Recently, I found myself at my local bookstore, browsing (what else?) the knitting section while my son hunted down books he needed for English class. I examined the spine of each book in turn. “Have that, have that, have that, not interested,” I said over and over to myself, as I went through the bookstore’s inventory. I left the bookstore, having purchased only the books my son needed for school, and no new knitting books.
On the way home, I pondered my knitting library. I collect books, magazines, and patterns the way some people collect yarn. My library is a stash, of sorts. I have books of essays and humor for entertainment. I have books on knitting traditions from around the world, solely for inspiration. I have books on knitting history. And of course, I have lots of books with patterns in them.
I have reams of magazines and patterns. In one large binder, I have patterns that I bought at the yarn store, way back before downloads became the norm (remember that time?). I have binders with magazines to which I’ve subscribed, and other magazines I bought when I saw a pattern I liked, or was just trying to find some way to amuse myself while on a trip away from home. My library contains my personal knitting history starting from my very first project, as well as my hopes and aspirations for knitting projects well into the future.
I keep most of these resources in a bookcase in my sewing room. Right next to the bookcase is a daybed. When I put the daybed in the sewing room, I imagined relaxed weekend afternoons, when I’d sprawl on the daybed, perusing my library for new projects to knit.
I have no idea what chemical substance I was on at the time, but I was obviously on something, or simply deluded. When have I ever had time to leisurely decide on a knitting project? Sprawl on my daybed? What’s more likely is that I’ll be finishing up a project and then find a new one on Ravelry. Who has time for books?
There has to be a more resourceful way, I thought. My approach was sort of like running off to the grocery store without checking the pantry first. True, I’ll probably remember the basics of what’s in stock, but I may very well end up buying unnecessary items, and not using what I have. Using what I have effectively means knowing what I have in the first place. I decided an inventory of the knitting library and stash was in order.
First up: the stash. While I tend to stash library items, I’m pretty good about not accumulating a huge amount of yarn stash. I almost always buy yarn for a specific project, and I almost always knit that project, leaving me with extra skeins by the onesies and twosies, but nothing too crazy. Still, I hadn’t gone through the stash since we moved here seven years ago, so it was time to weed out things and then update Ravelry.
I pulled all the yarn from my sewing room cabinets and surveyed the carnage: There were a few abandoned projects; some perfectly good yarn that I hadn’t used because I decided against the color, or the intended project; yarn earmarked for upcoming projects; leftover yarn; and scrap yarn.
I disposed of the abandoned projects, recycling yarn when it made sense. Good yarn I had no use for was set aside for donations and to give to other knitters who’d use it. I corralled scrap yarn in a box. This is yarn that I don’t plan to use for projects, but may be used for repair, swatching, and waste yarn.
That left me with project yarn. I put yarn for current projects in cubbies, easy to grab and go. I put yarn for near-term upcoming projects within easy reach. Yarn that could be used for future projects went a little higher up in the cabinets. And finished objects were folded up and put away, too.
While I was sorting the yarn, I kept a scales and my laptop handy, and updated Ravelry with yarn descriptions and accurate amounts. Once all the yarn had been inventoried, I turned my attention to the library, updating Ravelry so that I could easily search my own library, match patterns to my yarn inventory, and use what I have on hand.
The newly organized and inventoried stash isn’t perfect, but 20 percent of the work solves 80 percent of the problem. I’d like to add some vertical dividers to the cabinets to further sort the yarn, and another binder for some pattern odds and ends. Even without those finishing touches, the rewards are already there. I may not have time to sprawl on my daybed, looking through stacks of books, but I do have time to search my library using Ravelry and match up possible patterns with my stash. In fact, I did some of that already. I’d had some vague ideas about knitting hats and mittens with my onesie and twosie leftover skeins. I was able to locate patterns in my own library and match them with yarn in my stash, and will knit them up as time allows. Knowing what I have. Using what I have. Being resourceful. And now I should go figure out what’s in the pantry.