Thursday, June 05, 2008

Destash Thoughts

Whenever I get concerned about an area of my life, especially an optional area, such as my knitting, I take a fresh look at it - evaluate, reassess and see if it's working for me and how I can improve it.

One of my favorite podcasts is found at Knitpicks. Kelly Petkin's episodes are only about half an hour long, and I find her slow, deliberate speaking style very soothing. That woman has some great ideas, is very good at explaining techniques etc., and she packs a lot of food for thought into each podcast. In one episode, she was talking about Creative Purging - where she's going through her ginormous yarn stash and paring down the stuff that she no longer uses or will likely knit up - and she got rid of a ton of stuff. Imagine how much stash someone who owns a yarn company must have? Eeekks.

She makes an important point when she discusses how we select and keep projects and stash based on what we'd LIKE to do ideally (she calls it our LIFESTYLE Fantasy, versus our knitting reality). We sometimes buy yarn/projects from for some idealized version of ourselves. Like for example, she's only 5 feet tall, but she has lots of things she's dreamed about making that would look good on a 5'7" woman. Over the past few weeks/months, she's been releasing a lot of that yarn, and project plans, that she knows aren't right for her anymore.

The Stash and Burn girls, Nicole and Jenny, have been on a Yarn Diet and have been sticking to it pretty well, throughout much of the fall of 2007 and fairly far into 2008. In several different episodes, they talk about their "fantasy" knitting and the reality of what they want to knit for REAL. Similar concept to Kelly. Unlike me, both of them really REALLY like to knit sweaters. And even after destashing, they each have over 10 sweaters worth of yarn that they are trying to slowly knit down. on S&B, they also point out that you want to leave room in your life for NEW yarn, new patterns, the project that really lights you on fire and makes you want to drop everything and do it RIGHT NOW.

Last year, I got rid of a shit load of yarn and pretty much eliminated many of the original (stupid) yarn purchases I made during the buying spree of 2003, when I first learned to knit. While my stash is not insane, it is still feeling unmanageable and overindulgent at times, and in looking at what I really REALLY enjoy knitting, that comes down to these items: 1) shawls/lace; 2) socks; 3) purses; 4) vests. No full-blown sweaters at all. I don't mind afghans, if they are done slowly in blocks, but honestly, I've never finished one, and the closet thing I've come to getting one done is my Wrap Me Up - which is turning into a lapghan and has taken me nearly a yarn - still not done quite yet.

But basically most yarn left in my stash should be for either shawls or socks. That's my real love. So it makes evaluating everything else pretty easy, right?

Realization dawns: I hate knitting sweaters, or at least the full-blown pullover and cardigans that so many people LOVE to knit. An occasional vest, such as the one I'm doing now (Talia) are fine, but I don't want a steady diet of them either.

I've come up with some concrete steps I can take to get a better handle on my stash (and I've already completed #1). Yay!

1. Make a list of projects I really REALLY want to do throughout the rest of this year and maybe up to one year beyond that? Make a REAL list and a SOMEDAY/FANTASY/WOULDN'T IT BE NICE LIST. Write down what I have yarn for and what I don't.

2. Physically inventory all the yarn I have - compare that to the list above, and physically sort through items I want to release and purge.

3. Knit Like Hell. Gather together the projects I DO want to do and work like hell, for the rest of this year, on knitting up THOSE things that I have and really am excited to knit, as well as those things I need for gifts that I want to do this year.

4. Yarn Diet. Stay on my Yarn Diet, except for occasional purchases that really put a fire in my belly, such as the yarn I just purchased for the prayer shawl I'll soon be making for my friend Margo. These new purchases should really be rare and special until I knit down some of the stash (see Number 3 above). No new yarn for sweaters - period. We've already figured out that I don't like those and won't likely knit many of them in this lifetime. And on new purchases, I can only buy things I'm going to knit NOW (within the next month). Buying for an imagined knitting future is just no longer in my knitting lifestyle. Whew! That plan feels good.

For those needing yarn, I will let you know in a future blog post what I'm wanting to give away and you can feel free to let me know if you want something. You just might be gifted with some of my excess. Tee heeeeeee.


orata said...

What good resolutions--I'd heard the distinction between knitting fantasy life and reality, but it hadn't occurred to me to categorize the queue the same way.

Laura said...

My Ravelry queue is my project list. I've pared it down to patterns I have and yarns I have, too. Scary, huh? I've also catagorized my stash, but that's not on Ravelry. When Ravelry has uploading from Excel or something, it'll be updated then. :D

I'm glad you're feeling the knitting love. You should, since even your sweaters are great.

Elysbeth said...

Did you catch the article here: ?

Sounds as if you have really given this thought. In one of the S&B episodes they talk about using their queue for "reality" and using favorites for "fantasy".

Let me know if you'd like to score some Claudia's handpaint silk for shawls. I have my own realities about fingerjoints to faces. ; )