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On stash-busting in beer, yarn and books

For the past few years I’ve made a serious effort to put a dent in my stash. My stash of yarn.

I’m a keen knitter, an occasional crocheter and a spinning dilettante and like a lot of crafters, I went through an initial stage of buying a lot of yarn. 

While I never quite hit SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) at one point I definitely had enough to see me through five years, and I was still buying more.

We don’t really hoard beer, and we do it even less since moving to Bristol. This is partly because we drank all of our stash prior to the move from Cornwall, and also because in Bristol, until lockdown began, we had access to an enormous range of beer in pubs and just didn’t feel the need to carry high stocks at home. 

However, we have had special bottles that feel too precious to drink, or for which it never felt like the right time.

So there are some parallels with the approach to yarn – specifically that sense of not wanting to knit/drink what you have, because it’s either not exactly what you want, or because it’s too precious to use up.

Yarn, like beer, might be a limited edition – you may never be able to get that exact same colour/recipe again.

Of course, in some ways stash-busting yarn and beer are very different.

Once you’ve drunk a beer, it’s gone, whereas the yarn lives on in what you knit from it.

And some beers might improve with age (we’ve written more about that here) whereas yarn will not. 

I joined a couple of groups on Ravelry, the social website for knitters, that are specifically focused on helping people use up their yarn stash. It works by setting challenges which you opt in to depending on which approaches suit you best.

The hardcore go for ‘cold sheeping’, which is all about measuring the amount of time since your last yarn purchase. More successful in my case have been challenges focused on using up a certain yardage in a certain time, or setting yourself a three-out, one-in limit  – play with the toys you’ve got before you buy a new one.

My favourite is a challenge where you designate some specific items of stash that need to be used by the end of the year or you have to give them away. This also works really well for books – you know, the ones you’re definitely going to get round to reading some day, but which just clutter the house for decades on end.

And this can definitely also apply to beer, given that most of it doesn’t age especially well. 

Some of the mantras apply to both, too. “Shop the stash!”; “You can always buy more when you’ve used what you’ve got!”; “You can’t take it with you!”

Next time: why indie dyers are like small craft beer producers.

4 replies on “On stash-busting in beer, yarn and books”

Hi Jess, I too have a stash, not of yarn but of fabrics. I am well past the SABLE stage but it has been a real joy during lockdown. The only link to beer I can think of is that I made 50m of bunting from my stash for our much loved Battersea Beer festivals. Oh, and I’m now making a Quilted bar covering for my niece’s new garden bar, albeit based on Gin rather than beer. Thinking of knitting, I remember the Shepherd Neame pub in Faversham that had knitted hats for each of its handpumps. Quite a novelty then.

I’d be really interested in further exploration of the yarn/beer crossover.

Well, I’d be quite interested. I don’t knit (or crochet), you won’t be surprised to hear.

My wife does, though – mostly the latter at the moment – so she’d be really interested. Or maybe not, given that she’s not that interested in beer. Oh well.

(But it’s definitely quite interesting!)

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