I was surprised this week to discover how comforting it can feel to go back to my own stash. Yes, the stash that reminds me of countless projects unfinished and unmade, of my momentary lapses of judgment at yarn sales, of the fact that I own a wheel that hasn't been touched in months, of my shameless conspicuous consumption of more fiber than I will likely ever knit. Typically, my stash is the source of stress, anxiety, and embarrassment. There's a reason why I keep it in the closet.
But one Friday in November, I had a very different experience. I was rummaging through my stash to find some yarn for a little selfish knitting. I cycled through all the negative thoughts: regret about having bought so much of this yarn, or not enough of that; frustration about the many projects I've still not cast on to make; disgust at the amount of money I must have spent on yarn and fiber, at the expense of more worthy causes. And then, suddenly, I felt something entirely different: I felt like I was home.
Digging through my stash, trying to recall where I might have put the yarn for that sweater in VK, I came across yarns that I've owned for years. Instead of thinking, "When am I ever going to get around to knitting this???" I found myself feeling more like an adult pulling toys from her childhood out of a box sent from home. I remembered my yarns, they were familiar and loved, and I indulged in the tactile pleasure of rummaging through the skeins, hanks, and balls.
We knitters spend far too much time worrying about stash: how much we have, how much we don't have, how much others have, how much we can possibly even use in our own lifetimes. A lot of this stash anxiety comes from instrumentalizing our fiber: we think about it mostly in terms of its usefulness. And a closet full of unknit yarn and unspun fiber - when thought of in instrumental terms - can only symbolize waste.
But stash is so much more than potential knitting undone. If you pay attention to it, your stash contains a rich history - of LYS's you have visited, of fiber phases you have been through, of your growth as a discerning fiber consumer, and of the fiber industry itself. Stash is a reflection of who you are, who you have been, and how you made the trip in between.
Next time you are rummaging through your stash, take a minute to fondle the fiber. Reacquaint yourself with a yarn that you bought years ago, forgot about, and still don't really want to cast on yet - even though it is still awfully pretty and pet-able. That peculiar shade of blue in that long-ago discontinued yarn isn't nagging at you to get knitting - she's your old friend, happy that you are taking the time to stop by and catch up. And like the best of old friends, she'll be there to greet you again the next time you come for a visit.