Stash Dividends: The Creative Payoff of Collecting Fiber

I often hear people talking, half proudly and half guiltily, about their stashes of spinning fiber, but I celebrate my stash. To borrow a phrase from a global phenomenon, my stash sparks joy!

Devin Helmen Jun 1, 2020 - 4 min read

Stash Dividends: The Creative Payoff of Collecting Fiber Primary Image

It's always a good thing to take out your stash and admire it once in a while. The payoff could be inspiration for your next project. Photos by Devin Helmen

In my stash, there are many fibers. Some I purchased with a plan, some was bought in the spur of the moment just because I loved it so much, and some I acquired because I wanted to support a farmer or fiber provider. I value it all equally, and it is all useful to me. I think of a spinner’s fiber stash much as I do a painter’s palette; it provides a range of raw materials, allowing a handspinner to act when creativity is burning. And it can even provide the inspiration itself.

Sheep’s fleece makes up the largest section of my stash. I have little control when I go to a fiber festival and see and touch the beautiful diversity of wool that is available. Sometimes, I will have a specific plan for a fleece, such as a sweater, and sometimes, I just have a category in mind to put it in, such as save it for weaving. I try to wash the fleece within 12 months, but other than that, I just make sure to store the fiber in plastic bins or bags, safe from dreaded moths. This wealth of wool provides a resource I can look to when inspiration strikes.

Helmen-Stash

Devin plans to knit a colorful sweater with this portion of their stash.

A Future Sweater
I purchased a sweater’s worth of Manx Loaghton roving from Spunky Eclectic and plan to use it for a sweater, combining the different colorways into the yarn. This has been in my stash for 3 years, but I still plan to spin it up for a sweater, when the time is right. The colors are gorgeous, and I love this particular sheep breed. For now, I am content to let it stay in my stash with plans for the future.

Next Winter’s Woolly Socks
Recently, I was struck with the need to make cabled knee-high stockings. Winters in Minnesota are cold, and I like to wear long stockings to keep my legs warm when waiting for the bus on subzero mornings. I have a mental picture of the yarn I want to make, and I find it satisfying to go to my stash and find the fleece that will produce it. I have a Border Leicester in a grayish brown that will make the yarn of which I am dreaming.

Warm-Weather Spinning
At the moment, I am spinning cotton. I enjoy spinning cotton and love weaving with cotton, too. A particular favorite are the beautiful, naturally colored cottons Sally Fox has been instrumental in saving. I purchase sliver from her whenever it’s available in the colors I like, and it can remain in my stash until the urge to spin cotton presents itself.

My stash is a collection of raw materials, memories, dreams, and ideas. It’s something to celebrate and use to spur me to creativity. Celebrate your stash and collect on the creative dividends it provides.

Devin Helmen has been immersed in fiber since learning to spin at age 8. They spin, knit, and weave in beautiful Minnesota. Devin enjoys writing and teaching about fiber arts and has a passion for spindles and everyday textiles. They blog, intermittently, at www.afewgreenfigs.blogspot.com.

ARTICLES FOR YOU