Can I just say that I love when new words get invented? Especially words that are only used by particular groups, within particular contexts. I find the idea that language can be so flexible and individual people so inventive incredibly fascinating.
A knitterly word that you may not have heard of, and definitely won’t find in any dictionary (although a quick Google search shows there is at least one blog dedicated to the concept) is coldsheeping. It seems to have evolved from the phrase “going cold sheep” from yarn-buying the way one might “go cold turkey” on smoking. Essentially the idea is to give up buying yarn for a period of time in order to rein in an unruly and ever-expanding stash. As far as I know, the concept started with the Stash and Burn podcast, and for a long time now their Ravelry group has had lively thread devoted to supporting coldsheepers in their efforts. Most of the “coldsheepers” on the thread still buy yarn, but all are trying to put limits of varying degrees on their buying habits, for a variety of reasons (space, money, etc).
I joined the forum about a year ago after returning from the awesome and challenging three months I spent backpacking around Europe and (mostly) the UK (you can find the blog my friend and I maintained while we travelled over at heatherandjess.wordpress.com). Earlier in the year my friend and I had spent just over a month in Costa Rica and Peru. Now, Peru and the UK are prime fibre-centric vacation destinations, so I came back with more than a little yarn. I more than doubled my stash.
Now, ideal stash size is a very personal thing. It all depends on how much room you have, what kind of knitter you are, if you are a designer who needs lots of inspiration etc etc etc. For many people, having a room full of fibre-y goodness they can play with whenever they want sounds like heaven. Actually, that sounds kind of like heaven to me too.
Here’s my problem: I am a mostly-broke grad student living in a decent-sized apartment with limited storage, and I’m not an extremely fast knitter. Having too much yarn (for me) means that every time I look at my stash I get sad that I can’t knit it all RIGHT NOW. So when my stash doubled in size (and then a year later I had to move it all across the province), I knew something had to be done. Ironically, joining the Coldsheeping group didn’t help initially and my yardage kept going up. However, over the last year or so I’ve become a lot more mindful with my purchasing, and I’m starting to recognize my “dangerous” behaviour patterns that will inevitably lead to large purchases. Hopefully in the next year I’ll be able to manage a downward trend yardage-wise.
My stash isn’t really big enough (ironically) to coldsheep and still knit gifts for other people, especially since a lot of it is souvenir yarn and therefore to precious to give away. So my coldsheep goals are a little more lax: I’m allowed to buy yarn for gifts for imminent occasions (i.e. I’m going to cast on tomorrow) and for projects that I desperately want but don’t have the yarn for. I also have exceptions for special events, like when I went to Rhinebeck last month, but those tend to be my downfall so I’ve been more wary of them lately.
The fun part about telling people my official stash yardage number is that non-knitters think it is HUGE and a lot of knitters think it is so tiny I shouldn’t be coldsheeping! But I know my own needs by now and I know the stash is too big for me right now, so I’m going to continue. I like having accountability too, so once in awhile I’ll post an update to let you know how I’m doing.
As of November 21, 2013, my stash is: 17,780 yards* (that’s 16,258 metres or 16.3 km)
Knitters out there, what do you think? Is the stash number something we should even be worried about, or sharing with nonknitters? What is your perfect stash size?
*I should note how I calculate that number, since everybody does it a little differently. I’m a bit of a numbers geek, so I weigh partial balls leftover from projects and calculate the remaining yards. I keep all the stats in Ravelry, which lets me export a nice spreadsheet and add everything up easily. One part of my stash that is not included is a box of scraps I inherited from my Grandma, since without ball bands it’s too much of a pain to figure it out. I’m slowly knitting the scraps into charitable donations, which I think is exactly what my Grandma would want me to do with them. So that number contains all of my scraps (about 1/3 of the yardage), but not the inherited stuff.