Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stash Toss (and some old photos)

After getting through all the post-Tour de Fleece spinning, I realized that my stash had kind of grown in an odd way. I didn't anticipate it, but in retrospect I probably should have seen this coming. The growth necessitated some repotting, splitting what had become one huge plant into several smaller, more organized and easily tendable specimens. But in doing all this gardening-type work, I discovered is that the root structure of my stash is drastically different from what it looked like two years ago, let alone five years ago.

I first started knitting while in college (and thus while perpetually broke). A stash was not a luxury I could afford, and it wasn't until I started making projects that produced leftovers of more than a yard that my stash began. But even so, when I moved out of my college dorm room for the last time, my stash fit into one large wicker basket, along with all my needles and swatches and my drop spindle.

Grad school was a sort of back-and-forth with the stash. I starved it periodically, but thanks to my new teaching assistant income I was able to buy yarn for projects that would not go on the needles immediately. Here's a few pictures summing up my stash as of August '07, at the start of my final semester of grad school:

My stash & leftovers

This is the main stash, and the basket it all lived in (sorry for the blurry picture, this was also my first foray into digital photography). It's still about 85% leftovers, along with these two little stashlets:

Mitered square project bag

The ever-present mitered squares blanket stash. At this stage, I had about half the yarn and maybe a quarter of the squared knit.

My handspun basket

And finally, my handspun stash. All four skeins of it, all done on drop spindles. The pink skein was actually also leftovers (I'll never know why I didn't just knit a longer scarf that time).

Having a real (i.e., non-student) income was what finally did it. I had real money to spend, and spend it I certainly did. My stash outgrew the basket, even after I moved all my knitting tools to another part of the apartment. The stash wasn't changing though, not really. It was just budding, sprouting little paper shopping bags with a sweater's worth or a few skeins of sock yarn. But I had begun to buy yarn with no project in mind or even a tentative idea of when I'd get around to knitting it. I managed to snag one of Mrs. B's fabulous Taste of Germany yarn packages. But it was still all yarn, and it mostly ended up in the same little stashlet bags, next to the big basket in the closet. Six months after I took those stash photos, everything changed.

My Stitches West 2008 haul

With the arrival of my wheel (and subsequent ability to eat through spinning stash about a kajillion times faster than on my drop spindle), the stash began to evolve. It found a new light source, and started to move its tendril-y bits in the direction of that source. I should have seen it coming, because about a year ago I reorganized the living room so I could have a dedicated spinning corner, surrounded by my books, tools, fiber, and handspun yarn. Last week, I dug everything out for an overhaul and realized that my handspun stash now rivals what I used to think of as the "main" stash, the yarn in the basket. I don't have any pictures because it was a little embarrassing, but you can just about double the stash in the previous photos for the yarn & blanket bags, and then add one basket's worth of handspun as well. I have enough handspun to separate it into categories (dyer, project, leftovers vs. fresh)! I guess this was just another way for the universe to remind me of the law of stash conservation:

Spinning does not use up stash, it merely changes fiber stash into yarn stash.

13 out of my last 15 projects have been of handspun. What I'm curious about is whether I'm thick or if this is normal, the way the stash snuck up on me. Has anyone else (spinners or not) experienced a dramatic shift in their crafting habits, and not noticed until 18 months later? Inquiring minds would love to know.