Anyone who knows me will know that clutter and I go way back. I am not one of those people who jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon, or who Instagrams photos of my pantry and storage systems. Minimalism and I are not friends. But last June, when Doug and I got Covid and were very sick, I had a scare and, among all of the other scary thoughts I was thinking, was this one: “What if something happens to Doug and I? How will the girls cope with all of this stuff?”
I concocted a de-cluttering plan. The plan was simple. I would focus on one source of clutter at a time, and I would work on it at a pace which I could manage. I decided that the first step to de-cluttering the house was to sort through the books. Leah and Emma came home last September, while we were still quite sick, and stayed for a month. I announced my plan: the four of us would go through every book in the house. We would hold up each book individually and decide if it was a keeper or if we could gently let it go. Any book that any one of us wanted would stay, all of the other books would go. My friends (mostly drowning in books like we are) scoffed at this and said it couldn’t be done. “There is no way that will work,” they said. “At least one of you will vote to keep every book.” They tried to encourage me to retain veto power. But, I was determined on this very equitable and fair process as a first step in my grand de-cluttering plan.
I can report that the plan did work to some degree, although it must be said that it worked very slowly. It took us a month with the girls to go through all of the bookcases, shelf by shelf. Sick people can only tolerate so much book culling, not to mention dust. By the time the girls left, we had sorted all of the shelves and piled up all of the books to get rid of in boxes. It then took Doug and I another 4 months to get rid of the books. It turns out that no one wants to take books! After much searching, we discovered that the British Heart Foundation charity shop near us would take a box of books, but only one or two at a time. Every time we went into town, we dropped off another box of books. This was painstakingly slow, but also about the only speed we had energy for.
We gave away 15 boxes, totaling around 600 books. I did a count, and we have 1400 books remaining. (These of course don’t include any of the books in our offices on campus.) This means that we were able to get rid of 1/3 of our books! And it only took 5 months! I am super happy about this. I will note that I have not yet begun to start Step 2 of my grand de-cluttering plan. I think, at this rate, it will be years before I get to “Step 6: Yarn!” (Note how clever I am to make yarn step 6.)
Now (at long last, you say!) for some knitting content: How do you justify buying more knitting books when you have just ruthlessly culled 600 books from your shelves? I am afraid I don’t have an answer for this. Years ago, I switched to buying most books in e-formats (I have well over a thousand books in that format – imagine if they were on my shelves!) and most knitting patterns as downloaded files. But knitting books are pretty hard to resist, and don’t work well in e-formats. Also, have you noticed that after many years of selling patterns individually on-line, the big knitting book is back in vogue? Currently, I am coveting any number of knitting books and am trying valiantly to resist. Here are the ones at the top of my list right now:
Traditions revisited: Modern Estonian Knits by Aleks Byrd
Neons & Neutrals – A Knitwear Collection Curated by Aimée Gille of La Bien Aimée
The Joy of Colour by Janine Bajus
The Knitted Fabric: Colourwok Projects for you and your Home by Dee Hardwick
Twisted Stitch Sourcebook by Norah Gaughan
How about you: do you keep buying knitting books?