Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Liberation, sort of

I know this post is just a justification for my enormous stash of yarn
 amassed over the 21 years as a knitter!  

Truely, over those 21 years, I have chastised myself, inventoried, organized, chastised myself again, knitted with some, gave away some, bought some more, and collected some just because I couldn't walk away and not have a little of that beauty be mine ...  AND again chastised myself for this extravagance.

I am done with all that now! 

I own yarn.

I own a lot of yarn.

I will buy yarn again.

I own yarn that will outlive me
 because I can't possibly get it all knitted up before I die.

 to paraphrase our First Lady ...
I don't really care.

I have been liberated from all that self reflection and self criticism by a simple little book called A Stash of One's Own: Knitters on Loving, Living with, and Letting Go of Yarn, An anthology edited by Clara Parkes.

The synopsis:
  • Anyone with a passion has a stash, whether it is a collection of books or enough yarn to exceed several life expectancies.  With her trademark wry, witty approach, Parkes brings together fascinating stories from all facets of stash-keeping and knitting life.  Whether the yarn stash is muse, memento, creative companion, career guide, or lifeline in tough times, the deeply engaging stories take a surprising and fascinating look at why we collect, what we cherish, and how we let go.

Yes, this is the book for me.  I think I can safely say that we are all collectors of some sort.   Some collect books, figurines, china, silverware, tools, jewelry, stamps, experiences, wine, steps (walkers with pedometers), kitchen equipment, music, games, baseball cards, travel mementoes, home canned veggies (admit it, you love seeing all those jars of canned tomatoes lined up), even beer cans!  Yes, beer cans.  During the 1970s we had a friend who had a wall display with all kinds of beer cans.  I don't think they even liked beer!

I think it is human nature to collect.

I have the actual book (not digital) in my small personal library of books.  I am the kind of person who writes in her books, uses stickers to find stuff again, dog ears pages and so on.  Some book collectors think that is a sacrilege to mar the book in anyway.  I hold a different opinion.  It shows this book was read, used, loved and important data highlighted for future reference.  It shows the book has function and value.  Isn't that what books are supposed to be?  A tool for knowledge.

Here are some quotes from this book that struck me (and my comments, of course.)

Essay: Stashers: Who the heck are we? by LelaNargi
  • "What's the largest number of skeins anyone has tucked into their Ravelry stash? You will be either glad or very sorry you asked -- regardless, the owner is doubtless someone you'd like to cozy up to.  She or he is the proud stasher of 11,839 skeins of yarn; the next stasher in line has a still impressive 11,522 skeins in his or her collection."  
  • I feel better all ready!  😁 I am no where near that level of collecting.

Isn't that beautiful yarn!
Well, let me tell you, it is a bear to knit with.
I have tried.  Now it is display/inspiration yarn!
Maybe someday I will find out exactly what it wants to be.

Essay:  Triptych by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
  • "Most of my yarn is for knitting, but some of it has a more complicated destiny as support staff: It is there to make me want to knit.  You bet I've had it for ten years, and I completely admit that it's a yarn pet.  I have no intention of every knitting it, but it's earning the real estate it takes up with how it makes me feel about knitting.  It is the textile artist's equivalent of a painting hung on the wall.  It's there to be beautiful and to help me dream of possibility."
  • This is so true.  The artistry of some fiber dyers and the technique of blending fibers to create a yarn can be truly genius by some mom-and-pop fiber vendors.  It is like going to a farmer's market and seeing the perfect tomatoes - all plump and red and without blemish - and you can almost taste them - and they wind up in your basket costing you more than the ones in the grocery store - but ... oh, so much better.  Same with yarn.  The yarn I sometimes buy costs more than what you get at Michael's or Joanne's, but it is oh so much better.  
One of three book cases!

Essay:  Fear Not by Sue Shankle
  • "I am a mental health clinician.  Let's get this out in the open right away:  I do not think having a big ol' curated stash is a problem.  Does anybody believe that Michelangelo just decided to carve the David one day and went out and bought a big slab of marble?  Heck no.  He had that thing sitting around for a long time before he even started.  Because he had to look at it, play with it, and possibly sniff it before he started work.  He planned that stuff.  That's what we artists do."
  • I so love and agree this comment.  In fact, I am contemplating a rather large crochet project right now (probably 6,000 yards of yarn) using materials from my stash - that I previously purchased for sweaters.  Loved that yarn on sight, never found the right sweaters, never had the time, but now this new project calls to me and this yarn has the potential of being perfect for the task.  (More on that project another time.)
See?  Art!
I haven't tried sniffing it yet. 😏

I haven't finished reading this book - only halfway through.  It is an easy book to pick up and put down because it is devided into essays of a few pages each.  But so far it has been worth the time, marked all up with quotes I thought meaningful to me and will remain in my library as a reminder.

What reminder?  
I am normal!!


CathieJ said...

Since dealing with my BIL's estate, I am determined not to leave too much stash of anything behind. I buy what I need, when I need it most of the time. Sometimes yarns, fabrics and patterns catch my eye and I pick them up, but only if I truly feel that I would be sorely missing out. I love looking at your yarn stash though. Isn't it a shame when a beautiful yarn turns out to be difficult to work with? That yarn is very pretty.

Marie Smith said...

My FIL always claimed his wife had so much yarn stored in the attic it provided extra insulation in their house. I cleaned out the attic. It was true.

I had books until we moved to our current house. I am selective of what I keep now and donate them to the library usually.

Retired Knitter said...

I totally agree with not leaving too much of anything behind. I currently own about 25% of what I used to own. After cleaning out the stuff of a grand mother, a mother-in-law and a mother - the amount of stuff that has crossed my hands is a little breath-taking. But when it comes to yarn - I am not so good. I did recently thin out my yarn stash - looking for stuff I didn't LOVE and gave it to Good Will - and I am knitting with a great deal of my stash, but I doubt I will ever get to the point that no new yarn is obtained. I'll leave that to my kids to sort out - and all my knitting friends will make that job easier for them with one visit and a truck! Ha!

Retired Knitter said...

Books are a slippery slope. I can buy faster than I can read. But now with the Kindle - they don't take up that much space. There is no digital equivalent with yarn ownership! hahaha!

Michelle said...

I think having what is MEANINGFUL to us – as beauty, memento, or planned project – is key. Life is too short (and cluttered) to have things sitting around we don't need or want, but beyond that, who am I to judge? Great post!

Michelle said...

Oh, and I really like your yarn art!!!

happyone said...

That's the right attitude about your yarn. Enjoy it. : )

SusieCraft said...

It can be hard to let go of the guilt, but very liberating...who knew those bright colors were there just in waiting for a wonderful project for little Eskarina?! Enjoy your yarn...!!!

Cynthia said...

i gave away my entire stash of wool yarn when I left Minnesota for the South, much of it hand spun and expensive. After two years I confess I'm back up to about 15 skeins of leftovers. Yours looks so pretty on your shelves. Mine is stashed away in the back corner of the guest room closet. I don't want to look at it because there it is and I vowed I wouldn't do this again!

Susan said...

I have tried to thin mine out multiple times, but every time I put yarn in the giveaway basket, I change my mind. I've just given up and now embrace the stash! Sounds like a great book.

Una said...

I need this book. My yarn collection is very small compared to some. But I have to close my eyes and count to ten whenever I see yarn bargains on sale.