Do yarn and fabric breed when we’re not looking?

BEFORE: sewing room makeover

Partly in avoidance of the Herculean task of picking winners from the epic field of #sob18finishers and partly from wanting to cut out next sewing projects and having to face the fact that I literally can no longer function in my out-of-control sewing room, I made the decision over the weekend to hit pause on EVERYTHING and begin the other Herculean task I’ve been avoiding: dealing with my mess.

Almost two years ago, I posted a little tour of this room of mine. We’d been in the house a little over a year and the wall-sized shelf I had vowed not to exceed capacity on had started to fill in. Soon thereafter, piles began forming — on the table, the floor, the ironing board — because there’s nowhere to put everything. It crept into other rooms of the house. When we tore up the middle of our house for our bathroom remodel this spring, as I’ve mentioned, everything got dumped into the guest room, and the piles of things that had overflowed from my workroom into the guest room got moved into our bedroom. It was, as they say, a shitshow. With the bathroom finished and sparkling and magnificent, I could no longer bear that our bedroom was a storage room. So with most of the contents of the bathroom and coat closet having gone back where they belonged (with lingering piles that needed dealt with and the guest room still in disarray), I once again pushed the giant pile of fabrics and the enormous basket piled high with yarn and abandoned WIPs and who knows what into the guest room, and I spruced up our bedroom (for the first time ever, basically) while extending the guest room’s status as wholly unusable. And still there were the piles on every surface of my sewing room.


So Saturday I opened the can of worms and began to face the contents. I cleared the guest bed of everything else, removed all of the fabric from the shelves and its other hiding places, then laid it all out of the guest bed for sorting. And so it began. Already I’ve made a world of progress! And in the meantime, I’ve continued to mull my narrowing of the SoB prize contenders. So I’ll have that for you tomorrow. The room will take longer to sort out, but I promise to let you know how it turns out!

Happy Labor Day to those of you for whom that is relevant!


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31 thoughts on “Do yarn and fabric breed when we’re not looking?

  1. I feel your pain, I tore everything out of my sewing room last Thurs and it has turned into a painting and give away project. Not sure when it will be back in order but I have not slept for worrying that it is not a happy place right now. Your room is lovely btw.

  2. It’s inevitable! The same way bigger closets lead to having more clothes. I think the only remedy is periodic purges, which are both agonizing and liberating. I’m in the middle of doing the same thing in my wool room. In spite of the tradition of spring cleaning, in the Chinese 5 element philosophy autumn is the time for cutting the excess away, so go to it!

  3. I laughed when I saw the title of this post. It would explain my growing stash.
    My guest room always turns into a junk room.
    Good luck!

  4. Your words ring so true in my life! My guest/computer room bed is covered with work related piles, sewing piles and knitting piles, including my latest purchases of field bags, regular and small. The prospect of a guest excites/haunts me.

  5. Strangely enough, I just spent four days of the past week purging and cleaning up my sewing room. When I moved in two years ago, I loaded up the two sets of metal bakers shelves with fabric, etc., just to get the boxes unpacked. And there it sat. For two years. When I found myself able to work on only one small corner of a table in that room, I felt it was time to do a major clean-out. Now I feel like I can FOCUS which is necessary to get anything done in life.

    • I made a list of all the examples like that in my house — the places I dumped stuff “just for the moment; I’ll fix it” — and am holding myself accountable for fixing them. One by one …

  6. My instant answer to the title of the blog post: Well, ya! As a maker and an artist who needs to make all of the time for our shop, its not just yarn and fabric but many other art materials. With a very small studio space and not much storage in our little house. Which is a good thing. I remain a stanch graduate of the little declutter book by Marie Kondo and so keep an eye on the Growth of Stash a bit better these days. I know now that at the bottom of the “accumulation” is the stuff I no longer like/want and I keep by-passing it. But… what about all that money I spent?!! I shake my head at myself and get out bags for the thrift store. Someone else will love this stuff and actually use it.

    • It’s such an important lesson — the stuff you had to have and spent money on and never touched — and leads to better decisions, if we’re paying attention!

  7. She who dies with the most fabric/yarn/paint, etc. wins! But no, purchasing can easily become an obsession and we end up with more than we could ever use in a lifetime. I’m ever mindful of keeping my stash to a decent minimum…and not having a “SABLE” situation (stash acquired beyond life expectancy) to deal with. :) I read somewhere online (my apologies for not giving credit…I just have no idea of the source) we only need a few words to avoid “SABLE”…Refuse (don’t buy any more), Reduce (the amount of what you already have), Reuse/Repair, Recycle. Easier said than done, right?
    There’s always a posting on social media with a new fiber, a new pattern, etc. to tempt us…sigh! I agree with Mary Jo…I’ve spent lots of time and money accumulating more yarn than I could ever use, and despite giving away tons of it, I still have far too much! What was I thinking? This has been a painful but costly lesson that I learned from you, Karen…and slow fashion! Thanks so much for continuing to have that conversation as it’s so important!

  8. One look at the title of article? Hysterical laughter! Pile of giggles now… signed, the fabriholic

  9. The longer you knit, the more stash you accumulate. It is a rule of life. I happen to be pretty old, so my stash grows and ages with me. I usually tackle it after Christmas each year, and it’s actually a task I love because it opens up new and forgotten possibilities. I donate some, I have a specific container for yarn for charity knitting and I do quite a lot of that. But the part that gives me a thrill is suddenly seeing the possibilities for a new project out of recombined stash. It’s not hard to go out and buy the yarn the pattern calls for; it takes a new eye and some serious creativity to pull a great project from what you have on hand. Plus, using what you already own is the heart of sustainability. Perhaps this could inspire a future KAL?

  10. As a recent transplant to Texas,I have found a group of knitters I have connected with. ZWhen I clean out stash I put it in a bag and take it to our meetings. I place the yarn on a table and say free yarn, please use it well. It is always gone by the time I am ready to head home.

    Our yarn crawl will be in a couple of weeks and it is very interesting to hear, I have enough, I am not going to xyz yarn store this year, these are the five stores out of ten that I will be going to this year skipping the rest. While the yarn crawl is a lot of fun, I really want to move into the new refinished and replaced master bedroom and bathroom. Told husband that was my plan for the new year. Now if we can only find some workers who show up and don’t sat tomorrow or never show up😟

  11. My fabric stash is just the stuff to make a few projects, but my knitting stash is at a point where I feel like it’s too much. Ironically, I think Ravelry is both the impetus for and the salvation from this problem: I never had a stash until I got on Ravelry, but now having my stash catalogued on Ravelry is helping me use it better and use it up. :) In short, I know the feeling. :)

  12. My first reply to your headline question was, “Yes, of course.” I think I’m near SABLE in yarn and approaching it in fabric but am determined to only knit from stash until I can see some light at the end of that tunnel. I figure if I loved it enough to buy it I shouldn’t buy more until most of it is knitted into something swell. All of my yarn is catalogued on Ravelry but I’m not brave enough to give the link to bare my shame to all. My fabric stash isn’t as easily classified and rationalized. One of these (winter) days I’ll pull out all the fabric to see what I’ve got and what is garment quantity and what needs to grow up to be accessories or combined with something else. I can’t wait to see how your adventure in organization goes.

  13. I feel you! I am in grad school and live in a cooperative house in a fairly large, though low, bedroom. My fabric and yarn are well-dealt with (although I have a couple of floor baskets that are overspilling with “in-progress” projects, since being put away means sitting at the bottom of a suitcase or large plastic bin), but my book situation was just crazy! I finally broke down and bought a 178$ six foot book shelf, which entailed a massive rearrangement of my room, not to mention all the hauling of furniture and heavy books. It took me basically a day and a half and I still haven’t properly swept or anything, but amazingly you can see the floor and everything looks neat and open. I feel like I even sleep better, just knowing that my room is somehow tidy and I can find anything I might need when I think of it. whew! You’ll feel so much happier and lighter when you finish dealing with your mess!

  14. I refuse to have a stash, I usually have 1-3 projects worth of stuff on hand, but it all has a purpose and must be used before buying more. I have an ever changing list of stuff that I want to buy and make, and based on how often things get crossed off, changed, or added I am glad I don’t give in to buying more stuff.

  15. Thanks for sharing images of of a sewing and crafting room that looks real – and not styled to within an inch of its life.

  16. I sympathize with your struggle, but it’s also a relief to me that I’m not the only one! I have a large fabric stash, and I love it and find it endlessly inspirational, but with pieces constantly rotating in and out, it requires continuous maintenance. Even with conscious and intentional acquistions, I find that with lots of ‘stuff” comes lots of responsibility, and when I’m tempted to purchase things, one of my considerations is whether or not it’s worth the added responsibility to my life!

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