For example, this merino-tencel blend (Ashland Bay from. . . like. . . a million years ago) is now about half spun. I think I have about 6 ounces of it left from a project where I spun it up for someone else. I've spun about 2 oz. of the 6 so far.
This project has even inspired a little creative pondering! I may attempt to add some applique or other embellishment. The fabric is great and the color lends itself to being treated like a canvas. We shall see. I haven't decided yet. Anyway. . .
I thought about how much I enjoy my stash while I balled up the skein. I guess it might be similar to how an artist feels about having a variety of paints and canvases available. Not that I consider myself an artist, but as my pal Tammy says "you have to have the supplies handy when you know that creating things is a regular occurrence!" I've never ever been a person who has felt guilty about having a yarn/ fiber stash, and this is pretty much the reason. Tammy just vocalizes things so well!
But. . .(there's always a 'but' isn't there?) a conversation we had a Knit Night last night did get me thinking a little more reflectively about my stash --especially in light of the Madrona Fiber Arts gathering ( a major learning and stash building opportunity) coming up in a couple of weeks. As I dug through my baskets, cedar chest, and boxes of lovelies I wondered. . .am I a stash maximizer, or a stash optimizer?
MAXIMIZERS would be people (in my mind) who likes to acquire yarn and fiber because of what people are using, what's trending, etc. Maybe there is a project in mind, maybe not; they've just heard the yarn is really nice to work with. Or because they like using what all their friends are using. Or they just like to collect a particular kind of yarn because they really like it. Kind of a 'get it while it's available' thing. OPTIMIZERS would be people who purchase yarns/ fibers with the idea that there is something new they would like to try (fiber breed or type, indie dyer, color theme, technique) and the goal is to create a diverse or versatile stash. Or maybe that isn't a stated goal, but that is what ends up happening. Most people are probably a little bit of both, with a leaning toward one or the other.
I think I lean toward being an optimizer. I don't often buy yarn or fiber because it's being talked about or showing up a lot on blogs or Ravelry. I've actually tried to shop that way and just can't. It is stressful and overly competitive to me. Once in a while I will succumb to a trend, but not often, and the yarn/ fiber is usually one that is noted for some sort of effect that sounds fun to try. When I succumb to a project trend, it's usually because there is a social benefit to it for me (group camaraderie, meeting new people, etc.) and I like it. When I was teaching hand spinning, I would buy fibers that were trending because I felt like I should know something about them if a student asked, but I guess that isn't the same thing as collecting. Things done for professional development probably don't count in either category.
Are any of you MINIMIZERS where you only buy yarn/ fiber per project and don't have anything other than what you are currently using on hand? I don't know anyone like that, so I'm wondering how often that happens.
There is no good or bad form of stashing or reason for having a stash. I certainly have no guilt about having one or adding to it. I just find it an interesting subject to consider because I am curious as to whether or not my stashing tendencies reflect other tendencies I have in managing the objects that fill my physical space. Does my stuff own me, or do I own stuff? How much does a person need? When does stuff become clutter or a soul sucking burden? When does it inspire? What causes creative people to feel guilt about having lots of creative supplies on hand? Why do we say "I should really knit from stash," and look like we feel so sad about it?
I am also curious as to whether or not my stashing habits reflect any truths concerning my beliefs and concerns about participating in a consumption oriented economy. It's a daily battle within me between the necessity of participating in an economic system I see as extractive (heavily reliant on using resources as a means for gratifying needs and desires) and my dream of living in a life supporting economy (where income includes what you put into the system in the form of returning resources for recycling, growing and making things, etc. as well as what you consume - a version of sustainability, basically).
I would like to think of myself as someone who resists buying things just to have them, or who uses stuff to develop status, but can I honestly say that? Does having a stash of any kind make that idea invalid? I would also like to think of myself as a supporter of small businesses, and protector of the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the creation of so many good things, but do I buy enough to say that? Is there a quantifiable amount that must be spent to be a "supporter" of small businesses or is it enough that when I do make purchases, they are usually from local, non franchised places? Does my physical and financial ability to have a stash (and the fact that I do) impact my credibility as I try to be a socially sensitive and responsible person when it comes to caring for others who do not have the same ability as me to meet their basic needs, much less intrinsic ones? How do I balance enjoying the privileges I have (de facto) with the moral obligation I believe I have to decrease poverty, illiteracy, and other impediments that limit access to opportunity?
Who would have thought that digging through piles of yarn would trigger such thought? Well, I am on sabbatical this year and pondering deeply on seemingly trivial things seems to be quid pro quo with the whole process of trading time considering one thing for another. But. . .is it really trivial to examine stash or is there really more there that can teach us about ourselves?
What's your opinion?
Wishing you peace for your weekend -