The New Year is fast approaching, and I have been giving thought to my goals for the next year. One of them is to acquire less and use up more of what I have, both to save money and because I am rapidly running out of space to store things! I currently have 203 lbs of yarn, according to my yarn database, at an average weight of 10,000 yards per pound. That is two million yards of yarn, or 1,136 miles. It would stretch from San Francisco to Los Angeles not once, not twice, but three times!
Now, this isn’t as bad as it sounds; weaving with fine yarns rapidly plows through miles of yarn. I estimate that I go through about 30 lbs of yarn per year, typically at 15,000 ypp, so this is about a seven year supply. And many of the threads I work with are only sporadically available, so stocking up makes sense. That said, a seven-year supply seems excessive to me, so one of this year’s goals is to cut down.
Then there is the not-so-small matter of my tools-and-materials acquisition. One of the perils of being a weaver/dyer/surface designer/fashion designer/seamstress/fine artist/chocolatier etc. (lots of etc.) is the sheer volume of tools used in each craft. I have silkscreens, a Thermofax, stamp-carving stuff, stencil-making materials, a full dye studio, lots of weaving tools, fabric paints of all varieties, and bins of fabrics/ interfacings/ pressing tools/ etc. I have at least eight pairs of scissors (all reserved for different purposes). I have a full set of pastels, Shiva paintstiks, watercolor pencils, charcoal, graphite pencils, watercolors, and acrylic paints. I have tools for working with metal clay, and for metal-working. I have a chocolate tempering machine, chocolate-dipping tools, and a full set of chocolate molds.
In short, I have a lot of tools. It’s basically a fully-equipped weaving, dyeing, surface design, and couture sewing studio, plus various fine arts materials, chocolate-making tools, and other miscellaneous crafts – whatever’s caught my fancy over the last ten years. It was not cheap to acquire, but it gives me tremendous multidisciplinary breadth. I don’t regret it one bit, but I do feel that I need to stop collecting tools sometime fairly soon – if only because I’m running out of space to put them!
But I’ve been having trouble coming up with rules for myself. I see the knitters on Ravelry vowing not to buy any yarn in 2012, and to knit solely out of stash. That works if you are a one-dimensional crafter – and I certainly do not intend to purchase more yarn in 2012 – but if you are weaving, dyeing, designing, sewing, and surface-designing your project, it’s a lot harder to specify how to “diet”. I don’t have all the tools, notions, etc. to complete Autumn Splendor, and it’s hard to anticipate what I will need in advance. Exploring different ideas naturally has waste associated with it – like the eleven muslins I’ve done so far – and so I often accumulate things that worked with the previous idea but not with the current one. (Five yards of silk/rayon velvet, for example, which was purchased for the collar, before I eliminated the collar from the design.) The question percolating through my head is, “What can I do to cut back without curbing the creative ferment?” It’s not an easy one. I expect to think about it through the end of the year.
Meanwhile, in creative-land, I have re-boiled the citrus peel, and painted four more knitted blanks. Tomorrow, after I get back from the farmer’s market, I’ll dye the panels for muslin #11.