Wednesday, December 31, 2008


For those of you who: a) are just now reading your first knitting blog; and b) have somehow managed to miss every one of The Yarn Harlot's books; and c) have never spoken to, emailed, or otherwise communicated with another knitter, S.A.B.L.E stands for "Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy".

I'm there.

This was my stash in March of 2007, when I started blogging:

Two bookshelves, neatly organized. At this point, I only had two knitting books and no magazines. In fact, I had only just started to explore the concept of "stash", for which I totally blame The Yarn Harlot. Before this, I knitted for 20 years by buying the yarn I needed for the single project at hand, finishing the project, and then moving on (I threw out any leftovers). It was only after I read the first of the Harlot's books that I realized I could stock up on yarn, patterns, and books. You know, in case of an emergency or something. I seem to have embraced the concept with a certain degree of enthusiasm.

This is what I saw when I opened the stash closet this morning:

That used to be the floor of the closet. The bookcases from the first picture are behind that pile (still full of yarn).

This is the closet shelf, up by the ceiling, not visible in the last picture [actually, this is the closet shelf after I organized it. The before was embarrassing in a way that had nothing to do with a simple yarn addiction]:

That, folks, is a lot of yarn.

I think that is officially more yarn than I can justify. Several hours ago, when I opened the closet and saw the mess, I thought, "Hmmm. Maybe I ought to take an hour or so and get this organized and photographed so I can put it up on Ravelry. Maybe I could even see if there's anything to destash. That seems like the sort of thing a person might do on the last day of the year, if she were the organized, resolution-making type."

I got out my camera and a legal pad and set to work unloading, sorting, photographing, and cataloging the yarn.

My camera battery died. Twice.

I have six pages of the legal pad filled.

And, four hours later, I have only half the yarn cataloged.

I'm afraid drastic measures may be in order.

To begin with, I have identified quite a bit of yarn for destashing. I think it amounts to about a quarter of the total stash, and that's just the yarn I can destash without any discomfort. If I want to dig a little deeper, there are several more yarns that could go on the block. So, for starters, I'm going to put all that yarn up for sale on Ravelry.

Second, as a corollary of sorts, I am finally going to catalog all of my yarn on Ravely, so that I can see exactly what I have, and I am going to put up any new yarn I may buy as soon as I receive it. Forcing myself to keep track is, to my mind at least, a lot like keeping a running total in my checkbook; it makes it impossible for me to ignore reality. It also gives me a place to "shop" without spending any money. I love to look at yarn online and think about what I would make with it. If my own yarn is online, I can look at it anytime, and I won't be tempted to break out my American Express Card (hey, I'm trying, okay?).

Finally, although I don't believe in diets of any sort (they only make me crave what I've decided I can't have), some sort of yarn-buying reduction plan is clearly in order. I don't do New Year's Resolutions (see "diets" above), so let's just call this a little personal growth challenge. A complete moratorium is clearly not going to work. But for the next year, at the very least, I am challenging myself to buy less yarn than I knit. A lot less. My goal is to find the floor of the stash closet by the end of the year.

This is how that floor looks now:

Those two cardboard boxes on the right are destash yarns, and somewhere in there is a large bag of acrylic and cotton yarns that I plan to donate to the elementary school's knitting club. The rest of the yarn on the floor is the amount of yarn I will need to get out of the stash to reach the floor. I know you can't see it well, so you'll have to take my word for it: there's about sixteen sweaters' worth there, plus spinning fiber (which doesn't count as yarn, but still needs to find a place on the shelves before the end of the year, which means it will have to take the place of some yarn already on the shelves--see how it works?).

Now, I can't knit sixteen sweaters in one year, unless I give up certain other activities, like cleaning and laundry and speaking to my children. Even if I could, that would only allow me to reach my goal if I bought no yarn at all for the entire year, and we've already established that is unrealistic. But about a third of the closet shelf is also currently filled with destash yarn. I figure, moving yarn up from the floor to the shelf as I destash is fair, and totally in keeping with the goal of reaching carpet in 2009, as long as something is moving out of the stash in some way, right?

And now I'm off to make pizza and taquitos for the younger units so that I can send them and their friends up to the media room with sparkling cider, while hubby and I enjoy filet mignon and champagne downstairs. Happy New Year, all!


joan said...

You can too knit 16 sweaters next year, you knit a lot of sweaters.
Be warned that if you list your stash on Ravelry, strange people will come out of the woodwork and offer to buy the good stuff for mere pennies on the dollar, even if you are currently knitting with it and have documented such on a project link.
Beyond that, I'm betting that we see the closet floor by years end.
xo, Happy New Year

sophanne said...

I am SO GLAD you posted this tonight. I played with my stash this morning. It's basically 4 rubbermaid tubs and two shelves on the bookshelf. I was pondering whether I would suddenly become a stupid person if I wanted to put my books in the bins and my yarn on the shelves. I used to love my books so much. (The knitting books take up 2 shelves and those bad boys aren't going anywhere.)

Anyway- I feel much less stash guilt. Even after last weeks LYS trip. THANKS!

Anonymous said...

I reached a similar conclusion exactly a year ago. While I didn't buy NO yarn in 2008, I passed up a lot more than I would have without that resolution. btw, I think the concept of stash entered my head the same way it did yours.

Tammy said...

Before this, I knitted for 20 years by buying the yarn I needed for the single project at hand, finishing the project, and then moving on (I threw out any leftovers).

Speechless... trying to process.

Lori said...

Apparently I am not alone in my "it's the end of the year/new year, time to organize" compulsion. My plan for tomorrow (Jan. 1) is to sort, photograph and list (with a view to uploading on ravelry) my stash. Hopefully if I can get it sorted and re-stacked the Boy will stop bugging me about it (it's not that bad)(well, what does he know?)

Good luck with Carpet Watch 2009!! (And Happy New Year!!)

Maureen said...

Happy New Year to you and yours!

The A.D.D. Knitter said...

I love that each age group had its ultimate dinner! Happy New Year!

Speaking as someone whose stash is so out of control that it's kind of a huge problem (taking up an entire corner of the third floor and a long, flat radiator of its own in the living room), I strongly recommend the destashing on Ravelry thing, but I agree with the poster who said how *(&(** cheap people are--just gird your loins for that.

I can say that posting my yarn on Ravelry has helped me tremendously in terms of knowing what I have right away while looking at certain patterns. It's one of the most useful features!!

SusanJane said...

I do so love the fact that you have more stash than I do. I feel absolutely, shamelessly virtuous. I can actually see SEVERAL SQUARE INCHES of carpet. No resolutions for me..... is that sale still on at WEBS?

Lydee said...

happy destashing!

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! That's a lot of yarn! Good for you - organizing, de-stashing! You go girl! You've motivated me to get with it. Do not let me buy any of your yarn!!! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

My family has told me that I've achieved SABLE, too, but I disagree, as at least half of my yarn was donated/forced upon me to use for charity knitting. If I didn't choose it, it shouldn't count, right?

Happy New Year!

Fibra Artysta said...

My mother just redecorated the master bedroom and was trying to decide what to do with the massive armoire she and my father bought when they first got married. She's attached to it for sentimental reasons so we decided it will be moved across the hall and become my yarn cabinet.

I'm not really sure how to tell her that I seriously doubt all my yarn will fit in it. (I blame the Yarn Harlot as well, she ignites enthusiasm beyond reason.) Its going to be mildly painful to move all my yarn into that and really have to face all I've got, esp now that I bought a spinning wheel.

I've decided too to slow down on buying yarn in 2009. I'm only going to shop with cash and only in brick and mortar stores. (My weakness is the online stuff. Etsy is crack.)

Good luck to both of us! :)

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Remember most addicts replace one addiction for another. What happen to the storage space in the attic?

Unknown said...
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At Home Mommy Knits said...

Funny, funny stuff! Good luck with your destashing endeavors and a very happy new year!

Romi said...

Hmmm. I think you need more yarn!

Happy New Year!!!

Anonymous said...

Just the other day I decided to first knit from stash before actually buying more yarn. Of course, the first project I began knitting from stash (a hat and scarf set for my son), I discovered the next day in daylight, as opposed to lamplight the night before when I'd pulled out the yarn (all carefully grouped together), that I had two skeins each of dark green heathered yarn from two entirely different sources, similar but just not *quite.* So I had to go buy more yarn. Sigh.

I also have stash so old I totally forgot it existed. It wasn't till my daughter discovered the 19 skeins of blue Donegal tweed yarn that I'd actually purchased in Ireland (apparently I used one skein for something?) that I remembered it. That yarn has been in storage for 15 years. But at least it's getting knit now; my daughter called dibs on it for a sweater before I could claim it. I think another trip to the attic to see if there's any more ancient stash up there is warranted(I seem to recall half a suitcase full of cream Aran yarn as well).

An Excel spreadsheet is a wonderful way to organize stash, by the way, and less likely to bring the wolves out of hiding. I've got about 90% of mine listed on one, and it can be searched and organized easily.

Unknown said...

You want see stash?

I will need to live, in good health, for 300 yrs.

Unknown said...

hopefully this won't break.

SwissKnits! said...

I think your blog title says it all...
Because there's no such thing as "too much yarn".

Happy New Year!!

Kim said...

Not for nothing are you called Yarnhog. It firghtens me to think what might happen if I tried to organize my own stash and put it on Ravelry. Eeek!

Khalila said...

I'm still of the thinking that I have a collection. Not really a stash. It helps with the denial. Good luck to you and I hope to see you at spinning soon.

Andreapgn said...

Oh, I don't know if I have as much yarn as you do, but I would say that if the next glacial period came about, let's say, tomorrow, me and my family would be warm from head to toes :-)

I've promised myself not to buy anymore yarn, but I went to the store to return an unused hank on Friday, and came back with three hanks on my bank. So one step to the front, two to the back... this ain't working :-)

Hope you are doing better than I!