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How to Organize Yarn

Ways to Get Your Stash Under Control


Yarn Storage Bins

Plastic storage bins hold some of my yarn stash.

(c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Lots of knitters have large yarn stashes, but they're not always the most organized things in our homes. We might start by putting yarn in a particular closet, but then it overflows into bins in the guest room, a corner of the linen closet, under the bed, into the basement, and wherever else we can find a place for it (in a 2008 poll, five respondents admitted to storing yarn in the bathroom, and eight said they kept some in the kitchen!).

That works just fine until you need to find a particular yarn that you know you have ... somewhere. At that point you'll begin to think that some kind of general organizing principles might be in order.

There are lots of different ways to organize yarn so that it can be a little easier to find what you're looking for when you need it. Here are some thoughts on different ways you might organize your yarn.

General Categories:

Before you even think about where and how you want to store your yarn, there's the matter of how to organize your yarn that must be dealt with. There are many, many different ways to organize yatn for storage, and you might use several for different parts of your stash.

Some of the most popular organizing categories for yarn include:

  • color
  • fiber content
  • yarn weight
  • brand or type of yarn
  • yarn you have a plan for versus stuff you don't know what to do with
  • single skeins, partial skeins and bigger quantities of yarn stored separately

I personally use most of these methods in various parts of my stash. The plastic bins pictured are mostly single skeins or smaller quantities of yarn arranged by color (some colors, like orange and yellow, are together because I don't have enough for a whole bin).

I also have a bin that's just for tiny odd balls, and one just for sock yarn.

I have a couple of large lidded baskets and a couple of boxes that contain yarn that's all the same make and model (all my Cascade 220 is together, for instance, and all my Lion Wool).

Two drawers in my filing cabinet and one open basket store yarn I think I'm going to use sometime soon, and a large box holds larger quantities of yarn I don't yet have a specific plan for. I have a couple of tote bags in the closet that house acrylics and yarn I've been sent for writing yarn reviews. See, I told you I was all over the place!

What to Put Yarn In

As you can tell from my description, I'm not very loyal to a particular system of yarn storage, either. I would like to have a wall-length shelf full of plastic bins and baskets to store all my yarn, but I'd need a bigger room with some wall space for that to happen.

And that's the way with most of us. How you store your yarn will depend on how much space you have, where it is and what you need to store. There are, for instance, special considerations when storing wool and other animal fibers that aren't as much of a concern with cotton or acrylic.

Generally, however, if there's any danger of insect infestation, mold or mildew, air-tight containers are your best bet for yarn storage.

Keeping Track of It All

Of course once you have your yarn organized and tucked away in its boxes, baskets or whatever means of storage you've come up with, you still have the problem of knowing exactly where the yarn you want to use is when you need it.

Some knitters have databases or lists on their computers that detail their yarn stocks and where a particular yarn is located in their homes if their stash is spread out. Others use Ravelry, which has a section called "Stash" where you can add information about where you got the yarn, how much you have and where it is physically located in your house.

I've never done this because I'd want to have pictures with all my yarns and that seems pretty time consuming (also, I really don't want to know how much yarn is in this house), but doing so is perpetually on my list of knitting resolutions.

Checking In

No matter how you organize, store and keep track of your yarn stash, it's important to go in periodically and think about how your current method of organization is working. Do you put new yarn you buy in the right place? Are you storing leftover yarn from projects properly? Would some other system be more efficient for you?

It's also a good idea to go through your stash at least once a year and see if there's anything you'd be willing to part with. Our tastes in yarn change just as our tastes in clothing do, and someone else would likely be happy to have your cast offs.

And if you can't bear the thought of cleaning out your stash, remember, you'll have more room for new yarn when you're done!

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