Friday, February 13, 2009


Various thoughts are coming together here to make me evaluate both my commitment to using up my stash and my incredible excitement (and sense of conquest) at purchasing a large quantity of discontinued yarn from Weaving Southwest.

Whenever I go searching through my closets and bins for yarn for projects, I'm thrilled with what I find in my stash. It's like going into a yarn store! The yarns I'm not searching for inspire so many creative ideas that I end up thoroughly distracted, sometimes aborting the idea that sent me searching in the first place. I have a treasure trove of beautiful materials, and I know I'm not the only one.

Many years ago I heard Daryl Lancaster give advice not to feel guilty when we impulsively buy a beautiful yarn, but to promise ourselves to 'design from our stash' in the future to ensure that those impulsive purchases get used. I've lived by this advice for decades. The down side of it is that is has allowed me add to my stash far faster than I can weave, knit, or spin. I'm not going to 'fess up to how many of spare bedrooms' closets are packed completely with my stash, not to mention the storage areas I've managed to squeeze into the basement. I've taken a sober inventory, and I realize I need to slow down. I thought a year of using the beautiful fibers and yarns I already own would be totally joyful anyway, not at all a burden.

In my current tapestry of Rob I am using only yarns that I can find in my stash or that my teacher Soyoo supplies. The combination of yarns I'm using on Rob's piece quite surprise me, as I would never have blended such hard yarns with such delicate ones in one weft bundle. I'm sure I'll pay the price for that when I release the tension on the loom, but I do want to begin to learn how to work with different qualities of yarn and be successful at it.

Meanwhile, during the past couple of weeks at Soyoo's studio, she has been talking about designing and building a new house on land she has in Korea. She is quite knowledgeable about Feng Shui, and she also knows a man who advises people on Feng Shui. It's his opinion that most Americans live way beyond their means, and he doesn't mean just monetarily. He believes we are a culture of people who hoard everything from paper towels to cars, to big houses filled with too much of everything. We become slaves to our hoarding and it drains our energy that should be used on better things. We have so much space which could be used so beautifully, and yet we fill it up with too many things like mega rolls of toilet paper, cans and bottles of soda and water, endless food... We buy so many supplies for the endeavors we love (in my case knitting, weaving, spinning) that a lot of creativity and joy gets killed under the weight of our possessions.

I know I'm pleasantly surprised that with Soyoo's help I can create the colors I need in the tapestry of Rob when I actually don't have the color. So why do I have to have every color? It's better anyway to create a color from a blend of others than to grab just the right color to start with, as we've all learned at some point in weaving.

I want to cut back on having things in order to have more freedom to express myself, instead of always trying to manage my stash, always looking for more storage, a better system to organize things. If I had less stuff I wouldn't be burdened with managing it.

Meanwhile, I really did need that yarn I bought yesterday! It's going to feel like Christmas morning when I open it, and there in lies my dilemma!


Life Looms Large said...

I've been thinking about this post since I first read it yesterday.

Balance. So elusive. So individual.

I'm at the start of my weaving career, so I have only about 4 bins of yarn....most with particular projects in mind for it. I do buy impulsively - on vacation or at the yarn table at my weaving guild. But so far I don't have huge stash management issues. Although, I can imagine that if I don't keep my balance between using my materials and bringing new materials home, I could end up accumulating more and more.

Where I'm out of balance is the ideas to output ratio.....I have tons of ideas, and have trouble deciding what to pursue, and trouble working through the creative process to the point of finished objects that I'm happy with.

Your post reminded me how important it is to strike a balance between input and output - whether that's yarn or ideas. How we can get smothered under the possibilities. How great it is to know when you're working on a project that it's the right project for you at that time, undertaken with the right inspiration and motivation, using the right materials, with the right supports. (As if there is just one right project, etc, ...)

Food for thought as I strive for that elusive balance!!!


PS: Thanks for the TWiNE idea for my friend who's interested in tapestry. I found info online about them and will pass it on! (Or I will join as I become more interested in tapestry!!)

OzWeaver said...


Your comments have given me quite a lot of food for thought as well!

I've been weaving for 33 years, and during that time I've heard countless weavers (myself included!) bemoan the fact that there is no way to keep up with all the ideas for things we want to weave! So many ideas, so little weaving time!

Your comment about striking a balance between ideas and what you choose to spend your time on is quite profound (especially in tapestry). I can probably only count on one hand the number of times I've had the exquisite experience of knowing that I was weaving the right project at the right time. Everything was in balance, and the end results of these projects were wonderful! It's SO elusive. But I do think we have to be mindful of that when we sort through the maelstrom of project ideas to settle on just one!

My younger son once shared a quote with me which Linus Pauling, the physicist, said: "In order to have a good idea, you must have lots of ideas." Well, that isn't a problem for weavers, but perhaps recognizing the good idea is!

Anyway, thanks so much for your comments and for giving me more to think about as I spin today....

Jane said...

What a wonderful post. We really are a nation of such conspicuous consumption and over abundance.

For the past several months, bit by bit, I've been "granny cleaning" my house. Meaning, tossing out, repurposing, recycling, or giving away any and everthing that is unnecessary or that we are no longer using. It is so liberating.

This included going through my entire stash and paring it down to only the fibers and colors that I love to work with. A couple of my friends were delighted with the boxes of stash that accompanied them home after visits for coffee. And I felt fabulous from the process.

I realize many fiberophiles would rather shave their heads than part with an ounce of stash, but for me, it was wonderful to relieve myself of the burden of all those years of accumulation. Not to mention having another creative leave with arms full of "treasure."

So now, I get my fiber fix by fondling, looking, and even putting lots of it into my basket or cart -- and then at the end of the shopping excursion, putting it all back -- or nearly all. And get this, I *love* that feeling, too.

Not for everyone, this approach, I know. Wouldn't it be grand if we could just check out fiber at a fiber library, then give it back and get new? :-)

Weave on!

OzWeaver said...


I do know how liberating it is to clear away the clutter, even if it's only some of the clutter! I love what you're doing in giving away some of your stash to friends!

...And, I love your idea of a fiber library where we could just borrow fiber and get our fix without having to actually own it!