January 16th, 2013

31 Days to Get Organized: Organizing Your Craft Books, Magazines, & Pattern Books

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Wow! We’re just about halfway done with organizing our knitting and crocheting lives. I’ve been impressed with all of the work you’ve been doing so far this month. Great job everyone!

Next up we’re tackling our knitting and crochet patterns. Today we’re going to sort through our books, pattern books, and magazines – all those patterns we might keep on a bookshelf. We’ll cover organizing single patterns tomorrow and digital patterns and eBooks on Saturday.

Gather Your Stash

If your bookcases are overflowing with knitting books, craft magazines, and crochet patterns, today’s task is perfect for you. Start by pulling all of your craft books, pattern books, and magazines off of your shelves. You might have these spread all over the house. Some of them may be hiding in a stack on a table or desk. Collect them all into one place.

Pre-Sort Your Stash

If you have a sizable collection, do some pre-sorting as you’re pulling everything together. Don’t spend too much time with this step. Don’t start flipping through the pages yet. This will slow you down. Just start stacking in broad categories like pattern booklets, magazines, knitting books, crochet books. This will speed up your finer sorting stage later. Also if you need to break up today’s task over a few days, it’ll be easier to sit down one day and just tackled magazines for example.


Now it’s time to make some decisions. What are you going to keep and what are you going to get rid of? This is going to feel a little like when you were de-stashing your yarn – keep, give away, toss. Keep anything you think you will use someday. I have a rule for myself I try to follow. If a book, magazine, or pattern book doesn’t have at least 3 patterns that I will make someday, I get rid of it.

Your tastes change over time too. Maybe you bought some sock books at one point, but realize after knitting some that you actually hate making socks. No reason to keep them. Getting rid of duplicates is a no-brainer too. When you’re done going through your stacks, consider getting rid of your give-away pile the same way you got rid of some of your yarn. Books and patterns are great additions to a yarn swap.

Fine Tune Your Sort

Go through your keepers and start sorting them like you would want to store them. Group your magazines by publisher and sort them by date. Magazines are floppy, so I like to store them in magazine files since they don’t take up much space on a shelf. A magazine binder also works great. I find pattern books kind of floppy too and tend to get lost on a shelf, especially the kind with stapled spines. So I like to keep these in magazine files too.

For books, I sort them by craft, and then sort them further by how to, stitch dictionaries, and pattern collections. Most books fall into one of these three categories. Others may prefer to sort by author name or book title. When I’m looking for a book, usually I’m looking for a type of book such as baby garments. Pick the sorting method that works for you.

Flag Your Favorites

Now comes the time consuming part. If you have trouble finding the patterns in your collection that you’re looking for, you might want to add this extra step. As you’re doing your fine sort, flip through the pages and mark your favorite patterns with a sticky note or tape flag. Sticky notes can be particularly nice since you can jot down the name or type of pattern on the edge of the note and have that portion stick out from the edge of the book. On Sunday, we’ll be covering more tips on how to track your pattern collection so you can find what you want.

Hope you have fun with this task. When I go through my pattern books and magazines, I always rediscover something I forgot about and get inspired all over again.

What is your favorite tip that helps you find the pattern you want from your pattern books and magazines?

– Dena

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18 Responses to “31 Days to Get Organized: Organizing Your Craft Books, Magazines, & Pattern Books”

  1. Diane Wolter Says:

    For magazines or books, either remove the patterns you know you will eventually make or scan them as documents. Three whole punch them and put them into binders by type of garment, afghan, accessory, baby, child, etc. for easy reference. You can also scan them and organize them as documents/files on your computer, on Evernote, etc. for easy reference.

  2. Sally Says:

    In theory I like the idea of flagging pages of patterns that you intend to make in the future, but – be aware that the adhesive will bond with the paper over time. This isn’t a book-friendly solution in the long haul.

  3. PJ Lainis Says:

    I use Book Crawler app on my iphone, It’s $1.99 and with one click you can log the name, ISBN, cover picture and other book info…I now know at a glance which books I own, those I want to buy and who I lent a book to, I also don’t order duplicates by mistake anylonger.

  4. jennsquared Says:

    I heavily utilize my Ravelry library! I make sure I mark all my books and magazines in there and when I flip through the magazine, i will favorite the ones I want to make in that issue/magazine and tag it. My queue is rather small for everything i want to knit, but I want it to be manageable so it is not overwhelming.

    For loose pattern that I had purchased or printed out, I actually put each pattern in its own sheet protector sleeve, then file them in a hanging folder carrying case and sort them by hats, mitts/mittens/gloves, socks… etc.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If by “get rid of the book” you meant throw it away, you would just keep the original pages, wouldn’t you? When you advocate photocopying or scanning patterns, aren’t you also advocating breaking copyright laws? If you are giving the book to someone else, you have no right to keep the copies.

    It is just as much a violation to keep copies and give the book away as to give someone else a copy from a book or magazine which you are going to keep.

    The only way copies are legal under fair use laws is if you retain both the book and the copy, for instance a copy to take with your knitting rather than carrying the whole book around. If you later give the book away, you should include or destroy any copies you’ve made.

  6. Janice Says:

    This is not my original idea but I thought a good one. I know someone who takes her favorite books to a stationary store and has them spiral bound. Easier to work with and not stepping on any copyrights.

  7. Dena Childs Says:

    I wasn’t aware of this. I’ll remove it from the post.

  8. SpicyKnitter Says:

    I don’t flag my pattern books (yet!) but I do flag stuff in my how-to books so it’s super easy to refresh your memory on techniques you don’t use that often. I highly recommend it! (Sally – good point about the adhesive sticking to the pages over time…. I don’t really care about that myself, since I don’t ever intend to un-tab the books, but it’s good to know!!)

  9. chrisknitz Says:

    I sort my books and magazines by shortest to tallest. I am so OCD about it I struggle when two books don’t line up right on the shelf! Another thing that throws me are the books that are long and stick out way past the others. LOL

  10. Rowena Says:

    If i give away a book because it only contains one pattern I want to knit, you can be damn sure I am keeping a copy of that one pattern. & so would anybody else. There is a certain point beyond which copyright law becomes unrealistic, & I say that as a published author.

  11. Gail Donaldson Says:

    I use Ravelry. too. I have all my books, magazines and patterns listed there with my favourites marked and I will often browse through Ravelry first using a few search terms to find, say, a cardigan pattern or something specific, rather than look through all my books. But I do also have sticky notes as flags in some books and magazines. I haven’t found that they mark the pages yet and some have been in place for a while, maybe because they are the not-too-sticky sticky notes. The ones sold as page flags are stickier, I think. Some of my magazine subscriptions are digital on my Nook tablet and with those I flag any page that catches my eye for a pattern or article and they get summarized into a list of ‘bookmarks’ that I can refer to later.

  12. kelli ann Says:

    Hah! I was *gonna* say that the post’s photo reminded me of Dena! (the ultimate reference for me in all things organizational). I love how many different supports I can have my patterns on; I do find it a challenge to keep my stash of patterns organized. thx for sharing the tips.

  13. Diane Wolter Says:

    If I’m keeping the pattern for my use only and not copying it for others, it is not breaking any copyright laws — as it wouldn’t be if I copied it and used it as I was knitting the item. I often donate the books or magazines I don’t want to keep to the library for their used book sales. That is not illegal, either.

  14. Joyce Owens Says:

    I love my books! I organize them alphabetically by author and also have them listed in my Ravelry library. I mark my favorites on Ravelry and look up patterns on Ravelry and then pull the book and copy the pattern for my knitting bag. I love looking through them for inspiration too.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, you can make a copy to use as you are knitting an item, and that does not violate copyright law. However, the example you give is flawed. You are making the copy for yourself, BUT you are giving the book away. That has the same end effect as keeping the book and giving the copy away. Two people have copies of a pattern that was only sold once.

    You have a legal right to the retain copy as long as you also retain ownership of the book. If you give the book away but keep the copy, then two people have copies of the book.(or portion of the book), from only one sale. That is a violation of copyright law.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    You are entitled to your opinion that the law is unrealistic, but it is the law. That I am damn sure of. AS for anybody else doing it, you’re wrong there. Some of us prefer not to be criminals. We’d either remove the pages we wanted or knit the item before giving the book away.

  17. Rowena Says:

    Sorry, I flat out refuse to believe there is a single person on this earth who would, after giving a knitting book away, go thru their files, remove all patterns photocopied from the book, & shred them to ensure they could never knit them again. It’s not possible, unless perhaps they were dead certain they would never knit the pattern(s).

  18. anonymous Says:

    This is called psychological projection.

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