The Care and Feeding of a Stash
Digging through the layers of Sherrie's stash is like looking at the layers of rock in the walls of the Grand Canyon.
One of the things they don't tell you when you begin weaving is how quickly yarn stashes develop. While I'm sure there are a few good weavers out there who do regular cullings and only buy yarns they will use in a short period of time, most of us will be nodding and chuckling as we recognize ourselves in this post from Sherrie Amada Miller. —Christina
Sooner or later all weavers wind up with one. When we talk about them we often sigh and then roll our eyes. What does a weaver possess that can possibly produce so much emotion? It’s “The Stash,” of course!
Oh, those stashes. They begin very innocently with perhaps a few cones of 8/2 cotton for a dish towel. We don’t even realize we’ve taken the first step to building one. But by the time we realize we have a stash it’s too late. It’s already staked out its territory and wastes no time whining for more space. I think cones of fiber must secretly procreate after dark.
No matter how many New Year’s Resolutions I make to stop buying fiber, by the middle of February there’s always something I can’t live without. My weaving happiness depends on it. Ordering just one cone doesn’t seem ecologically sound, so for the good of the planet I order multiple cones.
There is an art to the care and feeding of a stash but by the time I figured it out, it was too late for me. My stash is a hodgepodge of fiber types, colors, sizes, and textures. One day as I was desperately searching for an elusive color it struck me that a stash can be a time machine. By digging deep into my bins, baskets, drawers, and closets I was going back in weaving time. I felt like a geologist but instead of studying bands of rock I was discovering long forgotten fiber stratum. There it was, the Chenille Era, a thick layer of fuzzy rayon chenille, a souvenir from a former love affair with this velvety fiber. A little more digging exposed the Highland Shetland Era, bringing back memories of the woolen blankets I wove during the time I owned a 60” loom.
I found evidence of my brief flings with linen, metallic yarns, and wild novelty yarns. Here was a stash that had grown willy-nilly over the years without any master plan. I wish I hadn’t been such a fiber dilettante. If only I had focused more on obtaining a wide spectrum of colors within a few fiber families I would have a more workable stash. Yet no matter what kind of fiber collection we wind up with, I realize that within those bins and baskets is a unique story. It’s the story of our weaving pasts. There’s written history, oral history and fiber history.
By the way, I’m still waiting for Handwoven magazine to publish a project that calls for chenille, wool, linen, pearl cotton, 8/2 cotton, mohair, and a glitzy metallic all in one textile. I’ll be all set.
—Sherrie Amada Miller