Posts Tagged ‘31 Days to Get Organized’

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Yarn

Saturday, January 12th, 2013
Share Button

Earlier this week we began the process of organizing our yarn stash by first going through it and pulling out the yarn we no longer want. Most of your unwanted yarn probably ended up in the giveaway pile, rather than the trash. Here’s a list of ideas of how and where to get rid of destashed yarn.

 

Sell It

  • One reason it might be hard to get of yarn we know we’ll never use is because we might have paid a lot of money for it. It’s easier to get rid of this kind of yarn if you can sell it and get some of that money back (to buy more yarn of course!). Try selling your yarn online at places like ebay, yarnfind.com, Ravelry, and Etsy.
  • To keep things simple, you can also sell it in a garage or yard sale, though you probably won’t be able to get as much money for it.

Trade It

  • One of my favorite ways to get rid of yarn is by having a yarn swap with some fiber friends. It’s a lot of fun going through other people’s unwanted yarn finding your next treasure. Later this month, some of the WEBS employees will be getting together for an evening of yarn-swapping fun.
  • In addition to being able to sell your yarn on Ravelry, you can trade your yarn with someone else on Ravelry too.

Give It Away

  • If you’re tired of your unwanted yarn taking up space or need to get rid of it fast for fear of it creeping back into your stash, drop it off at a nearby thrift store like Goodwill, post it on Freecycle, or leave it in a box at the end of your driveway with a FREE sign on the box.
  • Donate your yarn to a worthy cause or charity. There are a ton of knitting and crochet charities out there that accept yarn donations.
  • Give the yarn to someone you know who wants to learn to knit or crochet. Bonus points if you help teach them!
  • Give it to another knitter or crocheter. Bring the yarn to your next knitting group. Or ask a friend or family member if they want first dibs on the yarn you’re getting rid of.
  • Find somewhere locally that could use your yarn like a school, art department, knitting club, or nursing home.

Keep It

  • Yes, that’s right. I just told you to keep yarn I told you to get rid of. I like to keep a little yarn in a basket to use for testing new stitch patterns and trying out new techniques. I also use this same yarn when someone comes over and wants me to teach them how to knit.
  • If you were getting rid of yarn just because you hate the color, consider over-dyeing it. You can make an ugly duckling into something you love. If you’ve never dyed yarn before it’s a lot of fun. Check out Gail Callahan’s Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece book.

When you need to find a new home for yarn, what do you do with it? Do you have a favorite person or charity you like to give yarn to?

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: What to Do with Leftover Yarn

Friday, January 11th, 2013
Share Button

This week, the staff at WEBS is giving us some great ideas of what we can do with our leftover yarn!

(Left) I like to use leftover yarn as decoration at the bottom of a vase or mason jar. I filled this one with little pom poms made from scrap yarn and use it to keep my crochet hooks on display. > Mary K.

(Right) Adrian at Hello Yarn just published a beautiful mitten pattern that is BEYOND perfect for using up scraps of worsted weight yarns – which I happen to have tons of! The Hickory Mittens are gorgeous in just about any color combination you can think of and I’m already done with one, I’ll have a pair by the weekend and it is ALL STASH YARN! Cascade 220 and Northampton. > Sara D.

(Left) I have a basket full of random single skeins of yarn, and I want to get in the habit of doing a little creative knitting every day. So, every day this year, I’m knitting a small rectangle from my scrap basket and piecing them together on random weekends. By the end of the year, I’ll have a blanket! I’m taking a picture of the square I’ve knit each day and posting it to http://annualblanket.tumblr.com/ if you want to follow along. > Kirsten H.

(Right) I use some of my leftover yarn from bigger projects to give these crocheted hemp (or linen) bowls a decorative splash of color at the top. > Amy S.

(Left) Leftovers are perfect to use for tiny projects like toys and even for the stuffing inside them! > Grace H.

(Right) Yarn dolls use very little leftover yarn and are a perfect project to do with the kids. > Kristin L.

(Left) I love making felted slippers with my leftover feltable yarn like Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride and Valley Yarns Northampton. Since you hold together two strands of yarn for the Fiber Trends Clogs, you can get some fun results. > Dena C.

(Right) These furniture feet are a great way to protect your floors and add some design to a room. They use very little yarn but have a big impact. > Grace H.

 

31 Days to Get Organized: Tracking Your Yarn Stash

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
Share Button

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?

31 Days to Get Organized: How to Recycle Yarn

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Share Button

Today is Day 8 in the 31 Days to Get Organized series, and we have a great tip for you! On Day 2, you went through your WIPs to see which projects were worth keeping, and which needed to be frogged.

Once you decide which projects to frog, you have to get that yarn back into shape so you can work with it again. A lot of my WIPs have been sitting for months and even years. After I frog a project, the yarn is left crimped and crinkled from being knit up for so long.

To get your yarn back into shape, you first need to get the yarn back into a hank. You can wind the yarn straight from your project onto your swift. You can make a hank by using the back of a chair or a niddy noddy too. Tie off segments of your hank to keep it all together using a bow or a loose knot so you can get it untied easily later.

Next you want to give your yarn a good soak. Make sure it’s fully saturated and the water reaches all the nooks and crannies. Get all the excess water out by rolling it gently up in a towel, then just hang your yarn to dry! It will drip, so keeping it set up in the bathroom or outside is your best bet.

Once the yarn is dry, you can put it back on the swift, wind it into a ball and you’re good to go!

Before storing, if you know the identity of the yarn, label it with some essential info like fiber content, weight, and yardage. If you know it’s a partial skein, weigh it on your kitchen scale and write down the weight so you know later how many yards you have left.

It’s so satisfying to bring old yarn back to life. Do you have an old WIP knit or crocheted in a yarn you would love to make into something else?

31 Days to Get Organized: Destashing Your Yarn

Monday, January 7th, 2013
Share Button

Thanks for sharing the photos of your piles of yarn yesterday. I hope if you didn’t post it publicly, you still took a photo of your stash. This is Day 7 (one full week!) of 31 Days to Get Organized. Today we’re yarn destashing. A yarn purge. Yarn decluttering, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, we’re trying to get rid of the yarn we don’t love or won’t use.

Getting rid of yarn can be a hard task for many, especially if you paid good money for the yarn, or if someone you care about gave the yarn to you as a gift. But our time is too short and our spaces are too precious to have them filled with yarn and things that aren’t useful to us. So grab some containers for your big sort. With my recent move, I’ve already tossed anything that is useless to most. I’ve also given away a lot of yarn too. Whenever I get rid of yarn, I pause and think “Am I going to miss it?” 99% of the time, I never think about the yarn again. And all the recipients of the the “free” yarn totally make up for the 1% I kind of wish I had back.

So back to the piles you’re going to make.

Keep It! – If you like the yarn, if you plan to use the yarn, even if it just brings back a happy memory, sort the yarn into your keep pile. Most of the yarn in my stash I intend to knit, crochet, or weave someday. (I’ll be around until I’m 97, so I have some time.) But I have yarn in my stash I have no intensions of ever using. It’s keepsake yarn for one reason or another. I’m ok with this. I keep this yarn out in the open in a bowl, on top of the shelf of my craft books. I look at the yarn frequently. This makes me happy, so I’m keeping it.

Find A Better Home – Then there’s the yarn we don’t like anymore, or don’t have any use for. There are SO many other places where this yarn could be used. On Wednesday, I’ll be posting lots of ideas for new homes for wayward yarns, places to sell yarns, and places to give them away. Stay tuned.

Just Throw It Away – Sometimes there’s just no hope for a yarn. Maybe you tried making something; it became hideous; and the yarn fused to itself. You really can’t rip it out now. NOBODY is going to want it. So just chuck it in the garbage. Have a few yards left from a project? Toss it too. On Friday, we’ll post some ideas of what you can do with your leftover yarn. But sometimes, it’s best if it just goes in the trash can. You make the call. Some of you can’t bear to throw out a scrap. Who knows, maybe someday you could use it for a knitted toy or some crochet amigurumi. But if you don’t have the patience for saving bits of yarn, toss it.

A yarn destashing can take a little bit of time. There’s a lot of decisions to be made. Have you ever noticed that it’s not the organizing that takes so much time, but all of the decisions you have to make?

Tomorrow we’ll have a tutorial on how to recycle yarn from a project you’ve ripped out so you can add it back to your yarn stash. This gives you an extra day to possibly spend on destashing. Take the time you need. The rest of the organizing posts will be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Happy destashing!

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Flash Your Stash!

Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Share Button

Today is Day 6 in the 31 Days to Get Organized series. As you can see, we’re going to dive into our yarn stashes. I know a lot of you have been looking forward to tackling your yarn stash. Today’s task is a simple one. I want you to collect all of your yarn and take a quick picture. There’s a few reasons why we’re starting with this task.

It’s hard to organize what you can’t see – It’s going to be much easier to come up with a way to sort your yarn if you can actually see what you have.

Finding the hidden yarn – Once you start pulling out your yarn in the open, the act of gathering it may jog your memory of other places you’ve been hiding storing yarn.

A picture is worth a thousand words – Seeing your entire stash in front of you may make you look at it in a different way. You might be thinking you’d like to start trying some new colors beyond your usual. Or you may have more or less yarn than you actually do.

A yarn time capsule – I photograph my entire stash every so often. It’s fun to have a snapshot frozen in time and to look back at what my yarn stash used to look like.

Yarn as inspiration – As you pull out the yarn, seeing it and feeling it may inspire you to start working on a project you forgot about. Or if you’ve been in a knitting and crocheting funk lately, you might get the urge to start playing with your yarn again.

As you create your wonderful pile of yarn, pay attention to what yarns you get excited about seeing again and what yarns you’re less than thrilled about having around still. If you do not already have a way of sorting your yarn that’s been working for you, start thinking about how you may want to organized your stash (by color, weight, fiber, project).

I would suggest piling your stash somewhere you can leave it for a couple of days. We’ll be working on purging, sorting, and storing our yarn stashes this week. And yes, pulling everything out into the open, it’s going to look worse before it gets better.

Feel free to post your photo of your stash in the comments, on our Facebook wall, or our Ravelry page. It’s fun to see everyone joining along.

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: Keeping Notes about Your WIPs

Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Share Button

Good evening everyone. It’s Day 5 of 31 Days to Get Organized and we’re onto our final WIPs task tonight. All of our works in progress are organized now (well mine aren’t quite yet, but will be by the end of the weekend). So today’s task is to make sure the notes we’re keeping on our projects are up to date.

I learned to knit before the days of Ravelry, and kept all my notes from projects in my Stitch ‘N Bitch Design Journal. Once I completed a project I would write about it on my blog. Knitting was the reason I started a blog. But now Ravelry is my notebook, and my blog is pretty silent these days. I add all of my projects to Ravelry and try to keep good notes, partially for my sake as a record of my work. It’s hard to remember all of the details like what yarn I used, who I made something for, what alterations to patterns I made. I’m glad it’s all there for me to come back to later. But I also know that some of this information is useful for others too wanting to make the same pattern. That’s the other reason I continue to keep my projects up to date on Ravelry.

Do you keep track of your projects on Ravelry too? Or do you prefer to write them down in a notebook?

31 Days to Get Organized: Storing Your WIPs

Friday, January 4th, 2013
Share Button

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

31 Days to Get Organized: Tips for Your WIPs

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
Share Button

Yesterday’s task was to sort through your unfinished knitting and crochet projects (WIPs) and decided what you want to finish and what to let go. It’s Day 3 of 31 Days to Get Organized and I have a few tips for your WIPs so that they’re easier to come back to when you’re ready to pick them up again.

Don’t tie up your needles and hooks in your WIPs – If you’re going to stop working on a project for awhile, remove your knitting needles or crochet hook from your work before storing it. If it’s a crochet project, just slip in a locking stitch marker, paper clip, or waste yarn through your last stitch to keep it from unraveling. If it’s a knitting project, you’ll have a little more work to do. If you don’t have many live stitches, you can use a stitch holder (my favorite are the Clover Double Ended Stitch Holders). If you have a lot of stitches, move them to a piece of waste yarn. If you’ve never done this before, watch our How to Use a Lifeline in Knitting video to see how it’s done.

Leave a clue as to what size hook or needle you were using – You don’t always end up using the recommended size hook or needle for a project. And it’s really tough to remember what size you were using. If you haven’t made a note about your size yet, jot it down somewhere. Just write it on a sticky note and stick in your project bag.

Keep your swatch with your project – This is particularly handy if you run out of yarn and need just a little bit more to finish. You can unravel your gauge swatch and use that yarn to complete your project.

Write down details of where you left off on the pattern – I’ve spent way too many hours trying to figure out where I was in a pattern when I pick up a project again. Often I have to unknit or rip back my crochet to a known point in the pattern, very frustrating. Leave some kind of trace on the pattern, either a sticky note, highlighter tape, or actually writing on the pattern itself. I’ve learned not to trust the numbers on counters anymore since sometimes these get changed by accident (or by little children).

Make a note of the size you’re making – This comes up most often for me with sweater patterns either for me or babies and toddlers. It’s not always obvious which size I intended to make.

What tips do you have that make it easier to pick up a WIP and start knitting or crocheting it again? Share your tip in the comments.

- Dena

31 Days to Get Organized: WIPs – Keep or Frog

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
Share Button

Welcome to day 2 of our 31 Days to Get Organized series. Today we’re digging out all of our knitting and crochet works-in-progress (otherwise know as WIPs). Some of you don’t have a pile of unfinished projects. You may be a one-project-at-a-time kind of person. Or you may never have more than a couple projects going at a time.

But some of us are overwhelmed by the growing number of projects that we’ve started and can’t seem to finish. There are many reasons that keep us from finishing a project.

  • Running out of yarn
  • Getting bored with the pattern
  • Starting a new project you’re more interested in
  • Getting stuck with some part of the pattern
  • The person you were making the project for outgrew the size you were making
  • You no longer like it or you never liked it
  • You took out the needles or hook and can’t remember the size you were using
  • Holiday or gift making took over and you never picked up the project again
  • You have finished all the pieces, but hate seaming.

Whatever reason you’ve dropped a project, it’s ok to not finish it if you don’t love it anymore. Give yourself permission to let it go.

You can see above the Berroco Eastlake sweater I started 4 1/2 years ago. You know a project has been around awhile when the yarn has been discontinued. (Here’s hoping I have enough yarn to finish the sweater, otherwise it’ll be a short-sleeve sweater). This is my oldest project. My knitting gauge may have changed over the years. But I still really like this pattern and love the yarn. So it’s a keeper.

I recently looked at a multi-block afghan I’ve been knitting for years and realized I hate the yarn. Every time I picked up the afghan to knit, it made me grumpy. But I do like the pattern. So I gave myself permission to give away the blocks I had knit and the rest of the yarn too. Then I picked my favorite yarn and started the afghan over.

So your task today is to pull out all of your projects, old and new, and decide what you’re going to finish, and what you’re going to frog (rip out). If you can’t stand the idea of frogging it, you can also pass it onto someone else to finish.

What’s your oldest WIP? What project are you determined to finish in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

- Dena

p.s. Sorry about the late post today. I flew back home from Minnesota and got sick from my family on top of that. But I did get nice knitting time on the airplanes!