SABLE is a wonderful acronym that is often heard in knitting circles. It stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy and is meant humorously, but also has more serious implications.
SABLE is used to describe a knitter who has acquired so much yarn that they couldn’t possibly use it all in their lifetime, even if they were to knit full-time for all their remaining years.
You might think this would bring a knitter to their senses, but not so. In her entertaining book, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee explains: ‘Achieving the state of S.A.B.L.E is not, as many people who live with knitters believe, a reason to stop buying yarn, but for the knitter it is an indication to write a will, bequeathing the stash to an appropriate heir.’
I recognize this same syndrome in many of the clutter clearing clients I work with. They cheerfully employ my services, hoping I can help them organize and cram their possessions more effectively into whatever storage space they have. We’re talking jars full of paper clips that have been salvaged from documents over many years, great heaps of scrap paper waiting for notes that will never be written, empty jam jars that will never have a purpose, plastic bags that could be knotted end to end to form a circle round the planet. And so on. You get the idea.
A few of these items could come in useful someday, but seriously, ALL of them? It’s not going to happen.
In the case of knitting yarn, it’s conceivable that the ardent knitter may know someone who would love to inherit their stash. But paper clips, jam jars, and the like? Probably not.
So what is the fate of these things likely to be? Well, you can wait until you die and leave someone else to dispose of them (probably muttering and cursing as they do). Or you can take responsibility for them now and relieve your heirs of such a clutter clearing burden. It’s the decent thing to do. This course of action may not feel so obvious while you’re still in the prime of your life, but when you reach a certain age and the youthful illusion of immortality begins to fade, the reality becomes more obvious.
I never tell anyone to throw anything away. What I do is to help people to see their clutter from a different perspective. The thing to understand about stuff that’s stockpiled and never used is that it stagnates the energy of your home, and this, in turn, stagnates your life. Whether you realize it or not, you will feel stuck in some way. So it’s not just your relatives or friends who will thank you for clearing out your stashes before you die. You will reap the benefits too.
And yes, this does include knitters. The turning point is realizing that SABLE is not a badge of honour but an indication of how far your hobby has got out of control. A much better motto to live by would be: Keep the Best and Dump the Rest!
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2014, updated 2018 & 2020
How to keep craft clutter under control
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