If you have a goal of shrinking your yarn stash, but never feel like you make any progress and also can’t find yarn you want to use, you’re not alone. I’m going to help you break it down so you can identify the yarns you really want to use.
Hi. I'm Becca
I’ve been knitting for about 25 years. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of yarn over the years, gone on prolonged yarn-buying fasts and reduced the stash, but still have more than I would like. If you’re not sold on the idea of even trying to have a smaller stash, check out this blog post where I get more into the why behind this.
1. Getting Ready
Before you even get into the yarn, I want you to look around your house and notice what colors you see. Are there any themes? Are there a few colors that make more appearances than others?
Then look at your closet and do the same. If you have family members that you knit for, think about their colors also.
I wanted you to do that because most of us have a favorite color or 2, and there are usually some colors we aren’t as drawn to. Knowing which is which will help with the process of sorting through the yarn.
2. Gather it all up.
Actually, first get the floor nice and clean in the area you’ll be working, so you don’t get your precious yarns all dusty and hairy.
Once you have all that yarn out of hiding, dump it all out in one spot. You know I’m a Marie Kondo fan, and this is literally straight out of her book.
Then get a box or bin of some sort to toss the rejects into. If you don’t want to have to think about it again once you’ve made the cuts, then get a big cardboard box and tape it up as soon as you’re done.
3. Make a rainbow.
Arrange the yarns into a color wheel of sorts, in ROYGBIV order, and then place the black, white, grey, and multicolored ones either in the center or on the outer edge, depending on how it will fit better.
Once that’s done, stand back and admire how pretty it probably is!
If it looks overwhelming right now, just take a deep breath and trust me. We're going to sort through it systematically and apply a few different filters, one at a time.
How does it compare to your household color scheme? Do you see any color families that you could eliminate?
Think about not only the hue, but also about the values and saturation. Do you like bright colors? Pastels? Earth tones? Certain combinations? If you get overwhelmed and forget everything you ever knew when you’re staring at this massive rainbow of yarn, take a few minutes to look at the other parts of your house again and remember which colors are important to you. (Also don’t forget to breathe)
Now for the hard part: Whatever doesn’t match that, grab it and toss it into your designated rejects box.
Once you’ve separated them by color, touch everything that’s left. This is kind of like the KonMari “spark joy” philosophy. If you don’t like the texture and feel, you won’t like knitting with it either, and therefore probably won’t ever use it, so why keep it?
Again, toss everything that didn’t feel great to you into the bin.
Think back on things you’ve knitted. Do you have a favorite weight? It’s okay to have many different weights in your stash (I do), but if you know you prefer delicate lace weight projects, you could probably get rid of anything worsted weight and up. Conversely: maybe you hate fiddling with thin yarns. Then those can go.
How does it feel now? Does the remaining stash feel more like you? More like home? It should.
5. Thinking about the future
I want you to think about the projects you want to knit. Do you see yarn in your stash that will work for them? If not, what’s the missing element? Not enough of a certain color? Not the right weight? Is there a way you can adapt the pattern to work with what you have? If you have a list of “to knit” patterns, like in your Ravelry queue, take a look in there and see if there’s a way to use what you have for any of them. (Side note: try to keep your queue to 15 or less.)
I’m not saying you need to have an exact plan for every bit of yarn that you keep, but you should at least be able to visualize how some of them could be combined.
6. Update your inventory.
Before you put it all away, take some time to update your Ravelry stash, if you use that. If you haven’t ever done that, check out this old video to see how. I think it’s worth doing.
If you already use the stash section of your Ravelry notebook, go through it and change the status of the ones that didn’t make the cut. Change them to either traded/sold/gifted or will trade or sell. Don’t delete them, or you’ll lose the yarn information from previous projects. For the ones you’re keeping, make sure the yardage is up to date. Learn how to do that here.
This will make shopping from your stash much easier, and if you find yourself one day in a yarn store, tempted to buy everything, you can easily pull up your stash right then and there to see if this new yarn is really necessary.
7. Get rid of the rejects.
You can either donate or sell. Trading is also an option, but I would caution against that because the reason you’re doing this in the first place is because you had too much yarn. First, this will add more back in and defeat the purpose. Second, if you wouldn’t pay money for it, why take it for free?
If you had to pay money for it, would you still want it?
Before you donate, take some time to untangle knots and wind things into nice little balls. Ziploc bags are good for grouping compatible yarns together and keeping the yarn from getting jumbled up and dusty.
If you’re selling it, obviously do the same.
You can offer it up to your local knitting group, take it to a thrift store, or check to see if there’s a domestic violence shelter or children’s home in your area and call to see if they would take this sort of donation.
If you’d like to recoup some of the money originally spent on these yarns, and maybe set it aside for future, wiser yarn choices, Mercari Is a site that I like to use for things like this that don’t weigh much and are nicer and/or a larger quantity.
Once, I listed a bag of low-quality yarns on Facebook and titled it “Crappy acrylic yarns” for $5. It was claimed within the hour.
If you try this, I’d love to hear about your experience and how you feel afterward. Share it on social media and tag me so I can see it. I’m @becca.j.norman on IG, and I don’t use snapchat, tiktok or twitter.