Using What I’ve Got: Yarn

I thought I was going to be able to open this blog post dramatically with a claim that I have amassed and used the equivalent metre-age (yardage) as a percent of the distance to the Moon. Thankfully, however, my yarn stash total – used and unused – works out to just under 26 km/16.2 mi. Who would have thought that taking a step back and assessing how much I have makes the volume of it less daunting? I’ve just frogged/unraveled a blanket, have left over yarn from gifts I made, as well as abandoned-projects-that-are-more-technical-than-my-skill-level yarn – so, I’m certainly not lacking craft materials.

The gap between my desire to make something and my skill level has only been the cause of over-buying yarn once. The remaining 23 km of yarn comes from either left over yarn from completed projects (I’m not great at estimating how much yarn is needed for something I’m making without a pattern), or from the idea of a project and the mixed feeling of “I want to have enough to make what I want, when I want” and “if I don’t have enough, I can’t make the piece.” Oh, and I’m a sucker for marketing when things are in my favourite colourways.

Most of my yarn, clothing, jewellery, home decor, and cookware fit at least one of these colours

Yarn, and other craft supplies, is one of the no-buy categories for the year – and I am planning to use it for various projects (maybe I’ll get a jump start on making for the holiday season this year). Crocheting is one of my hobbies that I can do on autopilot once I’ve figured out what type of stitch or pattern of stitches I’m using, so I like to pair it with listening to a podcast or catching up on my “Watch Later” playlist on YouTube. Or, if I’m feeling spicy, I can be alone with just my thoughts and not have any media on while crafting. For reference’s sake for project size, I’ve made both scrunchies and blankets, which are equally rewarding to me.

I have no desire to monetize this hobby. Frankly, dealing with the post office is about 30% of the reason I don’t want to, but the other part is the “quiet” that I have when I’m working away at any project. If something is for myself, it’s allowed to be imperfect and wonky. If it’s a gift, I’ll make a bit more of an effort or go over a line of stitches twice if necessary. In essence, I’m genuinely doing it for the fun of it and my brain is happy to see a physical representation of my efforts (as opposed to the majority of my work being digital or otherwise abstract). I don’t feel that I need to maximize my skill level, compete with anyone else (whether for sales or complexity of projects), or be perfect (crochet is great for this: messed up a stitch? Undo it and start again).

What I do desire, however, is to be able to minimize the stash of yarn. I find that when I have many projects going at once regardless of medium, I pick up new projects but never finish them. I tend to slow down when the stash is smaller, actually completing the projects I’ve started. I think two projects – one short-term, one long-term – is reasonable to have going at the same time, but more than that is unmanageable for me.

My major take away would be that slowing down and being more intentional would also be beneficial to my personal/for fun projects. Oh, and also remembering to make things for myself as well, not just as gifts.

Like this headband, made for me by me 🙂

What’s coming up next:

Next week will start off with looking at the rest of my categories for inventories, as well as the products that I’m looking to finish up using. Thanks for reading!

My No Buy Plan for 2022

What is a No Buy?

The purpose of a No Buy or Low Buy is to reduce how much you are purchasing new things. You set parameters for yourself of what you are limiting (whether entirely or capping), and for how long. You make the rules for yourself according to what your needs are (i.e., it would be incredibly difficult to purchase nothing an entire year if you included essential categories like food and rent), as well as what exceptions you have for your rules – or what you are indeed allowed to spend money on that may not be considered to be essential by others.

My Categories

I chose my categories based on where I spend the most money: clothing, accessories, shoes, crafting supplies, tea, and body care products. Books are also on the list, but are being treated a bit differently. For clothing, I have more than enough seasonal wear, and I know what colours and styles I like to wear most – and I know that I don’t need more. Accessories – earrings, other jewellery, bags, scrunchies – are just as plentiful as clothing. Shoes are a bit different in that I have a lot, for different events/purposes, but many of those events are not currently taking place, so they are not in use. Crafting supplies is likely the broadest category with stationary, writing tools, stickers, yarn, washi tape, scrapbooking paper, and about par for clothing in sheer volume of materials. For tea, I like(d) to buy in bulk with DavidsTea having moved to being almost an entirely online store, so I have around 1.5 kilos of tea, and I certainly don’t need more. For body care products, I amassed so much of everything from shopping sales, buying in bulk, or thinking that I would need more than I reasonably use. A single person doesn’t need five tubes of toothpaste, but that’s what I got from Costco six months ago. For books, I have a healthy To Be Read stack that I want to complete without rushing myself. Books are a bit different, then, as I’ll still be going to the local library, but I won’t be buying new books.

What will be tough about the goal

Avoiding sources of temptation will likely be my biggest struggle over the course of the year. Certain stores, like Michaels, DavidsTea, and Simon’s are full of stuff that I like (and that can stay out of my shopping cart), and avoiding them as a whole is my best bet. In 2021, I went to Michael’s twice, once with spending nothing (but I’d already been shopping at thrift stores that day), and the second time with buying more than I intended once I found something that would make a cute gift. I don’t need to say much about tea (see the 1.5 kilos remark above), and Simon’s is a catch all for cute clothing and home goods, and probably my number 1 targeted ad on instagram. I find that thrifting without a physical list has also led to buying more than I intended, and the rush from shopping for new items is the same as it is for thrifted items, with the additional layer of it being an unexpected find. To help prevent these temptations, I’ve already unsubscribed from all emails from these stores (and others) and I don’t follow them on social media anymore.

My philosophy

When it comes to what I’m going to do when faced with decisions of whether or not to purchase something, I want to have a much more intentional and slowed-down approach than I used to. I want to know what I have and what I need (which likely won’t be anything, at least for a few months) and be able to consider what it is that I’m taking into my home. If I don’t want to be in a space where I’m shopping, whether online or in person, I will need to be intentional about how I’m spending my time and what I do in a day. I want the time otherwise lost from online or in-person shopping to be spent on activities that are more meaningful to me, and I want my living space to not be bursting at the seams with stuff. I will be going into this year’s challenge with the mindset that the decisions I make are my own, and that there is no luck involved in the process; if I am tempted by an item, and choose to make a purchase, that is my decision. However, I also recognize that I do make mistakes, stuff happens, and what matters more is what I learn from my decisions and what I choose to do next.

What’s coming up this week:

I’ll be doing a paper-based inventory of my clothing (so I can keep track of number of wears per item), flipping my hangers over, and picking out the two books I’m aiming to read for the month beyond the remaining library book I have on loan.