How to solve a stash problem

Well, I think WordPress are beginning to sort themselves out (I love being an unofficial beta tester, not), so let’s see… I think it’s confession time.

arrrghhhhMy stash is embarrassing. This is but a part of the whole; no fluff here, no spun yarn, no fleeces. And there’s even a substantial amount of actual yarn missing too – I tend to forget about what’s behind the sofa. So it’s worse than embarrassing, especially if you add my fabric stash. Eek! This came home to me yesterday; a friend is coming to stay (hiya!) and help me process a fleece, and I had to tell her that the spare room is, er, full. So I have committed myself to ensuring that it is significantly less full by mid-June. OK? OK? (I hope my stash is listening.) Radical action is needed.

Realistically, there’s some stuff in here I am not going to use, and there’s some which – on close examination – proved to be unusable. Charity shop for the 2kg of extra-fine cotton in a sludge colour that flatters no one, for instance, and bin for the rotten Yarnworks tweed I bought in another charity shop. (I must stop buying yarn in charity shops without testing it first. Um – I must stop buying yarn in charity shops. Or, indeed, anywhere.*)

IMG_7541I’ve been knitting up for a few months now, and I’m quite please with what I’ve managed  to use, bearing in mind that I have persistent hand problems. There’s a giant cardigan from a Norah Gaughan pattern, knitted in a whole heap of DK tweed, used double. That ate a lot of stash. And it’s lovely; I’ve been wearing it today as it suddenly got chilly.

I’ve made some fingerless gloves, but that didn’t diminish my stash of single skeins much. Predictably, I suppose. And I don’t knit socks (don’t get me going on why, I just don’t).

IMG_6993Better for the single skeins has been my ‘Hitchhiker’ production line, though I think I would now rather cut off my hands than knit another Hitchhiker. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely pattern and a really useful shawlette cum scarf, but by lord it is boring to knit. And I love garter stitch, too. I’ve got one on the needles right now but I feel the Void opening beneath me as I look at it. Guess it will get finished at some time. But I’m glad I knocked this one off; silk and baby camel. Yum.

Possibly the oldest item in my stash was a giant heap of purple mohair, bought on York market when I was a student even though I couldn’t knit at the time. I know, I know. But note the past tense: was. Because I’ve used it.

Um. This is confession time, after all. I’ve used a lot of it, not all of it – when I say ‘giant heap’ I mean ‘giant heap’. But I have used a significant amount. And I have the most gorgeous, warm, snuggly throw to show for it:


It’s done with some bits and pieces of Colinette Giotto and some scraps of their Wigwam yarn, as well as some odd ends of a similar Louisa Harding cotton tape.

detail throwAs well, of course, as an unfeasibly large amount of purple mohair. And there’s more left, so another throw is going to happen. (Yes, there’s more Colinette, just in different colours. Son of Throw will incorporate shades of gold.) I love the contrasts in textures as well. And it’s a simple pattern – I did a border of K3 at the start and end of every row, then it’s simply yo, K4, sl 1, K2tog, psso, K4, yo, K1, repeat until your arm falls off, last repeat ends K3 instead of K1. Wrong side is just K3, p to last 3 sts, K3.

Of course, it does leave you with a vast number of ends to be woven in, but one of our Guild members showed me a trick, and I’ve now bought my own rug-making latch hook. Brilliant!

So what’s next?

alpacaWell, I’m actually using up some handspun, and making a cushion. Then there’s another shawl (you can never have too many shawls). About five Wonderwools ago I bought some naturally coloured 4-ply alpaca. I can’t manage 4-ply with my hands, so I’m going to double it up and knit a lovely shawl from the current edition of Interweave; I should have just enough, I hope, and it’s as soft as a dream. Shouldn’t take too long to knit.

Er, when I’ve finished my stash-busting stripy cardi. Honestly – my next resolution really should be not to have so many WiPs (works in progress), but I’ve a valid excuse for that. It helps my hands if I vary the thickness of the needles I use. No, really.

As for the rest, well this is what I say to those who criticise my stash** now:

ever the lady

I’m afraid that is indeed me (my Dad was a photography nut, but could only develop black and white in the kitchen). Always and ever the lady.

*I did it. The Red Cross Shop in Porthmadog had a huge quantity of pure wool Jaeger yarn in bins – brown, fawn, rose pink, blue, teal, cream. All apparently sound. And I walked away!

** Otherwise I will ‘mention’ stashes of wood which might come in handy. Not to mention motorbikes, dead and alive. And their parts. Everyone has a stash of something. I also do bowls (why?) and lipstick (looking for the perfect red, honest).


16 thoughts on “How to solve a stash problem

  1. Jan Marriott

    you walked away???? unbelievable
    Its a good thing I do not live in England ( though my daughter lives in Yorkshire) as I would be buying up your charity shop deposits. .

    1. kate Post author

      Believe me, they’re not worth having… if they were, I’m sure I’d have made them into something by now… maybe… possibly…

  2. caityrosey

    Good for you. Sounds like you’re making a very valiant effort to use up your stash. I hope you and your friend have a good time processing fleece.

    1. kate Post author

      I don’t seem to be getting very far when I spread it all out though. And there’s Wonderwool Wales at the end of the month.

      (I’ve just found two cones of lime green cotton under some cushions. This is getting silly…)

  3. Elaine

    You’ve encouraged me to do some stash busting/donating!! However, the more I spin the more the yarn builds up and this doesn’t include commercial yarn already purchased. I need to make some large blankets too!!

    1. kate Post author

      The spinning is a killer. Been wondering about getting a loom as I think that might use some up (but, despite being taught to weave at school, I am a rubbish weaver)… Blankets will have to do for the mo, go girl!

  4. croftgarden

    Apart from the logistics of sharing a house with the yarn mountain, I see no problem if you can turn it into such wonderful items. The cardi looked wonderful ,but the green shawl thing – love at first sight! Is it really possible to knit something so stunning?

    1. kate Post author

      It also adds insulation!

      The shawl thing is so easy – if you can knit, cast on, cast off and increase you can knit it (the loveliness is down to the yarn, I think – dyed by a friend). The patterns’s called Hitchhiker and you can buy it here (really cheap). I’ve made it a lot – good TV knitting. I’m a sucker for green.

        1. kate Post author

          I’m a green fan too, and I don’t care. It’s an ideal project for a single skein of something fab, really shows off colour variation…

  5. thenewstreet

    Brilliant post! My stash is beginning to creep out from under the spare room bed, but my time is rather consumed by a nearly ten month old… Nap times are about long enough to get a mountain of washing on the line, but not for much stash-busting!

    1. kate Post author

      Thank you! Ah yes, you have a valid excuse for not diminishing your stash. That’s how it starts, with the valid excuses, then the next thing you know it’s X years later and you can’t get in the door and some of it is so old it falls apart. Just saying. Hee hee…

  6. Laura

    I love stash, although when I started knitting, I was also the type to finish one project before starting another. (The concept of WIPs was beyond confusing.) I now have one closet just for craft (needle felting, spinning, knitting, weaving and sewing) and all the related stuff has to fit in there, as opposed to being shoved under various beds, and behind various couches (with you there!). I’m on a small scale with most of it, obviously, because it Has To Fit In The Closet!

    1. kate Post author

      I know, I did that: nothing went on the needles unless the previous project was finished (those were the glory days, when I hadn’t yet wrecked my hands and could knit a lace cardigan in three evenings, four at the most). Were we mad? Or a bit OCD?

      I like the idea of stuff having to fit The Closet. Unfortunately I’ve already blown that one, though I dream of being able to achieve it.


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