Stash Building: Lessons learned, so far...

[by Amanda and Venessa]

Amanda writes:

I have been thinking about this post for a while. The problem is, I don’t feel like an expert or even remotely qualified to give advice*. For about 2 years I was paid only in yarn. I know that sounds great but it begins to warp your sense of the yarn world. I quickly developed a taste for nicer yarns and that is what I chose to knit.

The problem was that I was only finding 1 or 2 hanks in my favorite brands and since I was being paid in yarn I didn't want to settle for a less than my favorite, so I would take the onsies. I thought I was building my stash. A few times I would get in there early and get a whole sweaters worth, but that was rare, mostly because I am a big girl and need a good bit of yarn for a sweater and the store didn't always stock that much yarn. I was always at the mercy at what the store decided to stock.

My stash right now is pretty, I have a lot of pretty yarn, but only one or two of a color and that doesn't really make much. I know there is a whole series of books for when you only have one skein/hank/ball, but most of those patterns are for items I don't need or care for. 

Here is my advice on building a stash:

"Amanda's Hot Mess Den-O-Yarn," © Venessa Sylvester, pen & ink and watercolor, 2015. Click on the image to enlarge. You'll miss too much if you look at it this size...

1) Don't work in exchange for yarn. You will be at the mercy of the stock on hand. Get actual money and then buy what you really want, not just what's on the shelf.

2) Get a plan when shopping at a yarn shop. I know it's nice to wander around touching and feeling yarn but without a plan that leads to impulse buying. Now you don't have to be specific with your plan, but knowing if you want to knit a sweater or a pair of socks will help.

I'd love to read comments and advice you would pass on to a newer knitter...

Venessa writes:

My stash is small, and yes, it has drawn deep sighs and a few eye rolls from Amanda*, implying it is very small indeed. Even so, I started building it the "wrong" way. I too have done work in exchange for credit for yarn, and trust me, it doesn't pay off in the end. I have little advice for a new buyer except this:

Buy at least two, unless it is sock yarn. If you want to make something a little larger, you can. Even so, Amanda's advice about having a plan is best. When you're at a festival, and/or on a limited budget like most people, this is hard to do. Buying that one beautiful skein is nice, but without a plan, it's just going to sit in the stash. That being said, here are my...

No stash shaming! if you feel guilty about your stash, click on the photo and read an interview with Bonney, who may have the world's biggest yarn stash.

No stash shaming! if you feel guilty about your stash, click on the photo and read an interview with Bonney, who may have the world's biggest yarn stash.

Venessa's Laws of Yarn

The more expensive the yarn...

  • the more reluctant you are to knit with it if you don't have a plan when you buy it.
  • the less likely you are to have enough of it to complete a project if you don't have a plan when you buy it.

The longer you keep a yarn in your stash...

  • the less likely it is to be used for your next project.

The cheaper the yarn...

  • the harder it is to entirely exhaust the supply. You will have a half of a skein of it for the rest of your life.

If you don't like it today—no matter what you paid for it...

  • you'll never like it and probably never use it.

I want to know your Laws of Yarn.


*Amanda claims she isn't qualified to give advice. This is bulls***. —Venessa

**Amanda's sighs and eye rolls are (nearly) always administered with a touch of humor and a lot of patience. I seem to be able to elicit this response from her on a regular basis.