Saturday, December 6, 2014

Slash that stash

I was just reading some posts in a blog series called Stash Less, where craft blogger Felicia Semple describes attempting to use up her stash instead of buying more. I have been working at this for more than a year myself. Mostly I've done moderately well, though I recently had a small relapse (I bought a bunch of yarn).

It seems that both fabric and yarn are good media to build a stash that quickly gets out of control. Felicia Semple talks about fabric but her observations apply to yarn as well. I buy fabric too, but my primary craft addiction is yarn - I have five big plastic bins of yarn and spinning fiber. I like to buy sock yarn especially, because it's as beautiful as heavier weight yarn but you only need one or two skeins of it to have enough for a real project (as opposed to 10-15 skeins for a sweater), which keeps the cost of an individual purchase reasonably low.

When I moved from my apartment in the city to a house in the suburbs, one thing I was really looking forward to was my own craft room. Little did I realize this really meant a walk-in closet for my yarn. I also started spinning yarn after moving out here, and I started buying spinning fiber. So then I got a stash of spinning fiber, which even after you use it is still in your stash... it just moves to a different subsection awaiting its next use!

For me the biggest buying trigger is looking at pictures of gorgeous color work by yarn dyers. Every one of the following dyers is well-represented in my stash.

Celestial Skies fingering by Sundara Yarn
Dachshund by Madelinetosh*
Pallas Athena by Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Tremble by Hedgehog Fibres
Stormy Waves by Pigeonroof

In addiction circles they have a saying: "If you hang out at a barbershop, eventually you'll end up getting a haircut." (They mean, don't hang out in bars if you are trying not to drink alcohol.) For my yarn-buying compulsion, Pinterest is the barbershop. I loooooove Pinterest and I love taking 15-30 min at bedtime before sleep to look through my feed. Sometimes I come across an intensely compelling picture of a skein of yarn that has had dye applied to it with such skill, love, passion, and talent that I must follow the link. I go where the picture links and I look at all the other amazing colorways the dyer has created and I start to feel like I must HAVE some of this color.

One reason I decided to work on using up my stash: I observed how I wanted the yarn passionately when I was looking at the picture, often felt somewhat deflated when I received it, and then it spoke to me almost not at all after it had been sitting in the plastic bin for a while. I mean, I have some truly lovely yarn in my stash. I'm not that excited about most of it anymore; but I think that mainly is because it's not NEW. Felicia Semple says, "Sometimes if you don't touch something for a year then the sparkle slides right off it. It looks flat and kinda just okish." Aint it the truth! I thought about how the purchase didn't result in as good a feeling as looking at the picture, and I thought, I think I need to keep looking at the pictures, instead of buying the yarn. Before Pinterest I saved a ton of photos from dyers' sites. Now I can save the pictures to my Pinterest boards and come back and look at them and just feel how great the gorgeous colors make me feel.

Trying to use up your stash is a funny thing. All these feelings come up! And I'm so stingy and fearful! Felicia Semple says about some particularly lovely fabric, "There would be so many things I would want to use it for I wouldn't want to 'waste it' by using it on just one. So I wouldn't use it at all." I've had this experience a lot with fabric especially. Even with material that I wasn't especially in love with!

Recently I made some hand-stitched badges.

I started with a square of khaki twill and I stitched two badges on it. There was room for several more on the square, but frankly my fingers got all chewed up by doing the work and I didn't want to start another one right away. But in order to finish the ones I had done, I had to cut them out and blanket stitch around the edge. BUT if I cut out the two I finished, I would no longer be able to use the rest of the square in an embroidery hoop. I had to tell myself it was okay not to use up every inch of the twill square, it was better to finish the two badges I had stitched than to put them aside to await the day when I feel like working on more badges. Which, let's face it, may never come again! I am not primarily an embroiderer by any means; I just thought I'd like to make a couple. (I do love how they came out though.)

So, being stingy with materials is definitely a thing. And then when the fabric is especially precious (I too have a Liberty print fetish dating back to my teens) I have a REAL problem figuring out what project is sufficiently deserving for it.

More will be revealed. I don't have any real answers so far...

*That Madelinetosh Dachshund colorway is from the Fall/Winter 2014 color collection and I can't tell you how badly I want some.

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