By Amelia © September 15, 2009
Dave Daniels just finished his Summer Of Spinning ... I admit that sometimes my own stash overwhelms me, so I watched his SOS and wondered how productive it would be. I thought perhaps a year of spinning might not even be enough to blow through my own stash. But Dave, did it! spun his whole stash and more -- 16.5 pounds of fiber!
I am relieved to see what Dave did; it means there's hope for me. Sure, it might take a full year, Julie/Julia style (Amelia/Mabel kind of has a ring to it, don't you think?), of attacking the stash to really put a big dent in it. I've been doing that somewhat in a variety of ways already; teaching has been a real stash-reliever, as I've been able to repurpose all of the space-dyed medium wools for my drum carding classes -- keeping the material fee low and my students thrilled with their materials. The spindling classes have benefited from the breadth of my stash -- fine wools, medium wools, long wools, and more recently I've been diving into the finer bits of stash for cashmere and camel on the Akha.
I have found that I have so much fun spinning that my handspun yarn has outstripped my knitting needles -- so, suitably labeled and priced, it is on my table at Black Sheep and other shows. It makes me less stressed out about how to spin the yarn, to spin it simply for the joy of the spinning. I can choose to spin a soft, puffy yarn or a strong, durable yarn as the fiber or mood strikes me. Thick or fine, the entire cubby of Lincoln/Cormo or just the next 4 oz. packet.
When I want to start a new project, it's fun to go through my own private handspun yarn store to pick something fun to use next. And my mother knits too -- so she gets to shop the store when she visits, or get gifted from the handspun when I come to visit her.
Yes, having stash -- be it fiber or yarn -- aids the creativity process. The point is to find the line between creativity and overwhelm. Having been in 'overwhelm land' for some time, I am always grateful when I see a success like Dave's, or find a corner of my stash that has a focus and purpose like teaching. I look forward to my stash returning to a healthy creativity size. And then, like a nice sourdough starter, I can take from it and feed it without feeling overwhelmed.
Dave's triumph reminded me of my own goals, and of the ways I've explored in my work on them. There are great writings out there on the simple life and the frugal life, good ways to see what minimalism is in practice and then apply it to my fiber-filled life. My husband is a past secular Franciscan, and his own life is a good example of functioning minimalism; he has a bookcase full of books to feed his inner life, lovely art on the walls to inspire him, and a graceful, non-intrusive lifestyle.
Leo Babutta of Zen Habits, one of my favorite simple life blogs, has put together an e-book that I find really fascinating: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. He's right -- it could be three simple words: Eliminate the unnecessary. But we are complex creatures, and want more than that -- how do we identify the unnecessary? Do you keep the "spare" old-style light bulb because your 10 year bulbs might blow out early? (No.) Do you keep the extra t-shirt because t-shirts wear out (Yes, but it could also, if still brand new, end up being a gift for someone else in the meantime -- don't be attached to it).
So, crafters -- look at your stash. Look over your tools. Decide what you need, what your stash can be, and enjoy it.
Have you engaged in stash reduction or worked through your own stash? I'd love to hear of your accomplishments -- feel free to post a comment on the blog about your own story, or a link to your story on your own blog.
Need help destashing tools? See my posts on finding/selling used items:
Where can I find a used loom?
Where can I find a used wheel?
Where can I find a sock machine?
Need help destashing fiber? Ravelry has several destashing sale/trade groups (including a new fiber-focused one), and kbbspin.org offers free ads for fiber as well. Better yet, consider trading in your own guild, or having a "white elephant" sale/trade day. My guild does that annually, we have a lot of fun with it.
© 15 September 2009 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/