January 1st, 2013

31 Days to Get Your Knitting & Crochet Organized

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Many of you have made New Year’s resolutions to get your craft life organized in 2013. Some of you want to finally finish those lingering unfinished knitting and crochet projects (UFOs). Some are overwhelmed by their yarn stash. Others may want to organize their craft supplies so they can find what they need, when they need it.

January is National Get Organized Month. Before I started working for WEBS many years ago, I was a professional organizer, and I’m still passionate about organizing (now yarn too). Through the month of January, I will be posting tips and advice on decluttering, organizing, and storing your works-in-progress (WIPs), yarn stash, patterns, and more.

To get things started, your first task is to make a list of what’s working for you and a list of what you want to improve. For example, I love my circular knitting needle and DPN storage solution; all of my knitting and crochet supplies are in one room; and using Ravelry to keep track of my projects (current and future) works great for me. But I have problems with my WIPs staying on the needles for way too long; my patterns are a mess; and somehow my yarn stash is large yet I never have the yarns I need when I want them.

In the comments below, share the one thing that is your biggest organizational challenge when it comes to your knitting and crochet. I’ll try to include solutions to each challenge in one of the upcoming 31 Days to Get Organized posts this month. I’m really looking forward to helping you all get more organized this month!

– Dena

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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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  • H Kennedy

    Keeping my organization organized!

  • http://avlor.tumblr.com/ Avlor

    I’m looking forward to this organizational challenge. Much of my area is organized. But I have a hard time making myself keep it “clean”. Perhaps I need to reorganize it and make it easier to put things away?

  • ruth

    this works well, I think (I use a similar system). I do try to keep 1 exemplar of the yarn label in the bag with the extra yarn for a project. I have all yarn in see-through boxes, organized by type of yarn, and then by color. The boxes are stacked on Ikea shelves–the only place I have for them is the basement, but I also put in small packet of silica crystals for protection. The lids cover tightly (keeps out rodents and moths). Exterior of boxes are labeled Wool, etc. If a blend has wool, it goes with wool. If a blend has cotton, it goes with Cotton, etc. I’m still struggling with my needles, though. I bought a Della Q but it isn’t particularly helpful.

  • Adrian

    I find myself struggling to finish my projects. When I’m on a deadline, I get it done, but when I start a project that doesn’t have a hard deadline, it tends to linger. I have lots and lots of canvas bags of projects 68.4% done, but I then end up starting new ones because they are much more exciting. This not only doesn’t help declutter my stash, but rather adds more clutter to my life! I try to keep a gift box in my house of finished projects that have not been designated for recipients so that I have something on hand when a baby comes along or a surprise wedding or birthday and I don’t have time to whip out a new crocheted gift. Lately, however, I’ve only been withdrawing from this box and not depositing because I can’t seem to keep up my motivation for that last little push on projects. Suggestions? (beyond… “just finish something”…) Thanks! ;)

  • Mary Jo

    I have a LOT of needles. I bought a plastic crate and large zip closer clear expanding pockets at Staples. I have labeled each pocket with a needle size and put all needles (cable, straight and dpn) in that pocket. When I need needles I can find the right pocket easily in the crate. It’s then very easy to pick out what I need. I used to use an expanding file, but the file was open at the bottom and I could not include my straight and dpns in the system. My new system may be a bit expensive to set up, but I expect it to work great for years.

  • thayerbear0

    I need to list what yarns I have, including mostly used skeins that are too big for my stash box. Most are already separated by ply, but I don’t know what colors I have.

  • woolgatherer

    I use this solution, too, mostly for my circular needles, a pocket for each size. I love it! DPNs and straights are in pottery vases.

  • altobarb

    My biggest problem is how to break down my yarn into categories for storage. I have LOTS (yes, I know, Webs is the size of an airplane hangar, so no, not quite that much!!). And I’m a freeformer, so it’s important that I can locate fiber, texture, color, but also bigger lots… it just totally confuses me. For now, I sort of remember what I have and other times just go “shopping in my stash” and am almost always surprised by things I forgot I had.

  • Sandy Greenberg

    Knitting magazines have stacked up – and are taking space better used for other things. Hard to throw them away!

  • David Whicker

    I keep mine in a plastic lock and lock box which i carry with me in my knitting bag.

  • LAGirlfromBmore

    Trader Joe’s sells little round tins with a see-through spot on the lid (filled with some sort of yummy candy). After finishing off the candy, I rinsed the tin and filled it with stitch markers, then put it in a nylon pencil case with my tape measure, scissors, and other accessories. Works great, and you get candy too.

  • Kandice Rose

    My biggest problem is organizing the things I’ve already knitted! I give away a lot of knitted items, but after knitting for this many years I’ve also collected a lot of scarves/shawls/hats/mitts and a few sweaters for myself too.

    I have a hanging “shoe organizer” in my closet with scarves and things in it, but it’s not very pretty and I find myself not using the things as often as I’d like to…

  • Regina M A Trochez

    I usually keep the id with the yarn; and when I make a gift I send copies of the labels with the gift

  • Christine

    you could scan them all and keep them on your computer.

  • Robin F. Andersen

    all of it. the yarn, the patterns, the tools. I have too much yarn & tools. my patterns are all over the place. so sounds good to me

  • lisa

    my problem is I am a yarn and pattern hoarder… and did i say inpulse yarn shopper…..So please help…… LOL

  • lisa

    ps.. did i mention I have plenty of WIP toooooo

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.knight.31 Louise Knight

    Irish Spring bar soap. The yarn smells nice and the critters and varmints stay out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.knight.31 Louise Knight

    I have those 24 in wide, 12 ft long shelves from a home improvement store. They are supported by those closet maid wire baskets. The yarn is sorted zip lock bags in these nice pull out drawers. The yarn is generally sorted by weight. Would be happy to post a picture if interested.

  • Pam MacKenzie

    I have my metal circs organized in a compartmentalized carrier I bought several years ago at Michaels for $19.99. Works great. It has pages of clear plastic compartments, and the needles are all organized by size. The plastic needles are all thrown into a canvas tote with a zip top from work. Not a perfect solution, but it’ll do for now. What I will never solve is organizing my yarn. I have it all sorted by color and type in dozens, if not hundreds, of totes. But the totes are all stuffed into the attic, a deacon’s bench in my hallway or my computer room. The only rhyme or reason to them is that they are physically in positions waiting in order of priority to be used, and I change the priorities constantly, as my moods and desires for projects change.

  • Castiron

    I have a similar problem; I *do* finish projects, but I have many WIPs that’ve been lingering for months or years. What helps me is to have all my projects in my to-do list program so that I’m reminded to work on each of them regularly — sometimes every few days, sometimes every couple weeks or even once a month.

    When a project shows up on my day’s to-do list, all I have to do is one row. I can do more if I’m so moved, but if all I finish is the one row, that’s fine.

    It doesn’t look like much is happening, but those “just one row”s add up. Eventually, the project is so close to done that I regain the will to power on through and finish the thing.

  • Castiron

    Time, definitely — both making time to knit/crochet and being realistic about how much time I can spend on it (i.e. not buying three sweaters’ worth of yarn, because I already have yarn for twelve that I haven’t started).

    Otherwise, I’m generally happy with my organization. My projects, books & magazines, and most of my stash are logged in Rav. I have far too many works in progress, but I know where they all are, and I’m working on them all regularly. I may not immediately be able to find a pair of size 6 interchangeable tips because the drawer’s a bit of a mess, but I know they’re in that particular drawer. Mainly I just need to work through my WIPs faster than I start new ones, and use my stash faster than I buy new yarn.

  • Dee

    I normally go through one project at a time. I know me and if I started another project, I’d totally stop. Sadly, I stopped a sweater for my husband and put all the stitches on a holder and figured I’d remember what needle size I had started with. Well, in the interim, I purchased a notebook to log my projects (with pics and stuff) and picked up the sweater again. Yup, took me a couple of hours to figure the needle size and get my brain back into the project. Will use my new notebook to help me stay organized. I liked the tips you have for keeping organized.

  • Dee

    Me, too. I love to shop at yarn shops. Something about the smell and feel of the shops. I have an idea of how much yarn generally for a cable/complex sweater so I usually have enough. I made a rule that if my yarn basket gets full, I can’t buy any more yarn until I knit up one from the basket.

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

    Glenda, sounds like Day 2 & 3 posts were written for you. Check them out.

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

    My problem is vacation yarn store shopping. I always want to purchase something from a LYS especially if it’s something I can’t get at WEBS. But I usually don’t plan for this and end up buying sock or lace yarn since I know I’ll have enough to make something.

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

    Sounds like a huge task to take on organizing your craft room. But baby steps will get you there. Feel free to take more than a day do the daily tasks this month. The next task will be there waiting for you when you’re ready to move on.

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

    Sometimes organizing is the easy part. It’s maintaining the organization that’s tough. I love to organize things. It’s fun for me. But then I’ve found that I may have created a system that is too complicated to maintain. You’ve definitely put you finger on it. Reorganizing and creating an easier system to put things away.

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

    Love your process of getting through your WIPs. BTW, what to-do list program do you use?

  • Yvonnem

    I have a serious yarn addiction, and thus a yarn stash that would probably qualify as a LYS if I wanted to open one. I need help (and space) organizing it.

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

    Organizing our yarn stash is coming up soon!

  • 5elementknitr

    I try to organize but I get caught up in all the lovely and all the fiber fumes and I end up abandoning organization and CO about ten new projects!

  • Pat Tahan

    Presently Its storage of DPNS and Circular needles.. help!

  • Melissa

    I do not use the term WIP, I prefer PHD…projects half done, as in, I’m sorry, I can’t get together tonight, I have to work on my Phd.

  • Sharon Carlton

    Finding yarn in my stash. Semi-organised but balls of yarn seem to bounce between boxes. Also issues with with organising all the little bits and pieces, scissors and things. They’re all over the place because I have too many organisers :-@

  • JustMe

    One idea is to use a Nancy’s Knit Knacks Wraps Per Inch tool. It’s not foolproof but it’s better than nothing.

  • Louise Cote

    I downloaded the app KnitMinder to my phone, and I’m getting organized a little at a time. I can upload it to the “cloud” and download it to my iPad, so I can keep organized whether I’m drooling over yarn in a shop or cataloguing needle in my spare room.

  • emvyknits

    I took an intense textiles course. They had us pull 4 inch yarn samples that had different fiber content. We used a chart to record the information. Then we cut the sample in two pieces (2 inches each) and burned one piece. We recorded the time it took to burn, the smell, & any other anomalies. We taped the other half of the unburned yarn to the chart. Then we had a reference guide for 100% wool, 100% silk, 100% acrylic, and others. We also had samples of 50%/50%, and so on. Then when we came across a yarn that had no name we cut a 2″ sample and burned it. We compared the mystery yarn burn rate & smell to our reference chart. We were about 90% accurate in identifying the fiber content.