No more diets, please
These skeins are probably overweight
Every now and then I browse the forums on Ravelry, and in almost every group one topic emerges every few weeks like the full moon over our village: the stash diet. Knitters all around the globe seem to suffer from the perception that they own too much wool, and that this is a bad thing, and that they should own less. On Ravelry, they tend to make promises to each other to only knit from their stash in order to make it smaller, and not order any new yarn until they have knit up at least six kilos or so from their current stash. May it be industrially dyed superwash-acrylic in a hideous color or some art yarn that someone gave to them but they never really liked. Those poor souls knit with this because they feel they must, because they feel they ought to purge and suffer as they have previously sinned by buying too much yarn that is taking up too much space in the house.
Well. I am no friend of dieting, neither in the nutritional nor in the knitterly way, I think its entirely unnecessary suffering, and it does not do any good. In food, my credo is: Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you feel full. A big choice of good fresh food in my fridge, my husband’s cooking and eating what my appetite tells me are essential for this. I would never eat something because it’s there or because I spent money on it if it does not taste good. In my view, it’s absolutely okay to throw out food if it is bad and nobody likes it. For example, if my kids come back from a birthday party with a bag full of artificially colored, chemically flavored sweets, I make sure they find their way to the garbage bin. Eating that stuff is not healthy, and contrary to popular belief, throwing it out does not increase hunger on this planet. Is it okay to buy some nuts and chocolate (which I love!) on the next day? I would say: yes.
Yarn cakes won’t make you fat…
Food is here to make us function, and to make us happy. Almost the same goes for a knitters stash: There are the staples, like sock yarn. Knitting a sock whenever we feel like it is just like having bread or potatoes in the house. It’s essential, it’s good, it’s necessary and never wrong. There are the silk and lace skeins, maybe some cashmere or yak, which are like exotic fruit and make things sweet and interesting. And just like you have a big turkey or a whole roast beef in your freezer, there are sweater quantities of yarn in the stash closet. Would you ever say: “I need to cook that turkey before I am allowed to buy more apples”? Of course not. A well-rounded stash is a knitter’s source of creativity, something she can rely on to bring her through good and bad times. Having a big stash is like a promise that you will spend time knitting with it, spending time on yourself.
Sometimes people say that their stash is taking up too much space, that husbands and children complain, and that they need to cut back. This might be a valid point in some cases, but I feel that women tend to be very shy about claiming space for themselves and the things they love. How much space does everyone else’s hobby take up? His motorcycle in the garage? The cage for the guinea pigs? The guitar collection? It’s okay to take up space. It’s okay to have things we like. It’s good to be present and to show who we are in our own homes.
What I do understand though is when a knitter feels overwhelmed by her stash and has herself (without nagging by others!) come to the conclusion that some wool has to go. Then, by all means: Reduce your stash. Get rid of the acrylics and the colors that do not suit you, let go of the lace and the silk if you do not like to knit with it, give away the woolen-spun bulky yarn that you find scratchy. But don’t knit with it. Don’t force yourself to knit with yarn you do not like. There are lots of things you can do with unwanted yarn: Give to kindergartens and schools for crafty projects, give to old people’s homes, give to your niece who has just learned to crochet or to your mother-in-law who does not care what yarn she uses anyway. Sell things to fellow knitters, or wrap up some skeins as gifts. But do not force yourself to knit with yarn that does not speak to you anymore.
Knitting is here to make you happy, and to be enjoyed. Knit what your appetite tells you. Stop when you feel you are done. Buy what you love, put it in your stash and knit with it when the time comes.