I might have a problem. It is addiction. I’m not making fun. Addiction is serious. But, I also recognize that it comes in different forms and varying degrees of severity. I think addiction is a syndrome of sorts. It isn’t what one is addicted to but rather, that one has the propensity to become addicted. And every addiction is problematic. Unfortunately, we tend to put more focus on the addictions that society views as “bad”. You know the ones: drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, gambling, cigarettes…to name a few. But we rarely mention the addictions that are just as real and can also do their fair share of damage: food, shopping, TV, shoes, exercise, another person, etc.
Sometimes addictions are easily hidden when they aren’t the “bad” type. If the addiction doesn’t cause one to lose a job, crash a car, end a relationship or worse, a life, we tend to turn a blind eye. And sometimes, only the addict is aware of the addiction. I think so many people actually tame their addiction. That doesn’t make the addiction less real. It just means the addict is disciplined. “On the wagon” as the saying goes. If the addict never falls off the wagon (sometimes only slipping to the side) then perhaps no one but the addict notices. The disciplined addict even has the freedom to mention the addiction openly. The addict can even get others to participate in the addiction because only the addict knows what is really going on. For example: a crack addict may only be able to get other crack addicts to go score crack, but an exercise addict can easily gather people to exercise with…willingly, enthusiastically and without question of why. Now that I think about it, and exercise addict may even be able to get a crack addict to exercise. (Because wouldn’t that be good…help you do something healthy and maybe not think about crack?) I’m just saying…I don’t know. Neither crack nor exercise are my addiction. Frankly, I would NEVER try the former and I try not to do the latter.
My addiction is yarn. On a scale of 1-10, I’d say I am a disciplined 8. What that means is I think all plots on the scale are addiction. The severity is just how it makes the addict feel, not necessarily the outcome. A one: I could see yarn, want yarn, think “I don’t need yarn”, long for yarn, then not think about yarn for weeks or months. A ten: I see yarn, I want yarn, think “I don’t need yarn”, long for yarn, think “I MUST have that yarn, rationalize a yarn purchase (whether I can afford it or not), recklessly purchase HUGE quantities of yarn, feel anxious until the yarn arrives, giddy with excitement when I have the yarn in hand, then…guilty about my yarn stash. Again, I am a disciplined eight and I feel good about that. At this level, I sometimes purchase yarn to make me feel better. I try to exercise some restraint and I often do. Unlike a lot of yarn addicts, I have a pattern for every skein I’ve purchased. Projects in the waiting. That is part of the rationale I use to buy yarn. “I am going to make __________.”
The key to managing my addiction comes on a key ring actually. There are several keys (like a normal set of house keys, not a janitor key-ring, just so we’re clear). And I use the appropriate key at the appropriate time depending on the situation. Some examples: 1. I have a limited amount of storage space in my home, so I have limited my stash to two plastic totes and a “pending” area of a bookshelf (these are items with needles in then that I am to complete in the near future, before I can start something else). Of course this is a slippery “key” because I started off years ago with a limit of one bin. But I think I have plateaued. I don’t forsee increasing my stash storage unless I win the lottery. Then I will have a yarn room!! 2. I have limited funds. This has become a great key since I’ve been unemployed for almost two years. I get around this by getting other people to feed my additiciton. I ask for yarn or gift certificates as gifts. This allows me to shop for yarn without spending my own money. I wait for a really good sale…that way I feel like I got more bang for my buck–even though I didn’t NEED any yarn. 3. I try to set limits: I will not buy any more yarn until I compete _____ number of projects by _____. This key is rusty…rarely works. I can make a ton of excuses for why I didn’t get the number of projects done by the arbitrary deadline I set.
So, like many an addict, I try to ignore my addition with other distractions. I am not the type who is willing to quit yarn cold turkey. Why should I? It is an enjoyable craft (I knit, I don’t just collect yarn…probably should have mentioned that earlier). I give about half of what I knit away…so it’s charitable. The other half of what I knit I wear or my family wears and it brings me great joy when someone compliments my work. In these ways my addicition is beneficial. But to avoid reckless behavior, I indulge in other distractions from time to time. Mainly cooking, reading, TV and movies. To help stay disciplined, I try to stay away from yarn shops, online yarn retailers, Ravelry (an on-line community of knitters/crocheters and other fibre artists…it is a rabbit hole for me) and craft shows. The internet makes addiciton so accessible. Ugh…right now I’ve got stuff in “baskets” on-line. I like “window” shopping. I often go back to these baskets that have $100s of dollars worth of yarn and purge my implulse to a reasonable purchase. Feeling good about myself, I then buy an acceptable amount of yarn…that I don’t need. But I am not hiding yarn, buying in secret, or anything else that I would view as problematic. I can look and not buy (oh, but if I touch it…!)
Out of the blue one day, I told my sister “I’ve been knitting like a crazy person.” and she replied “Why? Are you depressed.” (Note: my sister is a psychiatrist.) Initially, I laughed it off, “hahaha…no…I just like knitting.”. But the more I think about it, maybe knitting is my medicine. I am happy when I knit (most of the time), I feel challenged when I knit something new. I carry knitting with me in my purse so I have it when I need it. I even told my husband over dinner the other day that I “need $500” for some yarn and buttons that I have sitting in baskets pending purchase. I went so far as to say “yarn is keeping me alive”…and in the moment, I meant it. It was then that I felt most like an addict. I felt like I might say or do anything to get that yarn and those beautiful buttons in my possession. Ugh…that is not a good look. Depression is serious. I’ve read the symptoms. Some apply, some don’t. Compulsive knitting and desire for yarn was not one of the symptoms. I think I am ok. There are people who rent storage spaces for their stash!! Yes!! ‘Tis fact!! Even comparing myself to others makes me feel addict-ty. “Well, I’m not as bad off as _______, so I don’t have a problem.” I’m not sure, but I don’t think that is how problems are quantified. Anyway, I am sure that I have attentive and loving friends and family who would tell me if they thought I had a serious problem. They are aother key to managing my yarn lust.
So now I am setting two new challenges to help with my desire for more yarn: 1. Knit a project a week for the rest of this year. Starting today, that is 22 projects. (FYI…I tried this last year…17 projects in 17 weeks…I got 8 done.) 2. I want to have a “show and sale” in September so that I can generate some revenue. Of course, I will use that revenue to buy more yarn. WINNING!! If I can sell the items I knit then I would be a happy camper!
Of course, a job in a LYS (local yarn shop) could be the answer. “Will work for yarn”. That is my resume objective statement. I’ll keep you posted.