By Kelly Grotzinger
My fiber holdings, that is, my stash, was acquired...
- from retail shops--both large and indie
- from local and regional fiber shows
- at household auctions
- through Guild swap meets
- from going-out-of-business sales or liquidations of shops' contents, and
- as the result of the well-meaning friend or acquaintance saying "here, it will go to the trash otherwise."
I was pointedly reminded of the following this past month:
- a forgotten leftover bobbin or cone of yarn may get funky with time, regardless of how it is stored. It may dry rot, felt, become a chew toy, or otherwise loose strength or its integrity.
- two cones/bobbins/balls/spools of thread with 'the same' labeled fiber content and size but woven at different mills can and will have different twists, sheens, effective sizes. They may, and probably will, look different from each other in the weaving.
- two cones of yarn of equivalent fiber/size but differing by lot, thus production date and century when acquired, will both handle and weave differently.
- thrums might not be worth saving or tying together to make a cone of yarn.
- leftover bobbins might be best twisted into multi-stranded ties.
- it is wise to wrap inexact matches--those similar yet differently sourced 10/2 Perle colored cottons, for example--to see how such combinations will look in warp or weft.
- an ugly yarn may remain an ugly yarn.
- time goes by surprisingly quickly and some of one's yarn may have lived most of its life in that drawer or cupboard.....
The consequences of such stash-related learnings included the following. A table runner designed to reveal the idiosynchrasies of my wee Macomber loom instead 'revealed' dry rot (that odd bobbin), color oddities (all blacks are NOT the same), that a sheen might not be equivalent to luminescence, and mill source differences are real (unique twist, feel). Salvaging the woven piece required cutting out a bad section, hemming / re-hemming, and finally, accepting that I wove a placemat instead of a table runner! My second set of consequences involved making a warp from stashed 8/4 cotton for a bed runner. I modified my warp three times while on the warping board in achieving an effective blend of neutrals and the 42 inches width I wanted. I have no warp thread in reserve 'cause I used every inch of most of the colors.
Responsible use of any fiber requires choice and trade-offs. While you might not be able to substitute or combine certain yarns from your stash in achieving your desired warp or weft, you might have enough for the warp or a stripe or weft alone. You might have to use that glitzy thread in an unplanned way because you have limited yardage.
No one wants to waste their expensive supplies. No one wants to waste stash. Stash doesn't have to be used alone. You don't have to 'settle' by weaving what you have rather than what you want. Use your stock to support the projects as you can. Can you
use part of your stash of 16/2 cotton and buy a couple of cones to finish the piece? Could your stash yarn serve as the trial run, the preamble as it were, to the 'real' thing? Would stashed yarns lend themselves to practical and plain tea towels or a lap blanket?
Your stashed yarn and thread requires some care. All fiber requires periodic assessment. Stash can provide options and opportunities. Stash might require creative thought, but I think it is worth having and using wisely.