Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Great Yarn Stash Challenge

I love weaving guilds. In fact, I belong to four of them! The first one I joined as a very beginning weaver was Skagit Valley Weavers Guild. This is the guild I consider my home guild. It is a lovely, warm, supportive group of weavers, some of whom have been weaving for over 30 years. I have found all of them to be enthusiastic weavers, spinners, and fiber artists. The second guild I joined was the Whidbey Weavers Guild, followed by the Seattle Weavers Guild and then, in the past couple of years, I joined the Whatcom Weavers Guild. All of them have their own culture that is different from the others. I don't make all the meetings for all of the guilds but I do make one or two a month.
One of the many side benefits of belonging to a guild is the unofficial and sometimes official yarn and equipment sales. These are a great source for bargains of yarn and equipment. A beginning weaver can quickly build up a stash of materials to weave with for a good price. Before you know it, you have an impressive stash. There are a couple of things you can do to manage your stash when it threatens to topple and bury you in a mound of yarn. You can continue to stash until eventually a relative has the task of holding a yarn sale for the guild to recycle all that yarn back into other weaver's stashes. You can also get in the de-cluttering mode and bring the yarn to the guild yourself to sell back to other weaver's looking for a good deal on yarn. I managed to sell of half my yarn stash in this manner. There is another way to thin the stash out and that is to actually weave it all up. I am finding that is easier said than done!
I started weaving my stash off in January. Sort of a New Year's resolution, if I made them, which I don't! To deal with the sheer volume I decided to keep it very simple. I put a black cotton warp on at 4 epi and wove a weft-faced plain weave starting with the thickest yarns I had, including handspun yarn. For someone who loves fine threads, I sure had a lot of thick yarns. I put on about 10 yards of warp at a time and for several weeks, was weaving off the 10 yards every week. As I finished each warp, I measured and weighed the fabric off the loom and have been recording it. I am also keeping the empty cones for now just to have the visual satisfaction of seeing all the cones I have used up. As I have used up the thicker yarns, I have had to increase the sett for the increasingly finer threads. The warp that is going on the loom now is a balanced plain weave 40" wide and sett at 12 epi. That number will get even larger as I continue to work my way through. I am almost out of wool yarn and will be starting on the cottons, then linens, and finally silk and miscellaneous fibers.
So, what am I going to do with all of the yards of fabric? Keep it simple, I will be making tote bags to sell at the various guild sales. Three of the four guilds I belong to have sales.
So my question for the day is:
Do you have a stash? How do you manage it?

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