When to ditch the yarn stash.

When to ditch the yarn stash.

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. 



The Marie Kondo method 

The Stash Busting Blanket CAL 

Is knitting a creative hobby?

There are many ways to knit socks 

Back to blog


Similar to Laura in the comments, I think sometimes you need a concrete purpose to deal with the destash. Mine came in the form of an international move. I went through my yarn and was extra harsh. That scrappy ball of DK that I’m not sure where it came from but I’d use it one day – to go, it can either go to a charity shop or maybe someone will make something from it for charity. I messaged two of the knitting groups I belonged to. I’d provide tea/coffee and cake and they could come and go through my “get rid of” pile – I said it was free to a good home but if friends wanted to make a charity donation then I’d like the money to go to the local Food Bank (kind of extra grateful for that now given the number of people I imagine they’ve been assisting in the last few weeks/months). One friend said she felt awkward like she was picking over my stuff like I’d died but actually I was still there…

When going through it all I realised things like there was a jumper that literally just needed sewing up then it would be done. Another was a bunch of granny squares/shapes for a project but again just needed sewing up! I attempted a Janie Crow Blanket and had got 3/4s of the way through making all the bits but nope it had paused at some point… Now I’m not sure I have all the bits but I think I finish it then find a home for it somewhere. It’s not perfect because I didn’t really keep track of what yarn I was using etc but it will be cosy and warm for someone I’m sure.

Anyway, back to the point, so I downsized my stash and moved country. Last Christmas I was given the yarn pack for the Yuletide Blanket by Attic 24 – while I’m grateful and appreciate it (especially as the nearest Stylecraft Distributor is in the Netherlands) that’s 15 × 100g balls I gained. That’s without the balls I gained myself. Part of my Christmas present was storage boxes so I could tidy up my stash and organise it better… My husband got some really big boxes (40cm deep by at least the same deep) they didn’t fit on top of the wardrobe so I had to downsize them but now because of the offer in the DIY store I have 5 smaller boxes instead of 3 bigger boxes. While this doesn’t mean I can fill the with yarn, maybe I can fill them with finished projects – an emergency baby cardigan when we discover that a relative has had a baby (it happened, we don’t see husband’s extended family and all of a sudden there was a new baby…) or maybe a pair of socks for an emergency birthday present…. there’s lots I can think of I’m sure… Anyway down with the stash! Let’s deal with this!


Your blog post combined with a local appeal have inspired me. I’ve been increasingly aware that my stash was creeping into every cupboard and corner and I was reaching SABLE. I’d vaguely sorted a few balls of yarn for the charity shop, but reading this blog post gave me a wee push. Then this week my local cathedral posted on Facebook that they were coordinating collections for various local organisations (foodbank, Women’s Aid, a children’s charity, etc.) and one of the appeals was specifically for craft supplies for Ukrainian refugees who have settled in the area. A concrete purpose is sometimes needed to focus my mind and I’ve sorted roughly 5kg of yarn so far (a bit of everything – laceweight to super chunky, novelty yarn to hand-dyed. cotton, acrylic, wool….) and a dozen crochet hooks to drop off. The scary thing is it seems to barely scratch the surface so I’m still working on it.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.