organizing the studio | sorting the yarn

by | Mar 1, 2021 | All Things Home, Decorating, Organizing | 38 comments

After our knitting organization chat last week, I was ready to tackle my yarn stash over the weekend.  I have to say that I was dreading the process, though!  So many decisions to make and categorizing the yarn by type seemed a little overwhelming.  But, I started pulling all of the balls and skeins off of the shelf, emptied baskets and made a big mess that I would be forced to deal with.  Sometimes that’s how I have to coax myself into organizing – force the issue.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

Of course, the kitties loved it.  They took turns laying among the mess, finding sunny spots and loose strands of yarn to play with.

calico sunbathing | miss mustard seed

The first thing I had to do was start a bag of yarns to donate.  I’ve bought a lot of yarn over the past year, mostly to test out what I like.  I also bought some yarn without any real plan for how I’ll use it.  I just liked the color or texture, but as I do more knitting and crochet, I’m refining what I like to work with.  I think the process will continue for years, but I’m slowly learning.

Any yarns that I think I’ll pass over in favor of yarns I like I better ended up in the donate bags.  If there’s always something I like more, will I really use it?  Probably not.  I think a big part of purging and organizing is taking a realistic look at myself and how I operate.  I was trying to really pay attention to that and not talk myself into keeping a yarn simply because it’s pretty or because I already spent money on it.  I can donate it and let someone use it for a project instead of letting it take up space on my shelf.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I then divided the yarns I wanted to keep by weight and brand.  I must admit that I stalled several times during this stage of the process.  I would literally sit in a chair and just stare at the piles and the yarn I had yet to sort for a few solid minutes.  It was an eye-opening process because it showed me how many skeins/balls/hanks I’ve purchased without any real idea of their best application.  Would these be good for scarves, gloves, hats, or a sweater?  I also have so many single skeins that I bought to make a swatch and see if I like it.  And I forget why I bought four hanks of something else!  Clearly for a project, but which one??

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I had to admit that I had been disorganized in my yarn purchasing and this organizing process was going to help me keep track of what I have and be more intentional about what I buy in the future.  And I have a lot of swatching to do!  The good news is that I discovered I have a bunch of yarn for making Nordic mittens and wool socks, something I’m really excited about.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I also learned that I have tons and tons of one particular type of Yarn Bee cream cotton yarn.  I started making a chunky granny square blanket and abandoned the project when I admitted to myself that I really wouldn’t love the end result!  It would probably look cute, but it had so many holes in it that it wouldn’t be warm and comfy and it would be ridiculously heavy!

I was hesitant to get rid of all of this yarn, though, sensing that some good ideas would come out of it.  I decided to keep it in a plastic bin to possibly use for a bauble garland, finger knitting, chunky tassels or pom-poms, and snowflakes for Christmas.  It seems well-suited for those sorts of projects.  If I don’t put it to use this coming Christmas, then I’ll donate it.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

Once the yarn was sorted, I organized the shelf.  I put the cotton/linen yarn I use for dishcloths, pot holders, and glass cozies together…

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

And I put all of the sock yarn in a little French market basket.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

The rest was arranged by weight and type, and then color.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I tuck pieces of cedar and lavender sachets all through the yarn to protect them from bugs.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I think it’s visually prettier to have the yarn organized by color, but this is so much more practical!  I can actually see how much I have of each weight, so it will be easier to plan projects and future purchases.

I also moved all of my embroidery stuff to the sewing room.  I don’t need to have that out on this shelf, since I don’t do it as often.  That gave me a bit more room.

studio organization | storing yarn | miss mustard seed

I organized the bottom shelf while I was at it.

Now, it’s onto the rest of the studio!  I’ve started cleaning out this cart and I’m hoping to empty it out altogether.  I don’t need so many supplies sitting out all of the time.  I just need the ones I use most and the rest can be neatly at the ready in a drawer.

studio organization | miss mustard seed

I have a feeling I’m going to have a lot of supplies to sell or donate.  I buy a lot of products to test them out.  Sometimes they become a supply I used regularly, but there are a bunch that I never revisit.  I’ll see what I have and, if I have enough good stuff, I’ll have a gently used art supply sale.  If I do, they’re all professional-quality supplies in like-new condition and I’ll make the prices very inexpensive.  Any interest?

Do any knitting/crochet experts have any advice to share on purchasing/organizing yarn?  Some of you already shared your tricks on the post last week, but it’s always nice to get more tips!

38 Comments

  1. Janet

    Thank you for “no spend month”. I finished strong and you held me accountable. I learned so much as I continue on my contentment journey. “Falling in love with what I already have”, that continues to challenge me.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Janet, that is wonderful to hear! It was good for me, too.

      Reply
  2. Michele M.

    Marian – I tell ya – I love your posts. You can honestly take something as mundane as yarn organizing and make it fun, beautiful and interesting. You know how rare that is?

    My take-away is this: I remember your posts, am inspired by them, and just find it fascinating at my age to keep learning things every day. Your posts teach in a remarkable way.

    May good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. May your days be many, and your troubles be few, may all God’s blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you, may your heart be strong. May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam. ~ anon.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      What a delightful comment! Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Catherine P McElhannon

    If you’re not a member of Ravelry, please consider joining! It’s great for recording your yarn stash (and intentions when you buy it), keeping easy track of your progress, and there are patterns and so much more. I really think you’ll like it.

    Reply
    • tami

      Catherine, I agree. Ravelry is the best for online organization of personal yarns, patterns, completed projects, etc. I had never utilized the yarn stash options until last year (thanks, mean covid) but it is actually a very clever portion of the app. Search a pattern and you instantly know if you have the correct weight and amount of yarn needed for the pattern – which comes in handy when standing in the isle at the yarn store.

      Reply
    • Grace Fuentes

      I highly recommend Ravelry as well. It’s perfectly set up to help you organize your yarn and patterns. It’s also a great source for figuring out what to do with the yarn you have.

      Reply
  4. Diane

    Do you have a clever way to organize your knitting needles? I have all mine in a ziplock bag, both straight, dp and circular, and it is totally disorganized.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Dianne, I keep my non circular needle in a 10” glass cylinder vase with about 3” of rice in the bottom to keep it from getting top heavy. The vase is on top of the cabinet I store my yarn in. It’s easy to quickly grab the needles I need w/o having to dig through drawers for a bag.

      Reply
  5. Jeanne B

    I confess I am a knitter with a stash problem. LOL. I have started putting all the yarn for a project into a bag with a note that has the pattern name. You can also use Ravelry to keep track of your stash and what you intend to use it for. With your storage system you could add a tag to one of the yarns that has the pattern name and the other colors you purchased for that project. In this last year I have been determined to shop my stash first before purchasing more yarn, it’s reduced the stash a bit and helps remind me exactly what I already have.

    Reply
  6. monique odman

    Oh boy, looks that you are set for the rest of your life. Are you not worried about moths eating these exposed wool. Of course it looks great to see the display on the shelves.
    Enjoyed seeing the cat lounging.

    Reply
  7. Lydia Beer

    The more you knit, you will find yourself organizing your yarn by a favorite pattern of something you want to knit (a sweater) in a basket with the pattern and a picture of the project on the outside of the basket. I will have all my yarn ready for that project when I am finished with one and ready to begin another. I rarely buy yarn if I don’t know what I will do with the yarn first.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I can see that being a smart way to organize. I’m hoping once I do some swatches, I’ll figure out what yarns I’ll use for which projects.

      Reply
  8. Maeva

    I really appreciate your posts especially on organizing!! Your storage ideas are invaluable. I can see the reason you are so productive. Life is easier when you can find everything you need for a project. I need to get organized!

    Reply
  9. Carolyn young

    I’m interested if you re°home art supplies as well as yarn.

    Reply
  10. Tora Ann

    Joining ravelry.com is one of the smartest things you can do. You can list all the yarn that you have by weight by color by manufacturer all your needles all the sizes that you have and also all your projects. Listing your projects is a really smart thing to do too. Check it out!

    Reply
  11. Babs

    I love your kitty in the sunbeam photo…so darn cute.

    Reply
  12. marilyn shannon

    I am interested in the art supply sale!

    Reply
  13. Wendy

    Yes to the art supplies sale!

    You are skilled at organizing anything! This is not a natural skill of mine and I’d love to know if there are certain things you ask yourself or ways that seem to always help when organizing different areas and things in the house. This might help be more intentional about it, a trait that obviously helps you be very productive.

    Any tips? I think it would be a great idea for a blog post.

    Love everything you do-thx for the continued inspiration!

    Reply
  14. Margaret

    It’s interesting how many of the colors of your yarn are also what I’ve seen in your paintings. What you like, you like.
    I really like the way you have it stored in the open–I could see myself with the thousand-yard stare, just letting the sight of the yarn inspire the design of the next project. I admit I have mine, sorted by color and weight, put in Ziploc bags and tucked into a couple of lidded crates. Necessary, because…
    Dogs. Cat. Dust.
    If they ever become a problem for you I could see your yarn on shelves behind glass doors.
    I would also like a better storage system for needles. I use either circulars or DPNs exclusively. I’m dithering about investing in a set of interchangeable circulars. Any recommendations? I have realized that I only like to work on metal needles (bamboo or wood does weird things to my gauge, and I dislike the feel of plastic), so I’ll be donating everything else.

    Reply
    • chris

      I also keep much of my yarn stash in plastic bags. Sealed bags keep bugs out of the wool yarn. Bags protect all of the fibers from dust and dog hair. My Ravelry stash listing is the only way I can keep track of all of my yarn. It can be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet and that’s how I found out that I have several miles of yarn. I joke that it serves as insulation in the room where it is mostly stored but, during this covid isolation, it’s been a source for many, many projects that have helped pass the hours.

      Reply
  15. Melissa

    I finally got all of my circular needles under control by filing them in a fisherman’s tackle binder. The binder comes with pocketed binder pages that can be labeled. I label the pages by needle size and it has made such a difference! I can easily locate the needle for a project and keeps them all together in one place. The binder also contains lots of compartments for storing other tools.

    I purchased my binder from Bass Pro Shop but should be easy to find at any sporting goods retailer.

    Reply
  16. Linda Dolack

    Having had a hand weaving business for years, there were lots of odds and ends, single skeins or balls of yarn when I moved on to other art making. If you’re able to sell those, great. But if you find you have leftovers, senior homes love yarn donations. As for the knitting/crochet needles as well as other small art making things such as embroidery hoops, by hanging a vinyl, transparent shoe bag to the inside a studio closet door keeps those things separated, but visible and accessible, as well as making it easy to put stuff away once finished. Love your posts…..thanks.

    Reply
  17. Debbie Trafton O'Neal

    Oh my goodness! This post made me burst out laughing…. because I can so relate! I am drawn to colors and textures and often purchase a skein or two of yarn just because I can envision it on my shelf…. yours look lovely and are very inspiring!

    Reply
  18. Beverlee Lyons

    You have done it again. That is the way I have to do it. Pull it all out, impossible just a piece or two at a time.
    I have a love/hate with those carts. So, I have none. I would rather have to get up to go get something than to look at the excess of stuff I have, which is how it always turns out.
    Thank you for the continued motivation.

    Reply
  19. Eileen Jareo

    Yes very interested! I love and use your milk paint but my 17 yo daughter is the artist and she would laugh (at me) and love something from MMS supplies! Can’t wait!

    Reply
  20. Shannon

    Wondering about making swatches of the yarn that you have. Do you mean you knit or crochet say a 4″ x 4″ sample? I know patterns usually have a gauge but I am bad a skip that a lot. It makes sense to start doing them, and even make them up ahead of time.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I’ll knit up a little 4 x 4 sample in a needle size within the recommended range. It’ll at least give me a starting point when I want to make something.

      Reply
  21. PJ

    I appreciate that you make organizing beautiful and that you use products other than plastic bins. I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic that comes into my home, and so many organizing ideas seem to be centered on plastic storage products. Thank you for sharing your more beautiful approach!

    Reply
  22. jean

    Good job and I never thought about putting sachets in with the yarn but then I don’t purchase much wool these days. Since I knit mostly socks I have a ton of fingering weight yarn in baskets under my desk (on top of my paper shelves). Clearly I have a very crowded studio and am just a little jealous of all your space and storage! I guess I need to do another purge soon! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • jean

      Oops. Posted twice My apologies.

      Reply
  23. jean

    Good job and I never thought about putting sachets in with the yarn but then I don’t purchase much wool these days. Since I knit mostly socks I have a ton of fingering weight yarn in baskets under my desk (on top of my paper shelves). Clearly I have a very crowded studio and am just a little jealous of all your space and storage! I guess I need to do another purge soon! Thanks for the inspiration! Oh and I filed miserably with a o spend month but it was a little better than most months. What will be the theme for March?!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I’m in the process of testing out sock yarns. I like making them because you can almost always use another pair of socks! What is your favorite washable wool blend yarn? I just washed my first pair of socks and they ended up so linty/pilly! I need to be able to wash socks….

      Reply
  24. Cindy

    As a few others have said, Ravelry is a wonderful FREE website where you can organize your yarns and patterns, find help and information, keep photos and information about your finished pieces, plan a queue of projects you want to do (with the yarn info included), etc. It’s absolutely the best and I can’t believe that it’s absolutely FREE. I knit a lot and have a huge stash (which I’m working on bringing down) so I couldn’t do without Ravelry. I also do bead weaving, and I wish someone would create a Beadery site with all the same features.

    Reply
    • Margot

      Ravelry is the best. The other version I want is for my quilting supplies! Lol!

      Reply
  25. Mary

    Hi, Where can I purchase the 2 straw baskets with leather handles. I love them.

    Reply
  26. Margot

    Beyond Ravelry, when I buy yarn for a specific project I place that yarn in a ziploc or project bag along with a decorative information tag that I made up and saved to my computer. The tag lists the project name and then has lines for the yarn(s) purchased for the project (brand, name, color). I keep those tags printed out so that when I get new yarn I can just grab one. This way when I am ready to start the project everything is together, ready to grab and go.

    Reply
  27. Megan

    When I purchase yarn for a future and stash it – input the pattern in the bag with it. Anymore I try and only buy yarn if there is a pattern so it’s the right weight and amount. No stray skeins anymore!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

facebookPinterestYouTubeinstagramfeedemail

Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

Categories

Articles by Date

 

our sponsors


Bliss and Tell Branding Company