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Let’s Talk About Our Amazing, Awful Yarn Stashes

Recently, I’ve started holding informal conversations in my Instagram stories. We explore ideas related to knitting patterns, yarn, techniques, and more. Last week, we talked about pattern-buying behavior, and I heard from several people that they’re more likely to buy a pattern when they have something in their yarn stashes that’s a good fit.

A collection of yarn, antique books, and white roses arranged in a gentle curve against a gray background. In the center is a glass cloche full of small yarn balls.

That got me curious about yarn stashing patterns generally, so I asked some follow-up questions. I heard so many interesting points from everybody that I thought I’d share some of my favorites here.

Trends in Yarn Stashes

I started out by asking people what their yarn stashes look like. Out of 252 respondents to my first poll, 124 of them, or about 49%, said that their stash tended to consist of single skeins of special yarn. Another 35% of respondents, or 87 of them, said that they stashed several of the same yarn at once. Only 8%, or 20 respondents, said that their stash consisted primarily of leftovers. Another 8%, or 21 respondents, said that they stashed in some other style, but didn’t elaborate in further responses.

On my second slide, I was curious to find out what weights of yarn people tended to stash most often. I got 213 responses to that one, and I was surprised by how clear the preference was for fingering weight yarn. Fully 78% of respondents, or 166 people, said that they tended to stash fingering weight yarn most often. The next most popular was DK weight, with 25 respondents or 12%. Worsted weight stashers were 9% of respondents with 20 votes. Bulky came in dead last at 1% of respondents or two people.

Now, of course, this is a pretty limited sample size. I have just over 200 respondents to each set of questions. It also might be skewed by my own audience, because I tend to design primarily in fingering-weight yarns and probably attract people who prefer working in that weight. Still, it’s a helpful little slice of information that might provide some insight for future designs.

Stash is a Way to Save for Projects

One thing I heard from a few people is that having a yarn stash helps stretch their budgets.

A lot of times, when we think of yarn stashes, we think of people having large shopping hauls and buying lots of yarn without knowing what they plan to do with it. Sometimes, though, it’s intentional and done with a budget very much in mind.

When there is a good deal on a yarn that a knitter knows they love and work with often, it can make sense to stock up on that yarn. It means there is more of an up-front expense, of course. On the other hand, it averages out to less on a monthly or per-project basis. This means that knitting projects become more accessible for the knitters who are able to build a stash on a budget and then draw from it for projects as they come up.

Yarn Stashes can Feel Overwhelming

Several respondents told me that they found the size and variety of their yarn stash pretty overwhelming. Many of them were actively working to reduce the size of their stash because of that.

A collection of pastel yarns in different sized balls and cakes

Whether it’s because of space issues, clutter issues, or the overwhelming range of choices, a lot of us can find a large stash stressful. That’s okay!

What’s important is that you are aware of yourself and your needs. Then, you can tailor your stash to those needs. When we do that, our yarn stashes serve us, not the other way around.

People Want More Projects for Using Up Leftovers

My own stash consists primarily of leftovers, so I was particularly curious about who else had a good amount of leftover yarn in their stash. It turns out I’m not alone!

I got a few responses from people who said that they really wanted more options for using up their bits of leftover yarn.

That’s part of why I love designing fingerless mitts. They are a great way to use up yarn that’s left over from sock projects. It’s also helpful to use leftover fingering yarn bits as cuffs, heels, and toes on socks, or to do colorwork hats with them.

Those yarn bits, though, can be hard to organize. It’s especially tricky when you don’t have the labels for them anymore and are trying to match up fiber contact. I like to keep my leftovers sorted into gallon bags with notes written on paper and stashed inside. That has the added benefit of keeping any pests out, too.

Organizing Stashes can be Fun and Therapeutic

Finally, I heard from a few of you keep very careful stash logs, and the consensus among that group was that organizing your stash can feel really good. It’s a way to assert some control when other parts of life feel chaotic and to have a pretty collection to enjoy. This ties in with the respondents who said that knitting is one hobby and collecting yarn is an entirely separate hobby. I thought that perspective was interesting, even if (maybe especially because?) it doesn’t lineup with my own experiences.

A side-angle shot of a collection of yarn, antique books, and white roses arranged in a gentle curve against a gray background. In the center is a glass cloche full of small yarn balls.

Key Takeaways

What all this conversation ultimately confirmed for me is that stashes are as varied as knitters themselves. Some are big, some are small, some are organized, and some are chaotic. Some feel good and some feel bad.

And the only way to really know what to make of our own yarn stashes is to know ourselves. It helps to check in periodically and ask ourselves a few key questions:

  1. What do I want from my stash?
  2. Is my stash serving my needs?
  3. If my stash isn’t serving my needs, what can I do to change that?

As for me, I love saving bits and bobs for future scrappy projects. If you’re looking for a way to use up fingering-weight scraps, check out the Intentions Wrap I recently finished.

How about you? What does your stash look like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Marcia Smith-McKenna

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

The "special" yarns, angora,wool,alpaca,silk,mohair,reside in my great grandmother's sweet roll top trunk with her name on it,bought for her when she went to Mount Holyoke. I was named for her. Other plastic bags piled on top. I have been knitting for 60 years(I'm 73.) So my goal is to make sweaters,vests, and socks for my sister and her 3 sons and daughter. I finished 25+ sweaters since lockdown 3/1/2020. Alpaca scraps will be striped socks and so on.So now I'll try to resist all the gorgeous yarns on sale!

Lauren Rad

Friday 29th of April 2022

You've been amazingly productive these last couple years! I hope the knitting has been good company and you've enjoyed every stitch.

Marcia Smith-McKenna

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

My stash of yarn is in 2 places. Ordinary acrylic yarn for baby afghans is in the garage, bagged by color. Scraps become knitted hats for the food pantry to give out. I buy gloves to match.

Lauren Rad

Friday 29th of April 2022

I love that you've found a good use for scraps. I'm always struggling to use mine up, but this gives me some ideas, too.

Jennie

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

When last I checked, I had 61 miles of yarn. (You can export your stash from R@velry and add up the yards column.) I just looked, and by # of stashes, light fingering and fingering are the largest categories, which doesn't surprise me at all. I like knitting socks and I like stranded knitting, and both happen most often with fingering.

Do I hate and decry my stash? Nope. I love that I have so many possibilities. Most are already designated for a project--usually before I even buy it--but I very often shift yarns around when I find a project I like better for it.

I do "air out the stash" periodically, and give away yarns I'm no longer enamored with. But my stash is not mostly leftovers--I find that fascinating!

Lauren Rad

Friday 29th of April 2022

61 miles is impressive! I'm so glad your stash is a source of fun and happiness for you. Wishing you many happy projects together.

Carole Geronimo

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

My stash is HUGE. Mainly cashmere - like 8 large 8 gallon tube. Boutique yarns. Cashmere silk (65/35) yarns (I recently started using these precious yarns for gifts & such a delight to knit). Cashmere is lace to bulky, most in the middle. I love and dread my stash. Organized now my yarn company. Very large to small bins (Galler Pashmina). But have to knit it up & I'm over 70

Lauren Rad

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

That sounds like such a lovely stash to work through! I hope you have lots of fun with it.

Cindy

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

My stash has its own room and wants for nothing.

Lauren Rad

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

Now this, I can wholeheartedly support!

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