January 4th, 2013

31 Days to Get Organized: Storing Your WIPs

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Welcome to Day 4 of our 31 Days to Get Organized series. We’re done sorting through our unfinished projects and left some clues so we can pick them back up again later. Next task is storing them so they’re ready for you when you’re ready for them.

Everyone has a limit to how many WIPs that they are comfortable with. Some people only work on one project at a time. When they finish it, they’ll start another. Others may only have at most 2 or 3 projects going. For these folks, they really don’t need to come up with a system for storing their works in progress. But when your WIPs grow much more than 3 projects, coming up with a way to keep them organized can be really helpful, otherwise you might start to lose track of some of the pieces, making it much harder to start knitting or crocheting that project again.

A few years ago I purchased this Lantern Moon Tower to store my WIPs. There are a few things that I really like about this storage solution. I like what it looks like so I don’t mind it being out in the open. Out of sight can mean out of mind. This stand currently lives next to my desk so I see it every day, reminding me of projects that need to be finished. I also like that it is vertical storage, so it doesn’t take up much floor space. Though I can fit quite a bit in the baskets, it’s a defined amount of space for my WIPs. I don’t allow them to accumulate beyond what I can store in the tower. Maybe it’s an arbitrary limit, but seems to be what I’m comfortable with.

As I look at my tower of projects, I see that it’s terribly disorganized (for my comfort level). Projects that need to be frogged, old swatches from finished projects, skeins of yarn not actually in a current project. I’ve got some sorting and cleaning up to do. Ideally, I like to keep all of the yarn and pattern for a project together, where each project has a separate project bag. My large Amethyst Crochet Blanket is too big to fit in one basket now. So it lives in my largest project bag on the floor next to the tower.

I use quite an assortment of project bags. There’s the inexpensive WEBS shopping bag. Some of you may have a few of these hanging out in your house too. Gallon size or larger clear plastic zip top bags work great to store projects. They’re cheap and you can see everything that’s in the bag. My favorite type of bag for most projects is a drawstring top bag. They’re easy to use and I can stuff it easily into my messenger bag when I head out of the house. I rarely leave home without a project!

Two drawstring bags that I love (for different reasons) are the Blue Sky Alpacas Pretty Cheep Project Bags (only $6.50 each) and the GoKnit Pouch both small and medium sizes (I’m crazy about the snap loop so I can attach it to my belt loop when I’m knitting on a plane or standing and waiting for a band to start). Sometimes though, I need a larger project bag to fit everything, especially for a big project like an afghan. WEBS carries a number of large project bags. It’s a really nice splurge if you don’t have one yet. When I got hired at WEBS, the first thing I did was purchase a big project bag I had my eye on. I still love it and use it frequently.

Now you know my system for storing projects. But what works for me, may not work for you. I recommend finding a storage solution that is flexible and is easy to use. If you’re the type of person who needs to see it to remember it, store your projects out in the open or somewhere you will see them frequently. Maybe a big basket near the sofa where the projects are accessible would work well. But I suggest at least sorting the projects within the basket with separate project bags, otherwise things could quickly become a jumble. Another option could be a storage ottoman, a place to kick up your feet while knitting and crocheting AND store your projects.

But maybe you want them more tucked away. If you have a little extra closet space, hanging cubby storage would be able to fit several WIPs, easily accesible, but still out of site. Plastic storage boxes could work too. But I would recommend plastic storage drawers over boxes since they’re easier to access. If you don’t have the vertical space for drawers, then an under-the-bed rolling storage box could work better.

I’ve mentioned just a few ideas for ways to store your WIPs. What’s your favorite solution or tip for storing WIPs? Share what works for you in the comments.

– Dena

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Dena

Ecommerce Marketing Manager at WEBS - America’s Yarn Store
Dena started working at WEBS in 2006, shortly after she learned to knit. She also dabbles in crochet and weaving. She finds knitting complements her marathon and triathlon training really well.
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  • betsy lute

    I am just came across this site and agree that we all need a good working storage plan… In the past I tried just closing the door when a room got too full… but now that I have all the doors closed in the house I have to find a way to put a king sized bed in the hallway… my DH is not happy. LOL just kidding not that bad but I am working on a plan. thank you for the help by sharing yours. Betsyloo

  • Laura

    I have a antique cabinet that houses a few UFOs-those not even on my WIPS list anymore. They are in individual project bags with necessary info(needle size, pattern, etc…). My WIPs are in decorative boxes and baskets by my “knitting spot”. This seems to be working and keeps my WIPs at manageable number (under 100-just kidding). I am fortunate to have a family room decorated with sheep and yarn border and knitting antique tools, so my yarn fits right in. My antique cabinet houses some project ready yarn, along with the UFOs and the shelf has my knitting books and patterns before my attempt at all electronic patterns. I am also fortunate to have a craft room, which is in a state of organized chaos!!! That is where I need HELP!!!

  • Mary

    Lots of great ideas! The link to the storage ottoman was for the slipcover, which comes in a bunch of great colors. The storage ottoman itself is here: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S49904016/

  • pdxknitterati

    January makes us want to get all organized! Lantern Moon to the rescue for me, too, but I keep my projects in their Silk Taffeta bags, and the bags go into a big Bindi (sadly discontinued) basket. I blogged this the other day: http://pdxknitterati.com/2012/12/22/keeping-it-organized/

    Good luck keeping your WIPs under control!

  • kate price

    I keep each project in its own bag – a variety of them, much like yours Dena.

    Then I have one square in the ikea expedit book case dedicated to WIPs. Projects that are not WIPs, but are just planned, are kept in project bags in with the rest of the stash – needles, yarn, pattern in the one bag.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.stewart.7334504 Ben Stewart

    Plenty of great ideas! The web link towards the storage space ottoman seemed to be with the slipcover, that is available in lots of great colors.

  • Laura

    My WIPs go into a storage bag that I sew myself just for this purpose (http://knitswithknopf.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/wip-bag-pic/). This bag, a smallish “treasure chest” that houses my needles and notions and a small coffeetable make up my “knitting corner” in the living room. Patterns for the WIPs and everyday notions like stitchmarkers and scissors are on the coffetable, WIPs with their needles (or without, but with note) in the bag.

    My stash is stored in in a seperate room, while the yarn dedicated to an ongoing project is stored in an old Victorian (?) drawer in the living room in zippered bags to keep dirt and the six-legged enemies away. Together with my Ravelry list, I can keep track of my projects quite well. I just have to remember that I can also add projects that do not have patterns (yet) ;).

    This is a great blog series. Both from Dena and all the other contributors I’ve learned so much already! Thank you all! I am looking forward to reading on in the days to come.

  • Steph

    Sooooo……. you’re saying the pile next to me on the couch is not really ideal, then… :D

  • 5elementknitr

    I like to use cute fabric bags with zippers to make notions kits for all my WIP bags. I also have one at each of my knitting spots around the house and one in the car. The one in my car is in my emergency knitting bag. I have a project bag in my glove box. It’s a sock I don’t care about, but if I forget my stuff and get stuck somewhere…. I’m good! Anyway, those little notions kit always have chibi, measuring tape, stitch markers (always including at least one locking one), some type of row counter, one of the Stitch Savers I make (shameless plug), a cable needle, and scissors.

  • http://twitter.com/DenaChilds Dena Childs

    The Silk Taffeta bags looks so pretty all lined up. Also love the knitted stockings by the fireplace. Did you make those?

  • http://twitter.com/DenaChilds Dena Childs

    Love the Expedit bookcase. I have a similar one from IKEA which keeps all of my craft books with the remaining cubbies filled with my favorite yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool.

  • http://twitter.com/DenaChilds Dena Childs

    Thanks for the better link. I’ve updated mine above.

  • http://twitter.com/DenaChilds Dena Childs

    A pile by the couch can be a perfectly fine solution. But some people may find their pile becomes a mound and later transforms into a mountain. Then…things get kind of crazy from there.

  • http://twitter.com/DenaChilds Dena Childs

    Love the idea of an emergency knitting bag. That’s a WIP I can really get behind.

    I hate when I don’t have a crochet hook when I really need. So Stitch Savers are kind of brilliant.

  • pdxknitterati

    Yes, the knitted stockings are my own design: http://pdxknitterati.com/patterns/snowflake-christmas-stocking/
    I made the first snowflake stockings in 1996, and then took off with the dancers and the piano stocking at some point after that. They are extremely customizable!

  • pdxknitterati

    I love the Expedit bookcase, too. My WIPs don’t live there, though. Out of sight, out of mind! I need to see what I’m supposed to be working on. I keep my yarn, needles, and samples in the Expedit. http://pdxknitterati.com/2010/06/01/ikea-idea-realized/.

  • swrkin

    Gallon size Ziploc bags, so I can see what’s inside.

  • Castiron

    Other than a couple that live on my desk to work on when I’m reading on the computer, my WIPs are stored in individual bags — some in nifty fabric bags that I bought on Etsy, others in simple plastic bags. Then I have larger bags that hold the individual bags and a bag of notions, so I can grab a large bag to take to the living room or to a knit night and have a choice of projects. I also have one large folding knitting bag on a wood frame (and some year when I get my WIPs down to a reasonable number, I hope to fit them all in there).

  • nanasbug

    I also like to use fabric bags I buy on etsy for the most part but since it can be hard to remember what is in it if you have more than 2 or 3 projects, I put a hanging tag on the outside of the bag (on the zipper or loop) so I can just grab and go. I also like the ikea shelves http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S19876454/ for storing projects-to-be. I will label the drawer. It is also how I store much of my yarn.

  • Naomi Denoncourt

    I have a cat, and a dog, and a 1½ yo daughter… my projects cannot be out in the open, I have to hide them where no one can attempt to destroy them. :P
    I usually don’t have more than 3-4 WIP at a time and I keep track of them on Ravelry. I hide all my yarn/project at the same spot or so, this way when I see a WIP on Ravelry and want to finish it, I know it’s somewhere in there.

  • 5elementknitr

    Thanks!

  • Rowena

    You must not have a cat…..

  • http://twitter.com/FugueStateKnits FugueStateKnits

    At the end of 2012 I had more than 52 projects on the needles and enough yarn for another 52, LOL:)! Luckily, I have them all listed on ravelry. After deciding to frog the projects I wasn’t loving any more, I looked at the ones that were closest to finished and listed them in that order, adding letters of the alphabet at the beginning of the project “name” I had given it on ravelry, then organized the WIPs in order of their name. So now when I look at my projects, I work on them in the order I have listed on my projects page in ravelry. I also brought the number of projects down to 32.

    In the meantime, I have a shelf upstairs upon which I use a bunch of clear plastic storage boxes, along with some pretty “hat boxes” from various places. When I am not working on a project, they go into those boxes. I use bags for the projects I am working on at the moment – and I try very hard to keep these at 3-5 at a time, so I can get them done and so I am not bored with any one project. So far I have added only 1 project to my list – a little sweater for my baby granddaughter. (Hey, nobody’s perfect, LOL:) and it will be done very quickly – a little diversion).
    Love this series – now the next step is actually frogging those deleted projects in person and not just on paper – and getting the needles and notions back, so I’m not constantly getting new needles! Oh and while we’re on the subject of notions, I do have a number of small notions bags that can go into various project bags so I don’t find myself without a stitch marker or cable needle or whatever.
    The fun thing about all of this is it gets me digging through my stash and thinking. How bad can that be;)? Who knows? Maybe this will be the year I actually design some of my own patterns!