How to Love the Yarn You’re With

Somebody fibbed.

I’m not sure who did it. But someone gave us the idea that the specialness of yarn expires when it’s no longer new. Bring the yarn home, put it on a shelf with 47 of its new best friends, and in about 7-10 days it’s now “stash” yarn, which is significantly less sexy than NEW yarn. WRONG-o.

I mean, I get it. We ALL love new yarn.

But what about the yarn that used to be new?

Last year I had the a great (like, really really fantastic) idea that I was going to go an entire year without buying new yarn. It was brilliant. I had a healthy yarn stash, and starting January 1st I was going to use that stash and only that stash, come hell or high water. I was going to love the yarn I with in a really big way.

For everyone who doubted me, guffawed in my face, and told me you were “wishing me well” while laughing your heads off, you were right. I flopped. I realized that it’s a little bit hard to write the next book full of knitting patterns without being able to acquire new yarn for the very specific kinds of projects that were in the book. I made it 6 months and then all bets were off. I still think I earned at least a bronze medal for my fortitude, but whatever. I most definitely did not make it a full year, and I’m only kind of sorry, because … well, yarn is great.

Something surprising DID happen, though. Spending so much time thinking about my yarn stash changed the way I felt about it. I came out of that 6-month shopping hiatus a changed woman. I went from really liking my stash to falling head over heels in love with it. Here were my big takeaways:

  • A yarn stash isn’t just a bunch of scraps and leftovers. Those words don’t have the best connotation, anyway. What’s for dinner? Leftovers. What’s for lunch? Scraps. See what I mean? Stop thinking of your stash as anything less than gorgeous wooly potential.
  • Not to be too simple about it, but the more we love and use our yarn stash, the more we’ll love and use our yarn stash. If we’re locking it away in a closet and planning to look at it later, we’ll forget what we have and end up buying more. (Note: I’m not saying it’s wrong to buy more, but wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew what you already had so you could decide?)
  • I’ve learned the secret of making your yarn stash AWESOME, and it’s this: When you know you what you have and you know what you actually like to use, you can shop smarter and stash better.
  • If you love variegated and speckled yarns, then your stash is also going to need some solid colors in the same weight to work as partners. Solids and tonals are often left out of our stash because they don’t get as much limelight (unless you’re me, in which case you may have an entire stash filled with them).
  • Collecting yarn is great, but – if we’re really going to honor the sheep that gave it to us – it’s meant to be used. (I know not all yarn is wool, but just let me have this one.) It helps to ask ourselves if we’re really going to use the yarn we’re holding onto. Every skein in your stash deserves to live up to its full potential, and if it’s not going to happen with you, maybe it could have a better life with someone else? One of my Stash Sprint students said she’s learning to reframe the way she thinks about the yarn she’s letting go and used the analogy of moving to a smaller space. She says, It’s not which yarn will get left behind, but which yarns HAVE to come with me. All yarn is good yarn (in theory), but the yarn we’ll actually USE is the best yarn.
  • Space is a limited commodity for most of us, and that means we have to be real about how much yarn we can really keep on hand. Incorporating our stash into our projects on a regular basis allows us to keep things in a healthy rotation – and feel like resourceful rock stars.
  • All or nothing usually doesn’t work. I vote that we shift our thinking toward stash yarn being a regular part of our knitting, instead of having to put ourselves on a yarn diet because our acquisition habits exceed our reality.
  • Is it possible I need to stop writing and go have lunch? There sure are a lot of handy food references for this topic. But I digress…

Ready to rethink your yarn stash?

If you’re struggling to fall back in love with the yarn you already have on hand, let me be the first to welcome you to this new way of thinking about your stash.

Check out my workshop Stash Sprint (it opens 4 times a year and, well, it’s awesome, if I do say so myself).

Visit my Stashbuster pattern series for inspiring new ideas for stash yarn!

Until next time –


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