Posts Tagged ‘31 Days to Get Organized’

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Store Your Needles and Hooks

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
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Yesterday, we went through all our knitting needles and crochet hooks to purge the duplicates and unwanted ones. Now, what do you do with it all? For the organizationally challenged like myself, it can be so tedious sorting through that big pile, but it does pay off in the long run. When I’m ready to start a project, the last thing I want to do is dig through a bottomless pit of hooks, straights, circulars and double points, needle gauge in hand checking each one for the size I need. We asked our staff and our readers for some ideas on how to store your needles and hooks.

Straight or Single Pointed Knitting Needles

  • Try using a needle roll. If you’re even a basic sewer, you can try making one yourself. It’s a fairly easy afternoon sewing project.
  • The most popular suggestion for storing your straight needles is to stand them up in a vase or a jar. You can let them fall where they may for a decorative look, or to keep things organized, use a rubber band or hair tie to secure same sizes together.

DPNs or Double Pointed Knitting Needles

  • You can keep your double points on display in a vase too. It’s best to tie these together by size so you don’t have to check each one when it’s time to start a project. You can use a rubber band, hair ties, or even twist ties.
  • Keeping a three ring binder with page protectors for your double points and circulars is my favorite solution. I keep one size per page protector.
  • Double point needle tubes are an inexpensive solution for keeping them safe from breakage and organized by size.

Crochet Hooks

  • Tea tins are the perfect depth to stand your hooks up and keep them on display.
  • If you have a big crochet hook collection, sorting by brand first and then size might be the way to go.
  • A pencil case is a simple, compact and portable storage solution.
  • The Lily Crochet Roll works great!

Interchangeable Knitting Needles

  • Most interchangeable sets come with a carrying case already. You can usually fit some notions in the case too.
  • The Della Q Fabric Case is a beautiful solution if you want something extra special to store your set.

Circular Knitting Needles

  • You can use your three ring binder for circulars too. I like to organize by cable length, then size. I have binder dividers sectioning off each cable length, so all the 24″ length needles are in one section, and then each size is in its own page protector.
  • The Que Theo needle case keeps all your circulars organized and easy to find.
  • I love the hanging circular needle organizer. It keeps needles on display and in order.
  • You can keep your circular needles in separate boxes, and each size has its own zip-top baggie with the needle size written on it.
  • The Namaste Circular case is an easy solution. Or, try getting a tri-fold portfolio style case from your office supply store. They are perfect for circulars. Write the needle size and cable length on the tabs to make them easy to find.
  • The original packaging is actually an easy and economical way to store your circulars long term. They’re usually easy to open and close without ruining, and can even be hung up or filed away easily.

How do you like to store your knitting needles and crochet hooks? Do you like to keep them on display or tucked away in a binder or drawer?

31 Days to Get Organized: Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks

Monday, January 21st, 2013
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You’ve gone through your yarn stash. You’ve sorted through all your patterns. You knew today was coming. It’s time to collect all of your knitting needles and crochet hooks. If you already removed a lot of your needles and hooks from your WIPs, you’re ahead of the game today. So grab as many of your knitting needles and crochet hooks that you can. Some are in active projects, and they can stay there.

With your whole collection of knitting needles and hooks in front of you, start sorting them by type. Maybe you’ll have piles for your hooks, afghan hooks, tunisian hooks, double pointed needles, straight needles, fixed circular needles, and interchangeable needles and hooks. As you’re sorting your collection into piles, notice which needles and hooks you never use. Maybe they’re too blunt or too sharp. Do you hate the join of a particular circular knitting needle? Maybe you don’t like the shape of a certain type of hook. Since part of the reason you knit and crochet is probably for enjoyment, if a certain needle or hook bugs you, get rid of it. There are so many options out there; find the tool you like to use. It’s worth it in the long run.

Grab all of the needles and hooks you don’t want to keep, stick them in a bag, and bring them to your next yarn swap. You won’t miss them. Trust me.

Look at the piles that remains. Now that you’ve rounded up all of your hooks and needles, do you notice a lot of duplicates? It’s ok to have duplicates, especially with knitting needles. There are some techniques such as three needle bind-off, a provisional cast-on, or knitting socks on two circular needles where you need multiple needles of the same size. And you might love knitting with worsted weight yarn and find that you have multiple projects going at the same time using the same needle size. Then it’s great to have multiple needles of the same size. But if you see that you have five 24″ US 7 knitting needles, you might start to ask yourself if you need so many duplicates.

Tomorrow, Grace will be showing us different tips on how to store our knitting needles and crochet hooks. Stay tuned!

What’s the current state of your needle and hook collection? Do you need a little help?

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Keeping Track of Your Pattern Library

Sunday, January 20th, 2013
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Many of you have discovered that Ravelry works really well for keeping track of your pattern library. This is especially true if most of the books, magazines, and patterns that you have in your library are from the recent past. Patterns are added to Ravelry by members. There are almost 340,000 individual knitting and crochet patterns on Ravelry! And over time, more and more older patterns are being added to Ravelry in addition to most new ones.

But what if you don’t use Ravelry or have A LOT of older patterns in your library that don’t exist on Ravelry yet. You may be looking for an alternate solution for keeping track of what you have in your library.

During this blog series, people have been raving about Evernote in the comments. It sounds like it’s an easy way to keep track of all of your knitting and crochet life, including what patterns you own. Because there are Evernote apps available for you mobile device, you can have access to it anywhere. If you’re interested in learning more about Evernote, check out this blog post, Evernote for Knitting: How Jennifer Lathrop Keeps Her Patterns and Needles Organized. Don’t worry, it applies to crocheting too.

I used to use Delicious Library to catalog our music and books. This allows you to upload your media to your library by scanning the barcodes. It’s easy to use, and may be a good option if you just want a list of all of your knitting and crochet books, but it won’t let you organize the individual patterns from the books.

One question to ask yourself is WHY you want to keep track of all of your patterns. Do you get frustrated looking for just the right pattern, or find it takes a long time to find the specific pattern you’re looking for? Then coming up with some kind of tracking system might make sense for you. Maybe you mostly find that you’re always searching for a new baby project, but not much else. It’s perfectly reasonable to go through your collection and just catalog the baby patterns you have in your library. This may be a good tip for someone who is overwhelmed by the size of their library, and can’t imagine cataloging everything, thus keeping them from even starting.

No matter what way you use to keep track of your pattern library, don’t feel compelled to enter every pattern you own. I’m a type ‘A’ person, so sometimes I want to track everything, even though I don’t need to track it all. I would recommend tracking only the patterns you actually want to make someday. Don’t feel compelled to list every pattern from a book or magazine. That takes a lot of time. And wouldn’t you rather be spending some of that time knitting and crocheting?

So, do you prefer to flip through your books and magazines to find your next pattern to knit or crochet? Or do you prefer to catalog every pattern and have access to your whole library when you’re out shopping at your local yarn store?

31 Days to Get Organized: Digital Patterns

Saturday, January 19th, 2013
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In the last few years there has been an enormous increase in the number of patterns, magazines and books available in digital format. There are a lot of advantages of digital patterns over paper patterns.

  • They take up less physical storage space.
  • Some digital versions are cheaper than the paper version.
  • Some patterns are only available digitally.
  • You can download them instantly. No waiting.
  • If a pattern has errata (errors or updates), it’s much easier for the designer to update the pattern.
  • If you own an iPad, eReader, or tablet, you can carry your digital library wherever you go.
  • If you prefer to work from a hard copy, you can print out a copy of a digital pattern as many times as you need to, taking notes on the copy as you work through the pattern.
  • You may find that a digital pattern will have additional content such as extra notes from the designer and quick links to relevant websites, tutorials, and instruction videos.

With the increase in availability of digital knitting and crochet patterns (WEBS carries over 16,000 downloadable knitting and crochet patterns and eBooks!) and the ease of purchasing and downloading them, you may have discovered you suddenly have a lot of files floating around your computer.

First thing I would suggest if you haven’t done so already, is to have all of your files live in one place on your hard drive. You might have some in folders, but there might be others sitting on your desktop or downloads folder. Once you’ve moved them into one parent folder such as Knitting, Crochet, or Crafts, start creating subfolders if you have more than a few pattern files. Create similar sub-categories that you use for organizing your single patterns. I mostly like to organize my digital patterns by designer, but it might make more sense for you to sort by type of project. It depends on what’s in your digital pattern library.

In addition to patterns, I store other files related to knitting and crochet here such as tips, files I need for my blog, and customized graph paper.

If you have an iPad, eReader, or tablet, there are apps available (Adobe PDF Reader, Goodreader, iBook) that let you view your pattern PDFs on your device. There are even some apps (Remarks) that allow you to annotate PDFs, perfect for making notes or tick marks as you work through a pattern.

If you don’t want to store your PDF files on your device and want access to all of your pattern files on any of your devices, consider using a cloud-based solution such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Many of you also purchase digital patterns and eBooks through Ravelry. This is a good option since you don’t need to download purchased patterns until you’re ready to use them. Ravelry does a nice job of incorporating these patterns into your Ravalery pattern library.

Share some of your favorite tips and solutions for managing your digital knitting and crochet patterns. 

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Using and Reorganizing Your Ravelry Queue

Friday, January 18th, 2013
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As we’ve shown this month, Ravelry is a really handy tool for organizing your stash, patterns, and projects. The queue is a great way to organize projects you want to work on, but sometimes the queue can get a little out of control. I know my queue has projects in it that I no longer have interest in working on, or just too many for me to feel comfortable with, so it’s good to go through and reorganize things every so often.

Removing Projects from Your Ravelry Queue

There are a couple of reasons why you would want to remove things from your Ravelry queue. If you’ve completed the project, you’ll want to record that, or if you’re no longer interested in the project, you’ll want to remove it from your queue.

If the project is in your queue and you’ve already finished it, you’ll want to click “start project” and fill in all the project information so it moves over to your finished projects page.

Decide you aren’t interested in the project anymore? Simply click the “x” on the right side to remove it.

Resorting Your Ravelry Queue

Have you recently added projects to your queue that you want to move up to the top? That’s simple! Just change the number on the left to the position you’d like it to be on your queue and click “save new order.” If you mouse over the green arrows, you can grab the project and move it up or down in your queue. You can also do this from the “Organize” tab.

Adding Tags to Queued Projects

Another way to organize your projects is to add tags. You can tag projects with any word you would like. Use types of projects, like sweaters or shawls, construction notes, like lace or top-down, or even the name of the person you would like to create the project for. To go back and add a tag after it is in your queue, click on the “edit” pencil on the right side of the project listing.

Using Sets and Tags to Organize Projects

A handy way or organizing your projects is to use the Sets feature. If you click on “Organize” at the top of your queue, you can “Create a Set.”

A box will appear where you can name the set and add all of the tags you would like to be included in this set. This is especially handy if you tag some projects sock, but others socks and just have both in one set. You could also create a set called “gifts” and include all of the projects you’ve tagged with the names of people you want to gift items to, so when you’re thinking about holiday crochet or knitting, you can check that out and see what you wanted to make people earlier in the year.

 

You can see that once you create the set, it is added as a tab on the top making browsing your queue for something specific even easier.

Using Notes and Adding Yarns You Want to Use

Adding notes to your projects also helps with organization. Maybe you saw a tip about a particular project in a forum and you want to remember it. You can add the note here so you remember to come back to it.

You can also add the yarn you want to use for the project. Fill in the yarn you want to buy, or click the to add yarn that’s already in your stash and assign one of your stash yarns.

Hopefully this will help you organize the projects you have in your queue.

What pattern is at the top of your queue right now?

31 Days to Get Organized: Organizing Your Single Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Thursday, January 17th, 2013
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Yesterday’s task of going through all of your knitting and crochet books, pattern books and magazines was a big one. Some of you were overwhelmed by it or didn’t have the time to work on it. No worries. We’ll continue working on our our patterns through the weekend. And remember, don’t feel like you have to keep up with each task every day. Do the tasks you feel like you need to work on. And come up with your own schedule. I suggested to someone yesterday that instead of 31 Days to Get Organized, make it 31 Weeks to Get Organized, one task each week. This blog series will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Now moving onto today’s task of organizing our single patterns. First step is to go through all of them and figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. Some things to consider while you’re sorting through your patterns:

  • Is this a duplicate copy of a pattern? Do I have this in a book or magazine?
  • Do I have an electronic version of this pattern that can take the place of the hard copy?
  • Do you not like the pattern anymore?
  • Did you start the pattern, got stuck, too hard to follow, or lost interest?
  • Have you already made the pattern and won’t make it again?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the pattern might belong in the get rid of pile.

Next step is to figure out how you want to sort your patterns.

  • By date, newest in front or newest in back
  • By designer or company
  • By craft – knitting and crochet
  • By completion – finished but will make again in one section, haven’t started yet in another section
  • By type of garment – sweaters, blankets, hats, etc.

Once you have an idea how you want to sort your patterns, you’ll have a better idea how you want to store them. I used to store mine in 3-ring binders. Now I’ve switched to hanging files. Here are some examples of ways people organize their patterns.

  • Hanging Files – easy to put away patterns, but files can get messed up more easily
  • 3-Ring Binders (with patterns in plastic sleeves so you don’t have to punch holes in your patterns) – keeps your patterns well sorted, but takes more time to pull out a pattern and put it back
  • Magazine Files – basically a vertical pile, but if you don’t have many patterns, very easy to set up
  • Expanding Files – a lot like hanging files but more portable, but also more difficult to change your categories
  • 2 Pocket Folders – could work well stored in magazine files
  • Digital copies – scan your patterns to create digital copies (more on organizing digital patterns this weekend), then store your hard copies in a box out of the way

When deciding on a method to sort and store your single patterns, consider the size of your collection, if space is an issue, how easy you want retrieval to be, and the ease of keeping your system up to date and organized.

What’s your favorite way to organize your knitting and crochet patterns?

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

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
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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.

De-Stash

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

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Keep Moths and Other Critters Away from Your Yarn

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
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Moth is a four letter word in the fiber community, and keeping them away from our precious yarn and finished projects should be a high priority. Working for months on a sweater only to have it ruined is heartbreaking. Preventing these little critters from getting into your stash isn’t too difficult. Removing them once they’re there can be harder, so some preventative measures are the best way to go. We asked our staff for their favorite ways to prevent yarn disaster.

I keep anything I bring into my house separate from the rest of my yarn for a little while just to make sure, and then it goes in plastic bins. – Mary K.

Lavender is a natural moth repellent, so using lavender sachets (which are easy as a DIY project with some fabric and dried lavender) is a good combination with an airtight container. (See image below)  - Michael W. and Sara D.

Within my storage bins, I group my yarns by weight and brand and keep each in a separate seal-able bag. For example, if I have 6 skeins of Cascade 220 I will put those into a zip-top bag, and put my 5 balls of Valley Superwash into another bag, even though they are both worsted weight yarns. That way, if moths happened to come home with me when I bought the Cascade 220, they will likely only destroy what was in that bag.  The Superwash is likely to be safe even though they were all in my worsted weight yarn container.  - Tina

Plastic storage bins with latching lids have been the best solution I’ve found. Some say that the original eucalyptus and lavender scents of Eucalan also discourage moths – they certainly can’t hurt! In the end, though, if your stash is more than a few years old, you’re going to have to know when to freeze it (if you suspect moth contamination, noticing a granular, sand-like “dust” on the yarn or find some adult moths on or near it, a few days in the freezer or outside in a bin in winter should kill moth eggs) and when to toss it. If you notice frayed ends sticking out of the yarn, you know there are even more within, and it’s time to let it go. But natural, undyed fibers DO make good compost – just saying!  - Kirsten H.

If you discover the evidence of moths, take your whole stash (I know!!) and put it into a black plastic bag and leave it in your car with the windows up on a hot day for a few hours.  The heat will kill the moths and the eggs - if you put it in the freezer, the eggs may just hatch when they warm up!  - Andrea V.
You can also put blocks of cedar wood in your containers, if your containers aren’t quite airtight. – Stephanie B.
My solution is to not worry about it, and rely on luck! All kidding aside, I think some of it is that I wear my knits a lot. I don’t keep them in one place all the time. I don’t let them get too dingy, but don’t wash them necessarily all the time either.  - Kristin L.

I’ve got one airtight container, the kind they use for dog food, with a screw-in lid! -Ashley F.

You can use these tips to prevent other pests like carpet beetles and fleas from getting into your yarn. Pests like fleas and mice are hard to get rid of once they find a place they like, so prevention is really important in that case.
Have you ever had any damage to your knits or yarn from critters? How do you keep your stash safe?

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Organize Your Yarn Stash

Monday, January 14th, 2013
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I know a lot of you have been waiting for tips on how to organize your yarn stash. You’ve been looking for ideas on how to sort your yarn, but also how to store it. Last week we did a lot of work going through our yarn stashes and whipping them back into shape. Now comes the fun part of sorting our stash and putting it all away.

As my yarn stash has grown and changed over the years, so has the system for storing my yarn. Now I like to keep some of my yarn out in the open. I might not use it for awhile, but I can still enjoy it until I do. Yarn is beautiful, with all of its textures and colors. I don’t have pets or small children anymore, so I can have a bowl of yarn on a shelf and not worry about it becoming a cat plaything. Even though some of my yarn is not on display, it is stored in a way that is still accessible for me. This system works for me, but it may not work for you. The key is to find a solution for your yarn stash.

Let’s look at a some ways that people sort their yarn and different ideas on how to store yarn.

How to Sort Yarn

People who know me know I love sorting. It brings me pleasure. How I sort my yarn as changed a lot as my yarn stash has changed. 75% of my yarn stash is stored in the hutch above my desk now. I sort my yarn partially by type of project, fiber content, and weight. But I also have a couple of special categories such as fancy yarn, keepsake yarn, and teaching yarn.

If you have your yarn spread out in front of you, you’ll start to see some natural categories that make sense to you. Here are some categories to help you start sorting.

  • Color – Are you the type of person who walks into a yarn store organized by color and feel a sense of calm? When you are searching for a yarn to use, is color the most important attribute?
  • Weight – If you know the pattern that you want to make before you decide on the yarn, sort your yarn by weight. It’ll be easier to find what you need when there’s a new project you want to knit or crochet.
  • Fiber – Do you only knit with certain types of fibers depending on the season, alpaca in the winter, cotton in the summer. Try sorting yarn by fiber content.
  • Project – Some people buy yarn for a particular project. Sort these yarns by project type. Consider even storing the pattern with the yarn.
  • Care – If you like to knit or crochet things for babies and children and machine washability is important to you, keep the easy care yarns separate from the hand wash yarns.
  • Keepsake Yarn – Some yarn you may never intend to use. It’s more of a keepsake. Don’t hide these yarns in a box. Display them in a bowl so you can enjoy them daily.
  • Yarn Scraps – Don’t throw away your yarn scraps. Keep them in an accessible location to be used for waste yarn, practicing new techniques, even stuffing your latest amigurumi.

Containers for Yarn Storage

There are so many ways you can store your yarn stash. Just Google “yarn storage” and check out all of the image results for some inspiration. Also searching for yarn storage on Pinterest will bring up even more ideas of how to organize your yarn. Here are some examples of how others store their yarn.

  • Plastic boxes and totes with lids – These can be inexpensive, stackable, and available in many sizes.
  • Plastic bags – Shopping bags can help sort yarn in large totes. Clear zippered bags that bedding comes in works great for yarn storage. Oversized ziploc bags are similarly good. Small ziploc bags are great for partially used skeins to keep the yarn and ball band together. They’re also nice for storing slippery yarns like ribbon yarn or bamboo that might get tangled in a large bin.
  • Open baskets  - These work great on shelves and are good for yarns you want quick access to.
  • Shelves and bookcasesShelving with lots of cubbies are popular with many crafters.
  • Closet organizers – Hanging shoe and sweater storage can be perfect for organizing yarn too.
  • Reusing food containers – Large oatmeal boxes and large clear bulk food containers are good options if you’re on a tight budget or would rather spend money on yarn than storage.
  • Cabinets and cupboards – Behind doors but easily accesible, there could be some empty cabinets just waiting to be filled with yarn.
  • Drawers or dressers – These work great for yarns that don’t stack well such as yarn balls. Also easily accesible, but out of the way from pets.
  • Decorative containers - Bowls and glass vases can be great for showcasing some of your favorite yarns.
One thing to keep in mind in choosing yarn storage, clear containers are excellent if you’re more of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of person. If you are storing in a closed container that is not clear, label the outside of the container so you don’t have to open everything to find what you’re looking for. Be aware that if you choose a container that is deep, you may have to dump everything out to get to the bottom.

Preparing Yarn for Storage

The best way to store yarn is either the way it came, or in hank form. If you want to store your yarn wound in a ball, be sure to wind it loosely. If it’s too tight, the yarn may lose some of its elasticity while being stored. If you have a ball winder, winding your yarn is quick work and creates beautiful little cakes of yarn that are stackable. To avoid winding your yarn too tightly, wind it twice. When winding a ball from a ball, it will be looser than when you wound it the first time from a yarn swift.

Tomorrow, Grace will be posting some tips on how to keep critters such as the dreaded moth away from your yarn while in storage.

Hopefully some of these ideas have given you a little inspiration for organizing your yarn stash. Please share your favorite yarn storage idea in the comments.

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Identifying Mystery Yarn

Sunday, January 13th, 2013
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Did you find any mystery yarn when you went through your yarn stash last week? If you were updating notes on your yarn stash, how did you deal with the unknown yarns? Mystery yarn can be yarn that you handspun, yarn that lost its ball band, or yarn that was leftover from a long ago finished project. Before tucking this yarn away with the rest of your stash, find out some information of it and jot down your findings and store it with the yarn.

What Is The Fiber?

If you’re not sure of what the fiber content of your yarn is, do a little detective work by doing a burn test. Cut off a bit of your mystery yarn and bring a flame to it. But please, do it in a safe place. Check out this handy flowchart for doing a fiber burn test that will help you narrow down what kind of yarn you have. If you think you have a complicated blend of different fibers, it might be difficult to figure out exactly what kind of yarn you have.

What’s the Yarn Weight and Gauge?

A good way to estimate the weight or gauge of your mystery yarn is to determine its wraps per inch (WPI). In other words, how many times can you wrap the yarn around a tool to cover an inch. Nancy’s Knit Knacks has a WPI Tool with pre-marked increments. You can also wrap the yarn around something with a consistent circumference like a pencil. I like using a ruler since it has measurements marked on it already. When wrapping the yarn around your tool, don’t wrap the yarn too tightly. Make sure the wraps don’t overlap and don’t have any gaps between them. If you have a yarn that has an even diameter, wrapping an inch worth is enough to calculate the WPI. But if you have yarn that is not consistent such as a thick and thin yarn or a handspun yarn, wrapping over a larger width will help you calculate a more accurate number.

Once you’ve calculated the WPI, you’ll want to compare the number you calculated to a WPI chart to find out the corresponding yarn weight.

Lace – WPI > 35; > 8.5 sts/inch
Fingering – WPI 19-22; 7-8 sts/inch
Sport – WPI 15-18;  5.75-6.5 sts/inch
DK – WPI 12-14; 5.5-6 sts/inch
Worsted – WPI 9-11; 4-5 sts/inch
Bulky – WPI 7-8; 3-3.75 sts/inch
Super Bulky – WPI < 6; 1.5-3 sts/inch

My friend had some handspun that we calculated it to have 26 wraps over 2 inches. Dividing that number by 2 gave us 13 WPI, a DK weight yarn.

How Much Yarn Do I Have?

Finding out how much yarn you have by weight is one of the easier things to figure out about mystery yarn. Grab your kitchen scale and weight it. Some patterns do give you yardage requirements by weight rather than yards.

It’s really useful to know how many yards you have of your mystery yarn to help you from running out of yarn in your project. I quite accurate way to determine the number of yards in a ball of yarn is to run your yarn through a yarn meter. Another option is winding the mystery yarn onto a yarn swift. Measure the circumference around the swift and multiply by the number of strands in the hank of yarn you wound. This will be the total length of your mystery yarn. A niddy noddy can also do the trick, and they’re fun to use. If you don’t have a yarn swift or niddy noddy, you could use this method by wrapping the yarn around the back of a chair too.

What kind of mystery yarn did you discover in your stash?

- Dena