Do you have a ‘Precious’ stash? I’m talking about capital ‘P’ precious – that box of yarn, fabric, fibre, or craft supplies that you love so deeply you can’t quite bear to actually use them. You could be working with the most beautiful, sensual, high-pleasure materials that you have carefully squirrelled away. Why aren’t you?
With the world feeling more than a little upside down right now, maybe it’s time to crack out your best vintage and really savour the beautiful things you have at hand. Rummage through your stash of precious yarns, fabric, paper or fibre, and get started making with the special materials you love to bits but are reluctant to use.
Oh, but it’s too ‘Precious’ to actually use
Sometimes I will bring home a yarn, fabric, or fibre that seems too precious – too beautiful or unique to risk damaging, to dare to take it into my hands and transform it. There’s always risk in making – the risk that your skills won’t be up to the material, that you won’t do it justice.
Before I began designing knits professionally, the cost of some supplies made them a luxury for me, and I was nervous about ‘wasting’ or ruining them. Now that I design knits for a living, I literally must cast on for my livelihood. Even so, I still find myself hesitating to use precious items. But to do my work, I need to use all my materials and accept that mistakes are part of the creative process. Skeins may be ‘wasted,’ but the time I spend learning to work with them is never a waste. And whenever I make the leap of confidence and cast on, the joy flows freely!
So what are you waiting for?
I often get stalled by uncertainty, feeling that I’m not quite ‘ready’ enough to dip into my precious stash. But over the years, I’ve found a few tricks that help me cast on or make that first cut.
1. Realize it’s wasted in storage, where it can’t bring you pleasure or improve your life
I like to remind myself of this often, so it feels like I have a responsibility to get my most precious materials out of plastic bags and into daily use.
During my recent wave of comfort knitting, I made a Flax sweater (free pattern!) for my little one, Neve. I combined the leftovers of a handspun yarn with coordinating mill-spun and hand-dyed colours. It was such a joy to work with this precious yarn!
2. Recognize that every project teaches you
I have to remember that I’m actually doing myself a disservice when I avoid working with my precious stash. I tell myself: ‘If you don’t cut into that stack of wool tweeds you’ve been collecting since you moved to Scotland, or if you don’t get started knitting with that sweater’s amount of single-ply Noro yarn that you bought on Vancouver Island back in 2016, you’ll just never learn how best to use those materials.’
I also try to remember that when I make a mess of something on my first try, I am likely to learn a lot and be more prepared for my second, third, and fourth attempts.
3. Remember that the point is pleasure!
The primary purpose of the hobbies I do with my hands is my own pleasure. After all, there are less expensive ways to get things. There are easier ways to give gifts. There are more practical ways to clothe myself and my loved ones. But if you’re like me, making beautiful creations with your own hands is what brings you pleasure – and working with precious materials makes it even better!