Where Does Yarn Stash Guilt Come From?

This morning on my way to work I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts Two Ewes Fiber Adventures episode 14. The hosts mentioned in passing that they didn’t understand why yarnies feel guilty about their stash when painters don’t feel guilty about their collection of art supplies, and cooks don’t feel guilty about their stocked pantry.

I have also been keeping up with Natalie from Knitty Natty and her progress as she attempts to eliminate her stash. She has been very good about reminding her viewers that just because she is taking this journey doesn’t mean that we have to and even if you enjoy owning yarn, that is enough of a reason to keep a stash.

So, why do we feel guilt when we look at our stash?

Why do I feel bad when I have guests and they say to me “wow, that’s a lot of yarn” instead of being proud of my collection?

My thinking is that it goes back to the whole idea of knitting being the “women’s craft” and therefore “anti-feminist” (when we know it is in fact empowering to women and a political act).

What I mean by this is that men are not criticised for their garages filled with tools and gadgets. They are not chastised for collecting various items for their hobbies (such as modelling tools, guns, car parts, etc.)

Honestly, for less “womanly” activities, women would probably be celebrated for their collections. It would be considered empowering to have her own garage packed with tools.

Yet, remember how I said that the cook can be proud of their pantry? I know many women who have a collection of canned food and stocked freezers. (Of course this is in the case where the woman does the majority or all of the cooking/food planning).

This is because it is seen as a useful collection. If you have a stocked pantry you are a wise woman who is able to make dinner for her family without going to the shop. This means you have thought ahead, you think about saving, and you are innovative.

Perhaps the issue is that having a yarn collection means that the female crafter has claimed her hobby beyond just being useful. She has made the decision that her hobby is allowed to take up just as much space as her male counterparts.

Perhaps, being proud and instead of guilty of our stash is the next step in political knitting?

What do you think?

5 Comments

  1. Gertruida

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a “women’s craft and thus useless” blanketed type of feeling for me. I never used to have a stash of yarn pre-pandemic but had a stash of fabric – which came in very handy when I could make masks for my whole community while the shops were all closed… Since then I started keeping a stash of all things but there are some things I feel guilty about – skeins and tools that do not have a single project or use in mind, but it’s coming from getting them because they were pretty and then feeling guilty about not having a purpose for them. All the tools and collections of things in men’s garages have a purpose and an intent… So I think that is where the guilt lies – not having purpose and intent with some of the items in your stash. As soon as they find a project, even if I haven’t started it yet and won’t start for eons – I immidiately feel zero guilt and actually feel pride.

    • I hear what you’re saying but my yarn stash has an intent to be knit or crocheted at some stage. I also don’t necessarily agree that the tools all have an assigned purpose in a man’s garage… sometimes it’s just cool to have 馃槀

      Anyway, I would encourage you to not worry about not yet knowing the purpose of parts of your stash. It’s purpose will become known, and there’s no reason to feel guilt in the meantime 鉂わ笍

  2. Hammienut

    As far as I am concerned anything that gives you joy is worth keeping. And yarn is most definitely a joy giver. Obviously within reason. If your kids go to bed hungry because you blew the budget on yarn or if you start smelling because the bath tub is used for storing yarn it can no longer be considered a joy giver. Guilt is definitely a joy zapper. Avoid it!

  3. Hammienut

    PS I think women’s craft is not so much considered “useless” as that we feel we should have done something else with our time. To do something you enjoy can easily make you feel guilty because we think it is selfish (not nice quality to have) to spend time on ourselves. But in actual fact it is essential to do something that gives you joy and feeds your soul. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

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