Taming Your Yarn Stash into Submission

I find organizing my yarn stash more fun than should be humanly allowed, but there are many who find the whole process completely overwhelming. For those of you who feel like you are being held hostage by your yarn, here are a few pointers on how to organize your stash.

The first thing you will probably want to decide is how you want to encase your individual skeins. Some free spirits leave them bare-assed naked, flapping in the breeze. Others purchase those see-through hard plastic shoe bins and put their skeins in them. I know folks who consider the plastic zippered bags that sheet sets and comforters come in to be worth their weight in gold and they snap them up to store multiple skeins of similar yarn. I’ve read a lot of debate back and forth on the merits of letting yarn breathe. Personally, I like ziploc bags. They are clear so you can see what is in them, they are sealable so they will form a barrier against any marauding critters, and they’ll keep the dust out. If you really want to let your yarn breathe, you can cut a small diagonal cut across one bottom corner of the bags.


Next order of business is to decide how you want to group your yarn. You have some options here. You can group them by weight, i.e. put all your fingering weight together, your worsted weight in one spot, your laceweight yarn in another, and so forth. You might want to group them by yarn manufacturer or Indie designer. For example, I buy a lot of yarn from certain indie dyers so I have certain bins for those designers. The key here is to come up with a labeling system. Think of your yarn collection as a library. If you went to a library and there were no call numbers indicated on the shelves or the ends of the bookcases, you’d spend a lot of time wandering around trying to find what you wanted. Or if you were just interested in browsing through the Mystery collection, you’d look for a sign that said “Mysteries.” Good signage helps make a good library and good labeling is going to help you get that stash under control. Personally, I like the Brother P-Touch labelers because they are relatively cheap, found in most office supply stores, and the labels are easy to print out in the size font you desire.


Some people like to group their yarns by fiber content. In my stash organization, I have a combination approach. I have a drawer that is filled with cotton “washcloth” type yarn. I have another drawer that houses my alpaca fiber collection. If parts of your yarn stash are a small “niche” collection of a specialty fiber, this might be one area that you could organize by fiber content.


Eventually you might find that, in addition to the methods mentioned above to organize your stash, you start eyeballing certain parts of your stash for particular projects. How do you remember what yarn you had in mind to use for what project? Well, I like to set aside certain drawers to be “upcoming project” drawers. I’ll put yarn for a particular project into either a ziploc bag or a small project bag along with the pattern (if there is room) or a slip of paper with the name of the pattern). That way, when I’ve finished one project and am ready to begin another (hmph…of course I usually have 3 or 4 projects on the needles at all times but hey, some day I might actually finish everything I currently have in progress BEFORE starting another project), I just go to my project drawer and look through my bags until I see something that catches my fancy.


I might just mention that dressers that aren’t being used are great places to store some of your stash as are bookcases. I particularly like the open cubed bookcase from Ikea (see my “Putting the Funk into Functional” post) for storing yarn, too. If you can possibly swing it, I’d say try to store your stash in such a way that you can actually see it or easily access it. If it is tucked away completely out of sight, it will be awfully hard to know what you have and even harder to be inspired to use what you have. Of course, if you are purposely trying to hide what you have from someone, well then…….can’t help you there. That would be a topic for another post.


Hope these ideas have given you some incentive to get your yarn stash a little more organized and ready for your next big knitting adventure.


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