Friday, July 23, 2010

Opportunity Cost

I recently finished reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. The book is primarily about the hoarding form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but it also attempts to make larger statements about the attachments we all have to our things. While I don't always think it's valid to start out by looking at an extreme and then extrapolating back to try to make a more generalized conclusion, the author articulated something that really resonated with me: that sometimes possessions are important to us for the opportunities they present.

Maybe you only buy things for the (single) project you are working on right now. Maybe you hang on to your books and yarn because they had been a present from someone or because you inherited them and they have sentimental value. Maybe just like the texture and color of the yarn you have in storage and the aesthetics of the books crammed onto the shelf. Or maybe, like me, you hang on to things mainly because you can see yourself knitting that sweater. You can envision wearing the scarf, almost feel it. You can imagine a hundred different things that can be made from that partial ball leftover from that project you made 3 years ago. My yarn stash has not hit SABLE status, but I am definitely guilty of stalking all the new patterns when I already have 783 of them faved over on Rav. Is that PEBLE (Pattern Execution Beyond Life Expectancy)?

Take this kit that I've had in my stash for 4 years or so:

Why yes, that is a coveted Alan Dart design. And not just a pattern but the original kit, by golly! I got it because I thought it was charming and brilliant. But at this point, my older daughter has outgrown Peter and the gang, and my younger daughter has no interest in it whatsoever. I confess I have hung on to it because of some vague notion of knitting it for grandchildren, but I realize that's a little absurd. It's not like I'm a huge Beatrix Potter fanatic. And it's not like between now and whenever the grandkids come--if they ever do--that there won't be some other fabulous-must-make-now thing that comes along. So when a fellow Raveler contacted me with interest in the kit, I said yes. I offered it for way less than it would fetch on eBay, simply because she really seemed to love it. It's better that Peter become someone's reality rather than a figment of my hopeful expectation.

Besides, I really need to clear out some space before my LYS's summer sale next week. (What?!)


  1. I love your fresh new template and I also love your outlook.

    Perhaps I'll see you at that yarn sale. ;-)

  2. I am also guilty of wanting to clear out my old stash so I can buy some new stash. I feel it's a victory when I can resist buying new unneeded (but wanted!) yarn!

  3. I totally know what you mean! I watch those TV programs that talk about hoarding patients and they're often in a stage that requires tremendeous help and they go through so much pain and tears. I sometimes compare myself to them (i.e. yarn stash) but it's just hard to contorl if it's on sale!
    I hear ya.....maybe clear it out and donate to hospitals and library so you know they're going to somebody who needs it more than we do. :D
    happy knitting!

  4. ha...i love this post...letting something go is so hard to do, but it's so empowering once the deed is done!