Friday, December 29, 2006

Taking "The Vow"

I have to admit that when I read Wendy's Knit From Your Stash 2007 I felt like old Father Time at the end of the year looking at the New Year's baby about to arrive--sort of the bemused and jaded old timer, who'd tried the same path and only too happy to someone else pick up the challenge. For you see, I made the exact same resolution a year ago. (Though not with the sock yarn exception--mine would have been more of a really cool shade of Manos exception.)

I had planned to blog about my grand experiment for a year and be infamously stashless by the end of the year. Well, I think I went yarn shopping about the 4th of January, and the blog didn't get started until about October. So much for good intentions. Basically, my grand decision to Knit the Stash (hereto forthwith to be known as "the Vow") was a failure, completely and utterly.

But maybe not.

Because after reading Wendy's KFYS, I found myself reflecting on my own resolution and why I found it so hard to keep. One thing I know for certain, I took The Vow for the wrong reasons. I was looking for a unique edge to blog about, something different, but what I should have been examining was why I stash, and what those hoarded skeins mean in my life. Seems sort of an odd thing to ask yourself. Why do you stash? Most people can espouse at length why they knit---but why do you stash? Now that one is really hard.

Stashing is like the deep, dark side of knitting. You have all these really cool yarns, tucked away in secret hiding places, that you look at only rarely, taking them out to smile at them, remember the ______ (insert project here) that you intended to knit, and then back they go into their hidey hole until the next time you are feeling a bit nostalgic, or can't find the size 4 circs that you left on some forgotten project.

I think like everyone else, I fall in love with a project I see in another blog, or hanging up in a yarn shop, or in a magazine and I HAVE to HAVE it. I MUST knit it. And so the yarn gets bought, or snapped up on eBay, or right there on the spur of the moment, much to my LYS's delight. But what I have learned over the past year is that I have more projects than time to knit (or more projects than sense, is probably a better description). A good portion of my stash is like the Island of Lost Toys in Rudolph. Sweaters I was going to knit for the kids, presents that sit unfinished, sock yarn that was too pretty to pass up. Yes, even I am susceptible to a pretty ball of sock yarn. And I have a box of them to prove it.

My stash is the undeniable evidence of my lack of impulse control. Honestly, I didn't need a blog to quit buying , I needed a 12-step program. My name is Elizabeth, and I buy too much yarn. Lots from eBay. The big bag from a garage sale at the bargain price of $2 or the thrift store grab bag that promised to yield gems. The discount basket in my local shop, the yarn because I am on a business trip and I want to remember being in LA--really the excuses I can come up with! But the more I thought about it, I realized it was more about the having, than the knitting. If anything in the last year, I began to feel a sort of embarrassed discomfort with having too much yarn.

It is the having and not using that has struck me the most in the past few days of reflection. I look at the yarn I do have and feel a sense of loss for what hasn't been knit. Like anything that is uncreated, with its potential untapped, locked away in an under the bed box until it is brought out into the light to that "Oh, yeah, I remember that skein," spoken with a bit of wistful regret. I think what I've learned is that yarn should be knit, loved, adored until it finds a new life as a sweater, a hat, a scarf, even a pair of socks, not stashed away like troll's gold.

Wendy has the right of it--knit up your stash--for your yarn's sake. But if you do take The Vow understand your reasons why. You may be surprised at what you find in those closets.

So go ahead, confess. Why do you stash?


tiennie said...

Oh boy - you do have a lot. I have some but not as much since I haven't been knitting long. I'm going to try though to not buy any more until most of what I have is used up.

Jeanne said...

Because it's pretty. And soft. And fuzzy. Because I'm a dreamer. Because I need to know tomorrow will come, and knowing there are yarns to be knit into things gives me hope. For some reason, I believe I'll live forever as long as I have an unfinished project. So I load up on projects I can't possibly finish in one lifetime, therefore ensuring immortality.

That, or an enormous inheritance for some lucky knitter. ;-)