January 14th, 2013

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Organize Your Yarn Stash

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I know a lot of you have been waiting for tips on how to organize your yarn stash. You’ve been looking for ideas on how to sort your yarn, but also how to store it. Last week we did a lot of work going through our yarn stashes and whipping them back into shape. Now comes the fun part of sorting our stash and putting it all away.

As my yarn stash has grown and changed over the years, so has the system for storing my yarn. Now I like to keep some of my yarn out in the open. I might not use it for awhile, but I can still enjoy it until I do. Yarn is beautiful, with all of its textures and colors. I don’t have pets or small children anymore, so I can have a bowl of yarn on a shelf and not worry about it becoming a cat plaything. Even though some of my yarn is not on display, it is stored in a way that is still accessible for me. This system works for me, but it may not work for you. The key is to find a solution for your yarn stash.

Let’s look at a some ways that people sort their yarn and different ideas on how to store yarn.

How to Sort Yarn

People who know me know I love sorting. It brings me pleasure. How I sort my yarn as changed a lot as my yarn stash has changed. 75% of my yarn stash is stored in the hutch above my desk now. I sort my yarn partially by type of project, fiber content, and weight. But I also have a couple of special categories such as fancy yarn, keepsake yarn, and teaching yarn.

If you have your yarn spread out in front of you, you’ll start to see some natural categories that make sense to you. Here are some categories to help you start sorting.

  • Color – Are you the type of person who walks into a yarn store organized by color and feel a sense of calm? When you are searching for a yarn to use, is color the most important attribute?
  • Weight – If you know the pattern that you want to make before you decide on the yarn, sort your yarn by weight. It’ll be easier to find what you need when there’s a new project you want to knit or crochet.
  • Fiber – Do you only knit with certain types of fibers depending on the season, alpaca in the winter, cotton in the summer. Try sorting yarn by fiber content.
  • Project – Some people buy yarn for a particular project. Sort these yarns by project type. Consider even storing the pattern with the yarn.
  • Care – If you like to knit or crochet things for babies and children and machine washability is important to you, keep the easy care yarns separate from the hand wash yarns.
  • Keepsake Yarn – Some yarn you may never intend to use. It’s more of a keepsake. Don’t hide these yarns in a box. Display them in a bowl so you can enjoy them daily.
  • Yarn Scraps – Don’t throw away your yarn scraps. Keep them in an accessible location to be used for waste yarn, practicing new techniques, even stuffing your latest amigurumi.

Containers for Yarn Storage

There are so many ways you can store your yarn stash. Just Google “yarn storage” and check out all of the image results for some inspiration. Also searching for yarn storage on Pinterest will bring up even more ideas of how to organize your yarn. Here are some examples of how others store their yarn.

  • Plastic boxes and totes with lids – These can be inexpensive, stackable, and available in many sizes.
  • Plastic bags – Shopping bags can help sort yarn in large totes. Clear zippered bags that bedding comes in works great for yarn storage. Oversized ziploc bags are similarly good. Small ziploc bags are great for partially used skeins to keep the yarn and ball band together. They’re also nice for storing slippery yarns like ribbon yarn or bamboo that might get tangled in a large bin.
  • Open baskets  – These work great on shelves and are good for yarns you want quick access to.
  • Shelves and bookcasesShelving with lots of cubbies are popular with many crafters.
  • Closet organizers – Hanging shoe and sweater storage can be perfect for organizing yarn too.
  • Reusing food containers – Large oatmeal boxes and large clear bulk food containers are good options if you’re on a tight budget or would rather spend money on yarn than storage.
  • Cabinets and cupboards – Behind doors but easily accesible, there could be some empty cabinets just waiting to be filled with yarn.
  • Drawers or dressers – These work great for yarns that don’t stack well such as yarn balls. Also easily accesible, but out of the way from pets.
  • Decorative containers – Bowls and glass vases can be great for showcasing some of your favorite yarns.
One thing to keep in mind in choosing yarn storage, clear containers are excellent if you’re more of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person. If you are storing in a closed container that is not clear, label the outside of the container so you don’t have to open everything to find what you’re looking for. Be aware that if you choose a container that is deep, you may have to dump everything out to get to the bottom.

Preparing Yarn for Storage

The best way to store yarn is either the way it came, or in hank form. If you want to store your yarn wound in a ball, be sure to wind it loosely. If it’s too tight, the yarn may lose some of its elasticity while being stored. If you have a ball winder, winding your yarn is quick work and creates beautiful little cakes of yarn that are stackable. To avoid winding your yarn too tightly, wind it twice. When winding a ball from a ball, it will be looser than when you wound it the first time from a yarn swift.

Tomorrow, Grace will be posting some tips on how to keep critters such as the dreaded moth away from your yarn while in storage.

Hopefully some of these ideas have given you a little inspiration for organizing your yarn stash. Please share your favorite yarn storage idea in the comments.

– Dena

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16 Responses to “31 Days to Get Organized: How to Organize Your Yarn Stash”

  1. JustMoi Says:

    I bought several (4 I think) cubby bookshelves at Office Depot about 5-6 years ago. They were really designed for an office but when I see cubbies I think yarn. 🙂 They are really sturdy and have heavy-duty wheels on them. Because they aren’t being carried anymore Ikea’s Expidit Bookcases are what I intend to add to them but will DEFINITELY add the wheels 🙂 I love cubbies!!

  2. Patty Says:

    One idea my mother found is to use a heavy antique glass jar as a lamp – the bottom becomes yarn storage for those “keepsake” yarns, or whatever your heart desires at the time. Because the lid screws off, the decorations can change with your mood!

  3. Natasha Says:

    Clear tubs are great, but be careful of storing them too close to a window or other source of sunshine. Faded yarn is a tragedy!

  4. stefanie g-r Says:

    I’m a big fan of sorting my stash by weight and storing it in large plastic bins. I do keep some pretty skeins out in a large wooden bowl to admire and inspire, and I also have about 10-15 project backs that are waiting in the wings – they have been filled with yarn from my stash and a pattern to knit or crochet with it. Whenever I’m ready to start something new, I grab a project bag and cast on!

  5. Louise Knight Says:

    I have wire basket closet organizers that are in a frame about 30 in high and 24 in deep. The baskets slide out on rails like a drawer. I have each brand/type of yarn in a zip lock bag. The yarn is sorted into weight when it is put in the basket. On top of the basket frame, I have 24 in wide pre-finished shelving from a home improvement store that makes a nice work table.

  6. Cindy Sublett Says:

    I use the sweater bags you mention in your blog. They are clear (for ogling) and zip up (for protection).

  7. Dena Childs Says:

    Agree. It’s best to keep your yarn away from direct sunlight.

  8. Mandy Radd Poje Says:

    I organize by colour only! 3 bookshelves full and a huge tote of wool yarn! in case of allergies!

  9. barbraL Says:

    Clear bins are my final/happy solution…all 6 of them.

  10. Wool Free and Lovin' Knit Says:

    At long last I finally have my own kniting room so I’m now exploring creative ways to store my yarn out where I can see it, but keeping it dust-free and of course out of the sun’s UV rays (blinds will solve that problem). A couple of new storage options I’ve found are the pull-down front shoeboxes/sweater boxes from the Container store, and glass cookie jars for those bits of left overs. LOVING these new ways of storing my yarn to support my visual need to see it.

  11. Lynne Says:

    “bed in a bag” bags: they zip, they are clear, they come in different sizes and they have a HANDLE! I use the smaller ones that sheets come in to hold my bits for scrap-ghans

  12. kim dawson Says:

    do you worry about moths?

  13. Sally Says:

    I recently organised my stash. I put it on gallon clear storage bag, along with paper showing size (4, 5, etc and added a printed pattern. now when I want to knit. I pick up a bag and start the project. This has greatly reduced my stress level
    I also organised my Pinterest page by projects;i.e. scarf, hats, etc now when I go to yarn store, I can match pattern to a yarn I want to buy.

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  15. Vona Giese Says:

    We are moving so I am purging, REALLY, 6 garbage bags went to community center, another bag to a friend, 12 big totes will move, plus a cedar chest of wool. But, I’m not a hoarder, right! When not packed, its in colorful dollar store bins in Ikea cabinet, and in baskets, and yes still in bins too. Oh that doesn’t count UFO’s and finished items for sale. Add 4 more bins. Serious therapy needed……

  16. SoftCrochetByLoriAnn Says:

    Being an online crochet goods seller for the last 5 years… I don’t like to call it an extreme hoard, it’s inventory 😉 and it’s sorted by weight, fiber & color… all 45 of my 56qt clear storage crates stacked on shelves that surround my 12X14 attic craft room. One entire wall (18 crates) is all worsted weight acrylic for basic projects. Another shelf houses polyester blanket yarn for slippers & water balloons, another batch of shelves with crates of cotton, cotton cakes, dk cakes, sport weight acrylic, sock yarn, and a crate with worsted weight ombré, all sorted by color and if there’s only enough, to fill 1 crate, brand trumps color. (Which I do with my cotton) I’ve found that this system works for me, I can see inside the crates. I know where everything is & I know it’s kid, dust, kitty (they’re not allowed in my craft room, but occasionally sneak in with a child) & moth safe. I have blinds on the only window because like someone mentioned earlier, faded yarn is a tragedy (also becomes useless for items you wish to sell)
    Remember, if it’s neatly displayed it’s a collection, not a hoard 😛

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