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
YOU MAY BE MOVED TO DISCARD SOME OF YOUR YARN, BUT IF NOT, WHO CARES?
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.