e Life-Chang­ing Magic Of Keep­ing It All

Feel­ing a lit­tle con­cerned about the size of your stash? Ann Shayne pon­ders the thorny is­sue of yarn hoard­ing

The Knitter - - Exclusive Extract -


I’M TIDY­ING. I’m do­ing the thing with the stuff that Marie Kondo is telling me to do. Lis­ten­ing to the au­dio­book of The

Life-Chang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up is, frankly, like en­dur­ing a sweet-voiced nag ses­sion from the cubicle mate you never re­ally liked. I know. I know I know I know. Marie Kondo is, how­ever, onto some­thing. Her in­struc­tions: Hold each item in my hands. Does it spark joy? Keep. No joy sparked? Dis­card. Re­peat un­til I have laid hands on ev­ery sin­gle item in my house. Put the items I love back into my home in an or­derly way. Be­cause of this tidy­ing, my life will now be for­ever changed. I will end up ei­ther di­vorced, more deeply in love with my hus­band, or go­ing to nurs­ing school.

But Marie Kondo doesn’t ever dis­cuss that cat­e­gory that we knit­ters hold in a su­per-spe­cial, 9-per­cent-ir­ra­tional, and deeply felt place: the yarn.

I am here to humbly ex­plain the life-chang­ing magic of tidy­ing your stash. There are two strate­gies. They are po­lar op­po­sites, so it is guar­an­teed that one of th­ese will work for you, or you can tog­gle back and forth be­tween the two meth­ods. Your life will now be for­ever changed. Get ready for nurs­ing school; this is big stuff.

Method 1: Shock and Awe. Scrape up ev­ery ball, skein, hank, and cone of yarn, and dump it all in a forty-gal­lon Hefty trash bag – or two, I don’t judge. Hold the bag in your hands. Do not won­der for a mo­ment whether there is joy to be found in that bag. Just drag it out of your life with a big say­onara. The goal: Keep ab­so­lutely no stash at all. When you have the im­pulse to knit, go buy some yarn. It will be brand new, thrilling, and ex­actly the thing you have in mind for the project you want to make. You will never waste time on ill-con­ceived knit­ting projects in­volv­ing eight kinds of cream-coloured yarn bought over the course of fif­teen years.

Method 2: Bring It On. The Bring It On Method re­jects the fun­da­men­tal ex­er­cise of ask­ing your­self whether your yarn sparks joy. OF COURSE IT SPARKS JOY: IT’S YARN, AND I LOVE TO KNIT. Keep tremen­dous piles of yarn in fur­ni­ture not de­signed for yarn stor­age. Put yarn in parts of the house you rarely visit, so that you are some­times sur­prised by pur­chases you made in 2009 some­where in Arkansas. Make sure that much of this yarn is pur­chased on va­ca­tions, so that it is all larded up with sen­ti­ment and emo­tion and mean­ing, to the point where you weep slightly when re­call­ing the now de­funct yarn shop where you bought it. Also be cer­tain to in­clude hard-won batches of yarn, like from fierce eBay auc­tions, or the two skeins of Shade 209 Mine­strone you begged off a kindly Rav­elry mem­ber so that you could com­plete your ex­haust­ing Fair Isle project (which you still haven’t com­pleted).

If you feel like spend­ing qual­ity time with your yarn with­out hav­ing to make any­thing, I’ll leave you with some ques­tions to an­swer as you gaze upon the bounty of your stash. The Bring It On Method does have opin­ions about cer­tain yarn sit­u­a­tions, but feel free to ig­nore them. You may be moved to dis­card some of your yarn, but if not, who cares? You’ve got all this fan­tas­tic yarn! Does it have a hand­writ­ten tag? Keep. How could you even think of not hav­ing that yarn? Does it live inside a Lib­erty of Lon­don bag? Keep. It means you got to Lon­don. Wal­low in that for­ever. Do you have mul­ti­ple batches of yarn in the same colour? Keep. Isn’t it cool how sub­tly dif­fer­ent they are? Only a con­nois­seur like you can see the im­mense dif­fer­ences be­tween two brands of four-ply yarn in green. Is that a bit of char­treuse in there? Sigh. Is it sock weight? Keep. Just keep it. Is it mauve? I know, right? Who in­vented mauve yarn? Get rid of it! And fi­nally...

Is it lace-weight? Keep. I call this knit­ting-through-the-apoc­a­lypse yarn. Prep­per yarn. When the end times come, fine-weight knit­ting is go­ing to be the thing, be­cause all the yarn stores will be oblit­er­ated, Wi-Fi will be the stuff of myth and mem­ory, and you’re go­ing to need fine-gauge, ana­log knit­ting for the long haul. Re­mem­ber: There will be no sheep. Plan ac­cord­ingly.

This is an ex­tract from A Stash of One’s Own: Knit­ters on Lov­ing, Liv­ing with, and Let­ting Go of Yarn, an an­thol­ogy edited by Clara Parkes (Abrams Press, £16.99). To buy a copy for £13.99 in­clud­ing free P&P in the UK, call 01903 828503 and quote ref. 50542.

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