Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Can Knitting and Minimalism Coexist?

My current knitting project.  
At the snail pace of a dozen rows knit a week this poncho will take me all year to complete.

I'm having a crafting crisis of sorts.  After scaling back on my hobbies once, then twice I am left with knitting as my sole craft of choice.  Knitting has been my passion for the past eight years often taking up a good chunk of each day until this year that is.  This year my knitting has ground to an unexpected halt.   What's been different?  Well, this is the year I decided to not just downsize, but to embrace minimalism as a lifestyle.  Currently, I'm only on the journey to becoming a minimalist by going through my belongings, doing lots of reading about Minimalism, getting some direction and goals lined up.  In most areas of my life this journey has been an improvement to our lives, but in my hobby of knitting it has really got me stuck.  

Now, there are some aspects of knitting that run a bit contrary to how I see Minimalism working for our family.  The most obvious one is the knitter's stash of yarn.  Knitter's are drawn to yarn like moths to a flame.  We joke about yarn having fumes that mess with our minds as we leave the yarn shop with enough yarn for a sweater , scarf and hat when we only went in for a darning needle.  Yarn has very compelling qualities:  it can be all different textures, fibers, thickness, colors the possibilities are really endless.  And that my friends is what we get stuck on "the possibilities" the dream of what amazing items this yarn could become.  Of course, that's not a bad thing in and of itself but here's the hiccup, you can buy yarn a whole lot faster than you can knit it.  Which brings us to why the knitter has a stash of yarn.  We purchase the yarn with every intention of knitting it up into a wearable item, but knitting is a slow process even for a very fast knitter it takes weeks to finish a sweater.  So, often we will start dreaming of the next project, before being finished with the one we are currently knitting.  The planning process is lots of fun; looking up patterns, figuring out what yarn to use etc.  But why the yarn skeins pile up is that we are fickle and the yarn that we purchased while we were in the middle of knitting endless rows of plain stockinette stitch doesn't still interest us after completing our project.  We want something even newer, so the yarn balls pile up unused building themselves into a proper stash.  

This shopping for yarn, patterns, accessories and tools has become quite epic in scale.  All knitting education events and retreats have shopping, there are clubs that deliver yarn monthly to your house, there are indie dyers that have much built up "shop updates" that if you don't get that yarn now it will be gone forever.  There's pressure to purchase from all these sources and then your knitter friends who enable you to purchase more which I believe makes them feel better about their own purchases.  It's really crazy making.  I know they are out there but I have yet to meet a knitter who buys yarn for a project, knits it to completion and only then buys yarn for her next project.  This is the type of knitter I aspire to be, but right now I'm still the knitter with the stash and lots of half finished projects. 

I've gone through my stash and have sold off lots of yarn.  I kept only that which is currently in a partially knitted project, colors that will go with my now reduced wardrobe (I bought a lot of yarn over the years just because it was "pretty" not that it matched anything I owned) or that is earmarked for a gift.  But, this still leaves me with quite a bit and I don't know how I feel about it.  On the one hand I don't need to purchase any yarn for a couple of years, but then on the other hand I need to store all that yarn for a couple of years.  Will I even still like it by the time I'm ready to knit it?  It's not a dire situation, but it does weigh upon me. 

The next aspect of knitting that I feel is a bit contrary to minimalism is that it makes more stuff.  If I make a sweater I will have another sweater, unless I get rid of a sweater.  Simplistic explanation, but when you're trying to downside your belongings it's hard to consciously make more belongings for yourself to manage.  Now, I get around this by making gifts for others, but even my mom has told me she doesn't need more sweaters.  Then there's making items for charity; hats for cancer patients, warm clothing for the impoverished living in cold climates, socks for the homeless etc.  There are options, I simply don't feel drawn to any of them at this time.  Which leaves me still feeling a bit stuck.  

So, can knitting coexist with minimalism?  Yes, I think it can, but I don't think it's an easy path.  There is a lot of temptation to consume with this hobby at levels with which you cannot possibly keep up.  I'm not sure where this leaves me in regards to my knitting hobby, but it definitely deserves some more thought.

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