Friday, October 19, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Project Before the Yarn or Yarn Before the Project?

Last night my husband asked me a very thought provoking question: Do you buy yarn with a project in mind or do you buy yarn because it’s pretty?

Normally, I am Johnny-on-the-spot with an answer to his knitting questions. But for this one I had to pause because I have done both. I think most knitters, except my husband, have done both. So what’s the right answer? The answer, for me, depends on your perspective on stash management (I guess I’m creating a new term).

My Stash!
To let the non-knitters in our interesting knitting world, your stash is how much yarn you have stored in your house. Most knitters try and manage our stashes, but most of us do a poor job of it, When I returned to knitting, I was very anti-stash, mainly because I had a “stash” of other crafts I’d done cluttering up my basement (and I’ve never met a craft I didn’t like). Unfortunately, I’ve failed at keeping my stash small. It’s not big, but I think it would take me a year to knit through all the yarn I current have.

So I think that if you are anti-stash, you should buy the yarn with a project in mind. I find that when I do this, I usually only buy the yarn I need for the project, thus helping with stash management. My husband is a testament of that. He has a very small stash because he only buys yarn for the project he has in mind. 

Emotional purchase.
Malabrigo Finto. So soft...
Now when I go yarn “shopping,” that’s a whole different story. Any kind of shopping, I think, involves emotions. When I go yarn shopping, I buy yarn for the emotional response. Something is a lovely color, or wonderful to the touch, and then you buy it. You pet it and take it to your knitting group so everyone can ooh and aah over it. Pure emotion.

I have, however, found the wicked downside to emotional yarn shopping: when you finally figure out what you want to make with the random skein or two you bought, you many not have enough yarn for it. It’s hard to figure out how much yarn you need when you don’t know what you’re making.

Still, this is a personal preference. I don’t think there is a wrong answer or a right answer. I think a little yarn shopping is good, but if you don’t want a huge stash, stick with buying yarn by project.

What do you think? How do you buy your yarn?


Tami said...

I buy both ways, though maybe not so specific in project. I may decide that I want to buy yarn for a sweater, shawl,or for a gift, etc, but not have the exact patten in mind. I do a lot of emotional buying also - especially on vacations. I love to find special, locally produced or hand-dyed yarns and buy them for their own sake and figure out the project later. Yes, I have a fairly large stash. Let's put it this way, if I suddenly had to stop buying yarn, I would be set for several years. lol

Brian said...

Hey, I’m Terri’s husband, Brian.

Stash management is a very good term, honey. I work in Human Resources and being a HR person, we usually think in terms of one body for one position. One person leaves, then we need one person to fill the vacancy. Unfortunately or fortunately (however you would like to put it), this mentality is a part of my personality. I go into the store with a project in mind and buy the exact yardage.

Now I’ve done the emotional shopping, but with a twist. If I find a skein of yarn that hogties my attention and makes it squeal, I immediately go to the computer to marry it to a pattern. I also must have a person in mind. On a side note: why are men patterns so skimpy? I digress. Needless to say, I have a rather diminutive stash which is okay with me.

Now the downside to stash management is when you’re done a project and want to move onto another, you don’t have the yarn in your stash. Well, that’s where I am right now. I want to try socks, but don’t have the yarn. Now I have to way to go to the yarn shop.

And Tami, I’m mad that you could go on a yarn fast and survive a year! A whole year? Are you serious? What is this, yarn hibernation? I would go into a pattern picking coma. Picking out pattern for a stash that size would be a full time job that must pay overtime and have benefits. Nothing personal, it is just the HR in me. But I feel you on the locally dyed yarn, though. I like to support any local craft, but the HR in me must still have some kind of pattern or person in mind for the purchase. And that when the smartphone comes in handy with finding a pattern, if I cannot use the store’s computer.

Tami said...

Hey Brian, at least when I am finished with a project, I don't have to wait until I go out and buy more yarn, I just have to shop my stash, lol. Seriously, living in a rural area, that is a actually a big bonus for me. I'm pretty limited to LYSs around here and have to drive pretty far to get to one. Besides, I am ready if there is suddenly a yarn shortage. :)

Terri J. Haynes said...

Yes, Tami, having a large stash works in your case.
And we are ready in the event the zombie apocalypse pops off!