Sunday, 23 September 2012


I'm hauling myself up from YET ANOTHER major viral illness. Lucky for you I'm completely over talking about it so we can move on together.
I've been doing a bit of contemplating as you do when other more fun stuff has been ruled out, and I'm making a few changes to my creative space.

First off I have been divesting myself of a substantial amount of my yarn stash. I read through a discussion thread over on Ravelry about why people stash and thought about my reasons for stashing. I am not attempting to justify stashing or not here - we're all grown ups and we're allowed to do whatever we like. Compared to many other habits, stashing is both cheaper and considerably less hazardous to one's health and social standing than many I can think of. As a friend recently said to me after a stressful day at the office, I just had to go home and pet some nice yarn and really can anyone say that's not OK?
Japan booty 3 - wrapped silk from avril
Quite aside from stashing for the pleasure of yarn's intrinsic beauty, I also stash because, like with fabric, I buy things oportunisitically. Sales, rare finds, souvenirs, to maximise shipping value. I like to be able to whip up something at short notice without needing to shop for materials. For all these reasons I absolutely believe the stash saves me time and money when I am making things.

Kakadu undyed
But someone wrote something else in the chat thread that solidified another key reason I stash. My stash is a key part of my creative process. As a maker I do not generally speaking start with a pattern, decide the perfect materials and then go procure. I surround myself with materials that are full of many possibilities and as I look at, touch, compare and experiment with those materials my sense of their ideal use evolves.

I'd not really thought abut this before. About the time it takes to think materials and projects through. About how my needs and my ideas and my insights percolate and move on and morph. And how this is a good thing, an enriching thing, a really fundamental part of what I love about making.
Japan booty 4 - linen paper from avril
Sometimes that process leads to dead ends - materials I know I won't use any time soon because of what I've decided about them, or because I have the wrong amount for what I want to do with them. While that evolution process keeps going and sometimes materials throw up new possibilities after a time, the reality is that sometimes the stash can stop being inspirational and start being oppressive. I can look at it and just see all the projects I was going to make that I haven't. The ideas that haven't come together, the things I no longer care for or about. The balls of wool and folds of fabric spilling out of containers and clogging up the work spaces that make it hard to think let alone do.

Japan booty 2 - silk from avril
So I got real on the knitting front after a winter in which I haven't been able to knit and tried to imagine what I really could get to in the next year or two. Offering things for sale on Ravelry's destash forum has seen several kilos of yarn walk out my door and hundreds of dollars walk into my bank account. It's also seen me sort through and catalogue everything that I'm keeping and gotten me really excited about the projects I have lined up for when I can knit again. Bloody brilliant.
Making itty bitty prototypes

I did a similar thing with the fabric stash a while back (though it didn't involve selling - fabric is just too hard to sell) and it was similarly beneficial. In fact I've had a lovely piece of fabric for well over a year and just yesterday I suddenly got majorly inspired by what I want to do with it and started making some itty bittty prototypes to try and work out a pattern.
The dress form padded out to my size. Woot! Only took me 3 years...

And then I realised the whole thing would be so much easier if I finally padded out that way too small dress form I inherited three years. So I set to with shoulder pads and pieces of wadding and sewed and glued until she is a reasonable approximation of a body double.

The process was not nearly as awful as I imagined it was going to be - it was time consuming I guess but once I decided on glue rather than sewing all the bits on it moved much faster. It remains to be seen how useful it will be in the design and fitting department but at the very least it should be educational.