For a long time now I have been on a journey to live a more minimalist life. It’s not so much about reaching a destination, because technically there isn’t one. Rather it is a way of living mindfully, and doing things with intention. For crocheters, knitters, and other crafters the idea of minimalism can strike fear in the heart. What about my stash?
Anyone who’s ever watched one of those hoarding programs probably did so in absolute horror. Most of us would never want to be considered hoarders. There is a difference between hoarding and collecting, in that collections are items of value that are properly stored, cared for, and sometimes displayed. Hoarders tend to attach value to things that have no real value, and amass large quantities of, what others would consider, junk.
I was the queen of my vast stash of yarn at one point. I really think that I was obsessive about collecting yarn, and it was an entirely separate hobby from crochet and knitting. We had to erect a wendy house, that was not insubstantial in size, to house this collection. All the yarn was neatly sorted by fibre, weight, and various other metrics. The reality was that I was not going to be able to use all that yarn if I tried. Some of it was impulse purchasing, and I actually didn’t like the yarn in question as much as I thought. Frankly, I think I overwhelmed myself, and really I didn’t know what to choose sometimes, and often ended up buying more instead.
While it certainly was a well curated collection, when we made our plans for emigration, and I had to decide how much of it was actually going with, it slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t as attached to as much of it as I thought. Matt is great. He was fully supportive of me taking all my yarn if I wanted, but that was wasteful to my mind. I didn’t need it all. I didn’t like it all. I didn’t want it all.
My yarn stash was the final mental frontier in my journey towards a minimalist life. I had done a fantastic job of destashing the house. I was brutal with things I did not like, did not want, and did not need. What was very important to me was being more mindful of what I purchased. I didn’t want to make the mistake of decluttering only to have a house full of stuff in a year. This kind of intentional living is a lot harder than it seems. I didn’t think I was a really bad impulse buyer. I was kidding myself. I may not have bought vast quantities, but I did buy unnecessary and expensive.
When sorting the yarn to decide what to keep and ship overseas, I gave away vast quantities of gorgeous yarn that, at the time of buying, I had convinced myself I couldn’t live without. It was easier to let go of than I imagined, and I haven’t really missed it all that much if I’m completely honest. Since I got stuck in South Africa during COVID, and we decided to delay our plans a bit, the process is ongoing.
Yarn is not the only area of my life I took in hand. I have been refining my decluttering to include items of clothing, gadgets, and all sorts of things, I found it harder to declutter in the first rounds. I think it definitely gets easier. It’s like a muscle you build up. Even now I review my wardrobe, kitchen, books, crochet and knitting supplies, regularly and give away, and sometimes sell, the items I no longer need or want.
If I had to tell you what the biggest game changer is, it is not the decluttering per se, although it is important, it is making a mental shift to a place where you stop convincing yourself that you need stuff. I’m not suggesting taking up the life of a monk. What I am suggesting is getting to a place of enough. Where you feel you have enough, and where if you need to purchase something you are intentional about it. Good quality items that you actually need, and that will give you years of use.
I’m not a fan of the “one in one out” rule. It may work when you first start out, but it really is fooling yourself, and if you have the environment in mind, the consumption of more under this guise is not really effective. For me the tough one was gadgets. I am a gadget freak. I must always have the newest whatever thingie the moment it comes out. I’m an early adopter of technology. Sometimes it’s wasteful. Often it’s wasteful. I have really good stuff that will give me great service for years to come. The additional benefit I might get from a new version is likely to be in tiny increments, and not by degrees. This is a hard one for me, but I’m doing my best.
I’d love to share with you some of the people and ideas that made a huge difference to me.
My journey truly began when I read “The life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. Her methods are certainly effective, but perhaps a bit harsh for someone who finds it really hard to let go of stuff. I think a kinder approach is “Decluttering at the speed of life” by Dana K. White. It’s more practical in the sense that it recognises that the balls to the wall approach of Kondo is a bit extreme for some people, and may frighten them off entirely.
Things really stuck for me when I read “Stuffocation” by James Wallman. This is where the gears started turning in my mind. The title was extremely apt too. Having too much stuff really can be claustrophobic. Nothing gives me pleasure like clutter-free, tidy and organised. Thinking you can organise clutter is kidding yourself. This was my go-to before I embarked on my minimalist journey.
I have immensely enjoyed the books (the latest of which is “Love People, Use Things”), essays, podcasts, and documentaries, by The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn, and Ryan Nicodemus. They really get it. They get how hard it can be. They offer so much to think about. There are so many areas that minimalism and intentional living can impact on, not just stuff. You may find that when you start to clear the clutter from your life, in parallel you begin to clear the clutter from your mind, your relationships, your finances, everywhere.
There are so many more things I’d love to share with you, but at the risk of waffling, I’d say this is a great place to for me to end, and if you’re interested, you to begin. If you are interested in a more minimal and intentional life, I would say, do it. You won’t be sorry.