When we moved to Montana after living in Florida for 43 years, I packed a lot of things, yarn and fabric included. But that was nowhere near the amount of yarn that I packed when moving from Montana to Wyoming just 3½ years later. One might think that I did nothing while in Montana but visit yarn shops and buy yarn and supplies! Not so. What did happen in Montana was that I discovered a sense of fiber purpose. I’m paraphrasing the dictionary definition of purpose here, as “the reason for which yarn is created or for which yarn exists.”
Clearly, I did not have fiber purpose before moving to Montana. How I know this is because I mainly packed a bunch of WIPs and unused fiber. Okay, so I’m not the only person on earth with this kind of issue. But as I packed each WIP and handled each ball or skein of yarn, I asked myself, “What were you thinking?” I realized that I hadn’t been thinking at all. I was letting someone else think for me. This wasn’t all bad, of course. But it wasn’t ME.
I had learned knitting as a teen, but the one and only “project” consisted of a garter stitch vest. Life, work and “stuff” intervened until I did have extra time. And then, whoo hoo! I consulted LYS owners, read articles about various yarns and techniques, and tried them all: the “newest” patterns from designers, kits featuring patterns and yarn, classes (Entrelac, yes! Brioche, oh no!), and currently “desirable” yarns (i.e., fingering weight and mohair) in gorgeous colors from my local LYS. All of these, unfinished, I packed when I moved to Montana. And I repacked them when I moved from Montana to Wyoming.
But there were newbies in the repacked WIPs! These newbies already have been unpacked and worked on, unlike the others from Florida. The reason is simple. While in Montana, I began a process of reckoning with myself. I began thinking about what fiber means to me in a different way - one more in keeping with a less urban part of the country, a less frantic lifestyle, and a stronger relationship to the earth and the animals on it. I challenged myself to find the yarn weights that I truly enjoy knitting with, and patterns that are simple and timeless and useful. I made a point of meeting and learning about the ranchers who tend the creatures providing the fiber.
So now, when I hold that fiber on my needles or hook, I have a strong sense of its origin and how and where it was sheared, spun and dyed. I have a connection, not just a recommendation on the pattern or yarn du
jour. To me, the yarn has become authentic and real, not just something on a shelf from somewhere I’ve never been or seen. When the fiber is authentic, I can see and feel the place and people who produced it. So even if I am knitting alone, I am surrounded. I find joy, peace and growth. I am better at staying grounded in an increasingly crazy world.
I also am better forgiving myself for having yarn and WIPs that I will never finish. There are a few that I will take up again because the yarn is a weight that works for me. As for the rest? I was pondering a creative way to repurpose them when a former neighbor called me and asked if I wanted “some” of her unused yarn. “Some” turned out to be six bins stuffed with all sorts of gorgeous yarn. Those six bins and my own stash were what got packed and moved to Wyoming to begin a new life online and hopefully in new homes everywhere.
I created a website called Yarn for Good where proceeds from the sale of her yarn, my yarn and any others who wanted to donate would benefit the charity of their choice. I think it’s a nice way to destash without guilt. I’ll confess to holding back one of her skeins for myself, however. It’s a gorgeous yarn from local sheep, and SO fits my new yarn purpose. How could I not?!