Friday, August 31, 2007

The Great Stashbust Challenge of '07 Begins

This is it-- the launch of the Stashbust Challenge! It’s also more or less the launch of my blog, because I haven’t done too much with it yet, but I am sure that this project will give me plenty of material. Literally.

A little background:
Like so many other knitters, I have a little problem with impulse control when it comes to buying yarn. Actually, that is kind of like saying that the Pacific Ocean has a little bit of water in it. I really love yarn. I love the textures and the colors and the smell-- everything. It's just lustworthy stuff. I don't even think it needs to be knit up to be interesting.
However, having a big stash causes problems for a lot of other reasons. Although I don't tend to blow lots of money on things like clothes and shoes, I more than make up for it by buying yarn. I know that I have spent more than one thousand dollars on yarn this year alone. Well, plenty more than one thousand-- in fact, I am too scared to look at the receipts. (You see? This is a big sign that I need to kick the habit).
I also am running out of room to store the stuff. For about the first year or so, I could easily keep all my yarn in a small chest in my closet. I outgrew that pretty rapidly once I started building up a stash, and the better I got at knitting and the more room it took up in my mind, my apartment started to mirror my brain. It was kind of like The Blob’s wooly cousin—or The Blob wearing a sweater, if it makes you happier to think of it that way. It sure makes me happier.
Finally, at the beginning of this year I got tired of looking at all the full bags of yarn (not to mention the chest full of yarn--no longer the small chest, but a bigger one I got just for the purpose of holding my expanding yarn stash) so I purchased a big wall unit for my apartment. Ostensibly for books and entertainment, it also served the purpose of hiding much of my stash. However, that strategy backfired. Once I got the yarn out of sight, I just ended up buying more. A few months later, I was right back where I started, except that now I had the big wall unit, the big chest AND bags of yarn all over the floor. My apartment looks like a yarn store that got hit by a tornado (without, of course, the human suffering that accompanies natural disasters, unless you count how much it irritates me to have a messy apartment all the time).

This month, both due to an unexpected lull in employment (ahem) and to joining a KAL to “Do Something New” every month for the next six months, I decided that my something new this month would be to inventory the stash and officially launch my challenge. This is it!

About My Stash:
A few months ago, I decided to take a picture of my stash, hoping that the experience would have an inherent deterrent effect on my yarn purchasing. I got out all of my yarn and laid it out on my king-size mattress (ridiculous for a studio apartment, I know, but I got it for free.) When I began, I was trying to lay it out in a quasi-artistic fashion, but as the coverage grew more dense I finally just started throwing the skeins on the pile. I took the picture below and then put all the yarn away again. This entire process took seven hours.

There’s also a box of yarn that didn’t fit in the frame, and as I was putting away the yarn I found some more in random places around the apartment.
This picture was taken at the end of June, and I regret to say that the deterrent effect was minimal. My stash has grown even more since that time. I finally figured out just how much when I did my inventory last week: I had 51 miles of yarn in my apartment! I got rid of about 11,000 yards of this in a swap (meaning, I have some replacement yardage on the way!) and gave some away to Value Village, but as of right now I currently own 83,413.5 yards of yarn. My swap hasn’t arrived yet, either, so the final figure will be higher.
So, the stashbusting challenge officially begins right now. I have a feeling that it will take me through the end of next year, at least!

The Ground Rules:
1. The goal is to reduce my total yarn stash to approximately 10,000 yards. When I hit 10,000 yards I am allowed to buy yarn for new projects that don’t contain stash yarn, but I have to keep the total at or below 10,000 yards at all times. I am going to maintain my stash spreadsheet even after the challenge is officially over.
2. Yardage for WIPs is not taken off the total until the project is completed (including all finishing). If there are partial balls left over from a project, I don’t have to keep those in the total, but all full balls will of course be counted.
3. I will allow the following amounts – and ONLY these amounts—for purchase of supplies to finish a stash project. After some thought, I’ve decided that the allowances may be banked (because otherwise it may create an incentive to choose stash projects that require additional supplies). The “finishing allowances” are by type of project, and can only be used on a project that consists of at least 50% stash yarn—even if allowance is banked:
a. Scarf, gloves, hat, socks or similar small accessory: $15
b. Small-to-medium household items (like pillows, etc.): $15
c. Handbag or similar large accessory: $20
d. Pullover sweater or skirt: $30
e. Cardigan or jacket: $50
f. Blanket/afghan: $60
4. UFOs must have a ticker up on the sidebar at all times until the project is totally finished. My goal is to get myself down to 4-5 WIPs maximum before starting any new projects.
5. After finishing projects, I will post an accounting of the number of yards of stash yarn used and an itemized list of extra supplies purchased to complete the project, if applicable.
6. I am starting out with 15 UFOs on the sidebar (Good Lord!) and, because these projects are already in progress, I am allowing myself a total of $10 per project for finishing supplies for all of these items, which is bankable.
7. I am not setting a limit on purchase of books, but I am only allowed one new knitting/crochet book a month without penalty. If I want to buy more than one book in a month, I have to use banked finishing allowance—but I can use it 2 for 1 (i.e., $10 of banked finishing allowance can count as $20 book allowance).

Reward schedule:
I’m also setting up a schedule of rewards that I will allow myself to buy when I have used up specific amounts of stash yardage. Of course, since the idea is to not have yarn take up as much physical space as it does now, the rewards must not exceed 25% of the yardage I used up to get to the reward point. Also, the yardage is entered into my stash worksheet and fully counted as part of my yarn stash. All other rules will also be in full effect (i.e., if I already have five UFOs when I get the reward, I can’t start it until I finish at least one of the projects in progress).
Anyway, here are some pre-selected rewards and reward levels:
8,000 yards: Blanket Kit from Fleece Artist
7,000 yards: Sahara Blouse pattern from Stitch Diva and yarn to complete (possible materials: Yin and Yang yarn from SWTC)
7,000 yards: RYC Cashcotton DK to make Katherine Hepburn cardigan from Lace Style
6,000 yards: Lady of the Forest shawl kit from Fleece Artist
Naturally, I am deliberately making these first few rewards more stringent than the “25% of yardage used” guideline, both because I am treating the 25% rule as a maximum guideline and because, since this is the beginning of the challenge, I want to make sure I have to finish several projects before I allow myself to buy a new project’s worth of materials.
OK! I am ready to go. I have a complete inventory of all of my yarn and needles, all of my yarn actually has a place in my apartment now, and I have rules set down in black and white—not to mention the accountability factor; everyone knows that I am doing this, including yarn store employees. Speaking of which, I sincerely hope that none of my favorite LYSes go out of business due to this challenge but hey, I have to look out for number one for a change.
The challenge officially starts NOW!


Knit and fall back in it said...

Wow, that is quite a yarn diet. I could join you, but I would never make it.

Hobbygåsa said...

That was a lot of rules in your stashbust challenge.. I wish you luck - this is something I never had been able to follow.... I'm waiting for Ravelry too - only 1013 in front of me in line - I am so looking forward to it! Have a nce day!

Tina in Wonderland said...

Good luck in your stashbusting! Great job on all the organizing, and all the math involved! OMG, miles and miles of yarn!