**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.
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:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
“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?
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.
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!
Edit (12:07 PM, 11/20/19): It has come to my attention since I wrote this article that I have sorely neglected to mention a very important mohair source – small, local farms! I plan to correct this lapse in a future article.
Every so often trends pop up in the fiber arts community that cause questions. You might hear things like “what’s brioche?” “What does HOTH mean?” Or, in this case, “what’s up with all the mohair?”
That last one was me. Recently, a fairly popular designer named Andrea Mowry published a pair of socks that are knit with 1 strand of sock yarn and 1 strand of lace weight mohair/silk held together. Holding mohair with another strand of yarn has been a growing trend for a few years now; if you do a Ravelry search for mohair held double, there’s currently 34 pages of results, but only 9 of those patterns are socks. It’s safe to say that mohair socks are fairly unusual. However, with AM’s socks only having been published for 8 days, they already have the most projects of all the 9 patterns.
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that i’m very interested in the various bandwagons going around but I don’t hop on quickly – I like to check out the trends, see what people think, etc.
I did a little research on the various mohair yarns out there, as well as having a lovely Instagram Live chat (which sadly I managed to not download!) and I’m sharing my research and chat notes below. I hope these help!
Why hold mohair with anything?
This is an excellent question that comes up frequently. Why do people hold mohair with other yarn, what are the benefits of it? One benefit is that yarns with lots of open space in them (as opposed to being very dense) trap the air, which in turn adds a significant amount of warmth.
Secondly, as noted above, mohair is trendy. When something becomes trendy, designers tend to ask “what can I do with this?” So, when brioche was beginning to return to popularity, it was suddenly on socks, hats, shawls, gloves – anything you could slap the stitch on, designers did. I suspect mohair is the same right now: designers are adding it because they can, which leads to the second point.
What does mohair yarn cost?
This varies significantly depending on the source you purchase from. In general, and in the trendy sense we are typically seeing patterns that call for one strand of lace weight mohair/silk blend. Mohair and silk are both considered “luxury” fibers, and any time you see the word “luxury” attached to a product you can expect a fairly high price. Usually it means the fiber is less available, or requires more time/effort/care in the sourcing of it.
While there are tons of yarns with mohair in them, I want to focus on a few yarns I talked about during the Instagram live – a few low cost, a few medium cost, and a few higher cost. The list below is definitely not exhaustive, but hopefully it’ll give you a few helpful details. All prices are in US Dollars, as converted at the time of writing the post.
1. Drops Kid Silk ($4.92/25g ball) – 75% mohair, 25% silk. 218 yds/200m. 2. Knit Picks Aloft($7.99/25g ball) – 72% super kid mohair, 28% silk. 260 yds/237m. 3. Valley Yarns Southampton – ($7.99/25g ball) – 72% kid mohair, 28% mulberry silk. 230 yds/210m. *Note: WEBS (yarn.com) has a discount on many yarns on their site: 20% off a purchase of $60+ or 25% off a purchase of $120+ so if you utilize that this yarn would be $5.99-6.39/25g instead, making it the second most affordable option i’ve found. 4. Rowan Kidsilk Haze ($14.99/25g ball) – 70% kid mohair, 30% silk. 225 yds/205m. *Note – this one is also eligible for the WEBS discount if purchased through them, making this yarn $11.24-11.99/25g instead. 5. Indie Dyed Mohair/Silk Blend – Here you’re going to find a wide range of options and prices. The mohair blend I dye is $29/50g hank – 459yds/420m. I’ve seen it as high as $32 and as low as $27. 6. Manos delUruguay Cabrito($19/25g ball) – 80% kid mohair, 20% polyamide. 230 yds/210m.
Lets talk about sock yarn
Since we’re talking specifically about knitting (or crocheting) socks, I think it’s helpful to have some sock yarn prices listed here too. Some of these i’ve tried, some I haven’t.
*Note: I realize that listing brands like Cascade is controversial. Please take a moment to think about the fact that being financially able to boycott a certain brand is a privilege that not everyone has. Some makers, including myself sometimes, need to choose the most locally available or financially friendly option, thus it is important to include these in a list of lower price options. Yarns on this list are included because of availability, not as a statement of support for any company.
Snuggly Stripes Wool by Loops & Threads($8.99/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon *Note: This yarn appears to only be available online, and at Michael’s in Canada. Paton’s Kroy ($5.99/50g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon Knit Picks Stroll ($5.49/50g ball) – 75% fine superwash merino, 25% nylon Valley Yarns Huntingdon ($5.49/50g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon *Note: this yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount noted above in the mohair list. Knit Picks Felici ($6.99/50g ball) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon Cascade Heritage Sock ( $11.00/100g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon Knit Picks Hawthorne($13.99/100g hank) – 80% fine superwash highland wool, 20% nylon *Note: this yarn is thick for sock yarn, and is more of a sport weight yarn. Regia Pairfect ($17.50/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% polyamide *This yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount Malabrigo Sock ($19.49/100g hank) – 100% superwash merino Indie Dyed yarn – Again, ranges from about $20-35/100g depending on fiber content, dyer, dye technique, etc.
Whew! What a list, right? Take a minute, go get some chocolate, coffee, whatever, and come back. I’ll wait!
Price per project
This is the portion i’ve been leading up to. The entire reason for listing a large range of yarns is so we can talk about the total cost per project. Using the prices listed above, and assuming a pattern requires more than 50g of sock yarn per pair, that means you’re buying in 100g quantites for socks, and larger quantites for shawls, cowls, sweaters, etc. Mohair is laceweight, so you need roughly. 25g of mohair for every 50g of sock yarn.
Socks (no mohair): $8.99-$35 Socks (with mohair): $18.83-73.98 200g Shawl (no mohair): $17.98-70 200g Shawl (with mohair): $35.96-140 *Note: this is assuming the fingering weight yarn is one of the sock yarns listed above. There are many fingering weight yarns with luxury fibers like silk, yak, alpaca, angora, etc that would raise the price considerably.
Price to make garments
Pullover Sweater (I’m using the yardage/size information from Spector by Joji Locatelli because it’s long sleeved, has total yardage for sizes from 32-63″ (80-158 cm), and is a good representation of a sweater from a popular designer.
Information will be listed as follows: Size (yarn amount required) = cost without mohair/cost with mohair Lowest prices listed use the Sunggly Stripes Wool for fingering weight ($8.99/100g) and Knit Picks Aloft price for mohair (4.92/25g) Highest prices listed use the high end of indie dyed yarn for fingering weight ($35/100g) and the Manos del Uruguay Cabrito for mohair ($19/25g)
*Note: Crochet sweaters require more yardage than knit ones purely by nature of the technique used, so for crocheters these are also low end prices.
Ruth, why are you telling me all this?
I’m giving you this information because knowledge is power. When a trend comes along it’s good to have information no matter who you are: maker, designer, or yarn dyer.
Makers: Please consider that designers and dyers *are* somewhat required to keep up with trends to make a living. Designers and dyers often collaborate together and depend on one another for mutual support. This is not a condemnation of designers and dyers collaborating together to create lovely, fuzzy patterns.
Designers: Please consider that your customers and test knitters/crocheters may not be able to make the financial commitment to your garment if mohair is included. As a designer, I understand the importance of checking that a pattern works as written. *First Thought:Would you consider allowing testers to substitute a yarn that is the equivalent of your two yarns that are held together? I guarantee some of your customers will be doing this anyway, so it’s actually more thorough testing to allow testers to substitute a yarn that works for their budget and meets your requirements. *Second thought- I hear overwhelmingly from makers that they’d like to *try* mohair, as opposed to jumping right in to a full garment, so they can find out if they like it before committing to a garment (or because a $400 sweater isn’t realistic for their budget). Food for thought.
Dyers: Love you. You’re making lovely colors! I know you get lots of pressure to give quantity discounts so your yarns are more affordable. I have mixed feelings about the level of discount some are offering, because I know you need to stay in the black. If you discount too much there will be no profit. If you are unable to do give a discount, would you consider making alternate kits that don’t include mohair and offering both (in all sizes!)? This way you can support the designer you’re collaborating with AND have a more affordable option. That means you’ll gain customers you never would have had – more customers = more profit. It’s a win.
Wear & Care
To finish this up quickly, one last thought to consider is the wear and care of mohair.
Mohair is a non-superwash fiber that *can* felt. That means you will need to carefully handwash any item you make, including socks. While you can get away with the very rare washing of outerwear sweaters, shawls, and maybe even hats, you may begin to get some sideways glances if you never wash your socks.
Lastly, mohair is slippery. If you make mohair socks, please be careful (and don’t blame me if you slip! My official recommendation is to not wear mohair socks on slippery surfaces).
Good golly that was a lot of information! I’m always here if you want to chat.
If you want to catch the next instagram live where I chat about topics like this one: follow me at @ruthbrasch