Over my head

I may have mentioned before, like seventy or eighty thousand times, that we live in an old house.  I keep saying it’s about 120 years old, but we’ve lived here for 14 years, so it’s more like 135.  There are things I love about this house, like the way it’s unique and has character, and then there are things I hate about it. Like it’s unique, and it has character.

Upstairs at the end of the hall, next to our bedroom, is this bizarre little space.  It’s a wee room, about  1.5m by 3m (5X9 feet).  It’s not even big enough to put a bed in, and I often wonder why it’s there? (I first thought that maybe it was a tiny nursery, but Joe pointed out that that room didn’t have heat when the house was built, and it’s pretty unlikely someone would put a baby in an unheated room.) In any case, it’s a tiny, tiny useless space, though it does have a great big window, and when we moved in it had a counter (???) and shelving along one wall.  I did what any sane person living in a wee house with only two closets would do. 

I started filling it up with stash- and by stash, I mean the expanded idea of stash, where stash includes yarn, fibre, patterns, leaflets, magazines, kits… You’ve got the idea.  At the same time, Joe made a bold attempt to use it for his stash – which is sort of the same except for that you substitute wire for yarn, resistors for fibre, Popular Electronics for Interweave Knits, and Acoustic Design and Architecture for Vogue Knitting.  I was more successful than he was- but he managed to get a whole lot in there.

Fast forward 14 years, and this room has become a storage space that we all hate.  No, wait.  Hate is not a strong enough word.  Loathe.  Despise. That’s closer.  The room is the only room in the house to still be decorated the way that it was when I moved in, and though I’m sure it was pretty to the people who lived here before, it’s so not me.  The ceiling is painted periwinkle blue, and there’s wallpaper with pink and blue roses on it.

This is just about the opposite of me, and every day for 14 years I’ve walked by that place and thought something hurtful about that wallpaper.  Gradually, despite weekly attempts to bring it under control and make the stuff fit better, the room has gotten unmanageable.   The older I get, the tidier I like things.  I think this is because you can’t like spending time with three little kids and have things tidy… and now that they’re growing up and away I can have it the way I like it.. but the point is, that room is a pit, I hate it, I’m even sort of embarrassed of it,  but I’ve never known quite what to do – and after a while you just don’t see it the same way.  About once a week one of us says something like "That room is the only one in the house that sucks, can’t we fix it?" but then we manage to wander off after shuffling some stuff around, realizing there’s not enough shelves.

Enter that horrible tv show, Hoarders.  I was watching it the other day, thinking "Those poor people, how does that happen to them" and then I just so happened to need some yarn and went upstairs and essentially waded through that stash room.  The irony hit me just that minute and I flipped out. (For the record, if just one episode of Hoarders doesn’t trigger cleaning behavior in you, I’m  not sure what will. ) That room might not quite be a candidate for that show yet, but it hit me that not being quite sure what to do and piling more books on the shelf or counter (???) while you’re thinking about it can’t help.  That rooms a mess. The books are piled high, there’s yarn in boxes, fibre in bins… and magazines all over the place instead of put where I can find the issue I want.  This is some of my favourite stuff, and the rest of the house doesn’t look like this… it’s like the worlds biggest junk closet, except it’s the stash, and I’m tired of digging through the whole thing every time I need my copy of Folk Socks, which frankly, is pretty darned often.   Time to take charge. 

(I took this picture after I started unloading stuff from a bin on the other side of the room, so it wasn’t really this bad, but it was pretty close.)

I checked around, in my bank account and basement, and I came up with a plan.  I would take everything out of the room.  I would take down the counter (???) and the shelving that’s crooked, rickety and doesn’t hold squat anyway, and I would paint the whole shebang.  Then I’d buy some of those supercheap bookcases from Ikea, slam all of my books and patterns into them, re-use the big Ikea storage thingie that I used to have elsewhere into the house for yarn, score another one (not sure where, still working on that part of the plan) and put all the fibre in that.  Then I’d make a rule that if it didn’t fit in that room, I couldn’t have it, destash stuff that shouldn’t be here anyway, since it’s not going to fulfill it’s destiny, and essentially make this room – which is destined to be storage, really great storage. Joe’s got room at the studio for the electronics, so this little space can be a proper, pretty stash room.  I have always wanted that.

I took about half the stuff out of the room, brought the paint up, tried to find a hammer and wigged out, hit by the realization that I’m making things worse, not better, and that I’m totally and completely over my head…but I’m keeping on.  Stay tuned.  I have a vision of what this room can be, and I think I can make it work. It’s going to have to be high on work and low on cash, but we’ll see.

(PS. If you were going to put all your knitting books on shelves together… how would you put them? Alphabetical? By Author? By title? By subject?)