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The stashing of yarn is not universal among knitters. Some knitters only buy enough for their current project, finish that project, and then go and purchase just enough yarn for the next one. Other knitters like to have a little yarn “laid by”–a few skeins of sock yarn, perhaps, along with a sweater quantity or two. Some of these people are organized enough to have the patterns they want to knit printed out and placed in bags along with these carefully-stashed amounts.

And then there are those who inspire murmurs of “SABLE” (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy, for those not in the know). They purchase yarn, not necessarily willy-nilly, but definitely with less restraint than other knitters. There is a craving, not quite an addiction, to buying yarn. The colors and textures are so seductive that the knitter purchases without necessarily knowing what he or she will knit out of the yarn they buy. And they don’t mind. As long as the yarn can be stored safely, these SABLErs can, in times of slim pickings or unemployment, “shop the stash” for yarn for projects. Wool shortage? No problem. These knitters can just keep knitting.

There is another level. The people who go beyond SABLE are not yet named, but I think we (yes, I said “we”) might like to be called “Yarn Collectors.” Yarn Collectors are knitters who buy yarn, not just to knit it (though we really, truly plan to knit at least some of the yarn we purchase), but to look at it. To have it. To know that it’s there, come hell, high water, or discontinuation of brand or base. Even if the manufacturer stops making that yarn or, heaven forbid, that color, we have it safely stored, laid down against a rainy day. If we need to make a hat that is precisely that blue, we can. If we purchase a color that just isn’t us (you know what I mean), that yarn can be a gift to another knitter, or be knitted up into something lovely for someone we love. We don’t even necessarily know what that yarn will be; we just know that we must buy it and keep it safe, just in case.

Not all yarn, of course. That is another important aspect of the Yarn Collector mentality. A Yarn Collector does not just buy yarn because it is on sale. Sometimes, a Yarn Collector may wait and think for days, even weeks, before making an important purchase. (Not always. I, for instance, have been known to impulsively fall and swipe my credit card on the way down multiple times at certain yarn vendors.) Yarn Collectors have favorites and must-haves, and these vary from Collector to Collector. But we all Collect.

I am a Yarn Collector. I have been tempted to build lovely display cases for some of my yarn, or frame them in shadow boxes and hang them on my office wall like the works of art that they are. (They would have to be cases and shadow boxes that are easy to open—after all, I may need to knit that yarn someday.) The potential that is locked in a skein of yarn is a beautiful, beautiful thing. The knowledge that all of those deep colors and varied textures are waiting for you to turn them into practical art is inspirational. The freedom of options can be absolute ambrosia. Being a Yarn Collector is like having the perfect palette of paint, the perfect selection of seasoned hardwood, the perfect spice cabinet. No matter what you want to make, you know that the ingredients are there, and you know that they are exactly what you need.

There is no shame in stash or lack thereof. If you prefer to purchase yarn for current projects only, Knit On. If you like having a little stash, Knit On. If you enjoy your SABLE status and having enough yarn to roll around in if you feel like it, Knit On. And if you, like me, are a Yarn Collector?

You’re in good company. Knit On.

(ETA: Post 42! Woo-hoo!)

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