New Year’s Resolutions: Stash-busting and skill-building

New Year's Resolutions: Stash-busting and skill-building

I’m a devout goal setter in life, but rarely make resolutions. Is that weird? To me, goals are very specific and measurable and resolutions are nebulous, but maybe they’re really the same and I’ve just been doing it wrong! Regardless, after a few years of my broad “resolution” being to choose projects wisely and make better things for myself (successfully!), this year I’m making some more specific resolutions about my knitting and sewing—

1a. Knit from stash
I’m not a big stasher. Sometime over the past few years, I developed a policy of not acquiring yarn unless I had a specific plan for it and intent to cast on — or unless it was truly very special and would not survive a waiting period. (E.g. the Junegrass Batch One I’ve just been knitting with: I knew I wanted a sweater in it, just not precisely which sweater or when. But had I waited, the limited batch would have been long gone. These purchases are rare.) It hasn’t been hard — I don’t knit that many things in a year, mostly all sweaters, so I get the yarn when I’m ready to cast on, plain and simple. The only other yarn that finds its way in are the odd special balls here and there, which mostly get cataloged in Yarns in Waiting. Nevertheless, I have four plastic bins, a narrow shelf and a large basket, all full of yarn waiting to be used. Holdovers from when I used to buy yarn without a purpose. It is nice yarn, good yarn, yarn I love. And I want to knit with it. So I’ll be focusing more attention this year on small projects and other stashbusters — like log cabin! — that make use of lesser yardage. I’m not in a hurry to plow through my stash, mind you, but I do want to bring it out into the daylight and into service, one or two balls at a time.

1b. Sew from stash
My fabric stash is sort of the opposite — good fabric is hard to come by, so when I have a chance, I cave. Especially when that chance takes the form of an Elizabeth Suzann garage sale and I can buy good quality fabric for $2/pound (as it was at the most recent one, last summer, my haul from which is pictured above). I have much more fabric than I have shelf space for at this point, and essentially no excuse to buy any more. I have linen, wool, jersey, you name it. So whereas I’m not committing to knitting only from stash — just saying I want to dip into it more — I am kinda sorta vowing to only sew from stash. At least, trying really hard to do that.

2. Try new things
This is my overarching MO — always be learning, stretching, failing, improving — but there are specific knitting skills or techniques I talk about often and still have yet to try. So this year I will knit something mosaic and I will steek.

All totally doable! How about you — any resolutions for 2018?


PREVIOUSLY: 2017 Knitting year in review and Sewing year in review





38 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions: Stash-busting and skill-building

  1. Although I’ve never had a huge stash, I’ve been caught once too often by umpulse buys. For 2018: knit every day, buy yarn for specific projects only. If I stumble across a must have, can’t wait, it’ll be a sweater’s worth! Enjoy your posts every time! Thank you!

  2. Sewing and knitting from stash, ha that is always a goal but rarely happens. This past year (honestly in the last couple of weeks) I steeked it was a little terrifying but I did the sleeves and now I just need to finish the sweater so I can steek the front. I’m currently doing a mosaic cowl, across the pond by Andrea Mowry, but I want to do something in brioche. And for my sewing I want to make more clothing, I’ve never been much good at fit so this is a challenge for 2018. You have inspired me this past year with your sewing.

    • I know, it’s the most unoriginal resolution of all time, yet somehow I’ve never made it for myself! When I realized how much good yarn is sitting in those bins I never open … well, I need to get in there.

  3. I have some ideas for my wild self. In my creative column, BUST THAT STASH! Both yarn and fabric. Finish up some WIPS. Do logcabin KAL. My other life ques are loaded with ideas and things to do.

  4. My main resolution is to improve my techniques and curb my impulse to buy cheap yarn. I love buying yarn from my local thrift – some sock yarns and single skeins whenever I find nice wool yarn. I want to continue with that, and increase the amount that I’m getting from there. I find, though, that for bigger projects I have a tendency of impulsively buying Cascade or other yarn that is not as sustainably produced. I have a smaller budget and my LYS stocks a lot of not-my-style yarns (lots of lace- and sock-weight yarns and more arty yarns rather than farmy yarns). But now I have quantities of yarn that I feel obligated to use but not inspired to use. No more in 2018!

    Re; improving techniques, I want to be more confident in my basic techniques (correcting mistakes, gauge issues, and modifying patterns) as well as try new things! More cables (my own designs!), figure out my colourwork problems, etc! Push myself out of my comfort zone. :)

    And I want to sew anything. Even if I start with curtains. I took a beginner sewing class years ago and I want to work up to making garments, but with a big move and not very much space in my lil’ car I don’t know if the sewing machine will make the cut.

  5. Every year I vow to make what I need instead of what looks good at the moment. But I realized after looking at your planning posts, my failure lies in not really thinking and writing down, what those items should be. I end each year still needing a black cardigan. Seeing your posts is a light bulb moment. I do want to try some new techniques. I also want to make a Julie Hoover pattern. I’ve always admired her style but somehow never attempted a pattern.

  6. I’m right in line with you… I always try to learn something new with every project, and this year I want to add double knitting and brioche to the mix. I also recognize that my stash is getting out of hand and needs to be (1) organized and (2) knit down

  7. knitting from stash is a goal i have every year. I was able to do some of that for gifts this past year. I want to knit more color (other than black and white and grey). I want to knit something colorwork and learn to steek (looking at you, BT Galloway). I’d like to plan my knits more to be in line with want i actually need/want to wear. Your posts are so inspiring that I want to make everything you make!

    this may be a bit off topic, but I’m knitting my first (adult-sized) cardigan using your improv pattern. I’m at the yoke depth that I want but don’t have enough back/front stitches. Do I still separate but continue to increase for the back and front until my target number? and do i increase on the sides?

    Thanks !

    • The number of stitches you have at the divide determines how big your sweater is at that point — continuing to increase beyond that will increase the body below the underarms but won’t change how big it is from there up. What are all your numbers?

      • I’m basically making your vanilla cardigan with Arranmore but in black, following your pattern. My row gauge is bigger than yours. 4 inch= 15 stitches, 21 rows. I’d like a 9 inch yoke , which is where I am now and have 74 back stitches and 72 front stitches (36 on each side). If i divide now, I’d have a 40 inch chest circumference, but wont give me the ease that i’d like.

        thanks so much!

        • I think i just solved it. My gauge is off! If i’m following your measurements , then I need smaller needles to get gauge of 17/25 over 4 inches.


    • I’ve had this problem too. I didn’t divide and ended up with a longer yoke than I wished. I can’t wait to see what Karen tells you to do.

      • You always want to calculate this at the start — how many rows will it take to reach your intended yoke depth and is it enough rows to fit in your increases. Tweak as needed.

  8. I’m constantly making templates for how I want a day/week/month/year to look; I don’t really make resolutions, but I make guides, I’d guess I call them. I tend toward chaos/”look! shiny thing!” so imposing some kind of overarching guide makes me feel a little more secure. All that said, I’m committing to a “finish one/start one (with materials from stash)” rule. Of course, this still allows me the impulse project here and there while getting things off the deck. I’m also – in a more general way- working on letting go of things whether they’re failed projects (there will be unraveling!) or items I’m holding onto for no really good reason. Happy New Year!

  9. I love setting goals and then checking them off my list! Like you, Karen, my goals involve knitting and sewing from my collection. I don’t think of the fabric and yarn as “stash” but as projects that I am going to focus on this year. A happy new year for me!

    • That’s how I think of the yarns I have out in the open, and the ones in the bins are just lost and forgotten, so I want to make sure I’m touching both.

  10. I’ve looked at my ravelry projects page and find I’ve knit several shawls/scarves lately, the result of buying one or maybe two skeins of yarn. My resolve for yarn purchases is the same as yours: a sweater’s worth or at least have a plan for those odd skeins. I want to knit at least one Fair Isle hat and see how successful I can be with stranding. That should use some of those odd skeins that live in multiple storage crates on my shelves.

    I’ve amassed too much fabric over the years, some years and years old by now. I hope to learn how to do a FBA this year, something that I’ve wanted to learn for years and never committed to learning. I have a summer wedding to attend so would like to sew a dress for that, though maybe I’ll rethink that and possibly go for a skirt and top.

    Currently I have 3 wips: Little Wave by Gudrun Johnston, Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder, and Miso by Ambah O’brien.

    Success to everyone’s plans!

    • Liesl Gibson has a great FBA tutorial on her Oliver and S blog somewhere, and I believe it’s also covered in a CreativeBug video. She’s great at explaining it!

  11. My thing being hats, which I can knit and sell on the side to my other art, I have … ah, LOTS of hat patterns from designers on Ravelry. (So often good patterns are offered free for short times, if you’re watching and they take up no space.) I can’t make and sell from these patterns (copyright) but I so want to knit at least one hat from each my favorites. Which would give me a lovely stash of gifts for gift giving time. I have done several sorts of my yarn stash and moved on what I found I wasn’t using. I’ve frogged a shawl WIP I didn’t like. Same with my fabric. I want to take the time to do a couple of arty tops for myself, likely repurposing a thrift store finds. As usual, my mind is full! Overarching intention: fresh NEW arty projects on all fronts. Happy New Year, Everyone!

  12. My stash is insane so my biggest thought for this year is to knit with what I have first before I buy anything else. Now my knitting output is pretty high but I have more yarn than what I can make with in a year. I’m hoping to crank out a few more sweaters and things over the next few months so that if I go to Maryland Sheep and Wool in May I can buy with more of a purpose and not just off of ‘oh I love this color.’

  13. I don’t make resolutions, just plans. Next week, I plan to reorganize the stash areas (there are three), and I am looking forward to it as I haven’t really tackled it fully for a couple of years. Half a century of knitting, plus a dozen years working in an LYS where employees had a generous discount, plus the pass alongs from friends who for whatever reason have inherited or given up on or in some way acquired yarn they don’t need has left me with more yarn that I can use, or even want. Quite a bit will be donated, some will be shared with friends, and much of the remaining will be repurposed because I no longer want/need what I originally had in mind.

    I have spent the last few years trying to knit mostly from stash which is not a burden; I have great stash. But having too much makes me slow to sample new things, so I have made a huge effort. I sort of miss the shopping aspect, sometimes, but I actually kind of love the extra creative process that goes into saying that I have a sweaters worth of something, and how can I use to to make something that i will be really happy with, and to think grandly rather than on a small scale (while some of you are making a log cabin hat or cowl, I am making a blanket, planned to be 50″ X 70″, in fingering weight shetland, every bit of it from stash). Figuring how to make that work without compromising style and quality is a lovely challenge to be able to take on. I have plans right now for six projects, yarn on hand, nicely aged: plans, not resolutions.

  14. Regarding stashing: I have a yarn stash, but easily 95% of that stash is for dedicated projects. The rest is leftovers or what you accurately call “special yarns”: I don’t know what I’m going to make with them, but I bought a sweaters’ worth because the yarn is too good to pass by.

    My fabric stash is far and away mostly quilting cottons, because quilting cottons and embroidery floss are the only two stitching thingies I have no shame about purchasing without a specific project in mind. It all gets used at some point. Garment fabric, however, I stash like I stash yarn: the fabric is designated for a specific garment.

    Anyhoo, resolutions: I will knit three things for my wardrobe and sew at least two. Most of last year’s knitting and sewing was for people who are not me, and this year, I will selfishly knit for my own wardrobe. (Not that the wee folk will go without. I cannot help but make stuff for the kiddos.)

  15. My theme for the year is Minimize! My weight, stuff in my house and on my computer. And there are specific goals and plans for all 3. Thank goodness for my bullet journal! Sadly, it means no yarn impulse buys but my stash is full of pretty yarn.

  16. I just got a sewing machine, so my crafty resolution is to take a day to sew at least once a month. I started with some placemats and hope to sew a few easy garments this year.

  17. I resolved last year not to add to my stash and failed miserably. I resolved to knit from stash and that worked out better. I wanted to make my first crochet sweater and I didn’t get around to that. So those are my continuing plans for 2018- don’t buy new yarn, use up stash, crochet a sweater! And generally crochet more and build on my crochet skills (go from intermediate to expert). I enjoy crochet when I do it, yet for some reason I knit more.

  18. I am going to knit/sew from what I already have. But I do want to plan a special sweater and buy a really nice yarn for it. I am really contemplating cline or your latest improv top down cardigan! I have about two sweaters quantity of wool that I would like to use to make sweaters for myself this year (one in a project that needs to be frogged–which will be liberating).
    As for my yarn stash..I am going to use the odd skeins (or just not enough for adult things) to make sweaters/hats/vests for my children. I love how Felicia at the craft session does her “stash less” clothing/knots for children. So inspiring and playful!

  19. Trying new things sounds great, dear Karen!
    That is what I am doing now on the Log Cabin: finding a new way and technic without cast off & picking up the stitches from the edge. A really one-piece knitting project!

    All the Best from Germany

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