Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Progress, Measured Differently

A few weeks ago, at the beginning of 2017, I did what I do at the beginning of every year and I thought you might be interested to hear about my little New Year's ritual. You see, I have... some yarn. I won't say that I have TONS of yarn or that I have TOO MUCH yarn, but I do have a small stash. A sizable collection. Enough that an entire closet is devoted to it - and then some. Now, in many ways I am not a very organized person. I'm the kind of person who will put clean clothes from the dryer into the hamper and then leave them there, wrinkles and all, pulling items out as needed while my dirty clothes meanwhile get piled on the floor (because the hamper is already occupied, you see.) Before I met my husband it was most common for me to wash a dirty bowl only when I no longer had clean ones, and the proper place for something was generally the very place I just happened to set it three months previous. Making the bed is a relatively new development in my life, I'm always running out the door with one shoe on, I often arrive to work with mismatched socks, and all joking aside if you can find my Kindle charger I will pay you $10. I am comfortable with disarray and often things only get lost when I try to tidy and organize.

Well, yarn is different. I like to know what I have, and I don't necessarily want to have to pull out my entire closet to check in the bottom bin for that last skein of Malabrigo I thought I maybe remembered buying four years ago - chances are I never bought it in the first place! So back in 2013 I decided to become a little more organized with my yarn stash. Yarn has ball bands for a reason, right? It's so we can reference the pertinent information without making guesses as to yardage, thickness, dye lot, etc. So I took all of that information and I plopped it into a handy little spreadsheet for myself.

I went through my entire stash in this way and input everything I thought was important to keep track of. This way, I can filter my results to only show me worsted weight yarn with a total yardage over 800, or perhaps I only want to see what Brooklyn Tweed yarn I have in my stash. Now that I have my spreadsheet, I can do it all without creating a mess in the closet. I also added a few additional columns, such as the one that says "In Use?" I put little notes in that column - what did I knit with the yarn? Did somebody give it to me? Have I used 3 of the 5 skeins I had? Did I buy it with a project in mind? Notes to jog my memory because you see those two columns on the right - those are my favorite columns. They calculate how much yarn I have used (say, 300 of my 600 yards) and how much is left.

Every New Year I sit down with my spreadsheet and go through my entire stash, making sure everything is accurate. (Note: Tossing your stash at least once a year is also a great way to reacquaint yourself with any yarn you had forgotten, and also air it out a bit while checking for signs of moths.) Any time I buy new yarn, it goes in the spreadsheet. Any time I finish a project, I mark it down. If I give yarn away, it gets noted. That way, as the year moves through the seasons, my progress gets calculated. I like to see movement in my stash - it makes me feel like I'm actually using it, even if I know that 80% of it is still waiting its turn. But either way, come December 31 I can scroll down to the bottom of my spreadsheet and see my totals.

You see that on the right? That's the satisfaction I'm looking for. At the end of the year, I get to see the work that I have done that year. This screenshot is from December 2016, which means that over the course of the year, 23,000 yards of yarn passed through my hands. It wasn't all knitted, mind you - some of it was given away, some of it sold, (some thrown out), but it came in and it went out and therefore I noted it on my spreadsheet. Some years are more rewarding than others because I get to see a quantifiable decline in my stash inventory. Other years look a little different. For instance, in 2014 I began the year with 75,000 yards of yarn. Over the course of that year, I knitted (or gave away) 50,000 yards of yarn, yet somehow I still managed to end 2014 with MORE yarn than I started with! 5,000 yards more! I never said this was a stash management project, it is merely about stash organization. I am, however, proud to say that in 2016 I managed to reduce my stash total by a whopping 8,000 yards! (Yes, I realize that means I still purchased 15,000 yards of yarn this year, but still!) If I keep going at this rate, my stash will be completely gone in 11 years!

I better go shopping.


  1. Hahaha...oh Peter, how I love your posts!!! While it doesn't seem you need any enabling at all, I would still be glad to offer my assistance at any time. Stitches West is a mere 27 days away, but perhaps Dierdre has that one covered for you? I agree, 11 years is cutting it pretty close!!! :)
    p.s. nice job with the spreadsheet!

  2. Wow, that is an incredible dent! I have been trying to buy less, as my knitting time seems to have dwindled. Your spreadsheet is inspiring, though. I hope this is a great year for you!

  3. This is a great idea!! I will borrow it for the next year :D


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