Now, before you start getting all worried and report me to the WordPress Police, let me explain. To a knitter, S.E.X refers to a Stash Enhancement eXpedition, or an opportunity to acquire more yarn and fiber for future projects. I’m sure that at least some knitters have the other type of S.E.X. as well, but that’s hardly a topic for a G-rated knitting blog like this one.
To those who don’t knit, the thought of acquiring yarn without a project in mind must seem kind of silly. After all, how will you make sure you have enough? What if it’s the wrong color? What if you never use it?
Now, I’m sure that somewhere there is the rare knitter who never stashes. This knitter buys the perfect amount for each project, only knits one project at a time, and probably has alphabetized the spices in their kitchen too. Once upon a time, I probably was this person, but no more. (Okay, I’ll at least cop to the spices bit but it was a reaction to the fact that they kept falling out and hitting me on the head whenever I opened that cupboard). Lately, my stash has grown significantly, and mostly with sweater-quantities of yarn, as well as several whole fleeces.
To most of us in the fiber-loving world, the acquisition of stash is just part of the experience. Buying yarn is rewarding because of the promise it holds – the thought of all the lovely shawls, sweaters or socks that it could turn into. It’s also a tactile reward, as you walk through the yarn store or market and touch each skein to see how it feels. Will it be nice next to the skin? Will it be lovely to knit with? In my world, the softer and more fluffy the better.
Whenever I go into a yarn store (or even more so, a huge market like Stitches), a certain amount of self-control is in order. Yarn, especially the luxury fibers I crave most, is spendy stuff. Granted, the sweater I make with it would also be spendy, but interestingly I would never pay for a ready-made sweater what I routinely spend for the materials to knit one. Knitters who only work with yarns from a big box store probably don’t get this because I am spending multiples of what I would need to for the same quantity of a workable yarn. But, it’s like comparing a plastic tub to a handmade basket. Yes, both serve the purpose but one is simply nicer to use. The pleasure I get in knitting with this lovely stuff is immense. That’s why I buy it.
Now, I have knitter-friends who simply laugh when I say that I have too much stash, because it all looks very tidy and organized lined up on the shelves in my office. Of course, that doesn’t count the tubs of spinning fiber in the closet, nor the whole fleeces in the basement next to the drum carder. Perhaps my stash is a bit smaller than some, but it’s still plenty to keep me knitting for a long time.
In order to keep the stash in order and prevent a rebellion brewing among the sock yarn (thanks Franklin Habit), I have a few rules that I employ:
1) All new yarn goes into ziplock bags before I put it on the shelves. Sadly, while I hate doing this, it’s a necessity here in Colorado, where due to the dry climate, we have more dust than I have ever seen. I’d much prefer to have it out where I can clearly see and touch its loveliness, but practicality won out on this one. Dusty yarn is simply not fun to work with.
2) I try to dig through the bins on a fairly regular basis and get rid of things that no longer interest me. When I started knitting, and again when I started spinning, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I made some, shall we say, ‘interesting’ purchases. For the yarns, I have what I call the Wonder Box, meaning that I wonder what I was thinking when I bought them.
3) Sock yarn does not count as stash. After all, it’s small, doesn’t take up much space, and I am always working on socks so I know it will get used eventually.
4) Buying large quantities of a yarn I really like is actually a bargain because then I’ll have enough for a large project. Sadly, when I first started buying, I didn’t get this and I ended up with some individual skeins that are going to require some creativity to use. On the other hand, back in those days I’d have said it was crazy to think that I’d ever knit a sweater and yet, I have done just that, several times over.
Next month, we’ll be going on the Yarn Along the Rockies yarn crawl, in which we’ll be visiting a bunch of yarn shops in various communities along the front range. Some of my friends are going to do the Grand Tour and try to hit all of them so they can enter for the Grand Prize drawing. I’m going to go on the mini-tour instead. Visiting them all just puts my checkbook in that much more jeopardy, and after all, I’m headed to Taos in early October. (Where there will be whole fleeces….oh my heavens. Good thing my hubby is coming along to restrain me or I might end up trying to figure out how to fit a full-grown alpaca into the back seat of a Mustang).
What about you? What’s the state of your stash? Does it lend itself to your better creative moments, or like me, does it need a purge and rearrangement to give fuel to your creativity? Please let me know in the comments.