January has come and gone, and with it, the pressures of a New Year’s Resolution. There’s one resolution we at Lion Brand make year after year, and we have to admit, we’ve never nailed it. Maybe you’ve made the same one, too? To finally organize our yarn, and stop the stash creep from taking over the world. But just when we’ve got it in our heads to get organized, once and for all, we meet a yarn that steals our hearts, and it starts all over again.
If this sounds familiar, read on for some amazing suggestions from real Lion Brand crafters, including photos of storage ideas! We’ll take you through step by step, providing plenty of tips along the way.
When it comes to getting sorted, whether it’s in our papers, closets, or kitchens, it’s all about finding the system that works for YOU! It can be as simple or complex as makes sense to your style, but unless it’s the answer to your unique organization questions, it just won’t stick. The ‘best’ organizational system is the one that works!
Could the always-growing stash really, ever, be organized? Are we doomed to a life of piles and tubs, skeins lost and repurchased, only to be found chewed by our naughtiest pet? You know in your heart that getting organized would bring you crafting peace, but every fiber of your being is screaming ‘It just can’t be!’
This past week, we posed the question to the followers of our Lion Brand Yarn Studio Instagram, and the responses were smart, hilarious, and so relatable.
A brave follower commented first, putting it all out there: “Organize? What does that mean? My yarn is in a glorious pile in about 4 huge boxes!” Much respect for kicking it off with candor! The first step is admitting you have a problem. Only from there can we learn to understand the creep, and strive to overcome.
Crafters weighed in, and many an ‘lol’ was had! Highlights included:
One crafter shared that she often accidentally purchases ‘extras’, because she didn’t realize where she’d stashed her yarn after the last trip to the store! Another bemoaned the time wasted searching through piles, only to find she didn’t have quite what she thought, and would have to postpone a fresh idea for a later date. If you’d rather spend more time crafting than getting ready to craft, we heartily agree! Let’s get started.
Trying to fit your style into some generic scheme won’t help you find a lasting solution. We want to find the plan to get organized that will celebrate and elevate your crafting, however you do! We’re borrowing a tip from Marie Kondo’s book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’: dump it all out on the floor. To figure out where you’re at, you’ve gotta see what you’re working with. Often, we don’t know HOW we’d like to organize because we aren’t actually sure WHAT we’re trying to organize! Unload every basket, pin, tote, tub, from all the rooms your yarn has wandered into, and feast your eyes.
If you’re someone who falls in love with a color, and you know you just need to have it – organizing by color might be perfect for you! You trust that the pattern will come, and it’ll be inspiring to gaze at the colors available to you. Whether you prefer an ‘open’ system, like display shelves, or a ‘closed’ one (think clear plastic tubs), visibility is key to keep you visualizing your next project.
TIP: If you wind your yarn into cakes, try sticking the label in the center, so it doesn’t get lost!
Many crafters get organized by color categories: blues, reds, greens, yellows, and so on, like a rainbow. But you can personalize it to your taste! Perhaps ‘blues/purples’ look right to you, and ‘reds/pinks’ fit together nicely, too. Or maybe you’ve got a LOT of red in your stash, so it’s helpful to differentiate: cherry red, burgundy, tomato red… you get the idea.
Within each color category, you could bag yarns that come from the same dye lot, to keep them well-organized for when they’re needed.
TIP: Clear plastic bags that seal will keep your yarn safe from critters or allergens, and fresh for whenever it’s time to cast them on.
Maybe you find a particular pattern to try, and you don’t have your heart set on a color. For you, it could be all about organizing by weight! If yarn weight is your biggest consideration, separate your yarns into those piles first. Your categories can be as broad or specific as you like! Maybe all your finer yarns get grouped together, because you know you’ll adjust the gauge for a project based on what weight you choose. Or you can follow the Craft Yarn Council’s yarn weight symbols:
From there, you can organize based on what your next crafting decision would be! If you’ve found your pattern, and you’ve got your Bulky skeins in front of you, will you choose the color that suits the project best? Or reach out and give the skein a feel? Whether it’s color, fiber, or texure, let your instinct guide you to the next step in organization.
TIP: I find it easier to have the weights organized, even small bits of yarn, because you never know when you will need a red trim or extra blue.
One crafter shared, “I buy project specific, so I lay the pattern and the yarn together on my shelf where they talk to me.” We love that! If you’re a project shopper & storer, how do you decide what you’d like to work up next? This might change depending on the season. Around the holidays, you might have a long list of gifts to create, and you’ll choose to craft in order of what will take most time to make. You could also organize by type of project – one bin for mittens & gloves, one for hats, a tub for sweaters, for example. Or you might categorize by size of project. We’re looking to create the system that reflects how you think about it in your head, so go with your gut!
TIP: I keep the project notes, patterns, and yarn together if possible.
We love this tip! When you get the inspiration, don’t let disorganization hold you back from casting on!
There are great reasons to organize your yarn by fiber! You or someone you’re crafting for might be sensitive or allergic to certain materials, so it’s key to keep them separated. Our crafters suggested the following fiber categories: cotton, wools, synthetic, plant, animal, and blends. If your first thought when considering a new project is how you’d like it to feel, the texture or weight of the material, then organizing fiber might fit right in with your train of thought.
These are just a few possibilities, but if none of them strike your fancy, we’d encourage you to keep brainstorming! You can organize by how expensive the yarn was, or by the producer. Another interesting tip was to organize by season, cool and warm. Let’s say you enjoy the thrill of the chase, and hunting through a pile of yarns feels practically decadent. Then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chucking it all in one big basket!
First, you want to find your ‘where’. And your ‘where’ can be anywhere! We heard from crafters using hanging shoe organizers on the back of the bathroom door, and who are we to judge? Depending on what space you have available, it’s powerful to claim a space just for your crafting.
TIP: Wherever you stash, make it user friendly! If you use a closet or storage room, consider a touch light or hanging drop light. Make it easier to see colors, read labels, and grab what you need!
Whether it’s a trunk in the living room, bookshelf in the bedroom, a special closet outfitted just for your yarn needs, think creatively about where you can carve out a spot in your home for the hobby you love.
Once you have a ‘where’ in mind, the ‘how’ get’s a little bit easier. If you’re working with a small space, say a corner of your living room, maybe a shelf with some baskets to separate your yarns into. Maybe it’s a chest or trunk, so you can shut the lid and focus on your current WIP only. You can still work with trays, bags and baskets inside to get a better handle on what you have!
*We here at Lion Brand don’t specifically recommend IKEA, however, many of our crafters did!
The Gualov Storage Table is lovely for a small amount of yarn, and for the crafter who doesn’t mind mixing it all together. We would not suggest it for a home with pets! The PS Cabinet has shelving inside, and you can organize further into bags or baskets. I found a mint condition PS Cabinet on Craigslist for a fraction of the price!
TIP: One crafter with pets opted for a glass-front display case! She said it was worth the extra cost, since looking at her yarns inspired her to craft more often, and use skeins she never thought she would, while keeping them safe from her pets.
Of course, there’s no need to splurge for a more expensive option! Great versions can be found at local thrift stores, garage sales, or on sale at your local retailers. Think outside the box – some commenters suggested hutches, dressers, and changing tables were a very popular idea!
If you need more portability, or have less space to work with, you could opt for a roller suitcase, or as pictured above, a road case that used to house a sound board.
These containers were all suggested by our lovely crafters! The Better Homes & Gardens Storage Cube is a great choice, since the fabric lining won’t snag yarns of any texture. The MDF Wood Crate could fit many skeins on-end, and you’d get a great glimpse of what you have! The Paper Rope Basket is pretty & handy, though you might want to be wary of the possibility of snagging skeins.
TIP: One commenter mentioned that her local coffee shop recycles milk crates. She plans to pick some up, spray paint them, and line the inside with scrap fabric to prevent snags. Brilliant!
We’re looking for the container that makes perfect sense to you. So if you don’t see something you love, shop around!
A closet can be surprisingly savvy, if there’s an unused one in your home, as you can work with hanging shoe organizers, hanging clothing racks for sweaters, and even small shelving inside. Hanging shoe organizers like this one were by far the most-recommended organizational tool! There are readily-available cubbies for organizing by color, weight, or brand, and they make the most of vertical space. Another crafter recommended an over-the-door organizer, with pockets of varying sizes for all your different skeins!
Ultimately, you’ll want to organize down to the degree that gives you peace.
If a basket full of ‘red’ looks inviting, stop there. But if you’d like to bag each color individually, then taking the extra step will be worth the minutes you spend! Some crafters were all about a sealing baggie, while others preferred a sturdier tupperware. Many people suggested labeling in some fashion; writing on a label you’ll stick to the bag, or making notes on a post-it you’ll seal inside. Anything to help you see clearly what you’ve got!
The most challenging step of any organizational system is… staying organized! Projects, yarn hauls, and life will get in the way, so having a plan will ensure your system stays intact.
Almost all of our crafters mentioned having a special place for their WIPs. Collapsible baskets, project bags, or trays by the couch, having a spot where your Works in Progress live can help you see just how many things you’re working on at one time! Depending on your project load, you might need a special container in your organizational system just for the WIPs. But don’t fret! This is the fate of every crafter, and acknowledging their presence means you’re more likely to get around to finishing them.
There will always be an irresistible skein, or a fabulous sale, we just can’t help ourselves! So we must prepare for the inevitable. This is where the idea of an ‘inbox’ comes in handy. Just as we suggested a special spot for your WIPs, we’d also recommend an ‘inbox’ for the new yarns that come into your life. This could be a basket at the entrance to your crafting space, or a special shelf reserved for Unorganized Yarns. It’s very easy for the ‘inbox’ to become more of a ‘dumping ground’, and from here, the stash can begin to creep. It helps if you empty your shopping bag, making the ‘mess’ visible, so you’ll notice it. It also helps to have a loose schedule of when you’ll handle your inbox, whether it’s at the end of a project, or once a month.
Many crafters brought up great tips (and hilarious stories) about keeping yarn and pets in the same home. The colorful balls seem like an endless toy for cats and dogs alike, so open displays just might not be right if you have wily creatures in your house. Sealed containers are also ideal if you craft for anyone with allergies; reactions are often caused by pet dander, so while you might not see stray hairs in your fiber, allergens could still be present. Dust can also present allergy issues, so while it’s beautiful to have it out where you can see it, it might not be practical if it ends up sitting a spell!
TIP: One crafter suggested keeping your current project’s skein in a Ziploc bag, sealed except for the strand in use. When crafting for babies, especially, this keeps everything very clean.
A couple creative crafters mentioned using sachets to keep their yarn fresh & free of fiber-eating-critters. Ingenious! One crafter knits her own sachets, to get some extra practice double-knitting, and fills them with her own dried herbs, as well as dried citrus rinds & cedar shavings. Another crafter loves lavender sachets in her yarn tubs.
One wildly organized crafter described the inventory spreadsheet she made listing brand, weight, color, and quantity. It’s on her computer, but she has access to it via her cell phone, so she can add any yarn while she’s standing in the checkout line. She also deletes yarn once it’s been used. She uses the Apple Numbers app, and describes her process on her blog. We bow down!
It was such a pleasure to read all your tips & tricks, and laugh out loud at our shared yarn obsession. We loved to see people connect with one another, commenting to share ideas, or ask for more details, united by the struggle of too much, yet somehow not enough yarn! We’re going to get our stashes under control this year, if it’s the last thing we do. How about you? Let us know which tips you liked, what you’re excited to try, and if you have any great ideas we missed! Let’s Mind the Stash in 2018.