Wrangling Your Stash

Useful Definitions

Your Knitting Stash:  The enormous amount of yarn you’ve accumulated over years (usually) or months (!!!!) with the intention of someday doing something with it.

Most knitters are somewhat addicted to yarn.  It’s looks great and feels better, at least the good stuff does. And why would you want the yucky stuff?  This frequently results in a serious knitters (or crocheters) condition:

SABLE:  Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy, aka waaay too much yarn

As we all know, identifying the problem is the first step. Here are a few clues to help you identify if you have a yarn addiction.

How to know when you’ve got a yarn problem: 
  • Other knitters or crocheters stare at you with their mouths open because they are stunned speechless by the quantity of yarn you have.
  • You’re taking delivery of your yarn away from home & sneaking it into the house when your family members aren’t around.
  • Your favorite yarn store is starting to look small.
  • You’re running out of places to put it, so you rent a storage locker.
  • You no longer list your stash on Ravelry because it would take too long.

How many of these statements describe you?  I’d make it a quiz, but truthfully, if more than one of these is true of you, you have a stash problem.

The good news is that now that you’ve identified the problem, you can start working on solving it.  Remember, taking action is the most important step.

What to do about your stash problem

Start knitting!  While obvious, it bears repeating.  Knitters are planners and it’s easy to succumb to analysis paralysis.

Take up weaving.  I’ve heard that weaving uses large quantities of yarn and can make a serious dent in your stash in no time.  Of course, there’s the problem of finding a place for your brand new loom and the potential for becoming addicted to yet another fiber art.  Also, looms are pricey!

Charity Knitting.  Many knitters, especially fast knitters, don’t have enough people in their lives to knit for.  Getting involved in charity knitting provides direction, an appreciative audience, and it feels great!  Alternatively, you could give away some of your yarn.  Better yet, do both!

Bushwhack knitting.  Remember all those 1500yard lots of yarn?  Remember that this amount of yarn frequently makes a good sized afghan?  What could be easier than casting on a bunch of stitches and knitting until the yarn runs out?  No pattern needed.  It’s also a great way to showcase a really attractive yarn.  Or try out a new stitch pattern or two.  Switch it up whenever you like.  There’s no pattern, so you can’t go wrong.

Perfection is a Lie.  Many times knitters procrastinate because they want to find the “perfect” pattern for their beautiful yarn. Look at it this way, whatever you make with your beautiful yarn will be beautiful.  Perfection is over-rated.  The only way you can miss out is by not using your yarn.

Now that you’ve made a serious dent in your stash, it’s time to address the root of the problem.

Stop Buying Yarn

This is where the problem started.  Yarn is beautiful.  It feel wonderful.  It looks wonderful.  How do you stop buying yarn??

Even if you knock your stash down to reasonable levels this time, you need a strategy going forward to prevent stash buildup.  These strategies are suggestions only.  The best one will be the one that works for you.

  1. Commit to buying new yarn only after you’ve finished off all your UFO’s.  If you really commit to this rule, you’ll not only keep your stash under control, you’ll end up finishing a lot more projects.  Imagine how motivated you’ll be to get your projects done.  Win, win!
  2. Only buy yarn if you have a pattern, a recipient, and a deadline already chosen.  This way, you know how much yarn you need and you know when you’ll be working on it.
  3. Yarn bath.  When the urge to buy hits, pull out all your yarn, pile it on your living room rug and take a yarn bath.  Sit down in the middle of it, touch it, read the labels, rub it against your face, put different colors together.  Really enjoy what you already have.
  4. Make a Project Plan.  After taking your yarn bath, you’ll have a better idea of what you have.  It’s a great time to pull out your favorite patterns and make a kit.  Your yarn is already out, now bag it up with the pattern you’ve chosen for it.  Label the bag and put the project on your calendar.  When you put your stash away, make sure you put the kits away according to their place on your calendar.

Only you can decide how much time it’ll take you to complete each project, but I recommend you give yourself plenty of time.  If you need a guide, try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac.  EZ’s idea of one project/month is a little too fast for me, but maybe it’ll work for you – especially if you switch to socks, mittens and hats instead of leggings and sweaters.


The best way to enjoy your yarn and get the most out of knitting is to just do it.  There are so many reasons to knit.  Let your stash be one of them.

May the coming year be full of lots of FO’s (finished objects) for all of us!

Got any ideas for other ways to bust a pile of stash in danger of developing it’s own gravitational field?  Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Wrangling Your Stash”

  1. Ah but what do you do when you are married to an enabler, who enjoys the pleasure of seeing you knit, and can’t tell you no when you ask can I buy this yarn, or when traveling and you tell him there’s a yarn store off the next exit, can we stop, takes you there.

    • Consider me green with jealousy. I think you’re stuck with providing your own self-discipline!

      Does your enabler get secondhand benefits from your knitting? I’m not referring to the finished products, but maybe your knitting is providing him with some of the health benefits of knitting?




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