An Inventory

This year, we spent Christmas with my in-laws.  My mother-in-law is in poor health.  She has cancer and then got pneumonia.  She was in the hospital for 2.5 weeks, moving to rehab on the Tuesday after Christmas.  For a while, we thought she wasn’t going to make it to Christmas, but she did.  For the moment she’s stable, but the cancer is advanced and at this point we count each day as a gift.  During the time I visited with her, we talked a lot about her life and what has been important to her and what is important to her now.  “None of that stuff matters to me anymore,” she said, referring to her physical possessions.  What matters to her is speaking with and spending time with her people — her children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends.

In November, my husband was laid off from his job.  This was something we’ve expected for some time, so we’ve saved money and he got a severance payment, so we are not in an immediate financial crisis.  He spent most of the last six weeks with his mother and is now starting to look for a job.  We don’t know how long it will take for him to find a job, so we need to manage carefully so that the money we have lasts for as long as possible.  As a result, buying yarn and fiber are definitely off the list!  I must craft from stash.

These two factors have me thinking a lot about what really matters and about how I want to spend my time.  I am feeling the need to let go of some things and consolidate others.  I want to spend more time on my fiber pursuits.  Over the last few years, I’ve acquired an astonishing variety of fiber books, tools, and supplies.  I’ve acquired things at a much quicker clip than I’ve crafted them.  Once upon a time, I kept Ravelry up-to-date, but I fell out of the habit.  I feel as though I don’t really know what I have anymore and to make plans, I need to know what I have.  It’s time for an inventory.

Fortunately, inventorying is in my blood.  For most of my growing up years, my father worked in stock rooms.  When I was very small, he worked in the warehouse of a local clothing store.  When I was 11, we moved to a different state where he had a new job as the manager of a hospital stock room.  My sister and I went to a private school in the same town as the hospital, which was a 30-minute drive from where we lived.  We commuted with my father.  Since we got out of school a couple of hours before he got out of work, we spent those hours at the hospital.  We usually stayed in the cafeteria, working on our homework.  Sometimes, especially on days when they were short-staffed, we hung out in the stock room, working on homework and occasionally answering the phone to take orders from the floors while the employees pulled and delivered the needed items. Twice a year, on a Sunday, the stock room closed for inventory.  All the stock room employees came in, along with people in other administrative departments, and my sister and I.  We counted every single item on every single shelf, balancing the inventory against the computer.

I started my personal inventory process before Christmas.  I started by consolidating — putting away all the random yarn and projects scattered around the house.  It’s a lot easier to do inventory when everything is where it belongs.  It’s a little scary to flash my stash, but here’s the pix so you can see where I am now.

These bins are the main stash collection.  Each of these is a 40 quart bin.  One of the bins holds finished projects waiting to be gifted, but the rest are full of yarn and fiber.  I sorted the fiber by type (wool, plant fiber, blends, batts, etc).  There’s so much wool that it takes up 8 bins and I’ve alphabetized the wool by breed.  I separated the yarn by weaving yarn and knitting / crocheting yarn.  Then I sorted each of those categories  size of the yarn.

These shelves hold the yarns made from plant fibers.  It’s mostly cotton, but there’s some linen and bamboo in there also.

These batts have been living in this suitcase since I bought them last April because I can’t fit them anywhere else.

This pile consists mostly of raw fleece, waiting for me to wash and process it.  There’s also a couple of bags of yarn that I haven’t put away.  That’s my four-harness, 28″ weaving width LeClerc Fanny counterbalance loom under all that fleece.

This bin holds raw fleece in smaller quantities.  There’s a variety of breeds in this bin, but no more than a pound from any one fleece.

These boxes hold fleeces that I bought and had processed by mills.  I believe there’s three fleeces total in here.  They are sitting on top of my four harness, 22″ weaving width Dorset direct tie-up loom.

These bins and the hamper on top of them hold WIPs.  A couple of years ago, I conquered all my WIPs, but now I have a new pile.

These are smaller bins, about twice the size of a shoebox.  They hold a couple of WIPs, including two or three that only need blocking, but mostly they are projects waiting for me to cast on.  I matched yarn to patterns and sometimes the needles are with them also.

Finally, this is my fabric collection.  Last spring and summer, I took sewing lessons.  I’ve mostly sewed pillowcases, which we send to the pediatric oncology ward where my cousin works, for nurses to distribute to the kids.  I actually have a lot more fabric than this, but everything I bought for pillowcases is stored at my mother’s house.  This is everything I have at my house.

I have complicated feelings about all this stash.  I’ll be writing more about it as I continue the inventory process.  My goal for the next week is to get Ravelry back up-to-date.  I’ve downloaded the spreadsheet of my Ravelry stash as a starting point.  I’ll write an update next week, to share my progress and next goal.

3 thoughts on “An Inventory”

  1. So glad you have had some quality time with your mother-in-law over the holidays!

    I’m inspired to organize my stuff–and hubby’s electronics stuff better (he agrees that clear plastic containers are better than something he can’t see through. He hopes a kit he wanted to make is at his office…. I am trying to keep him from raiding my electronic wearables stash when he gets an idea for a project and can’t find a particular part unless he reorders the part from Adafruit or Sparkfun.

    I know I have enough yarn somewhere to make a sweater for either him or me (who looks better when the green is held under the chin?). It’s in a “safe” place somewhere.

    You have more project yarn than I have, but I have more handspun that may or may not “go together” to make something other than lots of fingerless mitts or small woven things. I know I “win” on fabric cos I have quilting fabric from 20 years of acquiring more than I sewed up (and feel guilt about it, cos I know I have a few tops that “just” need quilting).

    It’s fun to know that your father helped train you properly about inventory, organizing and the importance of quality in what you do–mine taught me about prepping teaching materials, carefully calculating grades based on the syllabus, and the joy of someone else learning something new. Both my parents had the goal of “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” What “well” means to me now may not match up with the views of others, but unless I committed to do something according to someone else’s standards, it doesn’t matter if we don’t agree!

    I’d like to dig my 4 harness Harrisville out from under a few bags, clean a space around it and warp the darn thing. This could be the year we both weave on those multi-harness looms.

    • Should you wish to destash some of your quilting fabric, I have two options for you.

      My mother is part of a quilting ministry at a local church. They make lap quilts for people going through hard times. After they sew them, the quilts are taken to prayer meeting or church services and people pray over the quilts, tying knots in the quilt ties to represent their prayers, love, and good wishes. My mother sent one of these quilts to my MIL; it was quilt number 105 from the group. When I stayed overnight in the hospital with my MIL, I used it to cover me during the small amount of time I slept. When I was sitting up, I wrapped it around me. The hospital room wasn’t that cold, but the chair I sat it was against the window and cold air came in off there. Since they are making quilts, they can use even small pieces of fabric.

      The other option is the pillowcases we make for the kids in the hospital. We use quilting cotton for those. We need pieces that are at least 41″ wide (so fat quarters don’t work). The pillowcases take a total of a yard of fabric, but consist of 3 pieces — cuff, trim, and body. The body piece needs to be at least long 30″, the cuff at least 11″, and the trim at least 3″, after the fabric is straightened. All of the pieces need to be at least 41″ in width.

      So, if you’d like to get rid of the guilt and destash some of those quilting fabrics, both of those are ongoing projects that would appreciate the donations!

      And YES. We both need to weave on our multi-harness looms!!

  2. Wow, this sounds like a really tough but sobering year to have.
    I hope your mother-in-law’s health improves.

    It’s definitely a truth that I’ve been able to hear from other relatives, especially those who are much older than me. ‘things don’t matter, people matter.’

    It also really sucks to hear about your husband’s lay-off. But I’m relieved to know how you have thought ahead and were able to prepare for the change.

    kudos to these experiences contributing to taking this inventory and committing to work from your stash this year. I’m rooting for you and look forward to reading more of your reflections on this!


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