I hate tidying up, and I am no real fan of cleaning. This has proved to be a minor source of drama in my life, because I like things tidy and clean. I feel like if you don’t mind cleaning, you sort of do it as you go along, and if you’re me, and you want to live in a shining and organized home but really hate getting there, then you sort of do it in bursts, breaking out the vacuum and the dust rags, or tipping out a closet when you can’t stand it a minute longer. Something happens, it crosses my personal threshold and I have to clean it. In my experience, this tip over the edge is usually accompanied by some feelings of resentment and anger towards the other people who live with you who don’t seem to have a personal threshold for dirt or mess and would simply wallow in their own filth forever, like a barnyard animal who doesn’t even have a closet to put things into. (How many feelings of rage you have while cleaning is, and should be, related to how many young, strong, beautiful human beings who are depending on your for support are lying on the couch asking you how much longer you’re running the vacuum for because they can’t really hear the stereo. By the time they were grown my girls used to leap to their feet when they saw a dustrag in my hand.) Now that only one of my kids really still messes up the house, I’ve learned a few things, like that a lot more of the mess belongs to Joe than he would have had me believe, and while I knew he was paying the children to clean so he wouldn’t have to, didn’t quite believe he had managed to cover for him completely – which he apparently did.
The upshot is that I like things tidy, and while I hear legends whispered of people who find fulfillment and happiness in cleaning, not a single one of them lives here, and so I have to have strategies to keep the house in something close to a state I can live with, without cleaning all the time. The answer to this has been to try and have very little stuff. The more stuff we have, the more cluttered things are, the harder it is to manage our stuff. Dusting is easy if there’s nothing on the table. Washing the floor is easier if you don’t have stuff thrown all over it – and for this family, the only way to keep things off the table and the floor is to not own a lot. People can’t throw eight weeks of laundry on their bedroom floor if they don’t have eight weeks of clothes. This has worked really, really well for us over the years. Every time I feel like the house is out of control, I know what’s wrong – we have too much stuff, and some has to go. I watch three or four episodes of Hoarders to get myself in the mood, and off I go.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "Big talk from the lady with yarn everywhere. What’re you doing about that, Queen-tidy-pants?" and to you I say that the stash is mostly under control. I have rules, and I check in with them every so often so that the stash doesn’t turn into something that gets me on TV. Rule #1 is that if I don’t love it, it can’t stay. That rule means that if a skein of yarn accidentally shows up in my house because someone gave me a bag of stuff that used to be their mums, or I realize that something I bought three years ago really isn’t anything I love anymore – or even if I try a yarn and don’t like it – it and all its mates hit the donate pile. I don’t keep yarn I don’t love. I don’t try and figure out how to make it useful, I don’t keep it because some day it might come in handy… I give it away to someone who will find it useful and does love it so that it might brightly flower into its glorious destiny – rather than rot away in the back of my closet.
Rule #2 is absolute. If it can’t fit, it can’t stay. Over the years I have created several stash containments zones. I have the stash room upstairs, I have the built in closet in my office, and a few other spots like baskets and bins. This is where stash must go. Stash cannot go other places, or soon you’re like that lady in Hoarders who was just going to put a few extra canned goods under her son’s bed and now the kid’s sleeping in the bathtub clutching a mangy towel and crying at night. (I like to think of that show as what’s keeping me scared straight. One episode and I’m upstairs getting rid of all the old toothbrushes screaming "THIS IS WHERE IT STARTS.") My point is that I’ve got ample space for stash. Lots. The textile arts are important to me, I earn part of my living at it, and it’s only reasonable that I have a space dedicated to managing the accoutrements of my craft. If I was a carpenter, you would expect me to have a big workshop all full of the stuff that I used. You wouldn’t expect me to have boards and saws all over the house, and that’s the rule here. Stash stays in the stash zone, and if stash is leaking out of the stash zone, then something must be done.
People. Stash is leaking out of the stash zone. In specific, the spinning stash has gotten out of containment area 1, and after having made incursions into the temporary holding zones, it has now seeped further into common living space. I told myself that the 4 batts I made with Judith were too beautiful to put away, and that’s why I was keeping them on the bookshelf outside the bathroom, but that’s not what happened. There was no room for them in the spinning bins, and the spinning bins already had bags stacked on them, which is a violation of containment rules. (Holding areas outside of containment zones can only be temporary, like when you buy something that will fit, but you didn’t put it away yet. Like that.) Then Tina bought me four big batts at Madrona – I wasn’t going to buy anything because I knew I was in trouble, but Tina saw them (I wasn’t looking, that’s what saved me) and the next thing I knew she’d bought them as a present, which was so sweet, but really- it was about 400g (almost a pound) more fibre coming into the house. Then, just to prove that there’s something wrong with me, as I was standing there looking at those batts thinking "I love them, but where will I put them" when Judith offered me fleece and I was like "HIT ME."
So now here I am, with a spinning stash problem of a fairly decent size, and I only have a few options. I can go through the spinning stash and get rid of some things, which frankly isn’t going to happen because I love it all, or I can use some of it up, turn it into yarn and give it away so that the stash fits again. You can bet which one I’m running with. I’m going to go on a sprint and move all the fibre I can through this house until it fits. That BFL the other day was a nice start, but the four batts I made and the four Tina bought me and the fleece from Judith still don’t fit, so off I go. The first thing down the chute: The batts Tina bought me at Madrona. I don’t know where she got them (I’m not sure she knows where she got them. Blasted wool fumes, maybe someone will recognize them.) The first one was a beautiful yellowish wool batt, with locks of mohair thrown in for interest, and what looks to me like little shots of silk here and there.
This kind of batt can’t make a really smooth yarn, so I’m absolved from trying. The singles were beautiful,
and I love the 2-ply I ended up with. It’s got Denny’s name on it I think. I love the colours – but the texture’s sort of whacky, and I feel like it is calling Denny’s name into the air.
I turned to the other two batts in the bag then, and I think these sister ske
ins might be Denny’s too.
These batts were mostly brown/burgundy/red, and had the same little chunks of mohair locks throughout. Very fetching.
I’ll ply later, those singles need to rest. Next up, at least two of the batts outside the bathroom door. Then a few more goodies from deeper layers of the stash. Then maybe a few spinning things I’ve been hiding in the yarn stash can go where they’re supposed to, which might actually mean that all the yarn would fit, which might free up shelf space for the books that are spilling into the kitchen, and then the whole stash will be under my total control.
I bet that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’ll spin four things and the house will be clean. Also, my tiny yarn elves will clear up the mess that the magazines are in, and their trusty wee unicorn steeds will clear up the bags of yarn we’re pretending aren’t in the office, right before the fairies make a rainbow bridge to the button box, and clear all the buttons out of my office, complete all my paperwork, and leave only happiness and sparkles in their wake.
I’m speaking in Shreveport this Saturday. (Shreveport, I was very excited to learn, is in Louisiana, which I very much enjoyed the last time I was there.) I told twitter I was talking on Friday, which was a total lie. The correct info is here.
The Sock Camp tee-shirt contest ends today. You can go here to vote if you would like to, and please only vote once per knitter. At the end of today we’ll turn off comments, address the job of counting the votes and on the 14th we’ll announce the winner. It’s turned out (like everything Sock Camp related) to be way better than I dreamed it. You’ll love the designs.
I’ve been asked a bunch of questions about Sock Camp (apparently there’s some confusion about what it might be, which is weird, I mean Sock Camp is such a NORMAL idea that you’d think it would take no explanation.) So I’m working on a quick Q&A. I hope it answers your questions, and those of your extended family who heard about it and now think knitters are weirder than ever, which we’re totally not. We’ve been this weird all along.
Also, I totally finished the thrummed mittens, and now I just have to pressure Sam into modeling them for me. I’m sure that won’t be at all tricky.
I gotta go spin now. Wouldn’t want to let the elves down by not doing my part.