Friday, September 12, 2014

top 5 ways to de-stash like a champ!

What to do with it all? Photo by The Bees via Flickr
You know who you are. You have a whole closet full of UFO's, impulse yarn buys and random leftovers that you can't even look at anymore.

Once upon a time you made an impressive effort to organize it all. You've tried big plastic bins, country-cute labeled baskets, one of those over-the-door shoe storage thingies, and a complicated system of shelving, ropes and pulleys you saw once in Real Simple magazine. But somewhere along the way, despite your best intentions, the system was overwhelmed. Now that once-gleaming organization system is nothing more than a wooly-ass pile of fiber clutter you shudder to contemplate.

So you want to regain your status as a responsible member of your household again. Some de-stashing is in order.  But where to start?? As an on-again off-again re-organizer, I say with all sincerity that I feel your pain. As a gesture of solidarity, please accept these 5 handy tips to help you down-size the yarn population of your dwelling:

1. Make a pledge to use what you have before you buy more. 

As someone who has gone through the belt-tightening purchasing restrictions of home-buying and multiple child-bearing in quick succession in recent years, I can attest to the character-building necessity of this pledge. You might need to join a support group. You might need a motivating factor, such as "no new yarn purchases until I pay off all credit card debt" or some other fiscal landmark worth striving for. Creating specific exemptions - I can only buy certified organic yarn, only on Tuesdays, only if I run 5 miles this week - might help you survive if it's a long-term commitment.

2. Make friends with the Ravelry Pattern Browser

Still don't know what to do with those 3 skeins of luscious yarn you bought on vacation five years ago? It's time to decide. Choose the filters that match your yarn purchase and see what you get! Be sure to tick a few important boxes to help you narrow your search:
  • 4 stars / 5 stars ratings only
  • Free patterns (or not!)
  • Has photo
  • Knitting OR Crochet project
  • Yarn weight, yardage and fiber
  • Level of difficulty
Then try something new! Let the pattern browser suggest some truly wonderful projects that you'd never have gone looking for yourself. It's a great way to not only use up stash yarn, but stretch your knitting wings a little, too.

3. Use up those yarn ends!

Why do we save those little balls of almost-finished yarn? Half-a-skein this and two-thirds-a-skein that. Because we don't want good yarn to go to waste. So what is it doing sitting there in your closet going to waste? Here are a few of my favorite patterns that use up those twiddly bits (they make such great gifts!):

Accessorize! Pretty Twisted by Cat Wong is my favorite for sock yarn leftovers. I've made oodles of these funky cuffs as gifts - and they're a great way to show off your vintage button collection.

Make yourself some hair accessories! Knit up an It's a Cinch headband (Elisa McLaughlin) or a versatile Wishbraid headband/bracelet/baby topper (Erika Neitzke) to wrap your crowning glory in the remainder of the most gorgeous yarn you've got in your stash.

For almost any leftover yarn, make some Anything Animals by Rachel Borello Carroll. They're adorable in color-coordinated groups.

Little Birds by Katie Startzman use a tiny amount of worsted-weight yarn, and make a lovely bit of new decor for your mantel or bookshelf.

4. Doll clothes

If there's a little one in your life, you could hardly do better than to make up a few sweaters, hats and booties for her/his favorite dolls. Teddy bears, Barbies, even action figures get chilly in cool weather and need a wooly new garment once in a while. Here's my doll dress pattern, but you can find many more by choosing the "doll" filter (find under Age/Size) in that handy-dandy Ravelry Pattern Browser.

5. Do-Gooder Knitting

Your local animal shelter would love a Jingle Mouse (Dooley and Spud) or Felted Kitty Bed (Wendy D. Johnson) for those sweet homeless loveys. And you know your closest hospital could always use more hand-made Preemie Hats (Carissa Browning) and Baby's First Blankets (by Lyn). Even injured baby birds and bunnies love hand knits. Check out Bev's Wildlife Rescue Nests project for some very snuggly sweet inspiration.

Ready to start the de-stashing? Don't forget to take a picture of the carnage first - and do share!

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