When I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo’s manifesto on decluttering, my reaction was “here’s a woman who has no kids or hobbies.”
It’s easy to say everything needs to “spark joy” when you aren’t in the world of diapers, plastic toys and grubby play clothes. Easy to say you should love and use everything in your home when you don’t have a yarn stash or collection of embroidery floss that might not give you joy but is definitely useful to have.
Now that Kondo has three kids, she admits that her house is messy (though her definition of messy and mine are probably still miles apart). And she’s OK with that because this time of life is more about spending time with her kids and doing things every day that spark joy and reduce stress rather than having a perfectly organized home.
Of course it makes sense that there are seasons of life that have more stuff, more chaos, less time and energy to pull out and touch every piece of clothing that you own. When the very idea of having time for cleaning out your junk drawer is laughable.
The Crafty Magic of Keeping a Stash
While Marie Kondo’s spare approach is a great aspiration, it doesn’t make sense for a lot of people.
Crafters, for one. Most of us have a stash of supplies we don’t use every day or even often, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should get rid of them.
My jewelry-making pliers might get used once a year. They don’t spark any particular joy in themselves, other than the satisfaction of having what I need when I need it. Plus, they don’t take up a lot of space, so I will probably always keep them.
When Stash Becomes Clutter
The trouble for crafters, of course, comes when our supplies outstrip our ability to store them easily or realistically use them in our lifetime. It’s such a common thing that knitters have a term for this: SABLE, or stash acquired beyond life expectancy.
When we surpass our limits, stash becomes overwhemling. You don’t know what you have and maybe couldn’t find it if you wanted to. Making a simple project becomes a chore, more stress than fun.
The Minimalist Crafter Origin Story
Which is really why I came up with the idea for Minimalist Crafter in the first place. It’s aspirational, too (I am definitely not there yet, wherever “there” is). It’s about striking a balance between having too much of everything and having to go to the store for supplies before you can start any project.
Being a minimalist crafter is about finding what’s a comfortable level of stash and supplies for you — your space, the kinds of crafts you do, how often you do them and what you need for particular projects you want to make — and paring down until that vision is reality.
Even though I’ve written a book on the subject, I’m still not “finished.” It still feels like I have too much. And I’m working hard to go through my stash, to use what I have and happily get rid of what I know I don’t want to use. But it’s still a work in progress.
My yarn cabinets are still overflowing, but mostly with stuff I want to use (the cedar chest full of fabric is another story).
I guess the point is that this process is never done and always changing. Even Marie Kondo can’t be Marie Kondo all the time.
Isn’t that a lovely thing to know? We’re all a work in progress. Even the “experts.”