Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The impossibility of de-stashing


There comes a point in every maker's life - most likely sooner rather than later - when she becomes overwhelmed by her stash. It seems like a universal trait, whatever the craft. Dressmaking, historical costuming, knitting, quilting; even gardening. Materials and equipment soon start to overflow.

First comes the leftover materials. This can be dealt with by just giving them away, or by making a quilt or blanket from them. Be ruthless and throw away real scraps and useless pieces. Then there's the hand-me-downs from others. At first you gleefully take; after a while, it's better to just say no. There's the impulse buying - a special skein of yarn, a metre of an exciting print of fabric, souvenirs from a trip. This is a really hard one, best solved by thinking of a specific purpose for the material. Finally, there's the good intentions: bolts of cloth, bags of yarn for projects that you never actually started - or didn't manage to finish.

I've been fighting this problem for several years now, and I'm beginning to accept the fact that until I stop making things entirely, I may have to live with it. I've tried being strict on myself, not buying anything and making from what I have. This works for a time, but only is sustained if I totally avoid fabric and yarn stores. I love to pick up things on my travels, and textiles make such great souvenirs - especially when travelling in countries with strong textile traditions!  To try to avoid falling into the impulse-buying trap, I only allow myself to buy something if I can think of a specific purpose. Sock knitting's been great for that, as you just need two skeins of yarn; and countries that are good at knitting generally sell great sock yarn. The joy of sock knitting is that they make great gifts that are almost universally-sized. Also, it's small...

Whilst away from home, I've tried to adopt a 'one in, one out' policy with amassing sock yarns, so that I don't accumulate too many balls. But in my last week in Stockholm, I found myself stocking up on different-coloured skeins, so now I have one pair on the go, and three pairs in waiting. Oops. The trouble with fabric- and yarn-shopping - unlike my experience of shopping for ready-to-wear clothing - is that your mind fills with all the possibilities and potential. It's truly wondrous, and your imagination expands in a way that it never could with ready-made things. It's far quicker to imagine making than it is to actually make though. I've got a lot of knitting to get on with.

Do you think there's good stashing and bad stashing?

What are you tips for non-accumulation?

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