Stash Enjoyment 2021 – Making an Investment

A single skein on the left is blue with red and yellow sections. To the right, is a braid of mini skeins ranging from pale yellow, through purple, into blue. They are dyed by Gritty Knits, and are laying on a wooden backdrop.(Timebomb and timebomblets by Gritty Knits)

**This post is part of my series on using my yarn stash in 2021, and enjoying it! The first post of the series can be found here.**

When I made my initial Instagram post about starting Stash Enjoyment 2021, I got a comment I was expecting. The commenter told me not to feel badly about having a large stash because “it’s an investment and so good for your brain and soul.”

A large stash is an investment – no arguments there. It’s a financial investment, a spatial investment (cause you’ve got to put it all somewhere), an emotional investment (be honest – it is!), etc. But Stash Enjoyment 2021 is also about making an investment- an investment in the person you want to be in the future.

I’m not here to condemn people for buying yarn. I (obviously) love buying yarn. My goal Stash Enjoyment goals are not to shame others – they’re to motivate me and help me remind myself that I want to be able to feel like i’m the boss of my stash and not the other way around.

Buying yarn, especially indie dyed yarn, is also an investment into small businesses, often owned by women. A large portion of my current yarn stash is indie dyed and part of my past purchasing motivation has been that I want to help these small, women-owned businesses off the ground. But I think we’ve created an illusion in this community. We’ve created an illusion that there is flourishing market with a large demand; that anyone can become a successful professional yarn dyer if they just work hard enough. Speaking as someone who worked hard at it, I can tell you there’s more to success in this industry than simply dyeing yarn and popping it on Etsy.

I want to make sure that i’m not perpetuating a cycle that actually traps women in the illusion that they can create a successful business in this industry, and all they have to do to achieve that dream is start off working horrendously long hours, bringing in a very low profit margin, and turning themselves into workhorses instead of artists who enjoy their process.

This topic has also made me re-think the way I approach pattern design and the way I interact with pattern designers. You know who works very hard for an unreliable wage and under average pay? Knitting and crochet designers.

So, if I’m at the point (which I am) where I acknowledge that my current business model is more of an expensive hobby that occasionally pays for itself, that means i’m going to design patterns based on what I want to make and what I enjoy, rather than attempting to design things I think will be marketable or will sell well.

How does this relate to stash enjoyment? Well, it means that i’m designing from stash instead of constantly buying more yarn because I think to myself, “well, someday i’ll turn this into a design! It’s a business investment!” I’m attempting to take a more realistic look at how many items I can comfortably finish in a month or year’s worth of making.

What about you? Are you pretty good at knowing how much you can make in a set period of time, or do you tend to fall into the “buy all the things and start all the projects” trap I do?

If this post resonates with you, or if you’re joining in on #StashEnjoyment2021 please use the hashtag or tag @ruthbrasch on social media when you interact or join in. You’ll be able to browse the #StashEnjoyment2021 hashtag to “meet” other makers who are also working from mindfully from stash and enjoying it!

Stash Enjoyment 2021 – Selling Contentment

a close up of part of a cable knit shawl in burnt orange. The shawl is "Feelin' Foxy" by Ruth Brasch

**This post is part of my series about using and enjoying the yarn and patterns you have. For more information, click the “Stash Enjoyment 2021” link below to read my original blog post.**

In preparing for Stash Enjoyment 2021, I’ve been reading the blogs of Felicia Semple. Her journey through what she calls “Stash Less” started in 2014, and Her blog posts about it are very enjoyable and enlightening. In one of them, she mentions that companies are Selling Discontent. Much of what she said resonated with me in this post; social media is especially good at “selling discontent.”

You know what else they do, though? The sell contentment. When you see a knitwear designer with a huge smile on her face as she dances across your Instagram feed in her newly completed sweater, the intent is to make you think “hmm, if I knit that sweater will I be as happy as she is?” You put down your sweater WIP and click through to the link to the kit she’s selling to see if it comes in your size and color preference, suddenly discontented with the project that you were enjoying a few moments earlier. I don’t mean to imply that small business owners are devious scoundrels out to fleece the innocent public with their swanky wares. Rather, I’m speaking to the way our minds perceive and interact with social media.

**pause**

Ask yourself these questions the next time this happens:
1. Do I NEED this kit, or do I WANT it?
If it’s a want, WHY do I want it? Is it FOMO? Is it shiny new project syndrome, in which I get that quick pleasure hit from starting something new?
2. Is this a project I can start right away? If not, how long will it have to sit before I can start it? If the answer is more than a week, I highly recommend that any of you participating in Stash Enjoyment 2021 click right back out of that site and go back to your WIP! That pattern will still be there when you have finished your current project.

If the pattern really resonates with you and you think it might be a project you’ll be able to start in a couple weeks or a month, my suggestion is that you find a way you can bookmark or save the link to those items. Here’s a couple suggestions:

  1. Make a Pinterest board! Pinterest is a super easy way to save website links with photos. You could create a board called “Stash Enjoyment 2021” for patterns you see during the year that you may want to make. I think you’ll be amazed how many of them there are vs how many actually get made!
  2. Use the bookmark function on your internet browser. You can usually create folders for bookmarks, so you could create a Stash Enjoyment 2021, or “patterns I want to make in the future” folder, or whatever you’d like to name it.
  3. Make a physical list. This could be as easy as keeping a list with a pen and paper. If I were to do it this way, I would likely keep the list posted somewhere I could easily see it so I don’t forget that I have projects I want to make. This is what I do with pattern designs I want to work on – I keep them listed on a white board that’s mounted on my kitchen door. Seeing a long list reminds me that I should work on some of the items on there before adding to the list. **BONUS** if you decide to use this technique, you’ll have a finite amount of space on the paper/board. That means you can only add so many items to the list without having to remove some to add more. It helps keep the number of them down!
  4. If you can still use Ravelry, you could always use their “queue” or “favorites” functions. However, I find that I very easily queue and favorite patterns as a way of showing the designers I like the pattern, and I tend to never actually go back and look at them. For me, the limited, physical list that hangs where I can see it is the most effective technique.
  5. Save it on Instagram. If you saw the pattern on Instagram, clicking the “save” button will help support the designer while also saving the pattern for your future use. Right now, Instagram values those “saves,” because it shows the algorithm you like it enough to come back to it.

Do you have a way you like to save projects or assess intent for making? Let me know!

Preparing for Stash Enjoyment 2021 – FOMO

Two double stranded sock blanks are wound up in sushi rolls next to each other. The colors shift from bright yellow to deep purple through a gradient of reds, oranges, purples, etc.

“The shop update is at 7 pm, and last time it sold out within 30 minutes!”

Have you seen those words in the past from a yarn dyer you loved and panicked? You’ve experienced FOMO. FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) is that anxious feeling you get when you see a product or event that will be happening and you’re worried you’ll miss out on something amazing. It could be yarn, it could be meeting your favorite designer at an in-person event (back when we had those!) etc.

Stash Enjoyment 2021 is my journey to use the yarn and crafting materials already in my possession; to be content with what I have and get creative in the use of it. To read more about how I arrived at this point or what it means in detail, check out the introductory blog post here.

Because my goal is to work with what I have, that does mean I will miss out on some things. I may miss out on owning an exclusive colorway. I may miss out on making the newest pattern by the most popular designer.

I think that’s the wrong perspective.
I may miss out on an exclusive colorway, but I’ll also miss out on the knowledge that it’s going to sit in my stash for a very long time (possibly years!) before I use it.

I may miss out on making the new, hot pattern at the same time others are, but what i’ll really miss out on is getting through the exciting portion of the design (the sweater yoke? The first 25% of a shawl before it gets unmanageable on my needles and the rows are 300+ stitches?), putting it in a project bag, and discovering it months later. I’ll miss out on the frenetic pinballing through my stash, casting on 5 projects at a time and finishing none of them.

By not buying out of FOMO, I’ll miss out on the sense of overwhelm I feel as I look at my stash and projects right now. (7.5-10 years of stash and 15 ish active WIPs!)

Y’all, it’s ok to miss out.
Louder for the people in the back?

IT’S OK TO MISS OUT.

In the grand scheme of things, missing out on that temporary thrill of making a purchase or snagging a bag from a popular bag maker’s super speedy update doesn’t compare with the long term contentment of knowing you’re working towards your goals and actually succeeding at reaching them.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it? FOMO can be the fear of missing out on the camaraderie of the current fiber arts community, which is obsessed with buying and having as much yarn as possible.  I’ve been in that land for a while; the land of “it’s not hoarding if it’s yarn” and “it’s totally ok for me to buy more than enough of this than I can use in my lifetime because it gives me satisfaction when I buy it.” Y’all, I don’t want to be that way anymore.

Right now i’m working on yarn that arrived less than a week ago and I am so enjoying the fact that it came into my house, sat for maybe 2-3 days while I finished two other WIPs, and now is being knit up into a hat that my son will adore. I love this. I feel like this is much more me than the massive-purchases-with-no-reason me. Will my feelings change over time? Probably. But, right now this is where I am. I feel like i’m buried under a sea of yarn and I need to start swimming my way back up to the top.

I’ve already begun looking at my stash differently. I was considering making a sample for a cowl design and realized it needed yarn in a color and weight I don’t currently have on hand (if you can believe that!) but instead of going out and buying the skein I “need,” I decided that I can hold DK weight double and get about the same gauge as a bulky weight yarn. Will I have to play yarn chicken? Probably. But, in the end, it’ll be in line with my goals, and I like that better than buying something new just because it’s easy.

 

Welcome to my apparent return to blogging! I’ve considered this many times in the past, but seem to have trouble with consistent posting. I’ve also done some vlogging on YouTube, which I enjoy, but also have trouble keeping up with because I have three noisy little munchkins in the house! It feels good to write again, to set goals again, and to hear from you all as you are able to read and interact with my writing. I’ve appreciated, especially, those of you who have said you’d like to join me on this Stash Enjoyment journey. It’s good to have some company along the way, especially during a time when we can’t be physically in each other’s presence.

More to come in this series, for sure! Let me know what you think so far?

Stash Enjoyment 2021

11 hanks of indie dyed yarn lie on a wooden backdrop

I recently found the GORGEOUS array of yarns in the photo above when I went digging through my stash for a potential project. My husband had asked for a stripey poncho (it turns out he actually wants a cabled hoodie, but more about that later!) so I set to work putting colors together.  He looked at these and said “woah, I don’t want you to use all your nice yarn up on me!” and I laughed. You couldn’t even see the hole in my stash from where I had pulled out these skeins. But, later, I started thinking about that interaction. That photo has at least a full blanket’s worth of yarn in it. A blanket takes me months to make.. and that wouldn’t even make a dent in my stash. That’s also about $350 USD of yarn in one photo.

As per usual, nearing the close of a year means I am taking stock of where my crafting journey has taken me over the course of the past year.

Because I am who I am, i’ve kept a yardage tracking spreadsheet in excel this year and have made sure to enter every single project into Ravelry. Here’s what i’ve got!

2020 Making Statistics (as of December 6, 2020):
– Number of projects completed: 30
– Amount of yarn purchased: 123, 650 yds (yes, you read that correctly)
– Amount of yarn knit: 7, 342 yds
– Amount of yarn crocheted: 6, 252 yds
– Amount of yarn machine knit: 2,449 yds
– Amount of yarn gifted to someone: 45, 556 yds
– Amount of yarn sold/stashed down 39, 268 yds
——————————————————————-
Total Yarn Out: 100, 867 yds
Net effect on stash: +22, 783 yds of yarn in 2020.
Total yardage currently in stash: 179, 922 yds.

So why am I tracking all this yardage? Because I want to know what my real buying and using habits are. It doesn’t take a statistical genius to see i’m buying WAY more than I can use in a year (16, 043 yds). This year alone I bought enough yarn to last me 7.7 YEARS. Is that scary to anyone else?

I literally have enough yarn currently in my possession to knit and crochet for over 10 years. So, something’s gotta give.

For 2020 my biggest crafting goal was to finish or frog any project started prior to 2020. For 2021, I want to build on that goal.

2021 Crafting Goals:
1. Finish all projects started prior to 2021
2. Finish or Frog projects so there are no more than 5 active WIPS at a time.
3. #StashEnjoyment2021

What is #StashEnjoyment2021? It’s my plan for actually using and enjoying the 10+ years worth of yarn in my stash! I want to knit and crochet as much as possible from my stash in 2021. I won’t say i’m forbidding myself to buy yarn, because this isn’t about deprivation or punishment – it’s about enjoying what I have. I bought these yarns because they’re beautiful, because I wanted to support the dyers who made them, or because when I saw them they made me dream of possible projects. But, then, I let myself get distracted by more new, pretty, potential projects and the “old” ideas fell by the wayside.

As I thought about it, I realized I’ve been therapy-buying a lot over the past couple years, because it *does* feel good to have a package show up with pretty yarn in it. However, it’s getting to the point where the yarn is overwhelming to me instead of enjoyable. When yarn purchases show up I think “rats, I did it again!” and chuck the yarn into my stash instead of enjoying the choices I’ve made. I don’t want knitting and crocheting to become something that’s unpleasant to me.

So, my plan for this year is to work on enjoying the stash I have. If that’s something you’re interested in doing too, I’d encourage you to share your projects made from stash on social media with the hashtag #StashEnjoyment2021

I decided that while i’d love to see others doing this too, this is something I plan to be doing whether y’all are or not. I’m not going to dangle prizes in front of you to attempt to get you to join in with me – if you want to do this it has to be a mindset change; do this for your own enjoyment and betterment if you want to.

What’s the criteria? How does it work?
You set the criteria for yourself.
For me, “Stash” will count as any yarn purchased prior to 2021.

For #StashEnjoyment2021 I will:
– Work from stash as much as possible. If I see a project I do not have appropriate yarn for, I need to ask myself if I absolutely MUST have this project, or if it is shiny new project syndrome and the desire will fade in a week.
– Not buy yarn I don’t need to make myself feel better.
– Share about my stash finds on social media, like the photo at the beginning of this post. Who doesn’t love a gorgeous photo of yarn?
– Get my WIP count down to 5 or less and keep it there. If I limit my active WIPS, I will both get more projects finished/frogged, and will be less inclined to buy yarn for a project I’m not “allowed” to start.

Does this mean I can’t buy yarn? Nope! And guess what? I’m not going to set specific criteria about when I can and can’t buy yarn (with the exception of the therapy-purchases mentioned above). Instead of limiting myself, I will remind myself that I have a goal of being more conscious in my making and that I want to enjoy the things that I have – to be content instead of constantly chasing the wind in the form of always buying something new for that momentary enjoyment.

If you’re reading this and going yeah… nope! That’s totally fine. We’re all at different places in our lives and I don’t expect that everyone will feel the same way I do. In fact, I know that being content with the yarn I have and not constantly chasing the newest and most popular yarn or patterns is extremely counter-cultural as far as the online fiber arts community goes.

If some part of this resonated with you, i’d encourage you to take stock of where you are crafting-wise and then make yourself some goals.

I will probably be doing a stash flash at some point in the near future, because I want to be able to physically see all of the yarn out in the open. It’s amazing how much yarn can hide in little corners and cubbies!