Thursday, 5 July 2007

Stealth stashing

While other people have to accept the loss of valuable possessions followed by months of homelessness, the worst I have to deal with is a fusty cellar and an untidy house. And since my house is always untidy, this is probably the best chance it's ever had of becoming presentable. Having essentially resigned my possessions to the water when I locked the door a week ago, I'm feeling sufficiently detached from my clutter to begin purging it; and that feeling, plus the Ravelry invite (one of the functions of Ravelry is the option to catalogue your yarn purchases), makes this the perfect time to evaluate my stash.

I never planned to be a stasher, and yet somehow I here I am, with a heaving full wool box. Perhaps the explanation for this lies in the fact that, even though all the yarn I have has been bought with something in mind, that something tends to be vague speculation unrelated to the knitting time and talents I have at my disposal. I know that for lots of knitters, the stash is a joyous thing to be fondled and wondered at, a playground for creativity and a resource for ingenuity. My stash makes me feel a bit sad, for the most part. The expensive unused yarn makes me feel profligate, and the cheap unused yarn makes me feel shabby.

The things which cause me the most grief are the things I've had the longest (in my brief knitting career, that means "more than12 months"). How about this GGH novelty yarn? Isn't it just too much? Too many colours, too many bobbles - and then, just to permanently demolish any idea of restraint, shot through with metallic thread. Actually, I made a small tube-style handbag from it with reasonable success, but thanks to my terrific naivety about calculating yarn amounts, I ended up with about three times as much as I needed.

And then there's this Noro Aurora. All nine balls of this Noro. I've swatched this over and over, and cast on for several things, but I think the sad truth is that I don't like self striping yarn. I certainly didn't like this (see right), a tank-top for my boyfriend in Noro Blossom which ended up as a hideous, pom-pom studded, unfroggable (thanks to the aforementioned pom-poms) monstrosity. However much it appeals to me in the skein, I have to concede that me and Noro are never going to hit it off, in garment form anyway: while I appreciate that there's a certain zen in just "letting Noro be Noro" and allowing the yarn to fall into whatever pattern it chooses, in practice I find it pretty boring to have all the design choices snatched from me by a showy colourway.

I have rather a lot of Debbie Bliss Maya too. This discontinued yarn is a kettle dyed, handspun, thick-and-thin single, and I'm still very taken with the colour. Unfortunately, I bought it to make this shrug which was intended to be a breast-feeding cover-up. Now, I already knew a fair bit about babies when I started knitting, so only my ignorance about fibre can explain the fact that I thought it was a good idea to bring together a squirmy, spitty creature like a baby, and a pilly, feltable yarn like this. I thought better of it and never finished it. The ladder just visible in the centre of the picture is the last remains of a YO I made (and fixed, several rounds later) while in the midst of labour pangs, and is the reason why I will probably always keep the sleeve section. The rest of the hanks will have to wait until I get the itch for a felting project.

The truth is, my lifestyle and my taste mean that the best yarns for me are one-coloured and machine-washable, dk or 4-ply. Not the sort of yarn to elicit cries of "scrumptious!" from the world wide knitternet, but the sort of yarn that I can turn into items I will wear, and wash, and wear again. And with that in mind, my current urge to declutter hasn't stopped me from acquiring more Rowan Wool Cotton in - ooh! - ecru and dark brown. I wonder what those colours could possible become? (Clue: I just bought these shoes as a thank-you to my poor feet for carrying me through the filthy floodwater.)

If you wish to make a financial donation to those who have come off worse in the floods than I have, this page from the BBC website gives information on making donations.


Helen said...

I've came to your site from clarabelle's and just wanted to say hello and how amazing it has been to read about your flood experiences. So pleased that you and yours are ok.

Anonymous said...

Ha - I made that shrug too and I've never worn it. Infact now I plan to frog it and make something a tad more flattering to me

Caroline M said...

There's this wonderful thing called Ebay, just right for unloved yarn. There's nothing there that is intrinsically horrid, it might not be calling to you now but it's not bad yarn. Let it go and move on or stash it against the day when you might need it. Unless you live in a wool shop then there is a need for a stash, it's for when inspiration hits you half an hour after closing time.

The odd balls of clutter could be released at the next Wool Baa meet - I got rid of a big bag of stuff last time out (that would be the time you weren't there because of the floods)

Seahorse said...

I love the labour pangs YO - you should definitely hang on to that :)

If you're still referring to a stash BOX, I think you're ok. I have... more than that!

Hmm... the shoes, ecru, dark brown??? Can only be one thing!

clarabelle said...

No worries, Webbo, just get a bigger wool box! I got a whole room, after the youngest finally got kicked out!

And I'm very with you on the DK, 4-ply machine-washable, certainly with little kids in tow. Yarn snobbery? Pah! I certainly wouldn't spend much on fancy yarn for my grandkids - I mean, cashmere knits for babies! Mad or what?

(I do, though, like a bit of silk for high-maintenance me.....)

Sarah said...

I sort of know the feeling with the stash - the luxury yarns don't bother me as they haven't been there long enough to be anything but a good investment but some of the novelty stuff I have makes me feel a bit iffy. Still I'm hatching plans to use it up so I can make more investments :0)

Glad that plans for Ms Brassy are coming on and your Matilda Jane looks fab.

Badger said...

I understand totally about the Noro. It took me a while, but I'm finally accepting that we're not meant to be together and so I've managed to stop buying the accursed stuff

entrelac said...

Webbo, I'm glad to read that your home survived mostly unscathed. What a scary thing to have happen.

About the stash, you say that your preferred yarns won't make people think "scrumptious"....and I say you're wrong. I'm not a fan of Noro either, and there's nothing quite as wonderful to knit as a calm, smooth yarn with no unpleasant surprises to it.

Maybe you can swap that Noro away for something like Cascade 220 superwash?

honeybee33 said...

ok, here's whatcha do ...

the Debbie Bliss is perfect for the Briar Rose for your sister, if it's a color that will become her.

the GGH is aaaaaall about kids' hats. You'd be surprised what kind of novelty fug an adorable toddler can pull off.

and the Noro? Well, it really is beautiful in entrelac - case in point, all those Lady Eleanors abounding online - um, wanna trade? I bet I could scrounge up some bor- ... uh, I mean, *subtle* tonalities in some nast- ... uh, easy-care blend. come on ... lemme take it off your hands ... I'm here to relieve your guilt ... I'm only thinking of you ...

~ hb33 ~