Man­age That Stash

Creative Knitting - - CON­TENTS - By Ta­betha Hedrick

There’s a dis­or­der go­ing around that I would wa­ger many of us have and don’t re­al­ize it: SABLE. It stands for Stash Ac­cu­mu­la­tion Be­yond Life Ex­pectancy. That means, quite sim­ply, that your yarn stash is huge. It can be a life-al­ter­ing dis­or­der, caus­ing is­sues in fi­nances, home and, yes, even mar­riages. The big­gest con­cern is run­ning out of room for new yarn.

But there is hope, my friends, and it doesn’t in­volve any­thing as dra­matic as purg­ing! The cure is sim­ple and true: or­ga­niz­ing the stash and knit­ting it down. Fol­low these sim­ple steps and you, too, can over­come this po­ten­tially de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion.

Step 1

Ad­mit you have a prob­lem. SABLE can only be cured by ac­knowl­edg­ing that you have more yarn than you can knit in the next few years.

Step 2

Over the next cou­ple of days, or­ga­nize your yarn by weight. This is the mo­ment of truth when you will see ex­actly how much yarn SABLE has caused you to ac­cu­mu­late. Be­gin by emp­ty­ing all your draw­ers, boxes and bas­kets of yarn, find­ing ev­ery scrap no mat­ter how small. Or­ga­nize it into weight cat­e­gories: lace, fin­ger­ing, worsted, etc. The rea­son why or­ga­niz­ing yarn by weight works best is that in the fu­ture, you’ll be able to find the clos­est com­pa­ra­ble yarn for the project you want to knit.

Step 3 (Op­tional, But Rec­om­mended)

Sort your yarn weights into project “kits.” You can start by head­ing over to your fa­vorite pat­tern-sup­plier web­site, search­ing by yarn weight and se­lect­ing pat­terns. You can even do this for yarn scraps (to use in scrappy blan­kets or hats). Set aside one- or two-skein sets of yarn for shawls, cowls and ac­ces­sories. Once you’ve cho­sen a pat­tern, write a note about the pat­tern and the source, se­lect the yarns from your stash, and kit it all to­gether for the project.

There is a side note here. I love look­ing up a spe­cific stash yarn and find­ing pat­terns that use it. De­sign­ers are masters at know­ing just how to use a yarn to high­light its best fea­tures, so knit­ting one of their pat­terns in that spe­cific yarn is ideal. But there are times when you want to try a dif­fer­ent yarn than a pat­tern calls for (which not only helps speed up the stash bust­ing, but also en­cour­ages ex­per­i­men­ta­tion), and that is where yarn sub­sti­tu­tion comes in.

As a start­ing point, find a yarn that is the same weight as the one in the pat­tern you’ve cho­sen. For ex­am­ple, if the project yarn is worsted weight, then start your search in the worsted­weight cat­e­gory (lots of yarn sell­ers’ web­sites are set up so you can search for pat­terns by yarn weight).

Just be­cause a yarn la­bel in­di­cates a gauge that’s dif­fer­ent from what your pat­tern calls for doesn’t mean that your yarn au­to­mat­i­cally isn’t suit­able for that pat­tern. If you’ve checked the worsted-weight cat­e­gory and couldn’t find any­thing sim­i­lar in your stash, you can go down to a lighter weight (or up to a heav­ier weight) and change nee­dle sizes to achieve the same gauge as given in the pat­tern. This step will in­volve swatch­ing, both for gauge and to de­ter­mine whether you like the re­sult­ing fab­ric.

Now look at the fiber con­tent. Dif­fer­ent fibers have dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties, and you’ll want a yarn that’s made with a fiber or a blend of fibers that closely mim­ics the drape

and feel of the orig­i­nal yarn in the pat­tern. If the sweater is in­tended to be warm, then you want to stick with warm fibers like wool or acrylic. On the other hand, a light, sum­mer shell won’t be so cool and fresh in a heavy wool!

Once you’ve nar­rowed down your search pa­ram­e­ters and have cho­sen a yarn from your stash, work a swatch with that yarn; then wash and block the swatch. This is so im­por­tant that I’ll say it again: Swatch to make sure you like the yarn you’ve cho­sen for the project.

Af­ter you’ve cho­sen the yarn, you need to make sure you have enough to com­plete the project. Un­less the yardage per skein of your stash yarn is the very same as the yardage per skein of the yarn rec­om­mended in the pat­tern, the num­ber of stash-yarn skeins that you need for the project will not be equiv­a­lent to what’s given in the pat­tern.

So, you will need to do a bit of quick math here to de­ter­mine how much yarn you need: Mul­ti­ply the num­ber of skeins used in the pat­tern by the num­ber of yards in each skein to de­ter­mine how many yards are needed for the project. Ex­am­ple: 5 skeins x 220 yards = 1,100 yards. Now do the same for the yarn that you want to use from your stash. Do you have at least 1,100 yards? Great—you’re good to go! If not, you may want to use another sim­i­lar stash yarn for edg­ings or to cre­ate striped fab­ric. Or you can just move on to one of the count­less other pat­terns out there that will be ap­pro­pri­ate for the amount of yarn that you have.

Step 4

Fol­low these three rules of or­ga­ni­za­tion when you put ev­ery­thing away:

Rule 1: Whether you want to use cub­bies or bas­kets, buck­ets or bins, find a home for your or­ga­nized yarn.

Rule 2: Af­ter spend­ing the time to or­ga­nize your yarn into weights and project kits, keep them all to­gether. You can con­tinue to or­ga­nize within each yarn-weight cat­e­gory, such as by color or by fiber con­tent, but keep like with like.

Rule 3: La­bel! Not only will la­bel­ing help you quickly iden­tify what is in each yarn sec­tion or what a “kit” is for, but my own—to­tally fake—stud­ies have shown that it in­creases joy in all SABLE pa­tients.

Step 5

Now you must knit up your kits! If you can­not knit it, then give the com­plete project kit to some­one as a gift.

Knit­ting is the joy, the cure and the hope for crafters ev­ery­where. Com­plet­ing Step 5 means your stash has been man­aged!

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