Is there a hidden danger in stashing yarn?

Is there possibly a hidden danger in a large yarn stash?

I’m not referring to the possible collapse and subsequent suffocation under a wall of yarn, or even the possibility of it being a fire hazard, but rather that you might fall out of love.

I don’t have the budget to build or maintain a large stash of yarn, though I do have a few skeins that I keep wrapped up under the bed in a lidded box. These are mostly yarns that have a special place in my heart – gifts from friends that I have thought too precious to use, which I have saved as best for future ’special’ projects. Is there a chance, though, that I won’t even like these yarns in the future?

Yarn is closely tied to fashion trends, and like taste in clothing, the consensus about taste in yarns is constantly changing. The most striking example of yarn that has fallen out of fashion is acrylic fibre. Once the wonder-solution to the wash, wear and easy-care dilemma, what used to be seen as the strengths of the fibre now seem limiting. But acrylic suited the fashions of the day. You can’t easily block acrylic into shape, but that didn’t matter as 80s fashion barely had any shape, with its large, blocky rectangles and oversized fit. The fashion worked within the limitations of the yarn, but as the fashion changed, certain hand knits didn’t work so well. Lace cardigans, for example, are difficult to perfect in an acrylic yarn.

Less obvious examples abound. Eyelash yarns, chenille yarns, lurex, glitter, mohair… all have had their day in the spotlight, all were once the wonder yarns of their time, but now many knitters will pass them up, because fashion has changed and new looks in both garments and the materials they are made from have now taken over. 

But you like the classic yarns. Simple, honest wool. Smooth, plain cottons – they could never go out of favour, right? Well, who knows – they have before, and if sci-fi movies of the 60s were to believed, soon will be the dawning of the plastic foil space leisure suit.

And what of our colour choices? You might not think that is so easy to fall out of love with colour, but anyone old enough to cast their mind back to the Neon obsession of the 90s, or the pastel hues that have made appearances in previous decades, can reflect that these colour choices are not so in favour now.

Will I really want to knit so many bright rainbow striped garments in the future?

Well, yeah, to be fair, I probably will.

So, is the real danger of a large stash that a knitter will gain SABLE status (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) or that they will one day wake up to the horror of STU (Stash Turned Ugly)?

Unloved stash is a true and present danger, and as far as I can tell, there are only two ways of dealing with it. You have a choice; you can either buy less yarn (which is a frankly stupid idea), or knit more.