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Many people who have crafty hobbies have a stash. It’s a stash of raw materials, or queued projects, or things that were priced too good to ignore, or the remains of someone else’s stash.
Left alone, the craft stash can grow to unbelievable proportions.
A former coworker, faced with the sudden death of his mother, asked me how he could get rid of what turned out to be several miles worth of fabric. Vivian, a friend who recently moved, had four boxes of yarn that we went through. My own yarn stash occupies a good chunk of my guest room closet, and my patterns a full filing cabinet drawer.
With a bit of help and a system, craft stashes can be brought back into manageable sizes. Here is how I purged my own, and helped a friend purge hers.
Find A Partner
Don’t venture into the stash alone.
The hardest part about sorting a stash is that you will justify it to yourself. It is best to have an impartial judge. The partner is there to ask “why” and “what” over and over again, and to call you on answers that are less than satisfactory.
When I went through my stash, my daughter helped. I played the role when my friend unpacker hers.
When I helped my friend unpack, I would ask questions like “are you really going to use that?” and “if it’s itchy, why make something else?” My daughter would say things like “do you really need another scarf?” and “but you have 5 balls of that yarn over there and you don’t have any plans for it.”
Pair With Projects
As you are going through the stash, make groupings of materials. If they are designated for a particular project, make note of it. This will save you using them for other projects, or wondering what they were for.
For instance, my yarn for projects is put together in bags, along with a copy of the pattern. When I look in the stash, I can now pull out a bag and know exactly what it is for, without guessing.
One of the saddest things I see in my stash is several balls of expensive yarn, sitting together, and I have no idea what they were intended for.
Often we do not use up all the supplies with a project and are then left with leftover material. While this might be useful in another project, try not to save things for later, or at least not large quantities.
After my last afghan, I had skeins of yarn left over (the project quantities were listed at about 30% more than what was needed). While it is nice to keep a small amount of yarn for repairs, I really don’t need to keep all of it, since I won’t do a large project from it.
Buy Only For A Project
When buying materials, make sure you have a project on hand. This will save you buying discounted materials that may not be useful later.
My husband found this out when stocking up on materials for his model trains. They had a bottle of chemicals used to make “water” on the layouts. He didn’t need it, and by the time he did need it, he realized it wasn’t enough to make what he wanted, and he couldn’t mix it with another brand.
Limit To A Certain Number
Even with the above measures, stashes can still grow. My friend Vivian is better at this than I am; she won’t buy material for projects when she has a few in line. My current project queue is at 6. I need to get that down to 2 or three.
By limiting the number of projects for which you have materials on hand, you can limit your stash size.
Get It Out Of The House
Once you’ve done the purge, it is important to get the purged materials out of the house. If you leave it in the house, you might be tempted to go through it one more time. Don’t do it.
Yarn can be donated to charities like Project Linus. Fabric can be given to those who make quilts for the homeless. Other materials can be given away by Freecycle.
Do you have a supply stash? How do you keep it under control? Or will you apply the techniques above to get it under control? Share below.
Photo by LollyKnit