Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A new look at stashed yarn

Moving out to renovate your home presents a unique opportunity to do some major downsizing, and I didn't want to blow it by leaving the whole thing to the last minute... so of course I bought another book to read.  But wait! this one is actually applicable.

Yep, it's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  And you know what?  This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a while, which is saying something - not least because it's a nonfiction book on how to get clutter out of your house.  I mean: that description right there should be a reason not to sink deep into the pages and relax.

Nonetheless, it's a really pleasant and uplifting read. The perspective of this book is that everything you choose to keep in your home, regardless of the amount of space you have, should bring you joy.  And you can only know if it brings you joy by putting it into your hand and looking at it.

Of course a non knitter could read that, then look around the cluttered house in fear and horror.

A knitter is going to think immediately of yarn.

What knitter doesn't want an excuse to take out every single ball or skein or cake of yarn and pile it on a table with its fellows, then hold each one for a moment to feel the joy it brings?

Still - we all know for sure that some of that yarn is not going to bring us joy, but guilt.  Guilt for overspending, for buying yarn as souvenir instead of for love or even need, for still not having knit the stuff, for not realizing that this particular fiber is so much not a favourite, for not accepting that a queen sized blanket out of laceweight is just never going make it to the needles.

The book offers an answer to that guilt, and I think it's brilliant.  All you have to do is acknowledge the lesson that item has taught you.  To thank it for teaching you that lesson, and to let it go because it has served its purpose and can now go and teach somebody else.

So... those cones of yarn I bought hugely on discount and in enough quantity to make sweaters and shawls and hats and other things?  Yeah, I am never, ever going to get through that stuff.  I have knit with it enough now to know that I love working with 100% wool... but not if it's itchy.  That I loved knitting sweaters when I was a size 5, but not now, when I'm not.  That the colours I have in this yarn are not colours I want to work with any more, because I'm a bit tired of them now.

I can thank those cones, and I can let them go.

And ten minutes after I have irretrievably done that, I will come across the perfect pattern for all of them that I cannot wait to knit, and I will kick myself.


you know what?  I will still have about two years' worth of knitting material that I am crazy about and will love using, to help me work through the pain.

Here's the book's approach in practice.  After reading some of it at the dining room table I put it down and saw a yellow piece of plastic still sitting there from my Christmas cracker.  H'mmm, I thought, that's an obvious thing to toss.  And I picked it up and put it in my hand and really looked at it and you know what?  It made me happy.  But more than that, I realized it is something that can go on making me happy.

It's a yellow plastic ruler with inches and centimeters and stencils in the middle.  Only three inches long, but that's good enough to check gauge with, and it's short enough to fit into the emergency kit I keep in a little pouch for my purse.


If I happen to need to check for a size 9 knitting needle, I can do that.

Thank you, Magical Tidying Book, for teaching me.  

(seriously though, this is a really good book with a lot of insights about life in it.  I am so glad I found it... and the cover? the cover totally brings me joy. even when it's just lying around on the dining room table, and not tidy at all.)


kt said...

Thank you for the book suggestion. We are in a similar boat of downsizing from a four bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment as new career opportunities are moving us to a different state. I am enjoying the challenge of living smaller. The best thing that has helped us clear out excess is renting a third floor condo with no elevator. It is amazing how many things you find that you no longer truly love when faced with the prospect that keeping them means three flights of stairs.

Mary Keenan said...

Okay, *that* is a genius solution to the need to let go of the Too Much Stuff! Good luck with the packing and moving... even though it will be such a relief not to have all those things, weeding through the supplies is exhausting and not something I relish at all.

Mimi said...

Wow! This book is all over the place right now. I may have to Like many others, I could use the lessons.

Mary Keenan said...

It is a very hopeful book Mimi - it did make me feel it will be possible to transform our quality of life :^)