Answers to Your Knitting Struggles

Does Your Yarn Stash Feel Out of Control?

So many knitters feel overwhelmed by their yarn stashes. If you’re one of them, there’s help!

Could you have said any of following, if I were to ask you, “What’s your biggest knitting struggle”?

“Getting rid of the huge stash of yarn, too much yarn, not enough hours in the day to knit it all up.”

“Knitting down my stash.”

“Downsizing my yarn stash! I’m retiring and will be moving to a smaller apartment but take everything with me. I find it hard to say good bye to a skein of yarn or books that I’ve read (I read a LOT!)”

“Using up my stash!”

“Trying to figure out how I can live long enough to use up my yarn stash!! LOL I could donate it, but that would break my heart.”

“Too much stash – I need an intervention!”

“Dealing with my stash. There are so many beautiful yarns out there. I just can’t knit fast enough.”

“Large yarn stash presents storage issues. I see so many possibilities in the stash and charitable opportunities, it’s difficult to choose what to keep and what to donate…and then where to donate so that it will be put to good use.”

It is a universal truth that once you get hooked on knitting or crochet, you also get hooked on yarn. I don’t know a single knitter who doesn’t also have some sort of yarn stash issue.

Where to store the yarn stash?

What to knit with this huge yarn stash?

How the heck does my yarn stash multiply when my back is turned??
(Don’t tell me you’ve never wondered this.)

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Where Did All This Yarn Come From?!

Why on earth do we accumulate so much yarn when we become knitters? I see many reasons.

  1. The honeymoon period. Especially when we become knitters later in life (like I did!), when you get hooked on knitting there are few things in life that give you such an adrenaline rush as buying new yarn. I mean… yarn holds so much possibility for a knitter!
  2. The donations. My experience has been that the moment people find out I’m a knitter, suddenly a multitude starts giving me yarn. (I suspect these are all former knitters or crocheters who have been just waiting for someone to unload their yarn onto.)
    And it’s even worse when they know you enjoy knitting for charity!
  3. The gifts. Of course, another thing that happens when you become a knitter is that your loved ones realize they now have fool-proof gifts for you forever: yarn. Or gift cards so you can buy more yarn. I mean, what are we supposed to do, turn down free yarn?
  4. The need. What else happens when people find out you knit? They want YOU to knit things for THEM, of course. Sometimes (or maybe more often than that!) you find that you need to buy the perfect yarn for that project.
  5. The leftovers. Finally, this may be one of our biggest issues. How often do you knit every last bit of yarn when you finish a project? Hopefully, not very often. (I know from experience that this can actually be pretty nervewracking!) As often as we can, we try to buy more than enough to keep ourselves from running out of yarn before we’ve finished.

And when you buy more than enough? You get leftovers! And I also know from experience that when you have a bunch of tiny balls of yarn, it can be very challenging to figure out what to do with them.

What Do I Do with All This Yarn?!

Of course, we all know what we can do with all this yarn. That’s a silly question, right?

Obviously, there are three things you can do with all the yarn.

  1. Knit it.
  2. Donate it.
  3. Set up a lovely little apartment for it that so that you will love and cherish it always.

*cough* Sorry, that’s not what I meant… what I meant was…

3. Hang on to it until the Apocalypse.

*cough* Okay so maybe that’s not what I meant either…

3. Hide Hoard Invest in huge storage unit for Organize it neatly into a reasonable location.

You don’t have to choose just one of these, of course! You’ll probably want to organize it first, figuring out what to donate while you’re organizing, and once you’ve finished organizing, you’ll knit as much as you can.

Really, each of these deserve their own article! I have written about knitting with leftover/stash yarn before; in fact, there’s an entire category of this website for using up leftover yarn! You can peruse these patterns and find great ways to use up yarn.

I’ve written about organizing your yarn stash before as well. So have many others! In fact, in this post you’ll find all kinds of tips, tricks, and ideas –from myself as well as others — for getting your yarn stash organized.

And when you’re ready to donate your yarn? Take a look at this post, to help you decide when it might be time to donate, and where you can do so once you’ve made that decision.

I hope you now see that an overflowing yarn stash is something many knitters and crocheters struggle with. And also, that there’s hope and help available to you when you’re ready to get it under control!

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18 Comments

  1. My stash has been growing since a lot of my favorite yarns have been discontinued and I stock up on those. I also provide yarn in “kits” for my classes at the community college, that way the new-to-stitching students don’t have to figure out what to buy from the supply list. Even with detailed instructions I have had students bring in yarns that are definitely nice but not beginner friendly (like boucle). One of the first things I teach is how to read a yarn label. (With the pandemic it was also hard for them to go shopping for yarn to start stitching.) I teach both beginner knitting and crochet classes as well as specialty classes like toys, 2-hour scarves, and scrubbies. So I have yarn for all those as well. And I buy hooks and needles for the kits so they don’t have to try to find them.
    I also started donating my yarn to a group who does baby blankets, hats, and afghans. I found them in a newsletter for a fraternal organization that was helping me out with money for yarn for my group to make scarves for Special Olympics. I send my new friend yarn I can’t use (yes, even I recognize odd skeins I don’t think I can use), yarn I get from another friend (literally boxes of yarn), and it’s a win for all of us.
    My sister and I make scarves, hats, and afghans for donations every year and put a good dent in the stash before I stock up on discontinued yarn (before it disappears).

  2. I have a yarn stash that’s pretty well managed. I keep it in a storage system similar to a yarn store…..Two shelving units I bought at Hobby Lobby and one small bookcase. I’m also on a couple of Facebook groups for knitting and occasionally someone will request yarn. The latest one which I mailed last week was for a lady whose house had burned down. There’s always some yarn in my stash that I bought and never got around to using and later didn’t love. My hand dyed yarn is in a small basket. Also I keep my scrap balls in 3 large jars on the top shelves of my storage units so they’re always visible. When they’re full I knit or crochet squares or rectangles to donate. There are lots of small projects to knit for donation like pic line covers for Knots of Love or helix knitting caps (a great stash buster) Hope these suggestions help. Oh and about books…. most of my books are on my kindle. I read a lot too😂

    1. Also I keep my scrap balls in 3 large jars on the top shelves of my storage units so they’re always visible. When they’re full I knit or crochet squares or rectangles to donate.
      Jeanne, this is an absolutely fantastic idea!!

  3. Because my Dad was in the service–and mom, too, quite organized, I feel I learned how “stash” my yarn. However, I must say that with many donations during 2020–I did accumulate an OVERWHELMING # of skeins–I get overwhelmed with a 2-story mall!!! So, with the pandemic, I have been able to knit numerous baby gifts (including hats, booties, sweater, and for 3, blankets). Knit 30 head/ear warmers; knit a number of small crosses for gifts and now have begun my major projects: (1)Operation Gratitude –a minimum of 25 beanies for the Deployed Military’s Christmas boxes and 2) scarves for the veterans of NC. I have already “taken” orders for head warmers for this coming winter. Having so little “extra” space for my yarn. I have also bought skins of certain colors, too.
    2 long containers under our bed, a large basket in the closet, and small skeins with rubber bands around
    each one in another closet. Sometimes, have to think TOO as to where is what I want at that moment.
    But, all we can do is “deal with a stash” the best way possible! Good luck to all–just try hard not to let it overwhelm you as it surely does me!! Sandra

  4. I have culled my stash twice in 6 months and I still have far too much! Both times the yarn has been donated to ladies in the Isle of Man prison. Some of them have taken up knitting/crochet in their free time and they are on a roll. They make baby blankets that go to the maternity unit and lap blankets that are donated to care homes. My excess yarn is being put to good use and those ladies are contributing to society.

  5. What a super article!! I need to tame my stash! I think the main issue is I have it hidden in many different places so I forget about what I have. I need to get it all out and have it on display organized by yarn weight.

    1. It’s definitely beyond time for me to reorganize my stash, Tamara, lol. I did organize it once upon a time, but I’ve gotten more yarn since then and so my stash has become disorganized again. I need a system for adding to my stash… but I haven’t quite gotten there yet! XD

  6. What goes hand in hand with stash building? Printing up all those darling free directions from the internet! Like some of my fellow knitters, I have at least a dozen notebooks chocked full of patterns I can’t live without and plan to knit….someday…using up that stash! And that doesn’t count to number of knitting books I’ve manged to accumulate. Seems that one thing just leads to another.

    1. Ohhhhh Claudia I hear you there!! I used to print out every pattern I found that I loved. I filled up a 3-ring binder. Then I realized I could save paper by bookmarking. *cough* Then I discovered Pinterest and realized I could use it as a visual bookmarking system. *cough* We need to come up with a term like “SABLE” that describes patterns. “PABLE” maybe? lol

      1. I’m showing my ignorance here [which is very easy indeed :-)] but I’m not familiar with the acronym SABLE….?? i assume the P in ‘PABLE’ would stand for Pattern? And yes, I’ve thought about bookmarking, etc., patterns I can’t live without, but I need to have the pattern available where I can mull over, compare to similar patterns, read it over a doz. times and then have it in front of me while I’m working on said project–if I ever reach that point. Plus I’m not real technology inclined so like the ‘old fashioned’ hard copy that for me is more easily accessed. 😀

        1. Claudia, “SABLE” stands for “Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy,” i.e., more yarn than one could ever hope to knit in one’s lifetime. So “PABLE” means the same thing only with patterns. 😉 I think our issues here are that you are WAY more thoughtful than I am when selecting patterns! I tend to impulsively pin patterns and then, if I’m lucky, I might revisit it at some point and actually knit it. More often, I tend to then start a whole new pattern search when I actually REQUIRE a pattern for something. My pattern-hoarding system is not terribly efficient. XD

          1. I download knitting, sewing and crochet patterns to my laptop. Then I upload them to “Trello”, which is free unless you’ve got really big files (there’s also “Evernote”). I post a photo as a cover for the file, and then attach the pattern so I can access it from a tablet. I organise patterns by yarn type, garment type etc. Once you’ve got your head around it, it’s really easy to use. I only print out patterns that I’m actually going to knit or sew.

          2. What a great idea, Debbie! I too only print out patterns right before I use them. Most of the patterns I want to hang on to, I save to Pinterest. I used to bookmark them, but I like Pinterest better because I can see a photo of the pattern. (I still have a slew of bookmarks from before-Pinterest, lol.)

  7. Here in Australia there is a great group that I give unwanted yarn to, knit4charities, they have members that do everything from premmie to dog coats, beanies to blankets, Australia wide.