If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

The Function

Dear Kay,
On Friday night, I hosted a Function here at der Haus of Shayne, along with galpals Katie (who can knit but won’t knit because her mother knits a lot) and Betsy (who doesn’t knit but whose English sheepdog Harry who is generating a sweater once we find someone to spin his fur for us). It was a cocktail party given in the name of a good cause.*
Doesn’t that sound grownup? Doesn’t that sound like something I never thought I would ever say? Or do? What a day of reckoning it turned out to be.
Friday, 8:16 am: I am paralyzed by an internal crisis. What is it about having people you don’t know inside your house? Why is it that I can’t just let my house look the way it looks? Why can’t I just leave the telescope in the living room? Why do shoes need to be all in one place? This event-based tidying is a SHAM! A LIE!
8:17 am: Squeezing my eyes rilly tight and wishwishwishing doesn’t make shoes float into the closet.
8:19 am: I check our Amazon sales rank for the third time this morning. Go ahead and assume that this happens every eight minutes for the next nine hours. We are no longer duking it out with Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, and I feel a pang.
8:20 am: [OK, I’m back. Had to check something.] I decide to make a plan. In order to get the house into a totally fake simulacrum of a tidy house in the allotted time, I decide to start with the areas cocktail party guests are most likely to see. This immediately rules out the boys’ bedrooms, which routinely look like a Pez warehouse and a Lego sorting facility. And the basement, which is where old toys go to die. Right there I’ve saved myself fourteen hours.
9:16 am: I unearth a wooden platter filled with yarn. This was the yarn the artist Kim borrowed when she was painting yarn portraits. (She has lovely note cards available if you want to email her.)
9:25 am: Still admiring all the yarns on the wooden platter.
9:45 am: Next to the wooden platter of yarn is Madvertising, which I dip into for the eighth time.
10:03 am: I decide to stick the platter, yarn and all, into my closet.
11:48 am: Progress comes to a halt when I realize that I have to get a batch of Rice Krispy Treats to school asap for Clif’s half-birthday celebration. (It’s actually his two-thirds birthday celebration because SOMEbody did the math wrong and thought her son’s half-birthday was in January.)
1:40 pm: It’s not going all that well. I keep finding nests of yarn. Baskets, grocery sacks, shipping boxes, silvery trays, PF Chang bags. Linen, cotton, wool, big, small, with not a bit of order to any of it. There is yarn in every room of the house. I find yarn in the screened porch. Dumping more and more yarn into to my closet, I feel like Lucille Ball late in her shift at the chocolate factory.
1:43 pm: On the floor in the yarn consolidation zone, I try to preserve some sense of order among the piles of yarn that I have put there. There is no order to be found; it’s a bombed-out yarn shop. Where do I begin? A pile of cotton, a pile of wool? Do I sort by gauge? Color? Price paid per skein? Likelihood that I will ever want to make something with it? Smell? I have collected most of my yarn into one place, and I can’t believe what a mess it is. I close the door with a shiver of embarrassment.
3:10 pm: Co-hostess Betsy shows up, looking cool, collected, with a bag of blanched green beans and four hard-boiled eggs. “House looks great,” she says. I am eaten up with chagrin, having just crammed one last carton of rag balls into the closet which has hit capacity. I’m appalled at the mosh pit I’ve created.
6:45 pm: The Function has begun, and in walks Nan, the amazing knitter I saw at the yarn shop, sewing the 57 flowers on her Rowan sweater. Nan wears a covetable wrap made of Schaefer Laurel in the Frida Kahlo colorway.
I was so happy Nan was coming to this thing because we could sneak off to talk yarn, maybe randomly knit on some piece of something, you know: have a great sneaky knitfest. Nan was the only hardcore knitter I knew who would be attending the Function. It was going to be great.
But I don’t show Nan the stash, because the plain fact is that it is just too awful. Not charming, not kind of interesting. Just worrisome the way it was when we went to Aunt Maud’s house long ago and found a flank steak defrosting in her bathroom sink.
The Day After Tomorrow
Now that I’ve had two sleeps on the question of my yarn situation, and now that I’ve had two days where I can’t get to my pants, I’m sensing a Take Back the Closet feeling. First step: admit I have a problem. So, in the name of confession, purging, and new beginnings, I’ll show you, and Nan, and all God’s people
the closet.
I welcome all advice on what to do next. I just want my pants back.
*Here’s a plug–it’s the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, which is an orchestra that does things like commission a concerto for the pedal steel guitar, or throw a gospel Thanksgiving. It’s such an unexpected orchestra.




  1. You could give it away to people with meager stashes. You know, people like ME.

  2. Don’t feel too bad. My entire apartment looks like that. I’m not even adding into the mix the spinning wheel and fiber.

  3. Wow, now I feel better. Though we may be moving this year, and I’ll have a bigger closet, and that just means more room for stash and pants!!!! I say, sort by colour first, let the games begin.

  4. That’s not SO bad. I was expecting more vertical piling from your description.
    I’m a big fan of clear plastic tubs. I can pretend that there’s a reason each yarn is in the tub that it’s in (even if the real reason mostly has to do with where I could cram it in).

  5. easyclosets.com — at least that’s what I plan on doing.
    We’re all heading to Nashville again but I don’t think we’ll have time to do yarn shopping. If you’re bored stop by and see us this weekend!

  6. What Cara said. But change the word “apartment” to 4,000-sq.-foot house. Actually, that’s just a boast. When people come over, it’s all just in our bedroom. Then when it’s time to go to bed, I open the door and want to kill myself. Except I can’t find any weapon with which to do it, so all is safe.

  7. I have a couple of good suggestions. First consider giving it to me, I would even schedule a vacation around coming by your place to pick it up, no problem at all, really!
    Secondly do what I lost contol of my stash (yarn, fabric, spinning fibers, etc). I had a friend over, the sort I would be willing to give any excess yarn to. Putting shelves at the periphery of the area, she attacked the pile. Since she isn’t as emotionally attatched to my stuff as I am, she was able to put stuff away without needing the extra fondling time. And because she was being soooo nice I was able to part with some of it so I could feel all warm and fuzzy for my niceness. Of course that has been a while, better put a pot of coffee on or a few beers in teh frig and call her!

  8. Buy stock in rubbermaid and ziploc.

  9. I sort my yarn into fiber first, then I get the biggest ZipLoc bags I can find (usually 1 or 2 gallon size) and buy about three boxes. After sorting yarn by fiber, I then sort by brand: Jo Sharp, Koigu, etc. Finally, I sort by weight, so all my DK Jo Sharp is together (different colors go in different bags), all my wool sock yarn is together, all the organic cotton is together. Finally, if yarn has a specific purpose, say 10 skeins of Pakacho cotton for a summer tee, I write that in permanent marker and the date on the bag so when I am sorting I can say “oh! I must immediately cast on for this!” Also, if I have knit a gauge swatch I put it in the bag and write the gauge and needle size on the outside of the bag.

  10. I have three words for you: Giant. Ziploc. Bags. (New, huge, not for food unless you went berserk making popcorn.) Get some ASAP. Then sort by color.

  11. I have heard/seen your confession.
    Quick! Start praying this prayer:
    grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    (I love yarn, the look, the feel, the time of searching and finding, the dreams of what it may become, I just love it, I want to be yarn)
    the courage to change the things I can,
    (Give me more time to spend with my yarn, the yarn of others, let us gather in yarn communities frequently with appropriate adult beverages)
    and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
    (Maybe my LYS would consider carrying pants?)
    Hear these words of assurance and pardon:
    Sister I share your pain and your stash. You are not alone. Your yarn (and you) are loved.

  12. You could send me all the all-wool that you know you’ll never use, and I promise to make it into hats for Dulaan and for “my” kids in the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan. (If you need pictures of children in sandals in snow, let me know!)
    Really. Keep the good stuff — the stuff you will eventually (probably) use, and give away the single skeins, the partial skeins, the 20-yards-but-too-much-to-throw-away pieces, the funky colors that don’t match anything….and know that it’s going to make some darling little people feel much better about their lives!
    I’ve got a contact in Afghanistan who hands these items out individually to the children his unit works with, so I know they all go to good homes.
    And if you’ve got any lace-weight you just can’t see yourself using, I’d be willing to take *that* off your hands for significantly more selfish reasons! *grin*
    Oh, and I recognize the huge yarn ball on the left toward the bottom — didn’t your kids make that? There’s gotta be SOME way to decorate that to make it a home accessory!

  13. Do what I did when things got out of hand. I invited a few friends over and we had a stash organization party. All is now nicely sorted into heavy vinyl zippered bags which fit into my four floor-to-ceiling yarn cabinets and is inventoried and sync’d to my Palm. Make sure your friends have incredible stamina and won’t tell a soul have much you really have 🙂

  14. Okay–
    MaryB will take the wool.
    The rest of you google the Dulaan project and say “ahhhh–I WILL knit for these kids.”
    I am happy to take the cotton for the baby hat project at school. And, all you will have to do is send in via ClifExpress and there will be no postal charges.
    I have a sneaky feeling there is no polyester or plastic yarn…maybe some errant eyelash has sneaked in. You keep that. Use as door prizes for your world-famous book tour.
    I second the suggestion for the GIANT Ziploc bags if you decide to keep yarn. Use the extra bags to store Legos and the like.

  15. I’m not sure which is more dangerous: Reading Alison’s blog and accidentally ordering 4 balls of sock yarn for my man (how can you not? He likes it! any time something smaller than a sweater is liked and desired by him I plunge headlong in) (oh and I threw in a hank of the site’s own yarn, just for kicks) (do I need to remind anyone that I work in a yarn shop?) or reading your blog & Nashville SnB blog and desiring an immediate move to Nashville?

  16. OMG … it looks so similar to my closet!

  17. What’s scary is that I recognize most of that yarn and can even tell you where it was last seen prior to being flung in the closet.
    I may need a little of the wool for my 16 hats in 16 days (a new Olympic ‘Sport’–haven’t you heard?). All for Dulaan but Mary B why didn’t you tell us about this Afghanistan project before? We LOVE knitting for Afghanistan!
    xoxo Kay

  18. When I first read this post I thought, well at least she can get *into* her pants, even if she can’t get to ’em. I vote for Ziplock Big Bags for stash management. Here is a pic of the stash over this way- http://lookiewhatimade.theeislers.com/hello/937379/1024/DSC_5663-2005.09.20-11.31.22.jpg
    And if you can’t hang ’em, these bags have a flat bottom and will stand up straight.
    Another option is to weed out what you really want, donate some that you don’t and with the rest of the good stuff that you know we ALL want…have a contest! Can you imagine how many people would enter? It could be any kind of contest- how many balls of yarn in the stash, how many jelly beans in the jar, how many teeth has Clif lost. And the prise is of course, wait for it…Yarn from Casa Shayne!
    ps: I gave my hubbalicious Madvertising for Xmas and he shreiks with laughter every time he reads the darned thing. Thanks for the idea!

  19. And good golly miss molly, SOMEDAY I will learn to spell. Prize, Prize, Prize!

  20. oh please….let’s trade closets! YUM!

  21. Hi, gals.
    Velvet Elvis was written by my pastor! It’s good company…though I doubt Rob’s a k-nitter.
    Can’t wait to grab a copy of your book.

  22. wow, was at a nyc church this afternoon that asked for any excess yarn for donations to a women’s prison . . .just another idea for the 1 or 2 you don’t want.

  23. Dear Ann,
    This past Friday, I brought to men in to bring order to my chaos: brand new shelving so everything is at least off the floor and vaguely organized in bins and boxes.
    My Mom saw the closet today. While admiring the new shoe shelves, she glanced to her right, shook her head and said, “Oh, my dear. You have too much yarn!”
    I didn’t tell her about the luggage hidden behind hanging clothes that was also full of yarn. She really wouldn’t understand.

  24. First, just go ahead and cry to get it over with. Next, a trip to Target for clear bins. Then sort the yarns by gauge (since if you are like me, you’ll find a pattern and then go seeking yarn in your stash). Stack the bins neatly in a secret place, grab some chocolate and start a new project!!
    I should take my own advice but . . . it’s much easier said than done.

  25. I’m laughing SO HARD.
    My husband announced this morning that after we renovate the kitchen he might (among other hobbies) take up carving, or something. To which I replied, disgusted, “Um. I really don’t think we should have *carvings* all over our house.” He answered, with one of those looks — you know which one I mean — “We have yarn in every room.” Point taken.
    Consider it “found yarn.” Keep what you’re surprised and happy to discover you own, and give away or sell the rest.

  26. I have been in such a strange mood lately that I hope you’ll forgive me for bursting out into laughter at the sight of your dilemma (I’ve been laughing/crying all day today–it’s twitterpation, don’t worry). I think everyone has good ideas.
    If you don’t mind giving it away, you can do any number of contests.
    If you must keep, perhaps organize the yarn by projects and then buy large ziploc bags to sort all the yarn by projects, thus organize it THAT way. Color is wonderful, so is fiber, but this way you actually have a plan with the yarn and it’s not festering and chewing on your conscience as you worry about what to do with it all.

  27. That Christina-gal way up by the top of the comments back there? Find out what SHE knits with, lure her in with that (you know it’s in that closet somewhere), and get HER to do with it what she suggested YOU do with it! She sounds like a keeper!
    I like the contest idea, too. Maybe a simple one for those of us too internet-impaired to get our photos to post on the Frappr’ map?

  28. Ann, Ann, Ann,
    Laundry baskets are the answer. Here’s what I do when neatening up for the sake of people who don’t know how we really live: I tear through the house like a madwoman, pitching all the stuff that doesn’t belong in public view into baskets that I’ve stolen from the laundry room. Then I hide them in the same laundry room and close the door. The catch? Forgetting about the full baskets until you (a) need to do the wash, or (b) need to find something that you stashed in one of the baskets.

  29. I’d just clear a path to the pants… But I’ll add my name to those who say “Have a contest that I can win!” Not that I need any more yarn right now… But seriously, these great stash bags hold a lot… http://www.grandriveryarns.com/acc-stash-bag.htm

  30. At last someone with a larger stash than mine. however my feeling of superiority is overtaken by the fact that I’m jealous of the lovely yarns you have in there!

  31. Huh. Really don’t see the problem here. Looks like an entirely reasonable, consumable-within-your-lifetime amount of yarn.

  32. I can nly join the chorus: bag it! Write on the bags what it is and how much there is, even what project you imagined it for. All those ‘mini-skeins’ and left-overs can go in a bag of their own for some school craft project that needs yarn. Then put all bags in those lidded rollerbins that go under a bed. Good way also to hide from Hubby the amount of yarn around. Out of sight, out of mind.

  33. Knit like the wind! Knit like the WIND! If that fails, get some clear plastic bins and a notebook and inventory the stash as you store it. Personally, my stash is in a trunk which is overflowing into a rubbermaid box.

  34. Listen to all these wonderful, warm, encouraging people–I am reading their comments and can sense that they are really cheering, really want to help, advise, even come directly to your house and have a stash sorting party. Its a beautful thing.
    Though before you do any of that, ya gotta lay down in the closet and take a bath in that yarn. Mmmmmm…..yarn (and yes, I do smell my yarn too…)

  35. Here is my suggestion: Get to Ikea, or Target or your favorite low-budget store and get yourself some sweet baskets. I like the ones that are lined with muslin and have little bows on the side, but I’m a bit girly. The point is, get several of these in varying sizes and arrange them on the closet floor.
    Then you must organize the yarn into these three baskets. I have one basket for fancy yarns — typically wool, and skeins that were gifted. One basket is for synthetic yarns I use for hats and other crafty projects. The third basket is for yarn I have purchased or been given and can never see myself using. I give this yarn away regularly.
    The key is when I buy new yarn, it must go in one of the first two baskets. Then voila, your organizational system is built in.

  36. Get some shelves and arrange it by color.
    That’s what I did.
    My son said “And when are you going to knit mom?”
    My answer “What, and spoil that beautiful arrangement!”

  37. Count your blessings. And think of it as an opportunity to go crazy and get creative. Who knows what discoveries you will make when the common order is blown away by they pure chaos of the heap?

  38. I’ve SEEN the stash. And the secret stash. And the super secret stash. It’s WAY beyond knitting past life expectancy. I think you should purge some for charity. But only if you feel like it. There’s much to be said for hording (at least the hubbo has something to sell on Ebay when you die…did you see the Alice Starmore stash the husband sold on Ebay?? It was up to $2500 a good two days before it ended!).

  39. Sounds like you need some Vitameatavegemin!

  40. I have lined the inside of my closet with the shoe cubbies that can be found in the organization section of Target. For larger skeins I use a 2 drawer unit that fits under the shoe cubbies nicely.
    Good luck. My husband thinks it looks all nice and pretty and doesn’t suspect a thing.

  41. Ok, what is the problem!!! Looks like you love yarn so show it some love. Fill up some baskets and let it out of the closet. It wants to be seen, loved, felt and admired. I read most of the ideas above and have to agree with all of them. Maybe some people have time to be super organized; but, not me since I just want to knit and let the yarn flow.

  42. you could always donate it to a needy cause

  43. Yeah, it’s just like me commenting on a old post. I had to. I love to get rid of clutter. Except my husband and my kids. They are nice clutter to have around. 🙂 Heres what I’d do. Drive to Target or Evilmart or Rubbermaidmart (I made that one up, har har) and buy some of those 50qt bins (the clear ones, so you can see whats inside). Label one ‘sort’, one ‘give away’ one ‘throw away’. Then start flinging all that yarn in those bins. When a ‘give away’ bin is filled, put it in your trunk to take to the womens center or retirement home or school. When a throw away bin is filled dump its contents into your backyard trash can for the trashman to haul away. Don’t look back. When you’re done, all you’ll be left with is the keep bins. Sort those when you get a wild hair. Love ya!


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