Q for You: Does having a yarn stash work?

Q for You: Does having a yarn stash work for you?

Anie and I were talking about this while toiling away at Fringe HQ the other day and she rightly pointed out that it’s an excellent Q for You: Does having a yarn stash ever actually work for anyone?

When I first began knitting, I was earnestly puzzled at how anyone could have a stash. I’d be in a yarn store, still completely overwhelmed trying to figure out what everything meant and how things were organized and so on, and I’d think “How could I possibly buy yarn without knowing what it was going to become? I wouldn’t know how much to buy!” But it wasn’t long before I was acting like a novice gardener at a plant nursery (i.e., a former me) — buying one of everything beautiful just because I had to have it, with no sense of what it might all add up to. By now, between gifts and trades and my own profligacy, I’m in possession of dozens and dozens (and dozens) of single skeins in want of a role to fill.

Sure, sometimes I buy in multiple. But it seems like every time I go to my stash to see if I have something in a certain weight or fiber for a somethingorother that caught my eye, I have one skein where I need two, or three skeins where I need five. I can’t think of the last time I had a project in mind, went to my stash, and found yarn to fulfill that destiny. Every new project requires new yarn, and the stash just grows and grows — all those poor skeins shut away in a closet.

So actually I have two Q’s for You: 1) Does stash work for you — meaning, are you able to shop from your stash instead of running out for new yarn every time you cast on? And 2) What is your favorite one-skein pattern? I’ve just realized I need to put together a collection of perfect single-skein projects (in every weight!) and I’d love to hear your suggestions.


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111 thoughts on “Q for You: Does having a yarn stash work?

  1. If I see a yarn I just have to have, I buy one skein so I can play around with it and then decide what it wants to be. Is it good for cables? Is it good for lace? How does it wash? What’s the best gauge for it? Once I’ve made a few swatches then I can decide on a project and buy more. If I decide I don’t like it enough to make a whole project from it, it becomes afghan squares.

  2. I have a closet full of stash, beginning with the one skein, and then, like an addict, buying in sweater quantities. I look for projects that can meet my stash. Consequently, I also have an extensive pattern library! Little of my stash is purpose driven with pattern in hand. Best stash project I did was knit a Michele Rose Orne 90’s boxy sweater to current oversize proportions. The sweater was striped, had interesting stitch patterns, and texture, and used a lot of single skeins of this and that. Turned out fab. For single skeins, fingerless mitts are the way to go.

  3. I shop from my stash all the time; I buy less in small quantities now because I usually have projects in mind and specific yarns. This does not mean that IF I venture into my LYS and see something splendid, I don’t purchase. But my rule now is at least 2 skeins of the yarn. And just this past week I managed to bust from my stash for two separate projects (example: I bought 6 skeins of madelinetosh vintage in 2 different colorways because they were on complete slash and that’s definitely enough yardage for a sweater in my size). I used to have a sock yarn habit; I’m getting better. My boyfriend loves my knitted socks. With all the sock yarn I’d collected in years past, this year alone I’ve managed to knit him 6 pair. What’s more, his birthday is next week, and while I already had his present, I entered my stash and now have a simple self-striping pair of socks for him to go along with his other gifts.

    So, yes, the stash does work for me. However, I’m smarter now, than I was say 5 years ago, about what’s in my stash. And I almost always buy my yarn now for a specific project; it might take me awhile to get to that project, but eventually I do. Or I have enough yardage to use that same yarn for a different project.

  4. I’m a yes and no to this question. I buy lots of single skeins of fingering weight because I love knitting socks, so yes, it works. I have quite a few skeins at present and for virtually any pair of normal socks I want, I can save gas and deny temptation– and I do mean serious temptation– by stash diving. I know everybody has their favorite sock patterns, but if not, my single skein–and for any newbie, they must understand a man’s sock might require more than one skein–fave is Stephanie P. McPhee’s Plain, Simple Sock from, I believe, her book Knitting Rules, and Susan B. Anderson has a nice free recipe also. I have modified mine ever so slightly, but this is my favorite go to single skein sock. I also love Anne Hanson’s socks. If you are looking for a patterned sock, hers are simple patterns that create lovely results. Tesserae is gorgeous! I also love hats, and Sarah Young’s Rikke Hat is free on Ravelry and takes a single skein of DK weight yarn. I’ve also knit it in worsted weight. I get lots of compliments on this simple to knit hat.
    Going to my stash for a sweater’s worth will 99% of the time not work. I have found buying a sweater’s worth is basically a disaster for me.
    Oh, another super cute free hat for fingering weight yarn is the Sockhead Hat, free on Ravelry. One skein, and you have a super simple stylish hat. Love it!!

    • I would love some popular patterns for one skein of fingering weight yarn. I have so many sock patterns and I would love to make something else to “show off” some beautiful hand-dyed yarns. I’ve lately joined several monthly clubs of hand-dyed yarns. They are so special I would love to showcase them. Thanks!

  5. Will be stalking this thread for the one-skein suggestions! Since I rarely stash fingering-weight yarn, socks are out of the question for me. My go-to is always a hat; now, I (and most of the babies of my friends) have a lot of hats…

  6. ooh, link to the Michele Rose Orne 90′s boxy sweater please!

    and, No, my stash does not work for me at all other than to delay my eventual trip to my local store.

  7. I primarily do colorwork and have a favorite line of yarn in a bunch of colors so typically I just go try to find two or three skeins (each a different color) in this line to make a project. Sometimes it makes me think more creatively because I’m limited to my stash and have to try putting together colors that don’t first come to mind as a coordinating pair (or triplet, etc).

    • What line do you like for colorwork? I am trying to build a stash for exactly that and would like a large variety of colors in the same brand and weight….

  8. I’m currently trying to not buy ANY yarn!
    I don’t have a huge stash, but I don’t want to add any more to it at the moment. Would love to hear more single skein suggestions as I have lots of little quantities happening!
    I’ve just started knitting socks so hopefully that’ll help me bust some of what’s in my stash already!

    • While this is an old post, I’m new, so it’s new to me. I love little Lacey scarves, called shawls or shawlwtte for 1sk. They usually beging with just a few stitches and have a stst or garter section before the lace begins. The one I’ve knit the most is Ishbel by Ysolda Teague. And best of all, I’ve discovered of knit on a nice loose gauge one can “over bathe it” which means no blocking! Just lay it out and the lace shines. Although you have to be will to accept the slightest roll around the edges. A similar design is Sivia Harding’s Ophidian, which gives a beat option. I didn’t do beads and greatly regret it.

  9. I’m also ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I have a massive stash (who can pass up MadTosh when they see it? Not me!), but at the same time I rarely pull from it because I typically don’t have sweater quantities. I love cowls and wraps, so those are what I use for single skeins. I also love all things Veera Välimäki and stripes, so I can often use the single skeins for these projects.

  10. I have almost 300 balls of yarn in my stash so whenever I feel the urge to start a new project I don’t have to wait for the UPS guy to deliver new yarn. Sometimes I still can’t find the right yarn to use in my stash or the right pattern for the yarn. I’m not allowing myself to buy anymore yarn until I use up most of what I own but when I do buy I usually will purchase 10 balls of each. Then at least I’ll have roughly enough for a sweater and maybe an accessory too! For those single skeins I like to make gloves or mitts. Some are being saved for something with stripes.

  11. I have a pretty small stash, but it is mostly made up of bits and pieces that I have left over from other projects. If I am ever looking for a specific project, I usually see what is in my stash first but I do usually shop specifically for the project. I usually turn to Pinterest to find projects for my yarn stash, and since I predominantly crochet rather than knit, I find that there are a lot of small patterns to use up what I have. I do sometimes buy pretty yarn when I see one that I like but since I usually use them for crochet, I find that I can buy extras online as the different colourway isn’t as noticeable as when knitting. What I have taken to doing is recording a ‘yarn wishlist’ when I am out and about, so I can write down the yarns that I like and treat myself to them when I find the ideal projects!

  12. Good question! I think my stash is not unreasonable, as I try to shop with projects in mind. But I do also have a lot of magpie-impulse purchases. It’s fun to think of what I might do with them.

    I do shop my stash regularly and successfully. That Holden shawlette I did last year used stashed sock yarn. And yes, I ran out and had to cannibalize another project — a pair of socks I hadn’t finished (and probably never would).

  13. Yes–I knit from stashed yarn about 3/4 of the time. I rarely buy yarn with a specific pattern or project in mind. If I buy or spin a sweater quantity of yarn I usually am intrigued with something about the yarn–the color, the texture, the fibers, the construction, etc., and may have a vague concept in mind but not a pattern or design idea–a pullover, a big shawl, etc. I figure out what I want it to be after I live with it for a bit and do some swatching.

    If I’m buying smaller quantities of yarn I stick to single skeins of sock yarn or laceweight. Or wooly yarns like BT Loft, Jamieson and Smith or Starmore Hebridean for fair isle–but that’s more like building a full palette–

  14. I would love to say having a stash works for me, because I’m committed to knitting from my stash for the remainder of the year as much as possible. I buy single skeins when I go to the store, but that usually works out for me because I am a hat knitter, and most hats don’t need more than a skein.

    However, as I said, I am knitting just from my stash for the remainder of the year because I have that much yarn just hanging around. Bins and bins, taking up all corners of my closet and a few shelves above our desk even! So clearly, even though I buy what I need for what I like to knit, I have ended up with a huge stash that I haven’t been knitting from.

    As for busting through some of those single skeins, I’d suggest making hats to give away! There are hat patterns for all yarn weights on Ravelry, and while most places around me (Omaha, Nebraska) like to receive acrylic hats for donation because they can be washed and dried in machines, I could give you a list of places that take wool donations first (like nest: Maine – http://nestmaine.blogspot.com/ – as a favorite example)!

  15. I’m a beginner, so I don’t really have a stash and also don’t really buy unless I have a specific project in mind. I’m also a sewer with a large fabric stash, so I am trying very hard not to let my knitting stash get as large as my fabric stash. BUT what I do have that I’m puzzled with, is little odds and ends of leftovers from other projects. You know, a half or a third of a skein. What do people do with all of those??? I guess I could add stripes to something, or I have heard people make blankets over lots of time (I’m not particularly interested in blankets). I’m also recalling those 80-yard mitts by Hannah Fettig. Any other thoughts? I’d love to get more ideas!

    • It’s such a good question. I do love those little Hannah mitts. (They’re called 70 Yard Mitts but I think I use 75-80.) The most common thing for all the little leftovers seems to be granny or other afghan squares or the ever-popular Beekeepers Quilt that several others have mentioned here. But unless all your bits are the same weight, or play nicely together … I wish I knew.

  16. I cannot remember ever having bought yarn just because I thought it was pretty (even though it can be tempting). I usually find a pattern first and then find the matching yarn afterwards.
    But let me tell you that that does absolutely not mean that you have no extra skeins flying around. Either I had leftover skeins from bigger projects, I inherited wool from my granny/my granny’s friends or my mum (!) buys yarn just because it was pretty and gives it to me. o.O
    So yes, I do have quite a big stash of wool, which even fills a pirate chest. No kidding (see my blog).

    That being said, I can usually work the other way around as well: choose some of my leftover wool and find a pattern that matches the amount of wool I’ve got. I must admit though that it sometimes doesn’t quite work out as planned: I recently knitted a pair of space invader socks, but ran out of the one colour right in the middle of sock nr.2. So now I have a pair of socks in two different colours. Oh well.

    So yes, I will be following your feed closely and cannot wait for some of the one-skein project suggestions! Great idea!!

  17. It’s funny, my yarn stash is where I do my yarn shopping for every project I do! Although it sometimes limits me and I do have to run out to get a specific yarn once in a while, I still prefer to stash dive. I purchase most of my yarns on discount (limited income) and I purchase in quantity I can afford. It actually makes one more creative in looking for a pattern for the yarn instead of a yarn for the pattern!
    As for favorite one skein project, my favorite so far is Wisteria Arbor Shawl from Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders. I love it because the shawl is knit from the bottom up, so you just knit till you run out of yarn!

  18. I held on to various odd skeins to make gifts, in theory – but somehow it is outpacing me. I am old enough to recall times before digital cameras, and am therefore extremely grateful that there is a way to document one’s stash now. I would otherwise never know what was stuffed in to all those bags or boxes in the closet. I enjoy making amigurumi and giving them away, mostly to kids (but not always). It’s a good way to use up small amounts of different colors, and people are always so impressed by how cute they are and how intricate they look.

  19. Having a stash does NOT work for me! Instead I try and keep a running list of yarn/colourways I love on my phone, and then go to that for my next project! Keeping it on my phone means I can write them down/just take pictures of labels when I’m in the store. I have a lil separate album for them, which works really well because my phone saves WHERE I took the picture too! I live in a VERY small apartment so this also works for me in terms of storage space. That being said my have 1 skein patterns are currently Spate mittens (Jane Richmond), and the Barley Hat (tincanknits)! Sometimes I will just kind of improvise to make 1 skein work, for example, my Swift Hat (Shannon Cook) uses 2 skeins of sport yarn, but I used 1 of DK yarn! Worked for me ;)

  20. My stash is made up of skeins I bought before I knew better… oddballs, many gorgeous yarns but not enough for anything satisfying. I no longer buy yarn without a project in mind. Every once in a while I find a new cowl, hat, or mitt pattern, and I’m slowly using up the stockpile.

    My favorite single-skein projects for fingering-weight are:
    . Baktus scarf (free) and September Circle cowl are both great for self-striping like Zauberball or Noro sock yarns.
    . Sockhead (free, already mentioned).
    . A Baby Surprise Jacket can also be knit in one (100g) skein of fingering!
    . For those precious 50g skeins like Koigu, Purl Bee’s Purl Beret (free) can be done in one.

    For heavier:
    . Jane (free, hat) has been loved by everyone I’ve knit it for. Adjust your stitch count to your weight.
    . A single skein of Noro Kureyon makes a good French Press Cozy (free).
    . Pup Tent (free, hat) is easily knit (even the large) in one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.

    • Huh. I would have told you I’d never seen that Pup Tent before, but it’s already in my favorites! And the BSJ is one I’ve always wanted to try — didn’t even think about its being one skein. Thanks!

  21. The only way a yarn stash works for me is for socks. I do have a lot of sock yarn and love to go to my sock yarn drawer to pick a new yarn.
    I would say for all other knitting – no it doesn’t work! I buy yarn and never make anything from it or I pick a pattern and don’t have the right yarn.

    My fav one skein pattern is either – ped type socks or fingerless mits.

  22. Right now my stash is saving me through a leaner-than-usual yarn budget period. My stashing technique has definitely improved over time though, as I’ve gotten better at stashing for what I actually knit. In the beginning I bought a lot of single skeins (which I’m still mostly trying to offload). Then I became interested almost exclusively in sweater knitting and using top down formulas, and experimenting on my own, to make fingering weight sweaters, and so started buying only sweater quantities. I have some unwanted stash from that early period as well, as I tended to get trapped by the ooo-shiny syndrome. Finally I got better at it, and began buying only fingering weight sweater quantities that were barely variegated, and had some added fibre such as silk or alpaca or bfl to provide some drape or texture (much more versatile!). Also started adding worsted weight SQs in workhorse yarn and colours I really love (started to get my colour palate down at this point too). Since sweaters and large scarves or cowls are all I really make, I have (and am very grateful for) lots I can choose from in stash at this point.

    I found a great pattern for using up some of my leftover favourite single skeins (though it does require two for the MC) http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/funky-grandpa Rililie loves to play with and unvent interesting seamless techniques – can’t wait to cast on for this one.

  23. No stash for me! My stash was decimated by moths last summer and it was a good lesson. I realized that for me, I never looked at my stash to find yarn for a project. So now, I *gasp* only knit one project at a time until completion and purchase yarn for the next project when the first is complete. It was a financial decision, too. The yarn was money spent, just sitting there not being used. I do remember the rush I used to get buying a bunch of pretty skeins for my stash, but now I love buying yarn as I knit and not feeling guilty about it. That being said, last November on my trip to New York I bought yarn at Purl Soho for three projects at once. Though, I completed all those projects by the end of December so now I’m back to no stash :). My favorite one skein project is Jenny Gordy’s sock pattern in Made By Hand.

    • “The yarn was money spent, just sitting there” <– I'm going to keep this in the front of my brain. And I'm super eager to try Jenny's sock pattern. Love that book!

  24. I only buy sock yarn for my stash- everything else i buy yarn for a specific project. As you can guess my favourite one skein project are socks it the one thing that i can buy ‘it has to be mine’ yarn and not feel guilty because it can and will eventually be used.

  25. So glad to see a blog post on this! My answer is no, because in the end my stash makes me unhappy. My stash is either random balls I bought because they were pretty or projects I took so long to get too, I’m no longer excited to knit them.
    I’ve been cleaning out clutter in the rest of my life, so I’ve also been trying to knit everything in my stash the last two years. I’m getting closer but it’s hard when I see a cool pattern that requires more yarn than I have!
    For patterns, I use the thinner yarn for socks while medium weights get combined into fair isle pieces. I’m almost finished purl bee’s brioche cowl, which uses two medium weight yarns. It’s pretty easy to change the size/amount of yarn used. I also find making knitted Christmas ornaments a great stash buster!

  26. Oh yes a yarn stash can work, but only if your yarn stash is large enough. When I find a pattern I would like to knit, I go shopping in my wool room. Its there- somewhere. If it is not there, I dig deeper into my fiber supply and spin it.

  27. I’m all over the board with this question but one skein is my thing – especially using “art yarns” (hand dyed.) I even own all the “One Skein” books. I can indulge my love of knitting and yarns with quick projects. I have a rather large stash (silly large) but it mostly works for me with one exception – buying yarn for sweaters I don’t knit. That’s a lot of yarn and it doesn’t take long before I’m on to new ideas and that yarn sits. I have to be one with the fact that I’m not knitting sweaters at this time! Someday, not now. And my stash works because of the business I’m in. With our little gallery/shop I have an outlet for my spare time knitting/crocheting: hats of all kinds, mitts and scarves, then I crochet bowls and coasters with left overs and, finally, I use the ends for Scrumble hair (see my pic.) Also, my husband, who spins and then weaves most of his yarns, will occasionally need yarn from my stash for some weaving project or other. For family gifts I find the perfect pattern then buy just the right yarn/color for it. Every few months – because “out of sight, out of mind” is all too true for me – I go through my stash so I’m reminded of what I already own. And that’s when I move unloved yarns, languishing yarns out to the thrift store. So you can also see that the above is also a list of what I do with one skein (because that’s all I buy except for specific gifts.) Also, socks. Love love love sock yarn for socks, hats, shawletts.

  28. My stash is ginormous, and frequently useless when I want to make something of importance. But yarn makes me happy, so I don’t worry too much about whether I can use everything I have.

  29. Like many others, a lot of what is languishing in my stash was purchased before I knew better. I bought Romi’s subscription at the beginning of the year for her Great Oddments Knitdown (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-great-oddments-knitdown), which is a pattern a month, each of which uses just about one skein. I’m hoping that will help.
    I’ve gotten much better about buying yarn for specific projects, but still, sometimes my eyes are bigger than my knitting plate :) I am really trying to thin out my stash this year. I organized my Ravelry queue a few weeks ago, and almost everything in it has existing yarn assigned to it, and they are all patterns I really, really love (most of them I’ve had in my favorites for a long time).

  30. My stash works for me. I’m determined. I have tried not to buy yarn unless I absolutely have to for the past couple years, knitting from what I have since I must have loved it when I bought it, and it’s working so far. Every January I “toss the stash,” go through the bins and bags to make sure no critters have moved in and while I’m doing that I pick out a handful of “onesies” single skeins, research patterns for that yardage on Ravelry, then I bag up pattern and yarn as kits for quick projects to do between bigger ones. I lucked into a store closing out worsted weight wools in solid colors a few years back and that has saved my bacon time and again for borders and cuffs when I’m running low of the main yarn. I prefer worsted weight yarn and medium sized needle projects so that’s the way my stash leans. One of my favorites for a single skein is “After the Rain” by Hannah Mackinney. It’s free on Ravelry and uses worsted weight yarn. Thanks for the ideas, everyone! Five more patterns in my faves from the comments.

  31. My stash is not very useful. I never have the “right” yarn for a project, and shopping for new yarn is too tempting when I see a great pattern. Still, I wish my stash photographed as gorgeously as your does. I’d buy that picture as a print!

    • I posted it to Instagram and it seems like some people have understood that to be my whole stash. If only!

      I should have mentioned, though. These are (most of) the yarns in the stash that happened to either be wound or sold in balls. I don’t actually condone winding stash yarn! Normally, I leave it in the skein until I’m ready to work with it, so it’s not under tension.

  32. I have one of those SABLE closets: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy:)

    I like to knit socks and I’m almost always able to find something suitable in the stash. I have knit several sweaters from stash. I am always looking for yarn-eating patterns. If I had it to do over again, I would buy far fewer skeins. I have sold or given away a lot, but there’s still way too much and while ravelry destashes have worked well for me, the thought of all that photographing is overwhelming right now:)

    A one-skein crochet pattern that I like is Simple Scallops: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/simple-scallops
    It works with almost any sock yarn, can be worked in other weights, and really is simple, and doesn’t look like your grandmother’s dresser scarf:)

    • Oh, I know. I tried listing my stash once but the photo thing is beyond painful. This is my main plea to Ravelry: PLEASE make it so yarn companies can upload well-shot pics of each color of each yarn (they all have them!) and make it easy for users to use those images for their stash pics. The notion of every single person taking their own images of the same yarn is painful painful painful.

    • Thanks for this suggestion – I’m just learning crochet and this does look really beautiful and doable. And boy, do I have a number of single sock yarn skeins that this would be perfect for. You may have just found me the perfect xmas gift pattern!

  33. Like many others my answer is yes and no. When I began knitting, I too, purchased 1 skein of beauty I just had to have. Now, I buy for a specific project in mind, even it will be a long time before I get to it. If I buy without a specific pattern in mind, I buy enough knowing I can use it for any number of shawl, fingerless mitt, or sweater, etc. patterns. That works well for me.
    Just as heylucyloo mentions, I bought a subscription to Romi’s (Rosemary Hill) Oddments Knitdown (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/the-great-oddments-knitdown), which is a pattern a month, each of which uses just about one skein. I am enjoying Romi’s patterns; she is so creative.

    • The first few patterns of the Oddments Knitdown are worth every penny I just spent and perfect for the type of stash I have. THANK YOU for this suggestion! (I’m definitely a whimsical type artist and these patterns – wow! Perfect.)

  34. I have a small stash, just one little basket. It is filled with all the leftovers from my projects- 1/3 ball of this, 1/4 ball of that. I am learning colorwork at Squam this year and hoping my stash will provide me with plenty of small bits of color to try as I learn this new skill. As far as buying yarn- I buy for projects, and just enough for that project. I’m getting into sweaters now, so I buy a large lot (3-5) skeins at one time, knit my sweater and move on. I guess I’m a bit type A with my stash- but I hate to think of yarn just sitting there not getting used! I’m the same way with my fabric stash- I keep it small but I love every piece that I have- anything I don’t like gets donated!

    I do love these Tiny Pant pattern by Megan Goodacre- they make a great baby gift and require about 1/2 skein of two colors, if that. A great project for using up those little leftover bits!

  35. Having a stash works for me, but it’s a conscious effort. It helps that it’s not large and I live in a very wee 400 sq ft in Los Angeles (so it must. be. manageable). Every other month is a stash only month for me, and I always get to knit with both the oldest and youngest yarn in the collection so I get a sense of “Oh thank god I’m getting rid of this” mixed with “Hooray! Playing with the new pretties!” I pick about 4 projects to work on for a month, and usually 60% of them get done, so things are slowly leaving the stash that have been there way too long, making room for more thoughtful future purchases. I enjoy both ends of the project spectrum from having a random skein and finding the perfect pattern for it and having the perfect pattern and curating an amazing yarn for it. I joke with my sister that every new knitter should have a yarn chaperone for the first year, and then most of us might not have 20 lovely single skeins of sock yarn (I don’t even do socks!) and a grocery bag full of acryllic. Single skein patterns I’ve enjoyed are Pogona by Stephen West http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pogona, and Andrea’s shawl and mitts by Kirsten Kapur (which as a two color pattern could use two skeins) http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/andreas-shawl

  36. It was going to yarn shows that did me in – until then, I had a relatively small stash. But get a bunch of indie dyers all together under one roof and go to several wool shows a year as I did last year, and all my self-control went out of the window. Then there were some Boxing Day sales. Not only did I have numerous single skeins, but enough quantities for at least 7 sweaters/garments. So I’ve put myself on a strict yarn diet this year which so far I’ve been able to stick to (we’ll see when the next show comes up). I’ve actually had fun with my restrictions this year – it’s forced me to really look at my stash and use what I have which in turn have led to some interesting colour combinations that I wouldn’t have “planned” for but which have turned out okay. I’m also working on that infernal hexi-puff blanket and a mitred square blanket so that’s where all my leftovers have gone as well as a few solid single skeins. Bit by bit it’s all getting used up. . .

  37. I’m worse, I go to buy yarn for a project and then never make it! I’ve got two skeins I can think of that I’ve bought in the past two months that I probably won’t use any time soon/ ever.

  38. This is all so helpful. The only stash I have is all the leftovers from my projects, so all these ideas for single skein projects are very helpful. The less-than-single skeins are still a problem though. One thing I have discovered is that I can really only knit in worsted weight or larger. Anything smaller hurts my hands too much. So our local yarn swap was a blessing in unloading yarn I bought for various projects that I discovered I wasn’t going to be able to do after all.

  39. My stash and I have a pretty complex relationship. We moved to a smaller apartment this past year and I donated most of the ‘deep stash’ guilt-inducing yarns that no longer interested me to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Once I cataloged the yarn I had, I was feeling pretty excited about the projects I identified in there… and then Claddagh Yarns opened around the corner. I have a stash inventory/donation project planned for this weekend to get back on top of things.

    My current one-skein obsession is the Honey Cowl (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/honey-cowl) you can make a small single loop with a skein of DK, or a larger double-loop knit at loose gauge with fingering weight. The slipped stitches work really well to break up the color changes in the beautiful hand dyed yarns I love in the skein, but often don’t love knit up. I’m also good about using the stash for baby gifts, socks, and other small projects.

    • I started a Honey Cowl a very long time ago and never finished it, not sure why. But that’s a really good point about it being a good use of semi-solids and such.

      Ellen, were you at Narangkar’s talk at Claddagh the other night? She mentioned that most of her yarn comes from the Depot, so now I’m wondering how much of hers is yours!

      • Sadly I wasn’t able to make it to that talk – I would be delighted if some of my yarn found a home with her! Now I am armed with even more justification for buying piles of new yarn, hoarding it, and then freaking out and donating it periodically: I’m just supporting great art!

  40. I am a crocheter as well as a knitter so love to do granny squares so that uses up a lot of my stash! Right now, I’m doing my own crocheted version of tinyowlknits “Beekeeper Quilt”. Very fun and a I can get a ton of puffy quilt squares from one skein of sock yarn.

    I just cleaned out my yarn stash and donated about half of it (I tend to hoard and can’t resist buying gorgeous yarns!) to a local church that does knitting and crochet projects for charity. So I feel good knowing that my addiction will help others. I’ve also made lots of hats, scarves, mittens and children’s sweaters for the church to include. Very rewarding.

  41. Seconding Christen’s recommendation of the Baby Surprise Jacket. I ran across a mention of it and found the construction intriguing, then sought out some lovely, soft, washable sock yarn in my stash to swatch with. I’ll cast on as soon as finish the endless Dreambird. Looking forward to a one-skein project that doesn’t take four months to complete!

  42. It works great if you are mostly making one-skein projects, or if you’re designing and can design to the yarn that’s available (both of which are true in my case ;-) ) I do try to buy at least 100g though, 50g amounts are a bit trickier to use.

  43. So excited to see all the one skein projects – because when I began knitting I seriously underestimated how much yarn even a simple hat took. That being said – I feel my stash is quite small (my husband has another view) and is mostly made up of the remaining skein or partial skein that I bought as “insurance” when making a project, because I have very bad luck, even when swatching, with having enough yarn. I am looking for projects that use bits and bobs too – so maybe that’s another post – projects that use multiple quantities of 100 yards or less….
    Thanks for this post – love it!

  44. Having a ton of yarn sitting around without a project in mind for it makes me feel burdened, not happy. So I don’t consciously accumulate stash but it accumulates through book projects, and gifts, and leftovers….and that gorgeous golden skein called Rumplestilskin couldn’t resist last summer

  45. How amazing that you would post about your stash and all your one skeins. I just sent myself to a one-skein challenge which I blogged about, and I’m having so much fun going through my stash, picking out patterns, and casting on. It’s a great challenge and I’m excited to see what my one-skeins will become.

  46. I’m mostly a ‘yes’ but! I have a medium stash. I think if I tried to condense it, the whole could fit in 4-6 totes (of the 18 gallon size), but I have it spread in smaller sizes to keep it somewhat color coordinated. I must also qualify this by saying approximately 1/3 – 1/2 of it is donated acrylic. I think I have inherited at least 3 different stashes from various people over the last 5 years. I do shop from my stash; I learned a long time ago to buy quantity if I didn’t have a specific project in mind. I, too, am subject to whims and sales, though and I have started to incorporate a LOT of color work, even if it is just stripes, heh.

  47. For the most part, the jumping off point for me is a pattern that I like, and then I seek out the yarn for that specific pattern. And I can (usually) refrain from buying the yarn until I’m actually ready to cast on. I’ve learned over the years that the yarns that appeal to me in the skein really disappoint me once knitted up, while the quieter yarns are infinitely more pleasurable to knit with and wear. However, I do allow myself to stash yarns that I can use to make toys or other baby things, so when I get the itch to cast on but don’t have the time/money/patience to commit to a sweater’s worth of yarn for myself, I have a supply of yarn for quick little gifts.

  48. Ugh, the single skein curse! I too have this problem in my stash, almost entirely from my early days of excited yarn shopping. My stash is much more rounded out now, with sweater amounts in a couple different weights, and multiples of other skeins (I’m better at not buying just one).

    I knit a lot of socks, so single-skeins aren’t a total disaster for me. It also seems that all my friends are having babies at the moment, so I’m using up some of the single skeins for that (Tanis Lavallee’s free and forever customizable Sunnyside is my current favourite knit for kids). Also, striped shawls are a good way to get a comfortably large shawl using single skeins. And there’s always Fair Isle mittens/gloves/hats.

  49. Eh…sort of? I started out only buying yarn for specific projects and some of them I still haven’t gotten around to, so the yarn is there in the quantities I need, but I’m also like you and have a lot of yarn in quantities too small to do what I want.

    This year, I’m working through the stash as much as possible and it’s been a fun challenge to find projects for the yarn I have. Hats, mittens, and socks are being made in excess. I’m going to have to find people to take them off my hands, I think! Cowls and a few shawls also only need only one skein. The most fun, perhaps, is doing stripes or color-work with two or more of those lonely skeins.

  50. Good timing on your post! I had my own stash epiphany in January when I searched through it to find yarn to knit Ysolda’s “Follow Your Arrow” shawl MKAL (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/follow-your-arrow-mystery-kal). I hadn’t realized until then how many random single skeins of sock or fingering weight yarn I had been buying, and of course, I needed two skeins to make this project. I decided to make a bi-color shawl and forced myself to use two singlets from my stash. It was a great lesson in working with color and I am very happy with the result: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/mother-of-purl/follow-your-arrow-mystery-kal.

    This exercise in working with colors I already owned caused me to look at other shawl patterns that could eat up more of my stash. I found Melanie Berg’s “Ashburn” to be a great pattern for this (it uses three colors/skeins!): http://www.ravelry.com/projects/mother-of-purl/ashburn. I haven’t worked with it yet, but Martina Behm’s “Leftie” (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/leftie) was specifically designed to use up all those leftover bits so I’ve marked it for a future project.

  51. I used to knit newborn baby hats and props for myself and other photographers so I have a massive 1-2 skein stash. Now that I’ve given that up I am buying yarn in ‘sweater’ lots. As we’re going into Autumn/Winter in Australia I’ve already made myself two cardi’s and I have more in the planning. I have been using my stash for adult hats though and every 2 years, my husband, the kids and their parteners all get new beanie’s. I’ve resisted the temptation of socks but I might just need to, not that I’ll ever really be able to knit through my whole stash!

  52. Above all, I’ve become a pro at modifying patterns to fit the yarn I have. If I have worsted and the pattern calls for DK, I adjust to use the yarn I have on hand. I suppose budget also dictates. If I find gorgeous fingering weight yarn that’s… maybe $25/skein but only 350 yards, I don’t let myself buy it, because two skeins are above my budget and 350 yards just isn’t enough. If the skein is closer to 450, budget doesn’t apply as much, because I know that one skein can become “something”.

    I guess I have some rules in my head – buying fingering, must be 450+ yards or I get two skeins if budget allows, worsted – 2-3 skeins to have ~400 yards (that’ll always be enough for a kid/baby sweater plus some extra for a hat or socks), etc. Based on these “rules”, I rarely end up with yarn that can’t become something. I’ve also certainly modified shawls to stop a few rows early because I know I don’t meet the yardage. It ends up slightly smaller than intended, yes, but I think its fun to adjust on the fly.

    I live in rural Wyoming, so I’m sort of forced to have a stash. I’d always rather buy from a friendly yarn shop than mass online retailer, so when I’m near one I buy EVERYTHING I LOVE and just work from it until travels take me near another shop.

  53. I worked at a yarn shop for about 2 years and when they closed I took home LOTS of yarn (single skeins and sweater quantities) at prices too good to pass up. I mainly knit from my stash for several years after that, occasionally buying new yarn for special projects or when I was visiting a good shop. I think it was easy to knit from my stash because there was so much there to choose from — and lots of greys, black, neutral colors I actually wear. Some of the yarn I had sitting for so long that I got sick of it, so I destashed either through donating, swapping, etc. I try to avoid starting projects with the ‘wrong’ yarn just cause I want to only knit from my stash, but for the most part I’ve been able to match my yarn with appropriate projects and it’s really satisfying! Good luck with yours!

  54. Also, I have this weird thing about having a sweater quantity of yarn and not wanting to use it for anything else, even if I don’t want to make a sweater. Like if I have 1200 yards of something and really want to make a cowl, something in my head won’t let me break up the lot and use half the skeins to make a cowl –I am worried about what I’ll do with the other skeins! Does this craziness happen to anyone else? I am trying hard to get over it and just knit ;-)

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  56. Ughh I have the same problem! I have a bunch of one or two skeins, and a ton of left over 50 yard yarn balls that I’ve saved from previous projects. For some reason I just can’t bring myself to throw any amount of yarn away. My favorite one skein projects are any baby hats. The PurlBee has some great baby hat patterns that I love. I also use my scrap yarn to make scrap yarn blankets. I’ve crocheted a scrap yarn granny square blanket before, and I’m crocheting a scrap yarn ripple blanket right now. It’s a great stash buster, and I love being able to play with color and texture.

  57. I only buy yarn for specific projects. I guess I have the “benefit” of living in a very remote area. So, I’ve never been in a yarn shop, I have to buy online.

  58. I don’t expect my stash to work, It’s only job is to comfort me, which it does beautifully. I’m a less is more girl for sure, in every area except sheep and yarn. More of both is just better!

  59. I have a “purpose” driven stash, but that wasn’t always the case. I didn’t have much of a stash in the beginning, but then I found hand dyed yarns. Now since I design I used my stash to work out designs and swatch and compare colors. I also give test knitters yarn for the project they are test knitting so at least one of the test knits is done in the yarn used in the actual pattern.

    I have the Chickenboots.com storage boxes/bags that I can see thru and label. Which makes it easier to use my stash. I’m currently working on sweaters, design and personal wear. That should make it shrink some, just in time for shopping at Rhinebeck.

  60. My stash works for me. It’s extensive and diverse, and I rarely knit sweaters for anyone over three feet tall – so most of my projects can be completed with 1-3 skeins. When I want to knit a sweater for a larger person, I make a special trip to the LYS or I work in stripes. I keep my stash organized by weight (sock yarns, lace weight, worsted, bulky) and separated into three main categories: wool/wool blends, cotton/linen, and acrylic (which includes remnants of “Fun Fur” and similar yarns). This makes it easy to stash dive – when I want to make a pair of socks, there is one shelf of yarns to browse. Washcloth? Just one basket of cotton yarns to dig through.

    I knit a lot of socks, slippers, hats, mitts, cowls, scarves /small shawls, bags, critters, baby items – and blankets. While a blanket does not sound like a small item, I generally do modular blankets (grannies, or knit blocks), so they are good travel knitting and I’m able to put in lots of single skeins.

    As a result, I don’t feel guilty about buying one or two luscious skeins at the LYS on impulse; I know I will find a use for it, even if it takes years. I’m working my way through my mom’s stash, which I inherited ten years ago and contains single skeins of acrylic in all kinds of colors (I’m making a log cabin blanket).

  61. I should not be allowed to stash. There is a secret hoarder in me with yarn. Nothing else, but books and they don’t count. I finally told myself to only stash for projects in my Ravelry Queue. There’s a stupid idea. I now have a queue so huge it’s frightening to contemplate.

  62. I’m a restless knitter-always wanting something different to try and my stash has been out of control.
    Knitting small items now works well for me, and increasingly I’m getting a lot satisfaction from making something from all those small part balls left over from other projects. You can be sure of course with multi-colour work that there is always a toning or contrasting colour missing that justifies a new purchase………

  63. I buy single skeins to swatch and see if I want to make a larger project with them. If I find them unsuitable for what I want to make, they languish. I also have 8 almost-full skeins of MadTosh Merino Light in various colors- I have knit the Chromasticity Cowl by Miriam Felton (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/mersknits/chromaticity-cowl) and various stripey things including a cardigan with them. I add another color for each new project, but I use so little of each color that my pile has grown. I admit to loving my little MadTosh stash. I recently discovered that Ultra Alpaca Fine is the exact gauge of both the merino light and schoppel wool Zauzerball- so I’m planning on using up some of that stash with projects that combine them.
    I’m getting better at combining colors and buying enough in the first place. I knit all kinds of things so I figure eventually I’ll use everything. I find a great deal of comfort and happiness in my stash. I frequently buy yarn on out of town trips and they are like souvenirs that help me recall different places. I like the Yarn Harlot’s idea of stash as a collection. People collect things- at least the things I collect are potentially useful besides just collecting dust! (I’m thinking of my mom’s friend’s Precious Moments figurine collection- I never really understood that one!)

  64. Does it work for me?
    In the sense that I am totally pleased whenever I go an view my yarn like a patron at a museum, yes.

    But in the sense that I now have random quantities of things and am not sure what I even thought when I was selecting them in the first place….. Different story.

    I definitely have SEVERAL skeins of MadelineTosh after discovering I loved making this, which is one skein:

  65. Stash, no comment; but for wool scraps, I’ve made a striped felted tote bag, some was superwash and some not. When it was felted it had a little bit of a rippled texture, turned out pretty cool.

  66. I love having a stash. With my husband’s job, we go through periods of money and periods of not, so when we don’t have much, I work from the stash.
    I’ve been doing a bit of de-stashing lately. What I’ve really been doing is working out what I love, so that when I do buy yarn, I buy things that I love and that I’ll use.
    I also have a large fabric stash, and I’m working on the same principle there.
    For 8 ply/DK yarn, this is my go-to pattern http://www.piece-by-piece.net/Patterns/fp49.htm I love it, as it’s so simple to make and I think every baby needs a handknit. It’s also pretty much the only crochet I do.

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  69. The stash is out of control and my tastes (and abilities) have changed in the ten years I’ve been knitting. Much of it needs to go but it’s too nice for Goodwill and Ravelry destash seems like such an effort….

  70. Nope! It really doesn’t work for me. I try to only buy with projects in mind, but all too often a great sale comes at a weak moment. I also buy online for the sales, so it’s not always what I expect. Then again my ransom purchases at LYS don’t get used any faster. I think I’m getting better and closer to not stashing, in part bec I just can’t cope with more stuff!

    But, I do find it much harder to knit from stash than I ever would have expected. Ironically a podcast about getting rid of ones stash – blanking on name – 2 great women in SF; they are the Devils that got me to build a stash!

    Also at one point I thought it prudent to hoard sale yarns for my leaner years ahead. It hasn’t worked out that well.

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