Stash

I knit. I have an account on Ravelry, a self-described “knit and crochet community”, and I go to a weekly stitch-n-bitch to hang out and chat knitting with other knitters. I design knitted goods and publish the patterns. I am a knitter.

Among knitting circles, a collection of yarn in one’s possession (butnot on one’s person) is known as a “stash”. Until recently, I thought of my stash as like a yarn waiting room. Yarns hang out in the stash,waiting for me to knit them into finished objects (“FOs”).

A stash begins innocently enough. You finish a hat and have a quarter ball left over. It waits in a drawer with your needles,eventually gathering friends from that sweater you bought an extra ball for, the yarn for your mom’s holiday gift, some nice yarn to add stripesto a sweater (but decided you liked better plain), some gorgeous yarn you got on megasale and think might be gloves someday, etc…

Recently, though, I’ve become aware of a more sinister side to the stash.
A yarn stash is more than just a yarn waiting room. A stash is a celebration of consumerism, applied to yarn. The best stashes — like the Yarn Harlot‘s stash — are large. The yarn within, were it converted into knitting time, would exceed the life expectancy of the knitter.

The best stashes have yarn for which no project is intended, but which were too beautiful to pass up. Knitters who sing the praises of a large stash are rhapsodic about the yarns contained therein, not about the projects they intend to make with those yarns. They use consuming metaphors to describe their yarn: yummy hand spun, delicious Noro. A “stash diet” is a sad (though occasionally necessary) occurance. Just like real diets, though, a stash diet isnever intended to permanently reduce the size of the (yarn) body.

The best stashes are large. The Yarn Harlot has tips for hiding yarn behind the books on your bookcase. A woman at my knitting group used to have a separate storage locker for her yarn. Another woman keeps yarn in her car for weeks until bringing it into the house, so that she has plausible deniability to her husband. “New yarn? No, I’ve had this for weeks, honey.” When I knitted my entire stash, my mother-in-law overnighted an emergency stash booster box so that I wouldn’t be bereft.

Of course, stash veneration is not exclusive to knitters. Quilters talk about fabric stashes,readers talk about bookshelves overflowing, and spinners talk about fleeces taking over the living room.

What’s in your stash?

-posted by derepi

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8 Responses to Stash

  1. Alder says:

    Paper! Tissue paper (white, brightly colored, striped, gold, embossed, the tissue from Victoria’s Secret bags and Dillards boxes), origami paper (thin single-colored sheets, cute patterns, dramatic patterns, metallic, the gorgeous kind from Japan that is almost like fabric), construction paper of all colors, cardstock, watercolor paper, wrapping paper (used and new), pictures cut out of magazines for their colors, handmade paper with little flowers trapped in it, rice paper, thick grey, white, taupe, ivory drawing paper, little scraps of all of the above because I may use it in something and then wouldn’t I be sad I had thrown it away. . . Yeah. I think it qualifies as a stash.

  2. TheGnat says:

    I grew up in a family where if something might be usable, you hung onto it. I have stashes of just about anything handy. I am the person at Christmas who carefully unwraps her gifts and saves the paper for next year…

    I think my biggest stashes though are entertainment things: my video game collection, and my winamp skin collection. I rarely actually finish video games, yet there are about 70+ here in the house, most waiting to be played at all, or waiting for me to finish them up (My most common stopping points tend to be halfway and 4-10 hours before the end…). And more are on the way as it is (I have an obscure game on pre-order, and am waiting for 3 or 4 games to be released…), even without the long list of “I want to get these sometime”… I have about 400 winamp skins, most of which I’ve never used, but they were too pretty to pass up…(I also started to make one, but never finished….that was 2 full versions ago…)

  3. Sonetka says:

    About three large paper bags’ worth of yarn which I swear will come in handy one day. (My problem is that a lot of the yarn somehow ended up being in quantities too small to make anything substantial, and they don’t really mix well. I might end up giving up and making a lot of baby hats).

    How do you like Ravelry, BTW? Everyone in my knitting group talks about it constantly but considering that you need an invite I’m afraid I probably wouldn’t spend enough time there to justify taking a spot in the queue. My knitting time is very limited these days, since it doesn’t mix with a toddler very well :).

  4. Dana says:

    Books, of course, though I am trying to use the library more regularly now that I’m not living in countries where English-language material is hard to find and expensive. But it’s so hard not to buy them!

    Chiyogami paper, for craft projects. This is a recent hobby, and I already have way more than I need. So pretty.

    I suppose my embroidery thread boxes counts as a stash, but it hardly takes up any space, and I do use it again the next time I start a new cross-stitch project. But the thread stash in general is expanding, because now I do stuff that also uses serger thread and pearl cotton thread, in addition to the regular 6-strand embroidery floss.

    I think pretty much any kind of craft-y hobby ends up creating a stash.

  5. Ellie says:

    Sonetka,

    Ravelry is great. I use it for two things (primarily): reading the forums and researching new projects.

    Suppose I want to make fingerless gloves out of Wool Bam Boo from (tiny voice) my stash. I could whip something up right quick, or I could look at the thousands of fingerless gloves on Ravelry and get both inspiration for shaping and tips for using the yarn. Alternately, if I wanted a v-neck argyle vest, I could find a few patterns and then find other people who knit it in my size (because sometimes larger sizes aren’t proportioned right for me). There’s a pretty good system for keeping track of projects and patterns that you like and/or intend to make.

    I post my projects and wait for other people to `heart’ them, but that doesn’t seem as active. Ravelry is not a blog, it’s a knitting organization and communication site.

    I also have a toddler and thus my knitting time is precious. I knit on the bus to and from work (15 minutes daily) and at one weekly stitch-n-bitch (perhaps 2.5 hours weekly). I’m not that active on Ravelry, and that’s ok. There are plenty of users who don’t spend all their time there.

  6. Ellie says:

    Dana,

    On the one hand, I agree with you about all craft-y hobbies making stashes. But, on the other hand, I think there’s a little subtlety to it. There’s stash-as-waiting-room-or-leftovers, and then there’s stash-as-consumption-marker. All crafts can generate both models, but not all crafters follow the latter model.

    It sounds like, in your case, you follow stash-as-leftovers for the embroidery stuff, and stash-as-consumption for the paper.

    In the stash-as-waiting-room case, a crafter might celebrate: “Yay! I used up all my stash!”. In the stash-as-consumption case, a crafter might mourn: “Oh no! My stash is too tiny!” Both could follow-up with, “.. so I get to go shopping now!”

  7. Dana says:

    Ellie,

    True about the different kinds of stashes. I find thread harder to want to just buy and keep, because, well, it’s just thread. It’s not particularly interesting until it’s made into something. However, it could be argued that I actually have a pattern stash, because I’ve got something like 4-6 major cross-stitch patterns that I haven’t ever used, possibly more, because I have at least one book with multiple patterns, and I have a whole book of temari ball patterns that I haven’t really broken into yet. (Plus I’m taking two temari classes that will involve new patterns not in the book, and I’m on the email list for new patterns posted online.) But if I don’t buy the patterns when I find them, they’ll be discontinued! At least that’s what I tell myself.

    Definitely stash-as-consumption for the paper. The woman who owns the store where I buy all my stuff said she basically opened the store specifically to have an excuse to house and expand her stash.

  8. Sonetka says:

    Ellie – Thanks for giving me more info about Ravelry; I’m in Stitch and Bitch as well (I’ve gotten in the habit of calling it “knitting group” so as not to fry the synapses of some of my LDS friends :)) and that’s my prime knitting time since even on the bus I’m seldom unaccompanied :). The others made it sound like you can’t help but spend about 5 hours a day on the site, but if lurking and working at a snail’s pace is doable, then I’m away to sign up.

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