Every knitter and crocheter has one… it’s called a ‘yarn stash’. And, if left unchecked, your stash can quickly turn into an unkept mess that just seems to keep on growing (on it’s own, of course!). But don’t worry! I’m here with a step-by-step-guide to organize yarn and get your stash under control.
Finding yarn in your stash is the key to using it
How many times have you bought yarn for a project… only to later discover that you had a very similar yarn at home? That’s because if you can’t find a yarn quickly and easily, you’ll forget that it’s there.
So, organizing your yarn so that you know what you have (and know how to get to it) is key. I’m not going to go into details about a specific organizational system (bins vs. shelves vs. baskets), because you have to find what works for you.
I am going to show you how to go through what you own and get your yarn under control.
Step one: drag it all out and sort it
Now, I know that some of you with larger stashes are rolling your eyes right now. But seriously, how can you know what you have unless you actually get it all out and look at it?
You can’t just say, ‘oh, I know what’s in that bin’… because you probably don’t. So get it all out.
Now that it’s out, sort it into piles. You’ll have to pick categories that make sense to you. Mine are: yarn for ‘real projects’ (i.e. yarns I have multiple skeins of), yarn for one skein projects (usually pretty sock yarn), yarn for custom stuffed animal orders (worsted weight yarns that are partial skeins), scrap yarns, and yarn to get rid of.
It’s important to be honest about your piles. Yarns only make it into my ‘scrap yarn pile’ if it’s a partial skein that I would actually use to make a scrap afghan. Nothing under 20 yards. No laceweight. No eyelash. Be honest with yourself!
Now these piles may take up your entire living room. I know it’s scary… but you’re after something better!
Catalog, wind and store
Now that you’ve divided your yarn into piles, resist the temptation to just put it back on the shelf!
Is some of your yarn tangled? Were you able to see it in its old storage space? If not, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Here’s what I do:
Of course, we all fantasize about beautiful shelves that allow us to store pretty skeins in full view. But, many of us don’t have that kind of space, and need to use bins or boxes. So it’s important to take note of what you have.
I love the ‘stash’ tool on Ravelry – it allows you to list the yarn that you have and even list it ‘for sale or trade’ if it’s a yarn that you don’t want anymore.
If your yarn is in full skeins, then it’s probably behaving itself without getting tangled. However, if you have partial skeins, they have a propensity to get themselves in knots.
I have a Lacis Ball Winder that I use to wind partial skeins into cakes (see a how-to-video, here). When wound, the yarns stack nicely, and lay in a bin without getting tangled.
NOW that your yarn is neat and cataloged, you can put it back on your shelf!
Sure, your yarn looks neat… but don’t stop there! Do yourself a favor and make plans with the yarn while it’s still fresh in your mind.
When I’ve gone through my yarn, I like to match yarn with projects. That way, when I’ve finished a project and am itching to start another… I already have one (that uses yarn from my stash!) set up. That keeps me from buying more yarn on a whim.
For example, I have 10 skeins of this yarn in a color that just doesn’t flatter me at all:
My plan is to over-dye the yarn in brown and knit a Buttercup. If I didn’t make the plan, I would probably just leave that yarn languishing!
Weigh your yarn for project planning
If you have partial skeins, it can be hard to know how much yarn you have- making it hard to plan a project. A real help is to weigh your yarn. I have an inexpensive digital scale that I use to weigh mystery bits of yarn. By using the information on the ball band, you can calculate the yardage… and plan a project!
Phew! That was a lot of work… but now you can sit back, knit, and enjoy your beautiful stash!
Want tips for organizing and decluttering your whole craft room? Wendi has a great post here.
My fiancee and I recently moved into a new apartment, and for the first time I have the space and storage to actually store my stash in a rational, organized way. It makes me so happy! And it’s keeping me much more honest (I’ve got four projects lined up, and I really don’t need to be buying any more sock yarn).
For me though, I have a niddy-noody. So I re-skeined my partial balls, both because I think they stack better as skeins rather than balls, but also so I could count the yardage and weigh the yarn I have, and write that down. I even made some tags using vistaprint to record my results. (I’m planning on making a blog post about it). I’m so excited about getting organized, which is so unusual for me. It makes me begin to suspect that I’ve simply been trying to store my stuff in too small of a space. The key now is that I have the space, not to fill it up with more stuff!.
Yes, a niddy noddy is a fantastic idea for keeping yarn in skeins! Oooh… and vistaprint tags, sounds exciting!
I have a nice shelf from IKEA and have baskets on them and just had a thought – I should take the yarn out of the baskets and just stack it one on top of each other so that at least while it’s in waiting I and everyone else can enjoy all the colors!!
you should! That’s a great idea!
Sigh. Discussions about organizing yarn stash make me want to cry a little bit inside :). But these are all excellent suggestions. My yarns are sorted by fiber content (acrylic, blends, natural fibers that aren’t cotton, and cotton) right now. I also have one bin of my super favoritest yarn. I have a few kits of patterns matched to yarns, too.
I guess I should try and get it on to Ravelry but it seems really daunting!
Yeah, it does sound daunting to upload it all to Ravelry… I would start with your Favorites bin! You don’t have to do it all at once… maybe just when you happen to be searching around a certain fiber 🙂
my family owned a wool shop, so my mother was *elated* when I decided to take up crocheting about a year ago and took it as an opportunity to thin out her own stash of old stock that she had kept after the shop closed. she unloaded a TON (literally, a ton! lol) of crocheting cotton and all kinds of weird wool on to me. at the time, i thought WOO! free stuff! 😉 but I’ve hardly used it. i think it’s time to start organizing it all and thinking of projects so that it can be used up. thank you for getting me inspired! my boyfriend will also be thankful!
Good ideas. I neeeeed to organise my stash, but frankly I’m a little intimidated by the first step. The idea of seeing just how much yarn I’ve stockpiled over the years spread out in front of me scares me! That’s probably a sign that I have too much yarn… 😛
I am doing this process right now. It is okay. You can do it! I had both yarn AND fiber. I laid it all out in the living room. Yes, it is a lot, but I’ve already gotten through all the fiber and now have all the yarn spread out in bags, first by color. I am taking it one color at a time, and sub-dividing down from there. I am making a list of all that I am keeping and taking pictures on my phone so I don’t forget what it is. It’s a big thing, but I already feel excited by the process and it is so worth it!
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