January 10th, 2013

31 Days to Get Organized: Tracking Your Yarn Stash

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Sorry to have missed posting an organizing task yesterday. Between digging myself out of what looked like a yarn stash explosion (I was right, it does look worse before it gets better) and dealing with a persnickety computer glitch, the hours slipped away from me.

Now that we’re done weeding out the yarn we no longer want, today’s task is to update our yarn database and notes about our stash. But maybe you don’t have anything set up to keep track of your yarn. Here are a few things to help you decide if tracking your yarn stash is something you want to do.

WHY TRACK YOUR STASH? – A lot of us have some sort of record of what is in our stash, but if you don’t, why is it useful to keep track of your stash?

  • After your stash has grown beyond a certain amount, you might not be able to remember what you have. Write it down and you don’t have try to keep it in your brain anymore. There’s no way I can remember every color of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool that I have. It’s so much easier to look a my list than it is pulling it off the shelf and checking all the labels.
  • Especially if you keep an electronic database of your stash, it’s easier to sort and search through your yarns to find out what you have. See below how I can easily sort by color on Ravelry.
  • Check your list while you’re shopping and you’re more likely to buy what you need and not find out later that you already have something similar.

HOW DO YOU TRACK YOUR STASH? – It really comes down to two basic ways, handwritten notes or an electronic list.
  • If you’re an old school kind of crafter, you may like to just keep a handwritten list of your yarns in a notebook, journal, or on index cards. If your stash isn’t crazy big, this is a nice solution since it’s easy and portable.
  • Ravelry has been around for awhile now. And it’s hard for a lot of us to remember what it was like without it. If you’re not familiar with it, think of it as a social media platform for knitters and crocheters, but with so much more. Keeping track of our stashes is just one reason why we love Ravelry. 99% of the time I try to add a yarn to my Ravelry stash, it already exists on Ravelry; it’s so comprehensive. If you want to know more about the benefits of using Ravelry to track your stash, I recommend reading Fresh Stitches blog post on the subject.
  • Another online way to track your stash is Nimblestix. You can track your stash, show off your latest project, and interact with others like you.
  • Excel and other spreadsheet programs provide an organized way of listing your yarn and if you set them up well, they can also be great at sorting your stash by weight, color, location…whatever you need.
  • Got a smart phone, well there are a lot of knitting/crochet apps if you haven’t checked lately. Knit Keeper, Ewe Stash, Vogue Knitting Knit Buddy, and Stitch Stash are just a few.
WHAT YARN INFORMATION DO YOU TRACK? – You can get as detailed as you want here. But for simplicity’s sake, just track the information that is useful for you later. If you use an electronic program, don’t feel compelled to fill in all of the information just because there’s a field to fill in. Here are some attributes of a yarn you might want to track.
  • Brand and name of yarn
  • Photograph of yarn, especially nice if you can get an accurate color representation
  • Color name and number, and dye lot if you have it
  • Amount of yarn you have including the weight and yardage
  • Details like yarn weight, yds/ball, type of fiber
  • Recommended hook and needle size
  • Care instructions
  • Notes of where you store the yarn so you can find it when you need it
  • Purchase date, location and amount spent

If you do use electronic tracking of your stash, I would recommend occasionally backing up this information somewhere. Last year I lost 3 years of my exercise log because of a couple of poorly-timed electrical storms. It was really time consuming to recreate. If you use Ravelry, it takes just a moment to download an Excel spreadsheet of your stash. Click on the little green Excel icon in the top right of your stash page. Bam, you’ve got a backup copy now.

Do you keep track of your stash? What keeps you from not tracking your stash or from keeping your tracking up to date?

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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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  • NancyB

    I can export it to excel?!?!?!?!?! I know what I’m doing this weekend!!

  • Iconic56

    I use a great app for iPad called ‘Ewe Stash.’ Every time I get new yarn, I take a photo and enter the weight, color, dye lot, etc. When I’m ready to start a new project, I open the app to see my stash! It’s so much easier keeping track now.

  • Kathie

    Excel. I have designed enough databases to know that carefully choosing field names and capturing the data accurately is critical. I like Excel because I can email my file to myself, and access the attachment via my smart phone…even when I don’t have internet access. I like Excel because I can sort the entire spreadsheet. My data fields include brand, name of yarn, the dye lot, the color name on the ball band and my own description that makes sense to me. I also include the number of skeins; from that, I set up formulae to calculate total yardage/meterage and ounces/grams. Of course I include the weight of the yarn (1/superfine) and the fiber (yes, by percentage). I include the recommended needles/hooks and the stitch and row gauge. Yes, I not machine wash, hadn wash, dry flat…how much I spent…where I bought it (souvenir yarn, anyone?) and the project (shawl) and pattern (if I have one) that I was thinking of when I bought it. And I note what bin I have it stored in…so I can find it when I see a great pattern on Ravelry, or when I decide I want to use it. And yeah…the stash is oversized, but hey…I’m not into shoes. :-)

  • chrisknitz

    I use Excel and track the following info: brand/yarn name, # of skeins, yardage per skein, weight, gauge, total yardage. Then I track how much of it I have used and then how much is left. I keep a monthly and YTD yardage used totals also. The sheet is separated into gauge weight, worsted, DK, etc. Since I have all my yarn in a closet of a spare room I declined tracking it’s location. I can usually remember where the item is in all of the tubs and Iris carts in there. My goal is to get the total under 70,000 yards this next year! Last year I added just a bit more than I knit up. Bad Chris! LOL Thanks for the info about putting my excel onto Rav. And a shot out to my buds on Nimblestix!!

  • Judy

    I also created an Excel sheet about 6 years ago. It tracks all the details except cost. When I start a project I move the related yarn to the bottom of the sheet to the section marked “Projects”. I record the start & finish dates along with what I made. I also have a separate tab on the worksheet to track all needles; another one for all books; and another that’s a sock worksheet. I have it safely backed up (external harddrive, laptop, thumb drive) including to Google Docs. Hmmmm I do sound a bit compulsive LOL!

  • Amy Castillo

    I use Microsoft Access for my yarn database. The main reason was to create queries and reports on how much yardage and total # of skeins I have at any given time. It took some time to set up but was completely worth it.

  • Chris

    I’m so excited to see Nimblestix on your list! It’s a brand-new site, but it’s on its way to being great! I love tracking my stash and projects, and keeping in touch with my fibery friends on NX!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marci.wunderlich.1 Marci Wunderlich

    Really enjoying my time on Nimblestix. Fiber-oriented and super friendly.

  • Castiron

    Another reason to document your stash (and keep a copy in the cloud or otherwise offsite): in case of fire or flood, you can prove to the insurance company that yes, you really did have $7500 of yarn. (Fortunately I’ve never needed this reason.)

    I use Ravelry to track my stash; I like being able to easily link stash to patterns I want to make with it.

  • http://twitter.com/NiseyKnits Denise Twum

    Oooh do you mind sharing the master template of this Excel sheet? It sounds perfect! :)