Monday, January 05, 2009

Slow Stashing?

In this week's Knitter's Review, Clara Parkes makes some very good points about what she calls "slow stashing." This is obviously a timely subject, especially given the current uncertain economic times. And, of course, this is Resolution Week.

Ravelry and the various Yahoo groups (Knitlist, Sockknitters, etc.) are all buzzing this week with posts by people who would like to get their yarn stashes under control. This is nothing new--it seems to come up every year--and it's sort of the craft equivalent of dieting and fitness resolutions. There are the folks who promise to buy no new yarn this year, and some of them have statistics from previous years to prove they can do it.

Really--do these people have no life? Who keeps spreadsheets on miles of yarn knit, stitches counted, grams and balls of yarn used? This is the equivalent of deciding that yarn is fibery trans fats and to be shunned. Yarn is beauty and love--how can it all come down to keeping track of how fast you got rid of it? If you hate it so much, give it away, throw it away, send it to me. I'll love it.

Sorry, back to the point. Parkes recognizes in her essay that many of us will have fewer resources to commit to yarn this year, but that yarn and knitting have roles in our lives that go beyond the sustenance view of the yarn dieters. We don't buy yarn for the same reasons that our grandmothers did, because someone needed a pair of socks or a sweater to keep from being cold. We also buy it because we want to create something beautiful, or want to believe we will. For those of us who buy yarn for this reason, Cold Turkey won't do.

Neither will it work for us to give up beautiful yarn and buy only Big Box acrylic and fun fur. We need wonderful, luxurious yarns.

Of course, there are a few who cry that they will buy no yarn at all, except ... well, Wendy Johnson allows sock yarn in her yarn diet, and you just can't argue with that.

And our vendors, whether they're local yarn stores or favorite internet sellers, need us to buy yarn too. Economic recovery isn't a one-way street--we need to buy so others can stay in business too.

So, Parkes's idea is fundamentally good, in my opinion. She suggests "slow stashing" which I would interpret to mean using moderation and mindfulness about our acquisitiveness. I like this idea. It's sort of the Weight Watchers approach to eating. It says, yes, you need a certain amount of nutrition. No, it's really not healthy to say you're never going to eat carbs or butter again. No, if you deny yourself completely, you'll be back eating at the trough again pretty quickly.

Now, here's where Parkes and I diverge. She says to start with an unblinking survey of your current stash, dividing yarn into two piles, Happy Yarn and Unhappy Yarn. The Happy yarn makes you happy and the ... well, you get the point.

But it won't work in my stash. Happy and Unhappy don't begin to cover the problem at Chez Pug. Here are the piles I propose:

  • Happy AKA "Oh, wow! I still love you!" (Brooks Farm Acero comes to mind when thinking about this pile.)
  • What the heck were you thinking? Or more to the point, Who were you when you bought this yarn? (And how many shooters did I do during the 80's to make me think I was ever going to wear Hot Pink mohair?)
  • It was such a bargain, it would have been wrong not to buy it.
  • I paid so much for it that I can't throw it away.
  • I bought enough to fit me but now ... well, 'nuff said.
  • The child I was going to make this baby surprise sweater for is 15 now.
  • My friend made me buy it.
  • The guilt/mercy purchase--I couldn't leave the store without buying something.
  • I fell in love with it and I don't care if it's totally impractical.
  • It's ugly but there's an orphan somewhere that won't care.

Now don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. We all have yarn like that if we would just admit it.

1 comment:

Marguerite said...

I have all those categories plus at least one more:

Someone I love gave me this yarn and acted like I was pleased to receive it, but I'm so sorry that it hasn't disappeared.