Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips

Organizing the stash

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Whoa. It’s Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week. In fact, it’s the Second Annual Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week. Which, yes, I learned about three days into said week. On the theory of better late than never—and I’m not saying I’m even going to do the next post, much less catch up on the ones I missed—I thought I’d try today’s topic and see what happens.

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Tips: Many people use their blogs partly as an organisational tool – logging and cataloguing projects and newly attained skills, projects and modifications. Did you bare this in mind when you began blogging?

Oh, let me talk about organizing my stash. Actually, there are two kinds of organization involved here: organization of the yarn itself and organization of information about the yarn. My yarn organization is fairly minimal. I’ve piled most of my stash into six large plastic tubs and shoved them into the closet. There is absolutely no organization within the tubs themselves. I crammed yarn into each tub until it threatened to keep the lid from closing, at which point I moved to the next tub. The tubs are translucent, allowing me a rough guess as to what hides within, but usually I have to haul the tubs out of the closet to even see all their sides, much less open one to see what I packed at its heart. Luckily yarn is light. And the tubs fit so nicely into the closet, it’s almost as if they were designed for each other.

That said, I miss my old “system.” The tubs came into my life with my current apartment. My last apartment had some unusual architecture in the bedroom that favored yarn stashing. Imagine two narrow closets that are next to each other, but are separated by a three-foot gap. A previous tenant had hung one of those coated wire shelves between the two closets about six feet off the ground. I slid my chest of drawers in between the closets—it was a great little nook for it—but I wasn’t sure what to do with the shelf itself. With too much weight on it, it would tear free, so even if I could keep books from falling between the wires, they’d be too heavy. (Yes, my first instinct upon seeing a shelf is to put books on it.) I can’t remember what prompted me to put a bit of yarn up there, but there’s no such thing as putting a bit of yarn up anywhere; soon my stash filled the shelf all the way to the ceiling. The sides of the closets kept the yarn from falling to either side, and as long as I was careful not to leave an empty space in the center, it didn’t often fall forward either. And all of this meant that I could just lie in bed and admire my stash in comfort—and see just about every yarn I owned. But then I moved to a far more conventional apartment, and while I appreciate many things about it, including a closet I can hide the stash in, it just doesn’t have the quirkiness or charm of the previous system.

Since the yarn itself is barely organized, organizing the information about it is crucial. Alas, I still haven’t found the perfect system. Right now, I use Ravelry’s database—not quite perfect, but pretty darn good. I think I’ve got every one of my yarns listed, and I love how once you match your yarn to something in the database, most of the information is filled in for you. Where Ravelry falls through for me is the visual aspect. I don’t have the patience to photograph most of my yarn, and without visuals, the names of the yarns mean almost nothing to me.

Prior to Ravelry, the best system I’d managed was a three-ring binder system marketed by G’Ann Zieger. Here you wrote key details of each yarn on a small card and inserted the card in a clear vinyl pocket along with a snippet of the yarn. Sure, if you had a variegated yarn you were only getting a bit of its color, but on the other hand, you had quick access to texture without having to hunt through your stash for the original balls, and it was a fairly compact system. But as you may guess, a woman who can’t make herself take a bunch of pictures and upload them isn’t going to be all that consistent about updating little cards, and so that binder was getting out of date even before I joined Ravelry.

So there I am, still trying to find the perfect system on both ends of the problem. But it’s fun experimenting with new systems or figuring out new ways to use old systems.

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