Stash. We all have it whether you have just a few skeins or enough to start your own yarn shop. And the feelings about our stashes also vary. Some people with rather large stashes feel quite happy and comfortable ("Love what I have and look forward to using it!") while it makes others feel overwhelmed ("I love the content, but the size feels like a burden.") If you are in that latter category, what can you do to help you feel better about your stash?
Let it go
Yeah, easier to say than do sometimes and the obvious answer (but also often the hardest). If you take a look at your stash and think "my precious!" and don't know how you'll ever let even one skein go, that's okay. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by your stash, you really should take a closer look at it, one skein at a time.
Yes, even if you have 500 skeins of yarn, I want you to go through your stash one skein at a time. (This could be a good opportunity to list your stash on Ravelry if you haven't already.) Hold each skein in your hands and imagine what it could become. If you immediately think of something or it brings a smile to your face, put it in the keep pile. If you can't think of something to make with it, but the yarn still makes you smile, put it in the maybe pile. And if you can't even feel the glimmerings of what this yarn might become and you don't smile when holding it, put it in the let it go pile. Don't rush this process. If it takes a few days or even weeks, it's fine.
Sometimes you see yarn in your stash that you've forgotten you had but that gets you super excited about what it might become. Keep that yarn close to the top of your stash so you can use it soon and not forget about it again.
What do you do with the yarn in your let it go pile? You can donate it or sell it. How do you sell it? Ravelry is really great for this. You can list the yarn in your stash and put it in the Will Trade or Sell section of your stash. There are also several Buy/Sell/Trade groups on Ravelry where you can post that you have yarn for sale. (Just be careful not to look too much at the threads of what other people are selling! *grin*) If you're never done this before and aren't sure how to do it, just reply to this email and I'm happy to give you some help.
Okay, now what happens to the yarn in your "maybe" pile? Here's what I do with that yarn. I list it on my Ravelry Will Trade or Sell section of my stash. But I don't go off and advertise that I have stash for sale. I put the price at exactly what I paid for it. I think of this as passively destashing my yarn. If someone happens to be looking for that yarn and is okay with paying full price for it, then it means the yarn belongs with that person and not with me. (I do still consider that yarn part of my stash, though, and make sure to consider it for future projects. So it's more of a see who gets to it first type of situation.)
Do this going through the yarn stash at least once a year. (It's also a good way to make sure everything is going okay with your stash and that it's still in excellent condition.)
Set up a trade
Happy about the size of your stash but not the content? Consider trading. You can set this up on Ravelry (list the yarn as trade and make suggestions for what you'd like to see in that trade) or you can do it in person. If you have a group of knitters near you, set up a Yarn Swap. Everyone brings yarn that they want to trade and all the yarn goes on a central table. Then you get to choose to take home an equivalent amount of yarn. (You'll want to set up guidelines in your group to make sure this is fair as you don't want someone to trade a skein of acrylic for a skein of 100% cashmere!)
This is a great way to reinvigorate your stash and to help you get more yarn that you're excited to use right away.
Adjust your thoughts about your stash
If you truly can't see yourself letting go of any skeins in your stash, the only way that you can feel better about your stash is to start thinking about the positive aspects of it instead. For example, maybe you're in a good financial place right now and can afford to add to your stash. Of course we don't want to think about our financial situation changing for the worse, but if that were to happen, you have plenty of yarn to keep yourself knitting (and knitting is a stress reliever!) during any hard financial times. In this way, you could also think of your stash as being part of your retirement investment.
Think of the stash as allowing you to have tons of choice. Let's say you see a two-color shawl that you want to knit. If you have a large stash, you have so many options for that shawl. (This happened to me recently for my Charlatan Shawl. I picked a body color and then had at least three good options from my stash for the border color.)
I have to share this survey response. Here's someone who has come up with some positive benefits about stash: "I choose to frame it as a curated collection of fabulous fibers from around the world." Isn't that an awesome thought?
Make a list for yourself of the benefits of having the yarn stash you have. Do it on a day that you're feeling good about your stash. Keep that list near your stash and read it whenever you start to feel bad about your stash. And add to the list whenever you think of a new benefit.
Create a balance between buying new yarn and using stash yarn
I've seen a lot of people talk about yarn diets (meaning that they knit only from stash and don't buy new yarn). I'll be honest; I don't think this is a good idea, at least not for an extended period of time. Even if you love your stash, not being able to buy new yarn can make you feel deprived. And just like sometimes happens with a food diet, if that feeling of deprivation builds too high, it can lead to a huge fall where you suddenly buy tons of yarn to get over that feeling. (Plus, if you have a local yarn shop, you really should buy new yarn occasionally to support the yarn shop so they stay in business!)
So, instead of going on a complete yarn diet, try to find balance. Work on one project from a stash yarn and then buy new yarn for another project. Or if you're knitting something that uses multiple colors, such as a two-color shawl, get one skein of new yarn and use a skein from your stash as the second color. That way you get a little thrill of buying new yarn (because it is a thrill!) as well as the satisfaction of using some of your stash.