Wool and willpower. Or a lack of the latter.

January is sale time. April is Wonderwool Wales. May is shearing (in some places). So I have three major flashpoints when it comes to the augmentation of my stash, and I’ve just fallen horribly at the first hurdle. Well, sort of.

I took two positions towards the sale at Knit One in Dolgellau, where I also help out one day a week. One was the hardline approach – I was not buying anything. Nothing. Not a single skein. (Adopt statue-like position, indicative of high moral stance, rather like something from Parliament Square.) The second was more realistic. Give in.

Guess which won out?

Four things got bought: some blue Louisa Harding chenille for a scarf, a couple of skeins of Noro for another one, and enough for two garments: some of Debbie Bliss’ Bella (cotton/silk/cashmere) for a sweater, and some more Louisa Harding, a cotton yarn called Ondine in two colourways, for a summer cardigan with contrast trim; my old one needs a decent burial. I think that’s allowed. Hm. (And let’s not look at the definition of ‘things’ there too closely – in actual fact, there were 33 separate skeins or balls, aka ‘things’.)

This raised the whole issue of my stash. I’ve got the Large Laundry Basket of Doom (think the Tardis, in that it holds a whole lot more than appears possible from the outside), a bag on the bed in the spare room, a couple of baskets in the main room downstairs and – oh, yes, a couple of carriers behind the sofa. Cough.

It was time to get it all out and do some serious assessment. Plus, and this was possibly a bit late given that I’d already been to Knit One, doing so might work as aversion therapy. I’ve tried it in the past, but I’ve not been systematic, and Ravelry allow you to record your stash. Since I am hardly ever separated from my iPad, I thought I might be able to use the stash pages to help me be sensible. Ok, Ok, I know, stable door, lock, horse, bolt.

What a fascinating exercise. I got everything out, triaged it and sorted some unsatisfactory stuff for a charity shop, then threw out some useless bits (saving these is an indirectly inherited tendency: after my step-grandma died, we found a brown paper bag labelled ‘string, pieces too short to be useful’). Then I photographed the lot and uploaded it to Ravelry. And it wasn’t half as bad as I thought, either, even if there were a lot of single skeins. Plus I found some things I’d almost forgotten about, possibly due to trauma:


This is angora, bought at Wonderwool Wales a million years ago. I was knitting in this when I mangled my hands and had to set it aside; when I recovered I couldn’t find or recreate the complicated pattern so had to frog it. I began it again, then put it aside for some reason. It’s a big shawl / stole / thing and won’t bear frogging again, so I must finish it, and I will.

The same year I also bought this:


It’s natural alpaca, and it’s 4 ply – I must have set it aside because I couldn’t manage small needles, and there isn’t enough to make anything other than a shawl or scarf if it’s doubled up (did I mention the number of single skeins/potential scarves?). It was lurking beneath the bags of odd bits, and I must use it – it’s unbelievably soft.

The whole exercise revealed that I’ve actually used quite a bit recently, and I’m left with one really good result: there is only enough wool (not cotton, or blends based on cotton) for a couple of garments.

When I started spinning, I knew that my stash would increase enormously because everyone, but everyone, warned me about it. I also knew that I wanted to spin wool, preferably local wool. As a result, I’ve evidently been unconsciously running down the quantity of commercially-spun wool in my stash, using it up. Definitely a result. And not an excuse… honest.

(And if you’re on Ravelry too and haven’t used the stash page on your profile, like me, then give it a go. Really, really worth it.)


18 thoughts on “Wool and willpower. Or a lack of the latter.

  1. Sue

    Oh, how this post resonates! I use the stash function on Rav, and love it beyond reason. That said, and despite being able to see very clearly what I have, and that I am never going to love long enough to knit it all, I still can’t resist buying more when the opportunity presents. Which leads me on to my other comment: I succumbed at Knit One when I was there, and didn’t have sale prices as an excuse. Although I was on holiday, and we all know holiday yarn and calories don’t count … do they? Are we both semi-professional yarn acquirers?

    1. kate Post author

      I can’t think why I’ve never used it before – it’s great, beats my crappy old notebook which I keep losing (er, until Rav has some sort of disaster, fingers crossed).

      Knit One is far too tempting – so small, and so much loveliness crammed into it. But they’re not holiday yarn for me, so I can’t comfort myself with that excuse. Happily my year of tough hand exercises seems to be working and I’m almost up to speed on the knitting front, but that is not an excuse to buy more. THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO BUY MORE…. Help!

  2. Elaine

    I’m a real sucker for Noro too!! All of the yarn you show is quite lovely, especially the green. We can always use another little scarf thingy because of the “chill in the air”.
    Spinning stash does present a problem of its own–no matter how fast I knit commercial yarn the Handspun overtakes it!! I worked in a yarn store for 10 years–but only one day a week. Very dangerous!!

    1. kate Post author

      I think we probably need to start a Noro addicts support group, because it’s not the cheapest yarn on the planet (I’m knitting a cardigan in Silk Garden Lite at present, and it is YUMMY). We need help. (And, of course, Kogarashi – got my eye on t—- no, I haven’t. NO!)

      I’m a newbie in the ‘helping in a wool shop’ stakes, but it’s already made a significant difference. Oh dear…

      1. Elaine

        LittleKnits.com advertises that they have the best prices on Noro. They are in the Western US. Also Love Knitting.com (London) has amazing sales sometimes on Noro with no shipping fee. Then there’s Knitting Fever over in NY State. She is the US distributor (I think) for Noro. She always has a LARGE bin of discontinued colors of Noro (plus Araucania) at the Stitches shows in the US. You should see the ladies digging in that bin!!! I’ve been spotted doing that too.

        1. kate Post author

          This is best described as feeding my habit!

          I have made a deep and solemn vow not to buy anything more at all in the yarn lines – and that includes fleeces and fluff – until I have used at least four things from the stash. (And I don’t mean ‘things’ as individual balls, here – I mean complete stashed collections. This is going to be tough, but it needs doing.)

    1. kate Post author

      Good luck – it’s amazing what you find down there. I began to think that the Holy Grail and the One Ring were possibilities…

  3. thetinfoilhatsociety

    I currently have two Hitofude cardigans on the needles, both of alpaca. You might try that pattern for your alpaca, it’s knit on American size 4 (3.5mm??) needles. It goes pretty quickly. My alpaca is local hand spun though, not commercial. I agree, DELICIOUSLY soft.

    1. kate Post author

      What a lovely pattern – and I might just have enough. You’ve certainly given me an idea about a lace cardigan even if I haven’t quite enough for that one, or there’s another pattern I’m thinking of, too – brilliant!!

  4. kiwiyarns

    Those are great buys. Due to moving, I also had the pleasure of reaquainting myself with some older skeins in my stash, and it’s a bit like rediscovering a new yarn all over again isn’t it! You may be relieved to know your stash is still a smallish stash. You should see mine… oh dear….

    1. kate Post author

      My stash may be smallish by some standards, but I haven’t quite got round to adding fleeces (that would mean going into the loft and an old metal trunk) or fluff. Ho hum…

      I finished a project last night – it’s going to be felted in the washing machine, so I can’t show it yet – and went to the stash. Now I’m feeling virtuous. Or I will be when I work out what I want to do next!

  5. Ecaterina

    I am in love with the blue yarn on the left!! It’s so rich and wonderufl looking. That kind of color is dangerous for me, I’d end up buying more than I should 🙂

  6. Annie

    So now is not a good time to tell you that I posted on my blog yesterday about not buying yarn … however I hedged my bets by adding a few caveats … and yes, I will be at Wonderwool.

    1. kate Post author

      I read that (tried to comment but had difficulties on the iPad, probably just as well as I felt maybe a good slapping was in order for being so determined)! I also noticed the caveats – and I’m actually trying to decide if I’m going to Wonderwool at all (adopts high moral stance). But I expect I will, probably the Sunday as I might be going with some farming friends and Saturday is changeover day on their holiday cottages…

        1. kate Post author

          I’m not buying yarn either. Seriously. Definitely. Or fluff, or fleece. But I am allowed to buy a new bobbin for my new wheel, and some of Love Patisserie’s tarts. And that’s it.

          Oh, maybe a Scotch egg too. And that IS it.

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