The Year of Using What I Have
As you might already know, this year is my “Year of Using What I Have”, and it’s the theme on my Patreon page this year. My goal is to use up as much yarn as I can from my stash, and to buy as little new yarn as possible. So far, I have used up quite a bit! I have made one punchneedle rug, one crochet rug, one huge blanket by machine knitting, and I’m knitting through a couple of sweaters right now in the Garment-a-Long. But still, there is a lot of yarn. Maybe even (whispers) too much yarn..
Too much yarn?
“Too much yarn”. I’m sure every experienced knitter and crocheter has heard from someone – usually their partner – that they have “too much yarn”. And the response we instantly think of is “Too much yarn? Never!!”. We see so much potential in those balls of yarn, and after all, some projects take a LOT of yarn. We have all run out of yarn at some point for a project, and it’s the worst feeling, am I right?
So can a person truly have too much yarn? Well, I suppose it depends on the person. But for me, the threshold of “too much yarn” has definitely been reached. I felt so overwhelmed and judged myself for not finishing projects and getting distracted. And I have to say, this year while working through some of my stash, it’s just the best feeling ever. To finally work with yarns that have been in my stash forever.
How do you know if you have too much yarn?
I’m the last person to impose ‘yarn bans’ on other makers, but I do have a little exercise for you. It’s very quick, and it will give you an idea if you have too much yarn, even if you think that’s a myth. I was going through my phone pictures the other day, and found a picture of my yarn haul from Edinburg Yarn Fest in 2019. That’s 4 years ago now! Maybe you have a similar picture from a similar time. Look through your photos and see if you can find a ‘haul’ picture. Maybe you didn’t visit yarn festivals, so maybe it’s an email receipt from a yarn order from a couple years ago. But really, a picture helps best. Here’s mine.
My goodness, I was over the moon with all of these yarns. I had so many ideas, I even had a couple patterns in mind. The fibre festival had me buzzing with excitement and I was sure I was going to cast on something new very soon with these wonderful yarns.
I’m wondering if you can already guess the second part of this exercise. It’s to see whether you have used any of the yarns in the picture, or if they’re still in your stash patiently waiting for you.
In this picture I have circled the yarns I’ve used. It’s almost painful to see that after four years, I’ve only used these three skeins. And to be completely honest, none of these skeins have been completely used up.
There are a couple of things you can learn from this exercise. And I don’t know, maybe you’re a magical unicorn who has used up all of the yarns from the picture you chose. Most likely, you won’t have used all of them, and there are some helpful things we can take away here. One is asking yourself if you know why you haven’t used them yet, and try not to judge yourself. Is the colour totally ‘you’? Is the fibre scratchier than you thought? Were singly ply yarns super popular back then but really, you like your projects to be a bit more durable? Is the yarn so special that every pattern just feels ‘not worthy’?
Or maybe, it’s more helpful to turn the question around and ask yourself why you bought this yarn. I know for a fact that I tend to buy yarns because I want to support the vendor, and I don’t want to make them feel bad by not buying anything. Which is – I know – something to unpack at some point. Buying products is not the only way to support a business after all.
What to do?
Perhaps this exercise motivates you to dig deep in your stash, and you’re wondering what to do with all those yarns. That’s of course what we’re doing in the Year of Using What I Have, and you can start your own journey following my Patreon posts.
A great way of reducing your yarn stash is to do a destash on Instagram or Ravelry. Destashing simply means to sell off some of your yarn. Another option is yarn swaps, but I want to add a sidenote here. Yarn swaps are usually surprise yarn swaps, and it’s way less likely that you’ll use up yarns you got as a surprise or as a gift. If you’ve ever participated in yarn swaps, you’ll know. Unless it’s miniskeins, those are surprisingly easy to use in projects because chances are you have already started a scrappy project. But I’m getting off track.
Another option is of course to use the yarn. “Why yes thank you Captain Obvious”, I can already hear you thinking. But really. Take that yarn off its pedestal, forget it’s this magical precious yarn and just use it. It is the most freeing thing to finally knit or crochet up a yarn that you’ve been holding onto for years. And it might not be because you think the yarn is so special. Maybe you have a pattern in mind that you think you don’t have enough experience for yet. Again, just do it. Just try!
I’m doing the very same thing now for my livestreams on Thursday morning, where I work on this cable sweater. I have had this yarn for SO long, and the reason why I hadn’t used it is because I knew it wasn’t going to be for a new pattern design of my own. So really, it wouldn’t be ‘work’, but for myself. Whatever the reason might be that you’re not working on a project, we usually all benefit from a little bit of extra motivation. Right now I’m hosting the Garment-a-Long, and it is really motivating me to crack on with my projects. Want to join as well? Show your progress in my Facebook group, and watch the livestreams every Thursday at 9am CEST on my Youtube Channel.
I would love to see you there!
One last thing
One last thing that I want to mention, is that you don’t have to do anything if you realize you might have accumulated a lot of yarn. Maybe you aren’t feeling too great right now, and those fluffy balls of colour and squishiness brighten up your day. Your journey doesn’t have to look like mine, and the last thing I want is for you to now look at your yarn stash with guilt. But maybe, you are feeling like I did last year. Overwhelmed, and looking at your yarn doesn’t really bring you joy again. In that case, I hope it’s a relief knowing that you’re not alone feeling like that, and that there’s something you can do about it. You might want to read my first post about the Year of Using What I Have, so you have an idea of where to start 🙂