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My mom is 87, married but has always been independent about how she spent "her" money. My parents basic living expenses allow them to live in their own home and have money left over. Mom has always enjoyed knitting and she likes to make Afghans. Fyi - afghans take about 12 skeins of yarn and cost between 100 -250.00 in yarn. These past couple years my mom shops for yarn but never really completes a project. She will see a color in the store and "have" to buy it. She might start on it, but quickly loses interest. The bags of yarn in her room grow so large that she requests to move them to the garage, once they go to the garage they don't come back. She starts over again by purchasing more yarn. In the garage there are seven 50 gallon bins stored with yarn.. It's difficult for me to resolve that mom would buy something she doesn't need..and will never finish. I have a difficult time agreeing to take her to the yarn store when there is so much at home and it's causing a lot of tension. My dad also gets upset because he is very frugal with their money. So I need to figure out how to resolve it. This past month it was about $600.00 of new yarn. Mom says "It's just money" btw...if it's not yarn, her 2nd passion is jewelry. I feel like she is using those moments to make her feel happy, because she can't drive, she was never happy in her marriage, arthritis makes it painful to walk, she doesn't like to do group activities because she is severely hard of hearing and can't follow group conversation. Does your loved one have spending vices? How do you cope?

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Project Linus takes knitted afghans (small) for kids in need. I remembering seeing an ad for Michael's, where people were to gather with their squares (6", I think) and sew them together. My gma taught me to knit, being a knitter herself to help with arthritic hands. I read yesterday there are process knitters and product knitters. The process lowers your stress level. And few other people will notice the fifth cable on the left. I left a noticeable cable snafu in a sock for my daughter because every time she sees it, she'll smile, knowing I was trying to knit while watching a playoff game with my sister ( and not focusing on the knitting).

Ann - be thankful she's not a spinner - wool roving takes up way more space than yarn.

And CM, I'm a "thrower" also - can't get the hang of continental knitting.
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Ann, I learned to knit when I was eight. I am now 54. I still suck at it - I am too ashamed of my throwing "technique" to let any real knitters ever see it. And no matter how thrilled any recipient claims to be, I look at what I've given them and: "damn. Fifth cable on the left."

Persevere! It aids meditation, keeps arthritis and circulatory problems at bay, and stops you buying any of this season's high fashion because you look at the arty sweaters and think "how much!? Tchah! I could make that..."
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I lost my mom Xmas 2016. Your post brought tears to my eyes, I miss my mom's yarn addiction. I wish I had more of the afghans she made. She made my dad a special one every year for 40 yrs. I stayed with my parents when my mom entered hospice. 2 weeks before her death she had me take her to buy yarn (she wanted to make my husband one last scarf before she left us). She bought several skeins of beautiful yarns, once we got home she remembered that she couldn't crochet with certain colors (dark if I remember correctly) because she could count her stitches, The yarn made her happy and reminded her of all the gifts she'd made over the years. It was good to see her eyes sparkle when she showed visitors her new yarn, After her death I found so much yarn, crotch hooks and knitting needles. I could of opened a shop, but donated it to several neighbors whom she had taught to crotchet.

I don't have an answer for you but thought my loss might help you to see the behavior in a different way. When ever I take my dad shopping and he sees yarn, he has a story to tell about my mom. It's a different one every time but the stories make me understand my mom in new ways.
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First five results for "hand-made Afghans for sale" on Etsy range from £12.99 to £1,014.14.

Still worried about what she's spending..?!
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Actually over the last 7 or 8 years she has completed one for every member of my family....her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren..some have two.. 40 to 50... There are about 9 completed ones in her closet that are waiting to go to someone she would like to give them to. I'll brag on her and say they are well done.

In the last two years she may have completed 3 or 4 baby blankets, but no full size ones.

I tried to learn because I thought we could do it together..I suck at it.. Keeping track of that many stitches..I think she casts on. 210..is overwhelming. Maybe I should start smaller. She is a good teacher, she taught my SIL.. They have inherited lots of yarn from her stash.

The square idea is a good one, I will contact the owners of the knitting store and see if they can point me in the right direction
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Ann, is your mother making these lovely blankets *for* anyone in particular? I wonder if knowing that her niece at college, or her neighbour's pregnant DIL, is actively in want of a beautiful Afghan could give her an incentive to get the thing finished.

Are there any finished ones you could display on knitters' websites (most of the big online retailers have "communities" where people upload pictures and talk about their work)? Positive feedback might be another spur.

Also... how is she with children and young people? Because if her powers of concentration, and possibly one or two key skills, are beginning to elude her, another use for her tremendous expertise and experience would be passing on the basics to new generations. It may not be obvious that tech-obsessed youngsters can easily get hooked, but you'd be surprised. And, besides, the wider the range of enrichment activities on their college applications the better.

We've got a campaign running in local cafés to knit blanket squares for Syrian refugees - the idea is you pick up the wool and needles and just keep at it over coffee, then leave it for the next person, and frankly if I were a Syrian refugee I'm not sure I'd be too impressed with some of the results I've seen... But the concept is sound. If your mother were to engage a couple of friends in knitting 4" x 4" squares, maybe in a variety of patterns, this could be a nice little fund-raiser for any charity they care to nominate. Sort of sampler blankets, that kind of thing. No more than an hour's work per square.
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Linda22, feel free to share with your DH about mom's stash...dad said today we probably need another 50g bin soon.
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I was hoping she would be open to limiting her purchases to a smaller number of skeins and making baby blankets or scarves... She turned that down and seems to be focused on full size Afghans. Maybe the dementia working?? She hasn't completed one in two years. She drops stitches and develops a hole..when she realizes it she will pull it out and start over again. Her tenacity amazes me.and mentally I know it's a good hobby for her.

Wow, I'm smiling at the responses of knitters here and your yarn supply. What a great perspective. I will share this with dad.
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Good idea tothill, maybe she can make lap blankets and donate to hospice or NH's.
Maybe that would give her a feeling of purpose.
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I am a quilter and have thousands of dollars in fabric waiting to become quilts. I can understand the draw of beautiful new yarns.

Do you think Mum could limit her purchase to just one or two skeins? Ask he to make a nice big square from it. That will give her the pleasure of shopping and also the pleasure of trying a new pattern or stitch. Pull out some of the yarn from the garage and ask her to make squares from it between trips to the shop.

Once she has a number of big squares made up, sew them together into a big beautiful multi coloured afghan. Or make smaller lap sized ones and donate them. Or make baby sized ones to donate.
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I have a mini-stash, compared to other knitters I know, but to DH, it's a lot of yarn. So he was pleased and I felt virtuous when I bagged up two bags of acrylic yarn for charity. My arthritis won't let me use synthetic yarn anymore. I read once about a knitter who discovered that when her upright piano was opened (for tuning), there was a large, empty space just begging to host part of her stash...... I now restrain myself to buying only small amounts for specific projects.
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So I'll admit it CM, I have a stash of yarn too, some of it inherited from my grandmother (who passed away back in '91). You never know, I "might" decide to take up knitting/crochet again someday..... lol.
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This is not age-related, I'm afraid, it is knitting-related and a well-recognised syndrome with its very own acronym, SABLE: Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.

If you have an Etsy local, a knitting circle, a craft group or anything like it you can encourage your mother both to exchange yarns and to engage in a greater variety of small projects which are more likely to get finished (she has my sympathy. I hate making up which is why there are currently three projects waiting for me on my dining table).

Apart from anything else, there will be yarns in her stash that others are DESPERATE to get their paws on and she will be doing a good deed.

Ravelry allows members to sell and exchange as well as share information on their collections.

Anyway - there is an entire world of obsessional knitters out there, and like her they are all hoarders, and like her they guard their hoard and their secrets jealously. But once they realise that the others are kindred spirits, it is very touching to see them open up to one another. Best of luck, this really could be absorbing and beneficial for your mother for years to come - low to no cost or even, possibly, actually turn a profit.
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Ann, it's your mom's personal "happy thing." If you think your mom's happiness -- however based on something temporary and unsubstantial like new yarn -- is more important than that she act in a "reasonable" way, then... what's the harm. For now. ? 
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I could sell it on eBay... But I don't think it would bring enuf to cover many new purchases...

Since we're two hours away... Cwillie mentioned !limiting the trips..I'm thinking that's a good idea.. We go there at least once or twice for a ballgame or Broadway play..maybe try to limit it to those times..

Thank you for the suggestions!.. Refusing to go at all, I have a hard time with..it is her money.. She won't go broke..

Am I being an enabler??
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Can your mom sell the yarn on ebay and only buy yarn with the money she gets on ebay? Or don't take her shopping.
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I think you’re right, your mom can see the colors she fancies and imagine down to the stitches and color combos, so she’s ‘dreaming’ to make herself feel happy.

Well my dad buys cars. He pays with cash. His favorite is Honda, and so is mine. My dad likes to buy gadgets ‘as seen on TV’ things like a can opener designed for people with arthritis of the hands. Anyone remember the ‘Veg O Matic’ from the early 1960s? He got one of those. I was a kid and thought the VEG was hilarious!

My mom taught me to shop. Quality, workmanship, need, style (classic vs trendy) and she uses things until they are no longer useful. We miss the days of handmade shoes, purses, nice jewelry, but mom doesn’t spend money unless there’s a NEED.
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There's nothing unusual about refusing to drive 2 hrs - 2 hrs! - to go shopping. It certainly gives you an easy excuse to cut back, "sorry mom it's too far away, maybe we can plan a weekend shopping trip a couple of times a year though".
And giving plastic money to a shopaholic is like giving crack to an addict, your parents may have to consider using good old fashioned cash because she can't spend more than what is in her wallet.
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Thanks so much for your replies...yes the yarn is expensive....and they don't really take returns..besides we'd be doing it every month. The closest yarn shops to us just went out of business..mom was their number one customer. So she has her sights on locations 2hrs away now. One time I refused to drive her to the yarn shop..and when we got home I brought in about 10 or 12 bags of yarn from the garage to show her she had plenty... But we both felt terrible afterwards. She was very withdrawn and I felt like I was crossing the line being so controlling over her activity.

I will pull some videos up on compulsive shopping. That might help me get some perspective.

I had my brothers talk to my dad..because he wants me to police her spending..which I don't think is healthy for my relationship with her... If we can't change her we have to change us so that we're not so frustrated. Very hard for him, but he's trying.

Great idea about posting on eBay!
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My mother is also a compulsive shopper/hoarder. She buys something every single day from some catalog or the other..then it comes, it's not what she wanted and we have to go through the hassle of returning it. Once she refused to pay the $9.99 restocking/shipping fee for some shoes and got in some fairly serious trouble with this particular catalog company. I was able to straighten it our for her, but it was a major headache. I cancelled the catalog, as per her request. Couple of days later, she was asking me if I could get it "reinstated". I could, but I didn't. I'm very slowly and surreptitiously taking her off more and more catalogs. She's pretty frugal, but she's 88, in a serious decline and she simply has no room for the junk she buys.

It's the only "thrill" she gets: hanging out on the front porch waiting for the UPS guy or the mail carrier.

My mom's junk is just that--junk. Your mom has valuable stuff!! See if she will let you sell it...but I agree with the poster who said you should SHOW it to her. You'd have to anyway, b/f she'd ever agree to sell...but think of all the gorgeous knitwear someone could make with theses expensive yarns!

My mother will sometimes part with stuff if she thinks it is going to "good cause". Try that tactic!
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Ann, sure sounds like your mom is a compulsive shopper and that puts her in same category as many other people with compulsions and addictions. She's using the new purchases -- that she definitely doesn't need -- to give a temporary moment of happiness, a little jolt of dopamine in the brain.

Do you think some counseling on the subject would help?  I just searched "help for compulsive shopping" on YouTube, and there are some helpful looking videos out there. Maybe educating yourself first would help you to help your mom.

Maybe you could help your mom to "shop" her already owned stored yarn, rediscover past treasures she had to have, and that would be enough to give her the good feeling she is seeking instead of having to go out and buy new.
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My mother also spends money she doesn't have on things she doesn't need. Mostly catalog items that she orders on the phone, but also new linens, towels, home furnishings, etc. And tons and tons of food...more than she can ever use, especially since she no longer cooks. I went through her pantry the other day and tossed out about half of what was in there, as it was expired. Same with the fridge, tons of expired food every week. It's very exasperating.

It's the immediate gratification, I think. Spending money is one of the few things that gives an immediate jolt of pleasure, when there's so little else they're still able to do. That being said, this is more your father's issue than yours. He's the one sharing income and savings with her. If he doesn't want to address it, I think you ought to let it go.
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Have you taken her to  actually look at her yarn hoard and printed up the amount of money she has tied up in it so she can see it in black and white? Sometimes people need to see things clearly before they take them seriously.
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Ann, it sounds like these are really nice yarns, probably natural fibers like wool, silk, cotton that are hand wash or delicate cycle.. Charities like donations of easy care washable acrylic. Try selling it on Ebay - knitters like myself often scope out Ebay for discontinued yarns and good deals on lots.
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If your Mom is spending that much on yarn it must be really high quality yarn. I crochet 54/66 in Afghans at maybe $30 if that. At this point it's going to be hard returning the skeins. You could try and sell on Craig's list or a Facebook yard sale site near you. Donate to organizations who make items for charity. Maybe to nursing facilities. Sometimes there are residents who can make Afghanis for others.

To get her to stop, all I can say is bring up that she has unfinished projects and enough yarn in the garage for many more and she needs no more until she uses what she has. If you drive her don't. Hard to get something out of their mind.
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