Stash Toss 2023

When Rachel started talking about doing an accounting of her stash on the last episode of WnS, a little light went on in my brain. Ping!

I was starting to feel that itch. Not of too much stash, actually, but of too many projects. I remember the last time I felt like this, about ten years ago, when I had five knitting projects on the go, a small baby, and felt like they were all going nowhere. Nowadays, it’s the fault of being multi-craftual: it’s easy to think “oh, I just have one or two WIPs.” But, I have one or two WIPs in like five crafts. That’s too many. I know it’s too many because I walk into a room multiple times a day and think “oh yeah, I should work on that.” That starts to create stress.

Half of the braids earmarked for the next round of sock spins, realistically in 2025.

Rachel gave me the idea of using spreadsheets. Why did I never think of this? I’m curious what her stash spreadsheet looks like. I love a spreadsheet – for me, it’s a way of external processing, getting information out of my head and in front of my face. Even if I never update the spreadsheet, it’s done its job in giving me an understanding of what’s going on.

I have two main storage areas for stashes, plus all the items that are out and about because they are theoretically part of an active project. I started by pulling everything out of storage, touching it all. That meant I had to decide if it was worthy to go back in. Then I took pictures of everything before it went back in.

My modest quilting fabric stash.

I hadn’t done that since our last move. I found a solid garbage bag of stuff that was just ready to be garbage. Old warp separators, a nearly empty container of kids beads, half-washed samples, leftover singles that never became yarn, balls of acrylic that the kids had mangled because they needed “string.” That wasn’t much of a dent, but it was refreshing.

The storage spaces are much tidier now, and fit better. Then I went around and took pictures of everything that’s out, and put it all in a spreadsheet.

I found myself unsure how to sort the information. I tried a couple of things. First, I sorted by the size and status of project:

  • WIP/hibernating: Gotta gather all these into one place. And hibernating things really bothers me. So I need a plan to get things out of hibernation, or to get rid of them.
  • Multi-stage major projects. The largest chunks of my stash are for multi-stage projects. Some of these are handspun sweaters, most of which are spun for. But a couple are multi-stage, experimental, year-or-more long projects. I have confidence now that I can actually execute these projects, I just want to know where they are at, and when I’m thinking they will happen. There are also several that need a plain contrast colour yarn to be bought or spun, so I can make actually useful shopping lists.
  • Stash with no plan. These are mostly single skeins, and nice little quantities of fabric. I was gratified that there’s not too much of this. And it’s all stuff that if I have occasion to, I can sell or give away, though I do really like it.
  • Leftovers. All bits and bobs and partial skeins, or 51 yarns samples that are a little too esoteric to be useful. I have these organized really well, but they are growing. I see no harm in letting these accumulate, but leftover-based projects tend to sit for a long time. So if I move (I have no plans to), or need the space, or if someone else needs leftovers for something, these will go away.

This was helpful in letting me see the scale of the thing, but it didn’t give me a sense of how I was going to deal with things. Like, what am I going to work on now? What should I actively start to get rid of?

One of the weaving projects in my stash, warp wound and weft ready to go.

So I put all the info into new sheets, this time by craft. WIPs on top, then work/content projects, then projects with plans, then stash W/o plans, and leftovers. This was helpful because it broke down the projects into chunks I could see all on one screen, in the order I might want to complete them. Doing it this way, a few things kept dropping to the bottom of each list. These are the ones I can just get rid of now.

  • Weaving: All my stash here is already-wound warps of mostly-commercial yarn. With my loom out in the room now, I can just steadily work away at these things. Note: when I finish these projects, they generate fabric, which will (in many cases) have to be problem-solved into finished items. I would like to not buy any more weaving yarn until all of these projects are finished or otherwise disposed of.
  • Knitting: This stash area looks small, but represents the most hours of work. Partly because everything below in the spinning category will subsequently need to be knit as well. I can put these things into a few categories:
    • Design projects. These are high-priority, and I will keep working steadily on them.
    • Sweaters. Mostly fairly plain knitting. I am super-excited to knit these.
    • There are a few great sets of colourful handspun, waiting for a neutral main colour to be made into a blanket or sweater.
      • To buy: White singles yarn or a good wool to make a soft singles. 1-2 lbs
      • To buy: 1 lb or so of neutral, 3-ply yarn, or wool to make it. Light brown or faun preferred
    • Most of my stash-without-a-plan is yarn, single skeins made for learning, or something.
    • Leftovers: Handspun bits and bobs (worsted weight and sock), and commercial sock yarn.
  • Spinning: Nearly all of this has a plan. It looks like a lot, but that’s because I’ve given it a lot of brain space. This is probably the most “living and breathing” part of my stash. Note: This generates yarn, which will then have to be used. It is surprisingly easy to forget this exceedingly obvious fact.
    • Year of Colour stash
      • The Big Bag of Solids
      • The Box of Handpainted samples
      • The Pouch of Random Mix-ins
    • The Qiviut Blending project
      • Unprocessed, unwashed qiviut
      • Semi-processed, washed qiviut
      • Various bits and bobs of wool
      • Four pairs of carded qiviut-blend batts
      • To buy: 300 g each of 4 different breeds of wool, all soft
      • I do actually have two finished skeins. I’m not sure where I’m going to store them.
    • The Sock Colour Study – I have about twelve braids waiting to become the next stage, spinning complementary colourways and colourways with white. I’m thinking I’ll spin for a few pairs in 2024, and more in earnest in 2025. No need to buy any more at this point, and if a few braids get co-opted into a combo spin, that’s fine.
    • Various treasures: I have just a few preciouses that I don’t have plans for, but which are going nowhere at the moment. I need to just think of them as snack spins and sneak them in somewhere, being careful not to make anything too fine unless it’s well chunked.
      • The Yak-silk braid.
      • The ice-blue battling gradient set from CraftyJAKs.
      • Two 3-oz braids of Polwarth in the Sweet Georgia Copycat colourway I dyed.
      • A bit of cotton and soysilk that will hopefully become another summer top.
    • I have an accumulation of rovings, and a couple of tops, that are all in the muddy-brown-purple-green/blue category. These are begging to be combo-spun into a sweater (or two). Realistically these might sit for a while, so I should be prepared to give them away if someone needs them.
    • I have a big bag of Icelandic tog that I don’t know what to do with, and I’ve been collecting dog fur. This is kind of gross and I don’t know why I’m keeping it. If I need space, these will be the first to go.
  • Sewing
    • The Lallybroch EPP (English Paper Piecing) project has to go to the top of the list if it’s ever going to happen. It’s the only hand-sewing project I have right now.
    • Dooner’s quilt. I need to address my sewing machine issues so I can complete the backing, and start moving forward on this.
    • The aprons I already cut, same.
    • The fabric I wove recently will eventually be sewn into tops, but I have to weave some more for them first, so that’ll be a while. I’m OK with that.
    • Beyond that, I have a very small stash of nice bits quilting cotton, two cloth baby wraps that will one day become clothing, and ten yards of muslin that I bought if I need to make a mock-up. This takes up little enough room that I will let it sit, and one day when I’m in Sewing Mode these will become something. I know it’ll happen eventually.
Main culprit of a beautiful colourful spin, needing a contrast colour to make it a sweater quantity. I’d like a nice middling brown to make all those bright colours a little more wearable.

Now I was getting somewhere. I have some things to start moving out the door, and some things to start moving on. So I made one last sheet, just with WIPs and hibernating projects. If something is hibernating, I want to either destash it, or de-hibernate it as quickly as possible. This is what has been making me itch: the fact that there are too many things on this list.

I sorted these projects by the kind of time they take.

  • I want to do at least some spinning every day, and some weaving every week.
    • I’m in between Year of Colour spins, so I’ll take a minute to work on the qiviut blend batts I made in the fall. It would be nice to alternate working on a pair of those batts, or another snack spin, with Year of Colour sampling throughout this year.
    • I’ve got something on the loom. I’ve got warps wound that should take me a while, so I’m just going to try to keep steady on these, at least one evening a week.
  • There were several things I can work on during evening TV time. These I prioritized. I’d like to get down to one item in this category.
    • I recently finished a design project, so now I’m determined to finish Weel Riggit next.
    • A machine knit sock project has been languishing for a couple of years. It’s a few pairs of socks that need cuffs, heels and toes. I need to finish them or toss them.
    • The EPP project has been sitting for a couple of years, but I want to de-hibernate this. I actually really love it, and enjoy doing it, it’s just a matter of making the time for it. When I’m done the above two things, I’ll try doing a section or two in front of the TV to see if it works. If not, I’ll have to move it down to category 3.
  • If it’s something that takes my focused attention, it has to be worthy of my precious alone time. And it has to be contained. There were a few of these.
    • The design just finished needs a little surgery and to be properly written up for testing.
    • I need to make the time to address my sewing machine problem so I can make some progress on my sewing WIPs.
    • If the EPP ends up here, I’ve got a problem. There’s no way I’ll have enough of this kind of time that I’ll be able to progress on this at a satisfactory pace. What I might do is move it to the cabin, and just work on it when I’m out there.
    • A lot of what takes up this time is being at the computer, writing like I am now, or working on videos. But it’s useful to carve out some of this time for making, too.
  • I gotta have one item in the “can do while reading” category. This is knitting. With no socks on the docket for a while, I started a simple summer top from 51 yarns samples that I’ve always wanted to try. I can rotate simple sweater knits through this space, interrupted by small projects with my no-plans handspun.

I’m at the point now where I’m not feeling like I’m about to start hyperventilating. I have a sense of what is important enough to me to make time for, when when I’m going to make time for it. My ultimate goal, which I have been nursing in the back of my mind for a while now, is that everything I own now, I want to be used up by the time I’m 40. If I’m 40 and any of this stuff is hanging around, then it will have outstayed its welcome.

My latest knit, started to have reading-knitting. Hopefully all of this will become two shakerag tops.

I think I do have a stash that, mostly, accurately reflects my current interests and tastes. And I’m getting close to the point that I feel things are moving through my stash at a pace that accurately reflects how much time I spent on each craft. There are just a couple of big blockages that will take some time to move through, and some big projects that get overwhelming by virtue of being ignored and becoming nebulous. All the real dreck has been well weeded out, and things of questionable relevance are tagged and on probation.

It’s nice to feel like, maybe, I have a handle on things. And it’s very important to get this sorted out before I go to Vancouver next month, so that when I inevitably want to buy something, I have an idea of specific needs! Now, to go get one of those qiviut blend batts on the wheel…..

2 thoughts on “Stash Toss 2023

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