Stash Less is a series where we talk about having a thoughtful stash. Other posts in this series can be found here.
Habits are changing
I thought it might be good to start the year with an update on Stash Less – about practicing new habits, the projects that are coming out of Stash Less, and of course the cash!
We are just over three months in and I’ve learnt many things about my purchasing habits, initially through examination, and then observation along the way. At the start of this project, when I looked through my stash and tried to figure out why I had what I had, I came up with four main reasons why I purchase (more about this examination in this blog post).
1. Time poverty - Getting the thrill of making, without having the time to actually do the making.
2. Fear of missing out - (FOMA) on special materials
3. Beauty - Wanting to own the pretty things.
4. Chasing perfection - Wanting the perfect materials rather than making do with what I have.
Changing a habit involves practice - yes? Now, whenever I am thinking of making a purchase, I use the list above as a critical lense through which I can examine my motivation. This then allows me to determine whether making that purchase involves engaging in a behavior I am happy with. So simple but this has totally changed things for me!
Due to the budget I have set myself I am having to consider carefully what I spend, and when. I can still spend but I need to spend consciously. Which is where the practicing my new habit is critical. I’m asking myself the following questions.
1. Which one of the four reasons above is the trigger for the desire to purchase?
2. Do I need XYZ or do I have something in stash I could use instead for the project? Would that material be good enough?
3. When do I intend to use it? (If the answer isn’t “straight away” then I am generally saying “no for now”.)
4. And again, do I need it?
The other key thing I have become super vigilant about is how I engage with inspiration online, and then the subsequent shopping carts I might flirt with. I’m trying not to shop at all. This applies to physical stores also. I’m trying to only head to an online shop when I have identified an actual need rather than “just having a look to see what they have and wistfully look at all the pretty”.
My making is changing
I’m finding my making is changing. No longer am I just putting things that have not quite worked into a corner. I am actively seeking out ways to reuse the materials, or fix them, rather than moving on to the next thing. I’m being much more conscious about looking at what I need to make – finding the gaps in my wardrobe – rather than following my latest whim.
Although much making was done over the holidays, the stash isn’t decreasing at the rate you might expect. Most projects this summer have used materials that were either already in use in an unsuccessful project OR were leftovers from another project.
Recent Project 1
I made a Wiksten Tank – that I showed you yesterday – from my existing Scout Tee, the sack like one that didn’t really work. The tank is a total winner and I have worn it at least three times in the last week. Can’t argue with those statistics.
Recent Project 2
I began working on Keel by Bristol Ivy using yarn that I salvaged from the gorgeous but too small Stranger cardigan. Keel has been slow going – there were 266 stitches to begin with and now 12 inches in I am at 242 per row. Even writing this down is a little painful. That said, it is a helpful process given all the pondering I have been doing about stillness. This is a mindfulness exercise (disguised as a cardigan), keeping me in the present with it’s teeny tiny stitches. Reminding me that I can’t just zoom through to the end, so I can move on to something else. I need to stay right here with this cardigan and enjoy the process. It's a cardigan I really want and will love, that fits into the whole what do you really need mindset I am striving to have.
Recent Project 3
In a recent post I talked about how restrictions can rock your creativity – and I talked about wanting to start the cardy in the pictures. It is really my first project where I experimented to see if I could come up with something I liked from a restricted position. And I am pretty chuffed with how it is going so far.
In short this project involves taking five different balls of leftover grey 5ply yarn and figuring out whether I can make a cardy for my middle kid. I started with a ball of Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette, a ball of Milla Mia, and a ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino – these yarns are all very similar weights, construction and composition. I also had a ball of Blue Sky Sportweight Alpaca and another ball and a half of Blue Sky Metalico leftover from my James. The greys however were all different. Some blue, some flat, some silver, a purple grey….
The idea came together when my girl-child saw a Norwegian sweater in a EZ book. “I love that mama” was all I needed to decide that the transitions from one grey to another could be managed via some kind of Norwegian-style colourwork. We are calling it a deconstructed Norwegian sweater.*
I was hooning through the knitting – due to my excitement – but in the last few days have hit a little snag. I had added the silver Metalico down the bottom after a gorgeous row of blue tree-like structures. The silver shimmered and shone and looked so pretty as a sweater bottom….
BUT the fella saw it and said “No”. Direct. Unyeilding. I knew the truth of the matter (that he was right!) but didn’t want to let the idea go - the idea I could use all of my 5ply greys. He stood firm and pointed out the glaring issues – “It is a different weight Felicia, it’s too light. You know it has to go, so just get it over with!” Harsh - but ultimately fair. It would have been pretty but would have sat funny and been jarringly different. Unravelling appears to be a key part of any experimental project for me.
So now I am down to three grey’s (as I can’t use either of the alpaca based yarns) and a mid blue. Not enough yarn for a cardy for a 7yo who is growing fast. I’m still at the beach but when I get home I know there is a few more balls of blue in the Cashmerino – a duck-egg and a navy. I’m going to have to rethink the design a bit. This new sweater by Kate Davies contains an inspiring solution that I could use somehow? Maybe it would work?
This kind of experimental project is relatively new to me. It involves stepping into the uncertainty of not knowing if a project will work out which is something I have only been able to consider in the last year or so. In the past I wouldn’t have wanted to waste my making time by making something where I couldn't be sure I would get the result I wanted. Now uncertainty is part of the joy of making. The fact that the project could be totally rubbish or total genius is so exciting!
Cost wise I was at $205 since October 1st but the holidays added $54. We arrived at my mum’s house for Xmas, after a 7 hour drive, only to find that we had left the stockings at home. Spotlight held the answer. Three metres of stocking fabric, some buttons and $54 dollars later and we were sorted. Truthfully, I’m a little sad to spend a month’s Stash Less budget on something I already had. Ho hum….
So the budget is slightly exceeded at $259 three months in - but I’m totally OK with that. Every decision has been conscious and that is a good enough result.
Love to hear how you are going and whether the Stash Less series has caused any changes in your habits over the last few months….??
Previously Stash Less - Selling Discontent
*I actually have no idea whether the patterns I'm using are really Norwegian.