Use It Up

 

One of the hazards of taking up knitting is the acquisition of the dreaded yarn stash.

You buy enough yarn for a project and when it’s done, you have some left over so you save it for a smaller project. You see a gorgeous yarn on sale so you buy some. Friends, intent on cleaning out their own stashes leave bags of yarn on your doorstep and run away.

I introduced a friend to the acronym SABLE at dinner the other night. It stands for Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. In the knitting world, it’s a very real danger, LOL (sorry).

Even when you’re attempting to be a minimalist, your yarn pile seems to grow without any effort on your part. I had a look at mine awhile back. When my heart-rate was a little closer to normal, I lined up a few projects to use up what I had. Fortunately, my summer wardrobe was in need of attention when I first got sick a couple of years ago. What with one thing and another, I’ve been making do with a few disreputable t-shirts that I can now replace with hand-knit summer sweaters.

It takes imagination to create something with just what you have on hand. Stripes are my best friend at the moment. I may at some point venture into Fair Isle knitting and colour-blocking. If one bit of yarn runs out before a project is done, I have a bit of a scramble to find something to finish off with. Contrast works better than trying for a match. I enjoy the creative challenge and I really like knowing that my yarn isn’t going to waste.

It’s not just knitting that offers this challenge. I think any creative pursuit that ends in a finished projects tempts us to buy more supplies than we will actually use. And those supplies sit there, cluttering up our physical space as well as our mental space. All that wasted potential! The guilt we feel when we add yet more new supplies to the mix.

A big old clear-out isn’t always the answer, though if you’re in danger of being buried alive or you know for a fact that you will never get round to using it all up, then I do recommend letting go of some of it as responsibly as you can. I’ve found a few good bundles of thrifted yarn in my travels. I’m this close to finishing a lovely Spring cardigan from one, in fact. And there will be some left over…

But if you want to change your tendency of constantly bringing in more supplies than you use, I highly recommend setting yourself the challenge of using up what you have before allowing yourself to get more. Right now, I have a list of five or six projects that will likely take me through the summer and use up most of what’s piled up in the corner of my living room. Knowing that, by the rules of the challenge, I’m not allowed to acquire more yarn frees up my days off from shopping for it and my budget from paying for it.

This sort of challenge works for the products for day-to-day living, too. Maybe you could try a ‘No Grocery Shopping Till The Fridge Is Empty’ challenge. Or a ‘Use up the Spices’ challenge. Composting the ones that are out of date counts as a way to use them up. If you’re looking in your fridge and thinking, “But what the heck am I supposed to do with an acorn squash, a handful of prunes and a pound of potatoes?” you can plug those words into a search and turn up an amazing bunch of recipe links that should spark something.

A few times through a challenge like this and you’ll start to think a little more clearly about the foods you buy. If you know you never use upĀ  X before it goes bad, maybe you should stop buying X and save yourself the waste.

I’ve mostly stopped overloading my bathroom shelves with varying forms of hope in a bottle, but when I find myself leaning towards buying a new lotion or shampoo, I look at what I have left at home and use it up with the promise that when I’ve actually, truly run out, then I can buy the knew one, if it’s still being made and I can remember what it is. My chances of being buried alive in an avalanche of shampoo bottles while in the shower has gone way down since I instituted this policy.

How about you? Is there anything you have more of than you truly need? Would you like ideas for using it up? Leave a comment and maybe we can help each other out.

Wishing you all a happy and mindful Earth Day.

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