Stash Busting = Stash Building

2/27/19, 12:04 PM

By: Julie Rockefeller

March is well-nigh, when here in the Northeast we begin to count the days until signs of new life become obvious. We generally view Winter as the season of trial and hardship, Spring as the season of hope and renewal; Winter as a time of monochromatic dormancy and Spring as a time of vibrant activity.

 Here at Korthright Handworks @ La Basse Cour, all the four seasons are equally busy, though the outward signs may be more difficult to detect. Striving towards an integral life, each season has its tasks naturally associated with each of the steps connecting field, farmer, fiber animal, and finished good. 

 Knitters almost always have yarns on hand that have not yet been made up. We call these our "stash". We could refer to them as "inventory" or "stock", but the word we use conveys a specific, just-right meaning. "Stash", according to Merriam and Webster,  is something "stored in a usually secret place for future use // a stash of narcotics". Synonyms for stash include "hoard' and "treasure".  stash.jpg

 The relationship between knitters and their stashes is complicated. Un-knit yarn contains infinite potential. It is inspiring to interact with stashed yarn; it feels like wealth, like luxury.  A knitter with a too-large stash can feel a bit like a guilty dragon atop a glittering hoard, aware that more potential has been accumulated than can be realized, yet acknowledging that the desire for more has not lessened.

 To restore balance, knitters often engage in knitting specifically designed to "bust" the stash, using up partial skeins or skeins acquired long ago. Often the results of stash busting are quick projects donated to charity or given as gifts, but even this process can be complicated. As good as it feels to have the yarn put to use, parting with it feels bittersweet.

 stash 2.jpg Happily for me, stash busting is the same as stash building, so I don't have to say goodbye right away. My yarn stash becomes my finished good stash, inventory stockpiled for future sale.

 There is something of a "Rumplestiltskin" feeling to the whole process, though the raw materials are certainly not anything like straw, and I'm knitting rather than spinning. Several yarns in my basket these days come from the Romney sheep raised in Hepner Hollow, some of them were hand dyed by me. I love seeing one beautiful pile transformed into another beautiful pile.

 And so I am grateful for Winter, grateful to be able to work in such a way that the efforts of this season are directly connected to what is done in the other three.