Destashing to get to sustainable stashing

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How many times have I told myself 'I will destash' or 'I will only use fabric from my stash'  and the next thing I know I am buying more (gorgeous, of course) fabric (ditto for yarn). It may ring true with some of you - I have seen many collaborative blogging efforts to stop buying more. Clearly I have my limits - I cannot just stop buying - and in fact I want to buy more, just differently, of a more sustainable kind. 

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed a total change in the way I use it. To be fair, I did not use that much in the past (usually to notify the publication of new blog post) and therefore the fact that I am using it is in itself a major change. The second change is that I am using twitter as a way of learning and sharing more about ethical fashion, sustainable craft supplies, organic fabric, natural dyes, and the occasional upcycling project. My main interest is of course the craft supplies side of things as I am hoping to make more items myself, but I am fairly partial to ethical fashion too. 

So what has happened so far and what does it mean? 

  • What is in my stash? 

It started one afternoon - I took everything out of cupboards, shed/sewing room and the attic and I laid it all out on my bed; and it was scary - there was a lot there, some I did not know I had, some I wondered why I had it, some I liked as long as it was not used on me - a mix of 'it was a bargain I had to buy it', or 'I will use this for a specific project', or 'I just like the fabric/yarn, will see what I make of it'. 

At the end of the day, I do like a lot of what I have - which makes destashing much easier - however I am not always sure I have enough of it for bigger projects. I seemed to have accumulated a lot of one skein of yarn here and 1m of fabric there. There could be strange combo being featured on this blog...

  • How am I going to use my stash?

There will be two ways: I will be using my stash in future projects, and I will sell some of it and generate money for the next stash

I assume that using my stash for projects will be both project-driven and stash-driven. I have 8 skeins of Chickadee for instance, and I have been spending a lot of time finding knitting patterns that I will require that exact amount of yarn (and still fit my growing bump - not easy). 

As for the selling, I have decided to do it through this blog - probably on Thursdays, so it may be worth checking out because you could grab yourself a bargain. I am going to start with my stash of Tanis Fibre Arts yarn, beautiful but not for me unfortunately. Hopefully someone will love it and knit it! 

  • How strict am I going to be with this sustainability malarkey? 

At this stage, I am SO into it - but I am always like this when I start a new project. I read about it, I research it intensely and that is all I think about. I think this is probably ok whilst my left over stash is still quite big and does not preclude any new project. It might be different if a new fabric line comes out or if I am dead set on a new project that requires specific supplies I don't have or cannot find a sustainable alternative for. 

I am not going to be too strict about it. I will try to get organic fabric and yarn whenever I can. I am going to be a bit more relaxed about natural dyes - although that might change as my techniques improve and/or my favourite suppliers list increase. I am totally learning as I am going. I may come back to this post in a couple of years and wonder why I was worried of having a stash of cream, or wonder which planet I was on. 

In addition, and most importantly, I will not judge anyone who is not interested in this, I am not an eco-warrior. I am just trying to spend my money better and find better alternatives if I can. And when I share this someone gets inspired as well, that one person will make me very happy indeed!

  • What will happen on the blog? 

Not a lot will change - this is a blog about handmade stuff, combined with the occasional life snapshots. I may share some of my favourite sellers of sustainable craft suppliers, as it is quite specific and it might be useful. I may try my hand at some techniques such as natural dyeing (I am fairly excited about this) - and share the result with you (good or bad, I promise). I will try to tell a bit more about where the fabric comes from - whether it is destashing or the new stash, and report on project destash - I have at the moment 6 boxes full of fabric and yarn. I am hoping to get it down to 2!

The yarn stash

However in the background I will do a lot more research about what it is I am buying and how it is sustainable, and how it is helping local communities. I am interested in those stories, and it will make that garment I will just have sewn that extra special.

Phew! Here we are.. I did want to write this post for a while. It is not a new direction, but it is certainly something very important to me. Maybe having a second baby had wider impact than I thought. I hope you will carry on joining me and share your own experience of handcraft in my more sustainable world!


  1. Good luck with the destashing and ethical buying. I took the decision not to buy silk because of how cruelly most of it is harvested (same goes with angora), it's so much harder than I thought it would be to stick to my guns, but I haven't given in-yet!

  2. Good luck with you detash. It is hard to resist buying all the pretty fabrics out there. I'm trying to keep my stash under control too so I promised myself not to buy more fabric until next year (it is going to be difficult). But hopefully that will give me time to use up what I have.

  3. Good luck with the destash...I don't think I could ever part with anything from my kids are going to curse me when they have to deal with it after I'm gone!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful journey that is close to your heart! Great idea!

  5. Good luck with the destash! Although I don't have a stash of fabrics, I do hold onto lots of other things thinking I might use them someday - and their potential, even if I may never capitalise on it, always makes it hard for me to giet rid of them.

  6. My bed wouldn't hold all my stash. Good luck with your plan x

  7. Thoughtfulness and Intention are wonderful things to apply to purchases of all sorts. I try to buy most of my fabrics via alternative avenues. I shop a lot of estate sales, which makes me feel like I'm saving those fabrics from the dump and reducing the amount of new materials I'm consuming. I also like to buy yarns from small producers, because I like to support small businesses and ethical practices. Unfortunately, I go through yarn a lot faster than I do fabric, and I'm not able to commit to buying exclusively from small producers. I look forward to learning about more sources for environmentally friendly and ethically produced suppliers!

  8. Sounds like a great idea! I will be interested to see and learn more about sustainable crafting as well.

  9. 30 years when we were getting married, my husband helped me move from my flat. He was appalled by how much wool I had (no fabric in those days). He said if I got it down to one bag he would buy me a Kaffe Fassett kit, I never did get that kit.

  10. I came to your blog today via Liesl and wanted to say hello! I chose this post to comment on as sustainability is one of my passions. I have done a lot of research on the subject and still learning everyday. I share some of my findings on the blog and some on twitter, but if you ever have any specific questions you're always welcome to email me! Good luck on this journey; it always makes me happy to read that someone has let themselves get interested in the subject :) Love the blog and will be following along!

  11. Hello Cat,
    accidently I ran in to your blog. You know how it goes, 1 blog runs to another , and another, aso.
    Recently I started knitting because I am old(61) & lonely. I live alone, had a couple to many of ups & downs from life & closed my latest depression a couple of months ago.
    I have not knit (& crochet & sewed aso) for 30 years. What I díd do all those years , was trying to live as sustanible as possible. Sustainebility is my religion bút I do not make it a dogma. (I am from the Netherlands - sorry if my english is not perfect)
    Last year I looked for a present for my son's birthday and promissed to knit him a sweater, cardigan or jacket after his own choise. Therefore I searched on the internet and I cannot knit because there is só much to see/read/look/learn aso . Also your blog. I love hearing -also in the comments- that there are a lot of young people who are aware about the need of saving the world ( or what is left of it) which starts by looking after ones surrounding, buying local products, recycle as much as possible (buy secondhand) , use1st class, natural products (they allow to recycle) and make as less as possible waist.
    It takes lots of thinking but that's for free, one can think waiting for the bus or walking the dog ;-)
    Dear Cat, therefore I would like to buy your stash of art yarn from the photo, also because in my region it is not possible to buy good yarn only most cheap acrylic and other materials made chemicly of oil. You have not mentioned what kind of yarn it is, I would like to learn knit socks (did it 1x ) but I love the colors.
    good luck whith your program