What I learned from my year of destashing


Posted on September 28, 2017

It occurs to me that I committed to a destashing challenge last year but I never assessed how it went! I love setting goals for myself, but (in my opinion) there’s no point in setting goals if you don’t follow up to see whether you met them or not. So that’s the plan for today.

The first thing I noticed is that the goal I set—to knit only from my stash—may not have been the right one. What I really wanted was to stop buying new yarn so that I could focus on knitting the yarn I already had; to favor the experience of knitting over the experience of acquiring. But I’m also a firm believer that goals should be quantifiable (you can much more objectively assess your progress toward a goal like “Lose 10 pounds” than toward fuzzy goals like “Lose weight” or “Get healthier”). The way I quantified my goal was to set limits on what I was knitting. But in hindsight, knitting only from my stash doesn’t really preclude me from buying a bunch of pretty yarn and just stashing it and not knitting with it. Which is kind of the behavior I was trying to curtail in the first place, right? My problem isn’t that I buy new yarn and use it right away; my problem is that I buy yarn that I don’t immediately knit with, and then it just sits around and accumulates.

Yarn stash
Remember these pretties from last year? Yeah, I still haven’t knit any of them.

Interestingly, the goal I actually tracked progress toward during the year was yardage in vs. yardage out: to end the year with fewer yards of yarn than I started with. One could argue that this goal is somewhat problematic, since 1000 yards of aran weight is quite different than 1000 yards of laceweight; but you gotta start somewhere, and I joined this great stashbusting group that maintains a spreadsheet where you can track quarterly yardage in/out, so that’s what I did. I think this method ultimately gets me closer to what I wanted, since knitting more and buying less both contribute to this goal.

In the first half of the year I was killing it. I traded or gave away over 2700 yards of yarn that I didn’t really like, and knit up 2600 more yards, including a sweater. I acquired a few skeins of sock yarn as souvenirs at Stitches West (OMG THAT MARKETPLACE IS AMAZING) and the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, but I was still solidly net negative in yardage. Then over the summer I had some crafting angst—it seemed like everything I was working on became challenging and frustrating—and I retreated into the safety of some mindless crochet. For which I purchased 2100 yards of crochet thread. It’s tempting to tell myself that didn’t count, since it’s only three balls and they take up so little space; but whatever. I bought them.

Knit Picks Curio crochet thread
Knit Picks Curio crochet thread

Then in Q4 I just got splurge-y, buying some Tolt Washington Targhee (“It was limited edition!”), 1250 yards of sock yarn that I still haven’t knit up (“They were donating a percentage to Standing Rock!”), and winning a 2000 yard gradient kit during the #knitterspayitforward wave of giveaways after the presidential election. (That one I don’t regret at all. It felt so good, at a time when many of us needed something to feel good about.)

Tolt limited edition Washington Targhee yarn
This Targhee yarn is soooo buttery and squooshy. (Have I knit with it yet? No.)

So, all told: 6500 yds out, 9500 yds in, for a net gain of 3000 yds in 2016. Sigh. Of the 13 projects I completed, 9 were knit from stash (yarn I’d owned at the beginning of the year). I guess that’s not a home run, but it’s at least second base, right?

And did I learn anything? Well, that it’s harder than it looks. I learned that sometimes it feels good just to knit some random thing (to use up yarn) even if I don’t immediately know who or what it’s for. It’s hard to be super emotionally invested in the outcome of every project, especially when they go wrong. I definitely strengthened my “resisting temptation” muscles. And I think that destashing is an ongoing skill/mindset one can build, not just a one-time event. So I’ll continue to look for ways to incorporate it into my life.



No comments yet

Leave a Comment