Yarn stashes – they start off slowly don’t they? You buy some yarn for your next project while you still have a WIP or two in hand. Or you get an email about a “24 hour only!” sale and you just can’t resist – you’ll find a use for that extra yarn after all!
And before you know it your modest yarn stash has outgrown its basket and is migrating to all corners of your home. And then, as you get more and more into your hobby you start to accumulate other things – books, hooks, magazines, stitch markers.
If you have found yourself in a yarn store wondering “do I already have this at home?” but then buying it anyway (the answer never really mattered, did it!?), it might be time to get on top of that yarn stash.
“But I don’t have that much yarn”
I had convinced myself that I didn’t have that much yarn. I really believed it! Even worse, I kind of thought that I was a “yarn minimalist.” I would see all of these gorgeous photos on Pinterest taken by people with dedicated craft rooms and huge walls full of yarn, rooms that looked like the inside of a yarn store, and then tell myself “there’s no way I have that much, I just buy yarn that I need, I am intentional about my purchases”. Well, when I laid it all out on the floor, I was actually floored (sorry!) by how much there was.
I knew it was time. I had to organize my yarn stash.
Why organize your yarn stash?
I am definitely one of those people who cannot relax if there is a lot of messiness and clutter around me. One of my big struggles in working from home is that I feel like I have to tidy up before I sit down to work. Which inevitably means that I don’t get enough work done.
I was starting to see the same thing creep in with my crafting. It was really hard to focus when I knew that my craft space looked like a tornado had swept through it.
And honestly, all of the categorizing and organizing and culling was kind of addictive. I definitely felt lighter and more at ease once I was done. It was such a relief to give away the yarn that I knew I would never use, but that I kept “just in case.” And now it gives me so much pleasure to look at my little yarn stash, and know that it is full of beautiful things that will be put to good use.
And, if nothing else comes of this expedition (and it did turn into an expedition as I hunted down craft related items all over my house!), it might stop me buying yarn for the foreseeable future. (A girl can dream, right!?)
Here we go, let’s sort out that yarn!
So, without further ado, here are the 6 steps that I followed to bring my unruly yarn stash under control. Before you start, I would recommend setting aside at least a full afternoon for this exercise, depending on how much yarn you have of course. I thought I’d be in and out in an hour or two but it ended up taking me much longer. (If you have kids in the house, add a couple of extra hours at least!)
1) Get it ALL out
According to Marie Kondo, before you start organizing and tidying you have to lay out every single thing in a particular category.
Now, I am not going to argue with the queen of tidying, so that’s what we’re going to do.
Lay everything out in one place. This includes:
- Yarn that you have been hiding in your upstairs closet
- Yarn that you put away for a “special project”
- Unopened packs (I’m actually embarrassed by how many of these I have)
- The bits and bobs lying in random drawers left over from previous WIPS
Tools & Notions
- Hooks & knitting needles
- Stitch markers
- Printed patterns
- Yarn needles
Also, go find all your WIPs and swatches. I pretty much have one in every room so was an eye opening exercise.
2) Sort it
I had to break this step into a few subtasks.
Divide your yarn (and WIPS if you have them) into two piles – “Keep” and “Donate or Frog”.
I know. It’s really hard to let go of yarn.
But try to be honest with yourself here.
It might be that bargain basement yarn that you got for a steal but that deep down you know won’t use. Or you love neutrals but have somehow ended up with a rainbow of colors that you don’t know what to do with. So, you bury that yarn in a box somewhere and try not to think about it, but you feel really guilty every time you see it, and even guiltier when you buy new yarn.
I’m speaking from experience here; about 2 years ago I bought some really brightly colored yarn to make a blanket for my daughter but I never got around to finishing it. In my defence(!), I did make her this Rainbow Scarf but I’ve really struggled to use the rest of the yarn. Keep reading to find out what I decided to do with it!
Sort the “Keep” yarn.
First, I sorted my yarn by weight, just because this felt the most practical to me. It’s inspiring to see a color-coded yarn wall in a picture, they really do look amazing. But realistically, whenever I start a new design or a project, I’m going to be sticking to one yarn weight. So I need to know which yarns and color combos I have for a particular weight.
But if you have enough yarn to fill a wall and you love that color co-ordinated look, then absolutely go for it! There is no right or wrong way to categorize your yarn, just do what feels most natural for you.
Next, within each weight category, I sorted by brand and fiber. This might be optional depending on how much yarn you have for the particular weight.
Note: Try to move quickly enough through this step; resist the temptation to tidy up unruly skeins or frog unfinished WIPs that you come across. We’ll tackle this later!
Sort the remaining piles.
Once I had sorted my “Keep” yarn, I quickly sorted everything else as follows:
- “Donate” yarn
- “Keep” WIPs
- “Frog” WIPs
- Hooks and notions
- Books & magazines
- Printed patterns & binders
3) Tidy it
I have to admit this was my least favorite step.
I took all skeins and hanks that were looking a bit untidy, and rolled them up into balls. This made them look neater but also made them a bit smaller so gave me a bit more space to play around with. An even better option here would be to use a yarn winder but I don’t have one yet. If you do own one, go absolutely go for it.
I also frogged any WIPs that I wasn’t going to finish and put the balls in the corresponding yarn weight pile.
4) Store it
Yay, nearly there! I didn’t really want to buy any more storage containers for this step so I just made do with what I had. (In my experience, crafters seem to have a love of baskets and storage anyway so chances are you will have plenty!)
I had limited space to play around with, so organising and displaying all my yarn in such a way that it was tidy, but still visible was a bit of a challenge. I used a variety of baskets that I already owned, stacked on an old changing table of all things. It’s a bit unconventional but it really works for me! It doesn’t look as attractive as a yarn wall, but it does the job! Other good storage options are:
- Cube storage (such as the IKEA Kallax)
- Clear ziplock bags
- Shoe boxes
- Over-the-door shoe organizer
Tools & Notions
I also decided to put a bit of order on all of my hooks and notions. Usually, I end up scouring the house for stitch markers or a yarn needle and either not finding them, or finding them everywhere – under the couch, under the bed, in a kitchen drawer.
But now they are all nice and tidy in their own basket and I will do my absolute best to keep it that way.
I decided to keep all my WIPS together in one basket, but with a few lightweight cloth totes in there too. This way, whenever I am on the go, I can grab whatever WIP takes my fancy, pop it in a tote and off I go.
Put your “DONATE” yarn in a bag for donation. I decided to give the yarn that I knew I would never use to my mom. She has a friend who speed-knits squares. Her friend then gives them back to my mom who joins the squares into a blankets which they donate to nursing homes. So I knew that my yarn wouldn’t go to waste. (And yes, I did give away all that rainbow colored yarn!)
Other great options for this pile are:
- Crochet/knit a pet blanket (either for your own pets, or donation to an animal shelter)
- Preemie hats/blankets/loveys for hospital donation (be sure to check health and safety requirements for donated items)
- Donation to a local knitting/crochet group or class
5) Label it
I am really bad at keeping track of yarn labels. As soon as that piece of paper comes off it’s in the recycle bin. “I’ll remember what this yarn is”, I say smugly to myself, “sure I don’t have that much.” If you have kept all your yarn labels, that is amazing. Simply snip a piece of yarn and affix it to the label so you’ll always have your yarn details handy.
If you’re like me, then you’ll need to make a list of all the yarn you have and what you think it might be (brand, yarn weight etc). Once you have your list, you might need to do a little online detective work to find out the specifics. Then you can use my yarn card printables (see below) to fill in all the details. Tie a little piece of yarn onto the card and you’re done.
Next, create an inventory of your stash. You can either do this using the stash feature on Ravelry, or write out a hard copy by hand. I created a Yarn Stash Inventory printable to catalogue my stash (sign up below to get a copy!)
Bonus: for extra brownie points, you can also work out how much of each yarn you have in your partial skeins. Your best friend here is a simple digital kitchen scales; weigh your partial skeins and then using your yarn card info calculate the yards/metres. You don’t have to do this but it will really help with project planning later.
6) Stand back and admire your handiwork!
And have a cup of tea (or something stronger if you need it!)
7) Bonus Step – Plan your future projects!
Now that you have done a stellar job organizing your yarn, why not take an extra 30 mins to plan your projects for the next few months.
This is helpful for so many reasons:
- You’ll use up existing yarn => more room for new yarn
- You won’t be stuck for inspiration when you finish a project, just have a look at your plan and pick something!
- You’ll be able to start a new project whenever you want as you won’t need to go buy any extra supplies
- OR if you do need supplies it will be immediately clear what you are missing (you’ll just have to try to have tunnel vision when you go to get them!)
If you have worked out how much of each yarn you have (see Label it above) then it will make this planning process even easier.
I am thrilled to finally have all my yarn and supplies in one place; I really, really hope I can keep it that way!
Do you have any good before and after photos of your yarn stash reorganisation? I would love to see them (you can tag me @nedandmimi on IG if you’re sharing!) Or do you have any tips that I could add to this post? Comment below with your best ones!