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Tales from the Yarn Store

I’m a Yarnaholic.

Hi, My name is Paula and I’m a Yarnaholic.

I like to think of my yarn shop as a haven for fiber lovers.  You can come in and be among friends.  When you tell me, “I have more yarn in my stash than you have in your store,”… I believe you.  I have seen some stashes in my time.  Whole attics lined with plastic bins, whole walls filled with skeins of yarn.  It is beautiful.  So the first thing I want to tell you is do not be shamed by your stash.  You are a beautiful, creative, fiber artist.  You are as God made you.  Be proud.  Be creative.  Don’t be cowed by the “tsk, tsk” of a friend or partner.  That being said, I am going to help you deal with your stash, especially if it weighs you down, makes you feel slightly guilty, or if, in fact, you are downsizing and can’t use your stash as extra insulation around the walls (it is an idea worth considering though).  

The first thing you need to do is divide your stash into two categories.  Yarn I Love and Yarn I’m Not Sure How I Acquired.  (The Yarn I’m Not Sure How I Acquired is a fun pile to make because you put one skein in it, then another skein, and you go to put another skein in and you notice how great the first two look together and take them out again.  Don’t worry, take baby steps with this pile.)  I’m going to tackle the Yarn I Love category first, because that is the largest pile and probably, for many of you, the only pile; after all, you are a yarnaholic and love your yarn. You will probably request it line your coffin like an Egyptian pharoah’s grave goods. It is precious.  You are precious.  It’s all good.

How to Use the Yarn I Love.

As Decoration.  Yarn is beautiful, lovely to look at and touch.  It should not be hidden in bins away from the light of day (well, maybe it should be away from direct light as that will fade it).  Use it as decoration.  Ball up seasonally coordinated yarns and put them in a decorative bowl on a table or shelf.  Or several decorative glass vases.  This actually serves two purposes:  it justifies your yarn addiction and your bowl addiction.  Both put to good use.  You can rotate the seasonal collection multiple times a year—warm fall browns and oranges, Christmas greens and reds, cool blues and whites for winter, Easter pastels of pink and yellow, spring greens and purples…you get the idea.

As a Collection.  Display your yarn in beautifully hand-made glass-doored cabinets.  Or on bookshelves (you’ve read the books, you haven’t used the yarn yet).  Hang the skeins on your wall. Get rid of those school pictures of your adult children when they were in second grade.  They only embarrass them every time they come to visit.  Stack your yarn up in attractive pyramids.  Convert a bedroom to a craft room (I know, you’ve done that already), build a studio, or she-shed, transform your garage or basement to a yarn shop.  In other words, spread out!

Knit Stash Projects.  Stash projects are designed to use up stash (especially partial skeins of Yarn I Love that you already knit or crocheted into a gorgeous garment).  Knit rectangles or squares of the same size and seam them into a scarf, put several scarves together for a throw or blanket.  Put yarns of the same color family together, but not the same weight, and use a large needle to make a Thneed or Phat Hat and Scarf.  Make a 10 Stitch Twist out of 100% wool and felt it for a baby mat or throw rug.  Stash projects are fun and quick, with the added bonus of mixing all those yummy yarns together, allowing you to go from one to the other and back again.

Knit for Charity.  Hats are quick and there are many places that need them.  Baby hats for hospitals.  Adult hats and scarves for homeless shelters.  Hats and mittens and scarves for your local elementary school where children show up every day under dressed.  You can hang handmade items on posts and fences with tags on them that say,  Please Take Me, I’m Yours.

How to Give Away The Yarn I Don’t Know How I Acquired.

Give It To Organizations. You can often donate yarn to groups of knitters and crocheters at assisted living or nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools, and Girl Scout troops.  You can always drop yarn off at charity shops, like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, or even your local second-hand store, where they will appreciate the donation.

Give it to the Young.  Young knitters and crocheters often can not afford $6 skeins of yarn, not to mention $30 skeins of yarn.  There are many cash-strapped knitters and crocheters out there who love yarn as much as you do, but have not spent a lifetime acquiring it, because they are still young and are just beginning their journey.  If you don’t know any blossoming fiber artists, then you need to pay more attention to other people.  Go to your local yarn store and ask if they will gift yarn to young people they know.  Go to the local library.  Put a basket on the sidewalk with a Free to Young Fiber Artists sign.  You could even tuck in some appropriate sized needles or hooks from your stash, and start paring that down.  Why not throw in a pattern or magazine, too?  How fun!  Remember giving is receiving and you will receive enormous pleasure when you give away yarn to young knitters and crocheters.

I hope I have inspired you to dig out that stash and give it the attention it deserves. Don’t forget that buying yarn and using yarn are two different hobbies, so please, come into the shop and add to your stash!

Loving my new digs!

How perfect to have my yarn housed in Beannacht Books, kitty-corner to LYS, while the shop is under construction.  I had forgotten that my first love affair with yarn began while I was working in Chapter and Verse in Bristol, England.  It was an academic book store, so in the summer, my colleagues taught me how to knit sweaters (I didn’t make hats, scarves, or mittens until many years later).  There was a to-die-for yarn store right across the street and that is where I bought my Rowan Yarn  and Kaffe Fasset patterns.  Those were the  days of drop shoulders and oversized sweaters…the eighties.  I have made a laptop case from fulling one unfinished Kaffe Fasset sweater.  I still have the turquoise Lopi sweater (very popular color at that time!) and haul it out on appropriate wintry days.  I regret donating two sweaters to a local second-hand shop, not because of the yarn, but the cool buttons I had used.  I still have the fair-isle vest I knit for my father, fulled and fitted for me now that he has passed away.  All these fond memories of the book store and my colleagues and the pubs are flooding back as I sit here with a view of yarn and books.  Come join me in the cozy sitting area.  My shop hours are the same:  10-5 Tuesday through Saturday and I’m selling both yarn and books!

Cozy couches at Beannacht Books.
View from the front desk.

My Brilliant Friend–next month’s read

Seven of us gathered this past Thursday for our first lunch-time book club discussion of Circling the Sun.  Whilst the overall response to the book was lukewarm, the discussion was lively and our interest in the life of Beryl Markham was piqued.  In addition, our lunch from Cold Mountain Cafe was a welcome treat.  We decided to meet next month on St. Patrick’s day at noon to discuss My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.  The New Yorker review, “Women on the Verge,” by James Wood, typically wordy and sending me to the dictionary several times, will whet your appetite for not just this recent work, but her earlier novels as well.  Join us on the 17th!

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