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A big part of Stash Less for me is realizing why I have such a big yarn stash in the first place. While I was thinking about it, I realized that part of why I never used any of the yarn I have was because I felt guilty about it. I had a bad case of Yarn Guilt.

For those of you who may not have much of a stash, the concept of yarn guilt may be completely foreign to you. There is no reason to feel guilty over your yarn. After all, it doesn’t grouch at you and leave dirty laundry all over the floor for you to pick up. It doesn’t threaten to give away your job if you don’t knit with it right this instant. It just lays docile in the box or closet or corner until you ball it up and work with it.

But, there is one thing that yarn does come with that helps trigger yarn guilt. No matter how much we joke about it, nothing changes the fact that yarn costs money. In some cases over extra special yarn, it may cost more than we are willing to admit. Have you checked how much a ball of quivit costs? You would think that it is spun from unicorn hair and handled only by virgins under the light of a full moon instead of coming from this mighty creature:


Granted, I am not one of the lucky ones to have the security to go out and buy pure quivit yarn on a whim, but I don’t buy the cheapest fiber either. When I got my first job out of college and realized that I could actually spend some of my own money on yarn, I did get a little crazy and bought “the good stuff” and lots of it. For me, it ranged from pretty colors of sock yarn to merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn, plenty of nice alpaca, enough radioactive pink sock yarn to sink a small boat, and lots of Felici. There was even a time where I would go weekly to our local big box craft store and buy whatever colors of Patons Sock yarn they had that I didn’t have in my stash.

And then the yarn just sat there and never got used. I was so exhausted after work when I worked two jobs that I just didn’t have any desire to knit. It was only when my fiance confronted me about my yarn buying habit that I realized exactly how much money I was spending and how guilty I felt about spending that money on yarn that I wasn’t using.

It had gotten to the point where I was coming home to hide the yarn I had gotten from everybody else in my family. Whenever I looked at it I felt guilty about using it, which would be admitting that I bought more yarn, which made me feel bad and that led me to more yarn shopping because the yarn buying high made me feel good….you can see how I built up my stash now.

The major point is that yarn guilt exists and people do have it like they would with any other hobby that they may have indulged a bit too much in. Which is all fine and dandy, but how do you counter yarn guilt?

I found that there were three steps that I had to take to conquer my feelings of yarn guilt:

  1. Admit that you like buying yarn and that buying yarn doesn’t make you a bad person
  2. Team up with somebody you trust and ask them to keep you honest about your yarn buying habits
  3. Take a deep breath, remember that yarn isn’t rare or exclusive, and start using the yarn you have

The first two steps were really hard for me to do and I would have had a much harder time if it wasn’t for my fiance. I asked him if he would be willing to talk with me every time I made or wanted to make a yarn purchase and we talked about it. Is it something I don’t already have in my stash or is it just a new color? Is it something that is only available for a limited time (like Felici in Rainbow or Time Traveler) or can I get it after waiting a certain amount of time to make sure I still wanted it. Was it something that I have a specific project for or is it just there to pad my stash until I get around to using it?

Just having another person to bounce ideas off of helped me realize that I was actually buying things for that “buyer’s high” and not because I actually needed it. Realizing why I was buying things helped me not feel guilty about buying the yarn I had.

The third step of actually using the yarn is often the most difficult to overcome. After all, for those of us who have had yarn guilt, we may have spend years telling ourselves that we can’t knit with the good stuff yet. Our skills aren’t good enough. We might ruin the yarn or we need to find the “perfect project” to go with our special yarn.

The hardest thing to do is to just pick up the needles and start knitting with it.

When I realized that I was hording my Felici, I made myself knit socks for my family. Knitting socks for somebody else made me less critical of my own work and allowed me the freedom to knit whatever sock I wanted for somebody else. It didn’t matter if the stripes didn’t turn out perfectly or if the pattern and the yarn did something strange. It just got me working with it and the more I worked with it, the more I fell in love with it. And then, something magical happened. It made me want to work with the rest of my yarn I had been saving for the “perfect pattern” that was never going to come along.