mission to achieve SABLE status but I find it uncomfortable. A friend of a friend will pass away and someone will have the job of taking to Ebay or Facebook to try and shift the stash, as it would be a huge, unnecessary shame to throw it away.
Facing your yarn stash can be a horrific experience.
Back in 2020 we were cramped in a tiny 3 bed with a new baby and a preschooler and nowhere to go. My husband was working remotely every day and as we all started to get on each other's nerves, we decided that the only solution was to move house. In order to prepare for that, I had to confront the horror that was my yarn stash. I'd started knitting and crochet in 2014 so we're talking 6 years of hoarding. I'm sorry if this word upsets some of you but I felt that this was the right word to describe what had happened to me.
I struggled through 2020 with depression. The yarn stash didn't cause it but it couldn't have helped. I was still able to knit and crochet but there was no direction apart from the odd baby cardigan. It was just something to do with my hands. I could have done what I was doing with only 2 or 3 balls of yarn to my name. I didn't need all of that yarn. I could hardly bear to look at it and use it, never mind sort it out!
Getting the house ready for the market distracted me from my mental health problems and really helped me focus on what was important and what wasn't. It was time to tackle the yarn.
There was a giant vacuum bag of yarn in the loft. There was a stash of yarn in a cupboard above my bed. There were bags of yarn in the spare room. There were bags of yarn behind the couch in the living room or in the cupboard under the stairs. I hadn't ever noticed how much there was because a lot of it was out of sight and out of mind.
Over those 6 years I had a full time teaching job and a bit of disposable income. Granted, that shrunk when my kids came along but in the grand scheme of things, yarn isn't very expensive and is easy to collect.
The main stash offenders.
I'll run you through the main offenders:
1. Single skeins of 4ply hand dyed yarn.
2. Yarn packs of 10 or 12 that were on offer.
3. 5 or 6 balls of DK or Aran originally intended for a jumper or cardigan.
There was much more than this but the above yarns kept reappearing. I also had really cheap, tacky yarns from previous experiments; eyelash yarn, pom pom yarn, glittery acrylic. You name it, I had it. Aldi had started selling knitting and crochet yarn right in the middle of this period too. It's very hard to resist.
My stash was valued at over £1000. The value actually doesn't say much about the size as if it was 100% high end (British wool or silk blends) it would probably be a smaller stash. This stash was outrageous and uncomfortable.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking my stash was an Aladdin's cave and an opportunity for some yarn related partying but in truth it was overwhelming. I was uninspired.
My stash oppressed me.
It's hard when a lot of your stash has a story.
A lot of that stash had a story. Some of the single skeins were purchased when I wanted to help a dyer out on Instagram, or I'd won a voucher in a competition and had to spend it. Some of it was just an uncontrollable impulse buy. Some were intended to be used to make things for my babies or my family members. Some were bought to help me practice when I was new to working with yarn.
A lot of those DK/Aran packs were purchased with the intent of making something, as I'd also bought the patterns. I had the intentions just not the conviction to see it through.
If your stash is starting to make you feel ashamed, uncomfortable or overwhelmed... consider getting rid of it.
I don't believe that it is wrong to have a stash. We can each do as suits us but I will say that if your stash is starting to make you feel ashamed, uncomfortable or overwhelmed, you need to consider getting rid of it.
Your hobby is supposed to be fun or at least relaxing.
What was once an occurrence in at least 4 rooms of the house now lives in one chest on the landing. I'm still working through it but the original stash was sold off. Most of it went through Ebay and some through Facebook groups.
I kept some of the stash but the emphasis is on the word some. If I wasn't going to use it within 6 months of buying it then I was not keeping it.
Seeing that pile shrink week by week was liberating. I was no longer tied to the guilt or pressure to use it. It was gone. Someone else would use it as it was intended.
The benefits of de-cluttering your stash and your home.
Since that awful year of my life (and most of the world's to be quite honest), my attitude to what I keep and don't keep has changed. We moved into our current home when the UK was in winter lock down, so we never got the chance to really sort through what remained and re-home everything until the summer. Sorting through things was a really good experience. I no longer keep hold of things that don't serve a purpose. Having a clutter free house is brilliant for my mental health but it also makes me think I'm doing my family a huge favour. When I'm gone, I don't want non knitting relatives to have to sort through my stash. I want them to be able to move on without getting into a tangle.
I'd also hate for all of those lovely yarns to be thrown in the bin.
In the words of Marie Kondo:
Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.
Please don't think I'm saying "don't buy yarn again"
Please don't think I'm telling you never to buy yarn, I just wanted to share my experience and let you know that if the stash is getting out of hand, take back control.
Some of us have plans to use up the stash. Others don't. None of you are right or wrong. I just want you to know that if you're crippled under the weight of all that yarn, you can set it free. Other makers will buy it or take it off your hands. I met some wonderful people when I was shifting my hoard: charity knitters, knitters who made dog jackets for rescue pups, primary school teachers running crochet classes. It was lovely knowing that it was all going somewhere else to someone who would make use of it.
My stash did not spark joy but it does now.