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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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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  • Leslie

    Getting my yarn in order

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.kenney3 Sharon Kenney

    Mostly everything, but the first thing that comes to mind is all the little things, like stitch marker etc. I have them, but half the time I can’t find them.

  • Kaitlin

    I have a hard time organizing my fiber before I spin it. It’s so HUGE and puffy that it’s hard to find a good way to store it. Then, when I want to spin, I can’t look at all of it at once, so I have to tear through my whole fiber stash to find whatever it is I’m looking for. Needless to say, my boyfriend is not thrilled when he comes home to find the living room floor covered with an ocean of handdyed merino fluff. Help!

  • Erin Mcdonald

    I have most of my yarns listed, with photos, in my Ravelry Stash. My needles and notions are pretty well organized, but my printed patterns are kind of out of control. I do use binders and have a system, I just haven’t filed things since last summer. That shouldn’t be too taxing. I do knit more from the PDF files now that I have an iPad.

    My other issue, and my biggest challenge, has been of the moth persuasion. I freaked out when I found two sweaters with “too big to be mended” holes and now I fear my stash will succumb to the critters. I have smelly moth packets in my storage totes and nearly all yarn is in Ziplock bags, some have the moth sachets in them. My freezer cannot accommodate the volume of yarn that I have. What’s a knitter to do?

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.klaeysen Donna Klaeysen

    Keeping my patterns where I can find them. They are all over the place!

  • Beans99

    Having yarn “stashed” under the bed, under the stairs, in drawers etc., in other words not having a proper place for it and trying to hide it from those who might criticize!

  • Shanna y

    I would love a better way to organize my yarn. I too have the problem with a big stash but never have the right yarn for projects. Any tips for startitis would be greatly appreciated! Thanks and looking forward to hearing all the tips you share!

  • penneyknits

    my stash! It is a goodly size and I don’t have very much storage room. I keep it in clear plastic bins but some are in the basement and some are under my bed. This isn’t very conducive to seeing what’s what! And I can never decide whether to store it by color or by project.

  • Scrabblequeen

    Biggest challenge is to know exactly what I have…and where to find it.

  • http://teresarobeson.com/ Teresa Robeson

    My biggest problem is finding a good place/way to keep my WIP. I put them in a small bag to bring with me if I’m heading out but at home, I have several crammed into my comfy chair with me and it’s unsightly…not to mention not giving me much room to sit in my favorite chair. :}

  • Prezlaura

    I have organized chaos-lol. I have not used Ravelry to organize stash or needles; I do use it for my WIPs and FOs. I have been keeping a list of what I order with respective intended project. I have yarn in large zip locks with the pattern or name of project, since many of my patterns and books are PDFs or E-books on my IPAD. WIth all that said, I still feel unorganized. Like you I never feel I have yarn for a project when I need it, yet I have enough stash to start a Yarn shop!!! I am looking forward to you posts and helps!!!!

  • Shirley Owanisian

    My biggest problems is knowing what I have . I also weave so I have a stash for that also not sure how to sort my yarn stash either.

  • Nicole

    Keeping track of what projects I have on the go and which ones to work on next. Also, a way to keep track of all the yarn I have hidden around the house. I have lots of yarn and lots of patterns/projects I want to do, but often have trouble deciding how to match them up because I’m not sure of what I have. This is also a problem when I’m out shopping for yarn – I buy lots because I can’t remember if I have similar yarn, or a particular needle size, at home or not. Thanks for your upcoming tips!

  • Laurel

    What do I do with leftover yarn from finished project? Especially yarn with no ball band…

  • http://www.facebook.com/alison.applecreek Alison Perkins

    My biggest challenge is a dedicated room…that stays dedicated to my handwork and crafts. (My kids keeping moving in and out.)

  • craftycarole

    keeping track of all my knitting notions.. I just made 2 needle rolls for my dpns, but I need a better system for my circulars, stitch markers, cable needles etc. and a roll for my hooks. My yarn stash is in pretty good shape. Wish I had more time to knit though.

  • Donna

    Keeping my WIPs and remnants organized. I have bins in which my stash is divided by yarn type, full or partial skeins, etc., but a lot of WIPs or remnants from FOs end up in bags and containers on top of the bins. Then I can’t get into the bins… The other issue is I download and then print patterns. I now have a pile to organize.

  • Joi Lynn

    I have …erm…”collected” many beautiful yarns over the years, including my handspun, and I’d like to find a way to create a small, well-organized space (in a corner of a room, say) in which to display my yarns (and spindles) so I can see them and not forget them. Right now everything is in ziplock bags in huge plastic bins and I often forget what I have. I’m toying with the idea of a barristers bookcase but I’m afraid of moths getting to the skeins. And what the heck do I do with the partial skeins?

  • Patty

    I have stash divided by fibers and stored in clear storage totes with cedar balls. i am amazed at the amount of stash i have once i got it organized! Needles are stored in plastic bins according to type I.e., straight, circular, crochet, metal or wood. Patterns are stored in binders with plastic sheet protectors or pockets according to knit, crochet, blankets, sweaters etc. I also sew, quilt, I have organized the fabric in bookshelves, the accessories in clear storage bins with drawers. I am happy with the organization of my fun stuff, you would not want to see the rest of my household!

  • diane

    I buy yarn on impulse(all good stuff) but then it gets catelogued on Ravelry and put in a proper bin in my studio— and then I go on to buy more yarn — and eventually forget what I have. I’m always knitting something, but I truly have no idea what I have under my roof and could be using. Does this make sense???? Many thanks

  • Sandy

    Having a good way to store my yarn, hooks and needles. I started out with good intentions, but then chaos takes over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Calafaty/1205748669 Cindy Calafaty

    I need to organize my WIPs and patterns. The problem is that my organization is one of my WIPs that keeps getting put on hold! I’m going to be eagerly following your posts this month for ideas and inspiration to keep going and get my stuff in order. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.gillis.75 Cathy Gillis

    I have a hard time having my yarns where I need them when I need them. I’d like to catalog my yarn, keep the ones I’d still buy TODAY and donate the rest. I find the the “potential” of yarn is actually weighing me down! So, streamlining, organizing, and using the stash feature on Ravelry would be a great project for my craft space.

  • Teresa

    Managing my stash and my patterns. I have patterns in binders, in folders, and on my computer. I’d like to get them all in one place – the binder idea is great, but the ones in folders are in hanging files which appeals to my quick sort nature – drop it in a folder and we are done, or find the page protectors and the appropriate binder. The stash….argh! Most of it is in bins, some is in some IKEA shelving, which I would like to continue along the wall with the shelving. I too, have a massive stash but suffer from “oooh soft and pretty, must have” when around yarn. One of my goals this year is no yarn buying until the end of June.

  • Onward

    Once I have balls of yarn left from projects – without their labels, which have gone by the wayside – I don’t know how to sort the yarns by weight. How do I tell whether they’re DK or sock or worsted, etc.?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mfoulis Michelle Schwerdt Foulis

    I am fortunate enough to have a “craft room /studio ” space where I can store my stash on shelves so I can see what I have, most of my patterns are stored and sorted in binders and my circular and dpn are stored in a large zippered binder in labelled zip lock bags. My problem is putting stuff away once I use it!

  • April Lewis

    Many comments below are relevant to my dilemma. I have knitting yarn,
    roving for spinning, fleece, yarn for weaving and all of the little
    tools and needles that go with each aspect of yarn from washing,
    carding, and spinning to the finished product. I have very little space
    so I put all my spinning away while I am knitting. I need a nice
    portable system of organizing each aspect so they can be tucked away.
    Patterns are together but not organized by yarn or by item. Help!

  • Sue Burkitt

    Can I just say…”all of the above” to the post posted before me??? I need help organizing it all, books, hooks, needles, patterns, yarn, notions, etc. I want to be able to need something, know exactly where it is, and be able to walk in my craft room and pick it up…….my “craft room” ..is a joke…I can’t even walk into it…HELP

  • Glenda

    I need some way to keep up with the UFO’s-which needle, yarn type, pattern, etc. I tend to “steal” needles (especially on my crochet projects) to use on need-it-now projects and then I forget to return the needle and can’t remember the size. I am a “love to start a project but have a hard time finishing it” person unless the project has a definite deadline like a wedding or baby shower. Help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1753174733 Ld Eger

    I need to organize my knitting and crochet tools.

  • TK

    I keep losing track of where a particular pattern is when I’m ready to start it. I end up spending half a day or more going through books and magazines trying to find the pattern I need. And I don’t have all that many. I’d prefer a solution that doesn’t mean I have to photocopy everything, because I dislike having more papers lying around.

    And I struggle with partial skeins, too. The labels keep getting lost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.waters Janie Waters

    I have my yarn stashed in clear plastic tubs with the exception of two sets of sweater yarn (in boxes, in plastic). Although I don’t seem to have much of a problem with moths here at the beach. And the tubs are sort of ranked by weights… I keep meaning to keep a log of what I do/design with details, but that goes away. So I try to keep it in my head all the time (getting complicated). Am now working on reorganizing the needle collection. Have just started collecting interchangeables, so I’m using a gifted circulars bag to store those. Step by step, it gets better. Although I just ordered enough yarn for four more sweaters and where I’m storing that I have NO CLUE!! LOL

  • Rowena

    I have two challenges to address this year: 1) My stash is embarrassingly HUGE but I can never match it to projects. Whenever I want to knit something, I buy yarn for that project. I have never used stash yarn for anything, never once. I realise I should work backwards — instead of looking for a pattern, look on Ravelry to see what projects a particular yarn has been used for & find a pattern for it that way. But I never seem to get around to this. 2) I have a hard time remembering to update Ravelry when I get new books or yarn so that my records of what I own will be up to date. This could lead to buying the same book or needles twice because I didn’t record it. & I am a meticulously organized person; I could hang out a shingle & be a professional organizer myself. I just have some sort of mental block about this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ANNETTEEBROWN Annette E Brown

    I’m on board to take this challenge. I would like to develop a routine to better plan and manage my WIP routine.

  • Julie

    I am fortunate enough to have “acquired” a room since my son moved out -19 months after graduation but who’s counting?- and need help filling, er , designing my yarn space. I have a nice big closet and a futon so far. Can’t wait for all the suggestions. I will be happy to supply before n after pics!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/czwomack Carol Womack

    I have trouble finding my knitting needles and crochet hooks. I have two really nice zippered needle-holders, but I have way too many needles. I recently bought a wine gift box from Joann’s, which is working well, but I have some really long needles that still don’t fit. Thank you for whatever you suggest. I’ll be checking in daily!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.l.sorrells Rebecca Lilak Sorrells

    My issues are similar to yours. WIPs lingering on the needles, yarn stash that is unbalanced (read: single skein sock yarn heavy).

  • Darlene

    I’m so looking forward to your 31 days of organizing. I use fixed circular needles and have them in 2 cases with plastic pockets (no name on the case) and this works well. I used to keep track of them on the Ravelry needle sheet, but quit doing it and now wish I had kept it up. I would have to go through all of my many WIP’s to record the size needle left with each project. I’m always having to buy another needle because the 2 or 3 I have of that size are w/projects. If only there had been interchangables when I first started knitting, but now with at least 3 or 4 of every size, I don’t think I’ll invest in the sets. My patterns are all on my computer, so that works okay for me. I do use the Ravelry page for my projects, and the stash page for all my yarn, but yarn storage is a problem. I have 6 cloth/bins from Target, plus several large plastic totes, but not easy to find anything.

  • sherinik

    Maybe this can help – to keep my yarn clean and the balls a nice shape (and keep the cats from ‘helping’) I use plastic ziplock bags to protect the WIP yarn, which also keeps the label with it right to the end. A tiny corner cut off and the yarn fed through seems to work best for me.

    I’d like a better way to categorise my patterns – between pdfs, books and magazines, Ravelry and ancient 80′s style card-based systems (the ones that came every 2 weeks with another instalment to complete your collection!) I find I spend too much time looking through them to find just what I’m looking for. They’re all neat and tidy, I just can’t find anything quickly because I can’t even remember what media it is on!

    Then of course, the priorities list is another huge problem – I start way too many things at once, then have to leave all but the urgent one aside, yet I never seem to make the one thing I bought that book especially to make…

  • Dannah

    I really need a better yarn storage solution and probably a dedicated craft room since my stash needles and notions the spilling out into our bedroom bookshelves

  • Laura

    Some of my problems have already been mentioned several times:

    - leftover yarns from FOs, with and without lables

    - huge stash, but never the right yarn for the project

    - patterns in books, magazines and digital – but I never find the one I want (e.g. I want to knit a sweater, but I don’t even know how many, let alone which sweater patterns I own)

    - keeping track of (and finishing) WIPs that are not on Ravelry, either because they are selfdesigned or the pattern is not there (also true for other craft projects which lack the convenience of Ravelry)

    - buying yarn for a specific pattern, but never getting arount to starting it (see also huge stash problem)

    Where my needles and notions are concerned, I work with a combination of old Whiskey bottle boxes, needle rolls and zipered bags (for the interchangeables) that has proven itself worthy. At least I know where to find which. My notions are in a hand made zippered cloth bag and seperated by small totes or old candy boxes.

    I am looking forward to reading up on all the tips you will post here. This is a great way to start the new year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.humphreys.9 Beth Humphreys

    I need to organize EVERYTHING… I have just recently re-gained my craft room (DD moved out) and I have WAY too much yarn for the space available… – not only my own stash but I recently inherited my Mother’s (sizable) stash as well.

  • Diane

    I need to start using my stash yarn before I buy more. I also need to keep better track of patterns. I like to purchase digital copies of magazines but then I forget what I have.

  • Sherry

    I too, have pretty much the same problems as everyone else. What to do with leftover balls of yarn, having yarn stashed and stored in closets, large cabinet dedicated to wool, bins in the basement, etc. Notions are mostly kept in a ziploc bag, I have one roll for knitting needles, but would like a solution for storing circular needles. I haven’t entered anything into Ravelry yet, so I don’t remember what I have. Though when I find a pattern I like and order the wool for, I leave the pattern / book on my coffee table till the wool arrives (I can only mail order where I live, no local lys) and then put the pattern in a bag with the wool. Looking forward to tips and help from this site.

  • Kim McLachlan

    I am a stash offender and have resorted to clear plastic bins in the dark gloomy basement. Out of sight, out of mind. I just buy more as a new project tickles my fancy. Can’t wait to see the tips!
    I did come up with a great solution for storing my circulars,dpns and crochet hooks. I purchased an inexpensive fabric shoe storage system that you attach to the back of the door. It’s on the backside of the craft room door so no one can see it. It has the perfect amount of pockets for all of my tools. If the pockets were deeper, I would be able to store my needles as well!

  • Yarnspinnerstales

    Time…there’s never enough! I’m pretty good with organizing and finding yarn or fiber I need. Trying to organize patterns, books and ‘ideas’ is hard for me. The most recent attempt was to make a physical copy of the pattern of every project I put in my queue on Ravelry, and put the copy with the yarn. I may swatch and find it’s not the right project, but it’s at least a start!

  • Kelly Kubicz

    I have a great system for my stash storage (divided into ziploc bags by project & “filed” upright in the huge dresser in my stash room), but I have yet to find the right option for my interchangables, which are busting out of the binder they came with. I have at least 2, if not more, of each size needle tip and LOTS cords and then, of course, are the many fixed circs in 16″ lengths and sock sizes for magic loop. Someone (read: not me) needs to design a “Needle Whore System”!

  • trekmom

    I own a slew of Barrister’s and here’s the problem with using them to store yarn. You need to be very careful NOT to overstuff the shelf, or the mechanizism that operates the glass door can get entangled in the yarn. What a mess! Also it doesn’t prevent color fading. Just my opinion…

  • trekmom

    Such a huge stash, I’m not certain whether to organize by color, or by weight, or by project? Need to eliminate and donate some of the stash as well. Thanks for any suggestions.

  • Momma D

    My most frustrating problem is finding patterns within my print & digital collection – this has been noted by others. Years ago I started an index card system for my stash, but I haven’t kept it up with more recent acquisitions. It works well, but needs to be updated. Wondering if it would be worthwhile to do the same with ‘want to try’ patterns?