Oh my dears, life is rather intense lately. You can rather imagine why, but on top of the usual, I’ll be writing my canonical exams next week. Seven days, seven papers to write. Mum is coming up to help with N, but I still have M who is very much in the “fourth trimester,” and N will still need to know her mummy loves her. Prayers appreciated. There are reasons it has to be now, too complicated to go into right now. Not unlike CPE last summer, I just have to seize the moment, because even though it’s a rather difficult moment, every other moment is so much worse. I’ll make it. But do pray. We’re also recovering from colds and a tongue tie clip.
I’ve knit altogether about six rows in the last week, so I haven’t bothered to take a picture of a very the-same-looking plain green sweater. Instead, I’m going to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but whose moment has also come: a destash.
Because I am frustrated by my stash.
Yarn is, oddly enough, even more fun to buy than to knit. I’ve acquired yarn on vacations, visiting my own local yarn stores, as gifts, at sales, at shows, and occasionally from the excellent destash of a friend.
I’ve tried to stem the tide – For at least the last four years, I haven’t bought any yarn without an express plan for what it will become. For the last two years, I’ve hardly bought any yarn at all. The outgoing now finally exceeds the incoming, but really, not by much. I’ve gotten rid of everything I don’t really like, but I still have yarn that, no matter how much I like it, I know I’ll never get around to knitting it.
Because here’s the obnoxious thing: once I own it, the thrill is over. When I cast it on right then, like with these little sheep sweaters, it’s great! But if I can’t cast on with it right then, yarn in my stash just becomes an obligation. Like a game I bought but haven’t played, or a book I bought but haven’t read.
It’s exactly like that, in fact. Those are the three categories of stash in our house. Games, Books, and Wool.
I realized, last time I was at the Sheep & Wool Festival, why this happens to me. When I buy yarn, I’m not really buying yarn. I’m buying a potential experience. I can look into the future and see myself enjoying knitting this yarn. I’m buying that dream. The trouble is, unless I get around to knitting it, that dream evaporates as soon as the purchase is made. And if I let the stuff sit in the stash too long, it becomes just something to get through. There’s always the fun of shopping one’s stash, finding things I forgot I bought. But even this has gotten out of hand in my house.
(I’m not saying everyone is like this. I fight a particular vice of acquisitiveness that is not unlike gluttony. Others struggle more with hoarding, or don’t struggle at all, whether they stash or not.)
That’s what I’ve been realizing as I’ve been knitting through this last sock series at the pace of an inebriated turtle. I remember being so excited about this when I started, but now it’s just become a thing to get through. Another obligation to squeeze into my increasingly complicated life.
And that, really, is probably at the center of it. The shape of my life has changed so drastically. My greatest thrills and spills no longer come from my knitting adventures; they are elsewhere. Wool is no longer at the center of my career ambitions and secret aspirations.
That’s not to say that knitting isn’t important to me. It’s my comfort food. It’s a part of who I am. No matter how complicated or busy my life gets, going back to those few rows is a tangible reminder that I am myself, and I exist for the joy of God’s pleasure, not as a cog in a machine. Beyond that, it is a vehicle into conversations and community wherever I go. It is my way of expressing artistic beauty. Sometimes it’s even my way of expressing love. It’s deeply integrated into my life and calling. It just isn’t at the center anymore.
Right now, I want knitting to be just that. Not an obligation. Not a job. Just something to make me happy. I’ve gotten a lot closer to that place by getting down to only having two projects on the go (well, one project and the hibernating beaded border of Evenstar; ugh).
I think I will feel even freer if I get more of a handle on my stash. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time, but then I read this excellent article on Twist Collective that gave me the motivation and rationale I needed to get started. Read that article to get a much better grip on how I’m feeling than I am expressing here.
So the next post is going to put some of my stash on sale. I’ve already given away the stuff I want to give away, and I’m donating some of the best to the Yarn Harlot’s Bike Rally effort. But some of it is nice enough that I want it to go where it’ll be valued, and it’d be nice to recoup some of the expense, since it was my fun money that bought the stuff, after all.
That said… I’m not ready to talk about the fiber stash yet. Maybe next year.