The Perfect Pattern Unicorn
I’m going to continue exploring yarn monsters and this week I will look at a particularly insidious one.
In many of our stashes there lurk ‘special’ skiens of yarn. They are beautiful. We love them. We treasure them. They feel so special and we might even take one out occasionally and pet it! Maybe they are luxurious fibres, maybe they are from favourite independent yarn dyers. Almost always they were bought as a treat for ourselves, a thing to make us feel better in that moment.
We tell ourselves that we are just waiting for the Perfect Pattern to float in on Unicorn Wings and we will make something wonderful from this extra special yarn.
Oh Oh, did you spot it? Yes, it’s The Perfect Pattern Unicorn!
This elusive beast is yet another yarn monster. This one is very hard to spot. It seems quite reasonable that we wait for a pattern great enough to match the specialness of our yarn doesn’t it?
There are thousands of gorgeous patterns in the world so why exactly are none of them perfect for our special yarn?
Why is it still sitting in our stash after 5 years, or even longer?
The answer may well be something called a “ specialness spiral.” This phenomenon was discovered by Rifkin and Berger (link below) who were studying hoarding. They proposed that:
“By transforming ordinary items into (perceived) treasures, we suggest that nonconsumption can encourage consumers to retain possessions indefinitely, waiting for future usage occasions that may never arise”
This means that when you stop yourself using a yarn, if you believe that for some reason you were waiting to use it, the yarn will start to feel more special. You will keep wanting to save it for another pattern . As you search for the right pattern, even if you find one that looks good, you will always be tempted to to hold out for a better one. You will always be waiting for the Perfect Pattern Unicorn! The longer you go without using it though, the more special it feels, and so it goes on...
Ultimately, the chance of you using the yarn becomes more and more unlikely – potentially to the point where that the yarn gets damaged or goes severely out of style, but you are still holding on to it. The more this happens, the more unusable yarn you have in your stash.
What to Do About It
How can you combat specialness spirals and the accumulation of unusable stash?
1. Commit in advance to use the yarn for a on a specific time sensitive thing, like a Christmas gift.
2. When buying a yarn, tell yourself you’ll knit something with it this month.
3. When purchasing a yarn have a pattern in mind so you can even plan to cast on with it later that day.
This strategy should limit how often you consider – but ultimately don’t – use your luxury yarns and encourage you to actually enjoy knitting your stash.
That’s what Knitting the Good Yarn is all about! If you want more advice for spotting and handling your yarn monsters don’t forget to subscribe and get your Ultimate Guide to Yarn Monsters Pdf.
Jacqueline R. Rifkin and Jonah Berger