I've been following Felicia Semple's Stash Less journey since it began on her Craft Sessions blog over a year ago. Her journey has made me look inward and think about my habits when it comes to crafting - what I buy, how I spend and whether the purchases get used or end up sitting in a drawer, unseen for years. Another real catalyst for me was moving house three times in a little over six months. This gave me an incredible awareness of just how much stuff I had, and since then I've donated clothes, books and homewares that don't serve me a purpose anymore.
It's been a while since I moved house though, and I hadn't really made an inventory of my stash in a good long while. So last night, at around midnight, at the end of all of my current knitting and sewing projects, I emptied the drawers, got the yarn winder and got organised. And so begins Challenge #1 - Taking Stock.
Here is the Status of the Stash 2016, including fabric:
Going through this yarn and figuring out when and where I came across it has been a very interesting eye-opener into my stashing habits. For the most part, my stash can be categorised into a few broad groups:
Yarn given to me for /in payment of magazine work
Supporting indie dyers at craft fairs even if I have no project in mind
The yarn isn't being produced any more so I need to get my hands on the last of it
Halfway through a project and I think I'm running out, so I buy an emergency skein just in case
All up there are 16 full skeins of yarn in my stash, which doesn't sound like a lot when I think about it. That's a good thing for me, as I like using what I buy. Nine of these have come from magazine work. A few years ago I got paid in Skeins yarn for a couple of articles I wrote and I have three 200g hanks of naked merino 4ply and three skeins of their naked chunky. These are the only yarns I have in relatively large quantities to make something quite substantial - I just don't know what yet. The other three include two skeins of Spinning a Yarn silk merino and a skein of Vintage Purls sock.
I can see that when I'm at craft fairs I am susceptible to buying one skein of sock yarn to tell myself that I'm being a good local supporter, even if I don't have an end project in mind. I just tell myself I can make more socks because they are totally quick and easy and I can even give them to someone if I want to! I can see at least two examples of this in the stash.
There are also two skeins purchased because the lovely yarn supply was running out and I was overcome by FOMO.
One other skein was also purchased because I thought I didn't have quite enough for some lovely full length mittens I was knitting for a friend. Turns out I had just enough, and now I have another skein to make myself a matching pair one day.
Then there is another bag of yarn leftover from big projects. In the photo, this is the bag at the bottom. That yellow - Red Riding Hood Yarn left over from my Chuck sweater - there's 165g of it! That's a hat, surely. Then there are two more balls of Red Riding Hood yarn of around 120g. I only purchased on hank of each colour, but these hanks must go a long way. Another hat from each, maybe? There's enough Kingfisher for another pair of socks, and I have a few ideas on what I can use the other bits for.
Problems with the stash = it's full of 4ply, in relatively small quantities.
Aside from socks and hats, I doubt I'll be knitting anything big with any of this. Apart from the stack of naked merino, I don't have a sweater lot in here, so it's likely I'll want to go shopping at some point.
Benefits of the stash = I'm getting better at using yarn up.
A lot of the yarn I purchased last year has been knitted. It is now a something, and not just a skein. That bag of leftovers shows me I've knitted a jumper, two cardigans, and several hats in the last year or so. I'm glad that I don't have too much that I don't know what to do with. I have a lot of ideas for a lot of this yarn, I just need to sit with my wardrobe now and figure out what's missing.
Now on to fabric:
The fabric situation is quite different, mainly because when I buy fabric, I already have a project in mind and it gets used up fairly quickly. I think because I still find cutting fabric entirely terrifying, I only buy what I need because if I mess it up, I haven't spend too much money on it (read - another reason I'm scared of buying fancy silk).
Both of the ginghams, the blue and white stripe and the floral are left overs from other projects and are waiting to be turned into something new. This fabric may or may not remain in the stash - it might get donated. The light blue on the right is intended to be a shirt at some stage. The stamp fabric, the navy and the yellow, blue and white are all intended for dresses. The grey t-shirting is the only knit fabric, and it is very handy to combine with other knits to make raglan shirts, as evident in my last post. Also I'm pleased to note that all of this fabric is secondhand!
Footnote to the State of the Stash:
Not included on this list are things that I know I will never use. This equals three skeins of lace weight that I purchased years ago, thinking I would enjoy knitting lace (I definitely don't!) and a big bag of left over yarn from socks that I intended to make a hexipuff blanket with. I've knitted five hexipuffs in five years, all within one week of inspiration but given up on quite quickly. These skeins and bits have been added to the donations pile for the next charity shop drop-off.
And my overall view:
I'm on the right track of where I want my stash to be. I want to have a few things in there that I can make progress on, while not being overwhelmed by how much cash I've just got sitting in a drawer, doing nothing. One of my big challenges for the year is to save some spending money for a trip to Paris, so I will be doing my very best to make from the stash instead of buying. There will be occasions where this won't be possible, and that's okay, but if I'm being much more mindful and not buying for the sake of buying, that can only be a good thing.