5 Ways to Build a Healthy (& Sensible) Yarn Stash

I fell a little bit out of love with some of my yarn. I didn’t think it was possible! After all, it’s yarn and I’m a knitter. What’s not to love?

It didn’t happen overnight. It was a long, slow transition away from colors I wasn’t excited about anymore, single skeins that seemed like a good idea at the time, and yarn that kept getting shuffled from one bin to the next, with no final destination in sight.

But I’ve noticed something about the yarns that still spark joy – even after many years – and those that don’t. They all have one thing in common:

A plan.

When I buy with a plan (even a vague one), the yarn is more likely to find its way onto my needles later. Even if the plan changes (which it often does), buying with a plan means I’ve brought home enough yarn for an actual project – in a color that inspires confidence. In contrast, when I buy yarn in hopes of “trying something new” or “stretching my comfort zone” – those end up in the basket in the corner gathering dust.

So let’s talk about how to shop with a plan and make sure you’re building a yarn stash you will LOVE to use – for many years to come.

  1. Know how much yarn you need (in general) for the projects you make most. If you’re a sweater knitter, take a look at the yardage for the last sweater you knit for yourself. Use that as a baseline when choosing yarn destined for Sweaterdom. Ditto for hats, socks, shawls, etc… It’s hard to buy enough for a project if you don’t have those numbers handy. (Side note: Many years ago – when I was not the avid sweater knitter that I am today – I stopped into a random yarn shop and asked for help calculating the yardage for a yarn substitute for a specific project. I left with enough yarn to knit TWO sweaters (and not in a good way). If I’d gone in with an approximate yardage estimate, then it wouldn’t have mattered if I was making a substitution – I could have made a decent guess, and not purchased twice as much yarn as I needed).
  2. Think about what you have in your closet, and – if it helps – take a picture of yourself in one of your favorite outfits before you go yarn shopping next time. (If you don’t have a helper, try taking the picture of your reflection in a floor-length mirror.) Next time you’re out and about shopping for yarn, use that picture as a resource to help you decide if what you’re choosing is something you’ll actually wear.
  3. If you’re shopping the sale yarn (as we all do), don’t let the discount turn you into someone you’re not. For example, are you a knitter who wears fluorescent green on the regular? If the answer is, “I wasn’t before, but for 50% off I can be!” – that yarn isn’t your destiny. Making compromises because a yarn is on sale can be the quickest way to end up with a frumpy stash. Sometimes it’s worth paying full price to get yarn that truly inspires you.
  4. Identify your yarn “staples”. These are the colors and kinds of yarn that you find yourself falling back on regularly. If you love neutrals, don’t feel bad about stocking your yarn stash with neutral colors that you know you will actually use. Definitely bring in pops of color, too, but you’ll find that your yarn stash is more useful if at least 1/2 (if not 2/3 of it) contains your tried and true staples; yarns you trust, love and will use again and again. Sometimes we tell ourselves it’s boring to get more blue yarn when we already have lots of blue yarn at home, but the truth is – if blue yarn makes your heart happy, then more blue yarn might be just what you need.
  5. Don’t let your yarn stash collect dust – use it! Bounce back and forth between stash projects and new yarn projects, because doing so will make it easier to justify future yarn purchases. It’s harder to buy new yarn when you’re not sure if you’ll ever actually use it. Right? Use it!

If your stash is a bit uninspiring at the moment, don’t despair. Give it a good refresh: see what you have, give away or sell what doesn’t inspire you, and make space for gorgeous new yarns that make you smile.

The key to a healthy, robust yarn stash is knowing what you love, buying with a plan and actually going back to your stash to use it now and then.

Go forth and stash!


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