Friday, January 1, 2010

Tough Love

I know, strange title for a New Year's Day post.  But it's the phrase that has been running through my brain all week and that's what I'm going with! When you think of tough love you probably think of some difficult scenario between a parent and a teenage child, right?  Where the parent is having to create boundaries and limitations that in the long run will be best for the child.  And even though the child doesn't "get it" at the moment, hopefully they will, some day in the future.

I have learned that there are many, many different circumstances in which tough love needs to be applied, and as always, I relate my lessons somehow to knitting.  What am I talking about?  Well, a new year, a new decade, a blue moon last night...good energy....and all of these things seemed like a great reason to apply a little tough love on myself in the form of stash busting.  Yes, stash busting.  For those of you that understand what I mean when I say stash busting, well you probably should keep reading! ;)  Maybe you'll relate.  If that term makes no sense to you whatsoever , well, hang in there.  I'll try to explain.

In my basement is a spare room with a very small walk-in closet that is referred to as the yoga/knitting/exercise/storage room...aka Mom's Space.  Yes, it's a catchall for many things, but mostly it contains my ever growing supply of yarn and knitting projects, aka my STASH.  You might think that this stash of yarn began to appear since I have been employed with Brown Sheep Co.  Nope.  Not true.  I have been moving a considerable size stash from home to home for the last 20 yrs. (And I have moved a lot)  We box it up, move it to the new house, unpack it, and there it is. Yarn in all colors, weights, textures, fiber content and so on.  A veritable yarn "store" that any knitter would love to "shop!" 

Now I DO actually knit from my stash, I really do!  It isn't as if I just buy yarn for decoration, because of course that would make me seem a bit uh, well, crazy, right?  Ok, so I confess, I do just like the yarn around me in all it's beautiful, soft, colorful glory.  But that's another topic for another day.  The real problem lies with the different yarns that I have kept for many years, but know for a fact I will probably never knit. It could be some wacky colorway that at the time seemed like it might be perfect for something or another.  It could be that it is a synthetic fiber that looked pretty on the shelf, but feels, for lack of a better term, "icky" in my hands and therefore no fun to work with.  Well, whatever the reason, the point is that it needs to go!  (and I know this makes me sound like a "yarn snob", but please stay with harm intended here...I just spend so much of my waking life knitting that I feel I should use materials that really make me excited to pick up my needles, and so should you, by the way!;)

Getting really honest with myself about the type of fiber I enjoy knitting, the type of needles that feel best in my hands, the patterns that challenge me, the types of things I really like to create and use, the people that truly appreciate a hand knit gift versus those that don't, are all things that I have identified over the years and come to know about myself as a knitter.  And knowing myself is the first step in my tough love program I am beginning this year.

It was time to get real, and that's just what I did.  I went through each and every single skein or ball of yarn carefully feeling it, examining it, and deciding whether I would ever truly get around to using it.  And then I began making three piles.  One was the "give-away" pile.  One was the "keeper, but no particular plan", pile; you know, the "just love this fiber" pile and want to do something with it, but not sure what?  And the third was the "planned projects pile" where I have a pattern or a planned design for that yarn.

To my surprise, the "give away" pile was huge!  I was amazed at what I was willing to part with in fact.  I admit that I do throw many things away easily, but not yarn.  No, it's serious business to me. :)  And so that I wouldn't be able to change my mind, I quickly made a couple of phone calls and came up with an idea for who might really appreciate that yarn.  And before you know it, I had put a very big smile on my face and on the face of someone else.  Nice feeling.  My tough love program seemed to be getting off to a great start.

And as the days passed, thoughts were floating around in my head about all the areas of my life that seem cluttered...and it's not what you think.  Oh yes, there's always going to be a closet to clean out or a stack of papers to go through, or boxes to unpack.  Who cares.  I have perpetual piles and I've learned that's just life.  I let myself off the hook on that stuff a while ago. 

No, what I was really thinking about was how many times in one day I wish for more time because my life just seemed cluttered up with busy-ness.  I want  "extra" that I won't feel so that I can get a few more things done...etc.  You get the picture.  But then I realized that wasn't really what I needed either.  No matter what I do, I am not going to be able to change the amount of hours in the day, period.  Ok, so not such a huge revelation I know, but what was a revelation was how my knitting, once again, was providing me with something more than "just knitting."

Whatever your particular beliefs are about why you are here and what you are supposed to be "doing" with your life, I believe there are some basic universal truths for all of us and here's a few of them I hope you might give some thought to:

Do what you love, do what you have to, to be happy in this life, and understand that we're not meant to be here forever...we are supposed to be getting something from our experiences, but it's not all good keep moving forward, take it easy on yourself...stop trying to figure out a way to make the days 30 hrs long instead of 24.  Start tuning in to yourself and what really turns you on.  Seriously.  The past is done.  Over.  Move on.  Fill your days with people that you love, people that inspire you, people that challenge you.  Fill your days with art and creative processes that leave you satisfied and feeling "full".  Stop hanging on to every thing that is a "have to", and start embracing the really, really "want tos".  That's a way to get more out of the time you do have, right?  Try to make your outside match your inside.  Walk your talk.

In other words, time is too precious to spend it knitting with yarn you hate, just because it was on sale and you bought ten of them, or using needles that don't feel warm and comfortable in your hands.  Why keep working on that sweater in that particular color of orange when every time you look at it you feel a little twinge in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you will NEVER wear that sweater.  Just stop.  Spend a little energy on figuring out what you really want to do with your time and then do it.

All of a sudden it seems like the day just got a little bit longer and the air a little bit sweeter.  Stash busting, as it turns out, was good for my soul.  Get a little tough love going in your life and make new beginnings.

These are my intentions and I'm putting them out there.  Let's stay in touch on this, shall we?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy New Year...peace, out.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Amen! Sounds like a great way to start the year. Now, if only I can find the time to sort! :)

  3. I know exactly what you mean! At the beginning of last summer I moved back home for a few months from my first year of college and destashed EVERYTHING. I gave away yarn, books, CDs... tons of stuff. I just couldn't handle being surrounded by things anymore that weren't necessarily in the foreground at the time.

    I hope you're successful! It makes one feel so good to declutter and refocus.

  4. Thanks, Lindsay! Recognizing what we don't want/need in our space and then doing something about it really serves to declutter your home and your mind/heart!