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Let it Go, Let it Go

Can't hold it back anymore! Yes, I'm quoting the immortal lyrics of Frozen's catchiest song (if you haven't seen it, it's actually really good, so long as you don't think too much about how Elsa's powers of freezing can strangely transmute clothing), but it's also my new mantra. In fact, I'm letting go of so much stuff, I may have to change my name to Ashley De-Stashley. And with a slight spelling adjustment, I suddenly become a fancy nobleman: Ashley deStashley. I like it.

You see, I recently noticed that my stash had been growing. No problem: given Covid 19 lockdowns, the closure of local knitting stores, and all that extra time on my hands, it was a perfect time to buckle down and Knit! That! Stash!

Did I? Of course not. Instead, I went online to Ravelry, joined the Dishcloth of the Week club, and then over to Knitpicks where I ordered $200 worth of new cotton skeins so that I could knit each week's dishcloth, plus all the dishcloth of the weeks/months/years prior to my signing up. And my stash lingered, untouched.

Then I had a moment of genius (or so I thought): if I rented a storage unit (for a measly $159 a month), I could house the stash elsewhere, revel in my spacious spaciousness (the best kind of spaciousness), and not have the stash's stern eyes staring at me, disapprovingly, as I ignored it to churn out dishcloths like this one:

It's, incidently, the Oroton Inspired Waffle Washer/Dishcloth by Lisa Ashton, and was a fun easy knit.

So I carefully went through my stash, separated it into two piles: a small pile of "I'll definitely knit that," and a much larger pile of "Ugh, I'll never knit that," which was to go into storage.

At the time, it seemed perfectly sensible. But a day later I realised what I was doing: planning to pay $159 a month to keep yarn I didn't want, no matter how nice it was, no matter how much I wanted it at the time, no matter what a good deal it had been (some of them were a very good deal indeed—I grabbed $1,000s of dollars worth of yarn from a charity sale two years ago for virtual pennies), no matter what a fun memory it evoked ... the plain truth was that I Wasn't Going to Use Them. Ever. I'd rather have new yarn for whichever new project was exciting me that week.

But how to justify the cost of this hypothetical future new yarn? Easy. Don't put my stash into storage, and tada, I would now have $159 a month to spend on new yarn forever, at no additional cost to self. And, recognising that yarn is addictive and it's hard not to buy, I made a new rule for myself: no buying yarn unless I'm casting on the project today or tomorrow (or as soon as it arrives, if it's an online purchase). I'm a bit of a yarn flibbertygibbet, in that I'll see something, love it, make great plans for it, and then three months later be So Over It. So unless I'm finishing a project in the next few hours, really, I daren't go yarn shopping.

You might wonder how I will maintain this equanimity once the great Yarn Festivals (e.g. Knit City, Stitches West, Red Alder, etc.) reopen. Easy. I can still buy needles. I can still buy stitch holders. I can buy a little bit of yarn for my do-at-the-festival project. But I have also made up a handy extra rule, which mathematically rings true to me, and worked in China for babies: for every 2 skeins I use up from my stash, I will allow myself to purchase 1 new one to add to the stash, for exceptional circumstances. With that rule, it has to go down, there's no way around it. I'm going to keep track, and there's no going over.

But first, with all that unnecessary yarn about (the ones that made me go "ugh"), I packed 'em into my car and took them to my knitting group in stages, twice a week, and simply Gave the Skeins away. Box after box (I store them in boxes, with hypothetical suitable projects scribbled on a scrap of paper inside: you can glimpse "diamond scarf" on the box two down at left):

And it's been absolutely lovely seeing them go to good new homes. Imagine, the yarn I thought I was burying for myself turned out to be yarn I was buying as gifts! Nothing wrong with that. Some of the ladies thought it would be nice to give donations to charity to mark the occasion, so I've gathered the money and put it toward First Books Canada which gives books to poor children.

Even better than seeing the joy in a little one's face as they get their free yarn (some of the ladies are short-statured) is the joy in my face seeing the yarn actually get knit up. I'm like a proud parent, who sent their yarn into the world, and the yarns' making something of themselves. They're turning into socks and shawls and scarves and cowls, and it's wonderful.

Best of all, there's no better way to realise which yarn you're actually attached to than to give it away. Most of the time my mood is "please, take it," but when suddenly I recognize the emotion of "no, not that one! Never that one!" I know I must take the skein back. (I only allow myself this exception once per day, and I've only acted on it twice.) So that's dozens of boxes worth of yarn distributed, and only two boxes held back—not bad!

What did I end up keeping?

  1. I've kept yarn that I really do love, and really will knit, once I find the absolute right project for it.

  2. Yarn that's almost too special to knit (except it's not).

  3. Yarn that's for projects I really, really want to do, but the project is a bit of a bear, and I need to finish my current ongoing giant project first (which would be the Persian Dreams Hexagonal Blanket—I'm more than halfway).

  4. Workhorse utility yarn: a bin of Cascade 220 in various hues, and a bin of Knitpicks Cotlin, and Knitpicks Dishie, again in various hues, for all those dishcloths.

Everything else went. And I learned a few things about myself: I've changed since I started knitting. I have a better sense of what projects I'll enjoy: quick things (hats, dishcloths), and Very Long Things (bedspreads) of which I can only have one at a time. Medium things like vest, sweaters, shawls? Not my thing. (Although I will knit a few vests because I like wearing them).

I kept this yarn, and put it in a special box. I might never actually knit it, but the packaging was so pretty:

(It's not a normal-sized Noro, either, it's 7oz of Tsubame, the size of a large pineapple). I'm learning Japanese, incidently, and Tsubame (燕) means Swallow. Pretty!)

With luck, I won't actually spend $159 on yarn each month, but I love the realisation that for $159 I could either save old unwanted yarn forever, or get new exciting yarn all the time, and that one situation is clearly preferable to the other. Funny how it sometimes takes drastic action to realise the obvious!

In other News

Bit thumbs' up to the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: the Story of Fire Saga, a Will Ferrell / Rachel McAdams comedy featuring the most Knitwear I've ever seen in a film (about half the scenes are set in Iceland). I kept pausing to ogle. Thank you, costume designer Anna B. Sheppard.

Off the Needles

  • Sailor's Rib Stitch Washcloth

  • Sunflower Power Dishcloth

  • Family Time Dishcloth

  • Oroton inspired Waffle Washer/Dishcloth

  • Basket Weave Dishcloth

  • Finnley's Hat

  • Broken Lacy Diamonds Washcloth

  • Autumn Leaves

  • Dishcloth Mosaic #37

  • Diagonal Ribbed Dishcloth

  • Konifere Dishcloth

  • Hive Mind Cloth

  • Diagonally Twisted DIshcloth

On the Needles (and actively being worked on):

  • Into Trees hat (round 50)

  • Fish Lips Kiss Heel self-striping socks (two at a time, and I'm an inch from

  • the final toe decreases!)

  • Genghis Khan Scarf (still near the beginning)

  • Persian Dreams Blanket (round 36 of Hexagon 14)

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