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March 07, 2022 3 min read

Spring cleaning.

In the august heat of 2014, we packed up the house into which I’d brought my parents, four children, a new husband, and a literal menagerie of animals. We merged three households, each with its own set of dining room chairs, glassware, and assorted kitchen utensils, We’d negotiated whose saucepans hould be kept and whose donated, but there was still a powerful lot of stuff. I’d heard about Marie Kondo’s magical method of keeping only those things that sparked joy.  I tried to look at each piece as to whether or not it sparked joy, but I didn’t really get it, and we ended up bringing a lot of unmade decisions to the new house.

The movers had dutifully packed everything in the house, so beyond the vague terms like kitchen scrawled on the outside, the contents of each cardboard carton was a mystery. As I opened each carefully wrapped item, I began to understand what Kondo meant. When the newsprint revealed my wire whisk and Cutco utensils, I was happy to see these old friends. They sparked joy. They represented the kind of life I wanted - a life of time together around the table, with family and friends. Other things, like mismatched cartoon glasses, did not.

Kondo’s method is first about visioning your ideal life. Joy is not euphoria, but rather a general sense of happiness, especially in keeping with the kind of life you want to live.

As knitters, we collect all kinds of yarn for all different reasons. Unless you’re a brand new knitter, or a unicorn, you have a pile of yarn in your stash. There are all those half balls leftover from projects, the yarn from the craft store we bought before you knew there was a difference, the yarn that we got at a fiber festival, the yarn that we bought because it was on sale, the yarn in the color we just love, and the projects with patterns awaiting their turn at the top of our queue.

Using Kondo’s method, we’d decide first what kind of knitter we want to be and then look at each skein, each project, and decide whether or not they spark joy and support our vision of ourselves as knitters. For instance, the pink Noro I’ve been hoarding makes my heart sing because I have a sweater quantity, it’s a color I love, and I will enjoy both making and wearing a garment from it. Although I will likely never be a sock knitter, I’ll keep the fuchsia sock yarn because I love the color, and it will make a perfect little shawlette. The yarns I have for a Fair Isle yoke sweater, on the other hand, will have to go since I don’t enjoy either knitting or wearing that style sweater.

It’s not about the quantity we keep or let go, but rather about how much welove those things we keep, and how well they fit into our ideal knitting life. By keeping only what sparks joy and truly speaks to our heart. our stash stops being oppressive and becomes a wonderful resource holding hours of pleasure and satisfaction.

What do you think? What is your ideal vision of yourself as a knitter? What kinds of things earn a place in your stash, and what kinds of things would you like to let go? Reply to the email and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Warmly,

Ellen