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The Knitter and the Mouse
"Always look behind you before leaving for the day. Is everything in its place? Be nice to yourself, and leave a room, an area, a nook the way you’d like to find it the next day."
Rosalie Maggio

It was a mouse that set me to work. The little dear stole my stash of Hershey's Kisses and left a silver foil trail around my studio. Never mind the other traces he left behind.

The exterminator claimed the mouse came in from the garage. But if he did, why would he head straight downstairs to my studio, bypassing the warehouse of delectable possibilities available in the teenager's room? Does anyone understand the ways of mice and men?

Traps were set. A mouse was caught in my studio. The Hershey's culprit, most likely. Another one was found in the garage, never having made it to the promised land of milk chocolate. Presently we are rodent-free. But the whole creepy crawly episode inspired me to clean up and rearrange my studio. Soon feng shui peacefulness reigned. That is, until my friend Monica, a country gal with a studio in the woods and a mouser of a cat, stopped by.

"What about your knitting?" she asked. "Mice love wool."

Just outside the studio door, my knitting area was bursting with patterns, books, needles, projects, and lots of artfully arranged baskets of yarn.

"You don’t think," I stuttered.

"Put it all in plastic containers," Monica suggested.

For a very short moment I pondered the probability a mouse would resist my mohair or the abandoned beginnings of a shawl. Not likely. Something had to be done. My knitting mess needed to be organized, my yarn safely stowed away. Luckily, I happen to have an organizing guru, Rosalie Maggio, another friend. She's even written a book,The Art of Organizing Anything. "The key to organizing your knitting material--and staying organized," advises Rosalie, "is to make sure that every item has a home." I decided to do just that.

A Tip from the Pro!

I asked my friend, Rosalie Maggio, author of The Art of Organizing Anything: Simple Principles for Organizing Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life, to share a tip with us.

Knitting bags allow you to work on several projects at once, and to take them wherever you go. But choose bags that you really love--ones perhaps with comfortable straps, weighted bottoms, inside pockets to keep scissors and other tools. (Yard sales and thrift stores are good places to find heavy-duty knitting bags.) Be sure each bag contains only what is necessary for a specific project. If you're working on more than two items at once and if you can match bag color to project, you'll be able to grab the pink bag when running out the door, knowing the half-finished pink and lavender baby blanket is inside.

To start, an archaeological expedition was required; unearthing layers of pom-poms, finished and nearly finished socks, hats, washcloths, orphaned double-pointed needles, stray stitch markers, and tiny balls of leftover yarn. I sorted out what was worth saving. Finished projects were banked for future gifting and donations. Works in Progress were reserved for a later date. Like items were grouped together and stored in their own, labeled, snap-lid, clear container. Then it was time to tackle the yarn.

I separated the acrylics from the wools, the bamboos from the cotton, the worsted from the chunky, the sport from the fingering, and so on. Each family got its own home. Many more containers and several weekends later, all my yarn and projects were warehoused in an organized way.

It's been a few months now, and the system has stuck. My abandoned works have a place to go. Friends to keep them company. It's even been easier to add to my stash. New yarn is given a short grace period to be admired in the basket by my knitting chair. Then, if it's not being used, I put it away in the correct container. Where it can be found when I need it. There's the wonder and the beauty of having organized one's knitting. And to think I owe it all to a mouse who loved chocolate.

Authored by

Michelle Edwards is the author/illustrator of A KNITTER'S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children's books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, Room for the Baby, will be available from Random House in Fall 2012. Visit Michelle Edwards at her website or on Facebook.
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