I've spent an unholy amount of time in my bathroom this week going through my medicine cabinet and drawers trying to sort through expired and unused items (plus thorough scouring/cleaning..ick). Yesterday afternoon saw the completion of that project and I'm on to bigger things. My yarn stash. I'm a pretty fast knitter and I like to use my stash so I generally have high turnover in there...generally. This last year I got a full-time job and started back at school to finish my degrees so my knitting time almost disappeared. I also was working six or seven days a week until January of this year so my stress level went way up, my knitting time went way down, and I started to accumulate a lot of stash that I just didn't have time to knit. Which led to this:
The whole shebang. Unsorted. I pulled everything out and I mean everything. My scrap bags, my cedar chest bins, my space bags and random other small bags that I stashed around our apartment.
The two bins usually live inside my cedar chest so things stay relatively sorted but they are filled to bursting with fingering weight yarn. There are definitely some things that don't belong in there like that skein of Malabrigo Worsted in Whale's Road that I can see peeking over the edge. Eek.
The sweater stash, sorted this time. To be honest the oldest thing in this photo is that red O-Wool that I frogged from my Minimalist Cardigan (upper right corner). But I do have three dark-brown sweaters' worth of yarn and two are even the same weight yarn. That probably could have been planned better.
Sock yarn staring down DK weight yarn. While the sweater portion of my stash takes up the largest amount of real estate the fingering weight yarn definitely outnumbers it in the skein category. I get really excited about sock yarn even though I don't knit socks very often and I think it's because of the color and the price. You know, a knitting a project all bundled up in one little skein, in pretty colors, with great yardage. I just can't help myself and it shows.
Before you get started make sure you have adequate time for the volume of stash you own. My stash took about three hours to sort through and put away and I went through it fairly quickly. So this is how I organize my stash:
1. Pull everything out. Everything!!! If you keep telling yourself that the mobile stash in your car doesn't count - it does. I had a huge bag of yarn in my car for over six months and I finally pulled it out, entered it in Ravelry, and integrated it into my stash. Any little hidey-hole of yarn counts, if you pull it out now you won't feel shock when you open that bottom desk drawer and find those impulse skeins of yarn you purchased "as a treat".
2. Decide how you want to sort your yarn. Fiber type. Yarn weight. Color. Autobiographically. It doesn't really matter as long as it makes sense to you since you're the one that will have to dig through your stash to find that skein that you know you have. I prefer sorting by yarn weight/project type. Sweater quantities of yarn live in space bags under my bed and single skeins and fingering weight yarns are sorted by weight and stored in my cedar chest.
3. Cull the herd. While you work through your stash make a pile of the yarn you don't love anymore. It may hurt a little bit since you truly loved that skein of novelty yarn when you bought it years ago but believe me, someone else will love it now. And knit it. And you won't have to store it anymore for that future day when you "might" knit it even though you've grown up as a knitter and don't really dig bright blue fringe yarn anymore. Bag those bad balls up and take them to your knitting group, send them off to charity, or donate them to Goodwill - someone else, somewhere else will want them. If you've loaded your yarn into Ravelry you can even offer it for trade or sale thereby getting new cool yarn (or money!) for something you'll never use.
4. Bag or bin it up. Once you've got your stuff sorted you'll know the size and amount of containers you'll need to store your stash. If you already have bins or bags you can reuse them or if you're just starting out on this venture you may need to purchase storage. I'm lucky enough to have a cedar chest my mom gave me when I was sixteen that I use to store yarn and space bags fit great under my bed once the air has been squished out. I prefer my yarn to be put away from threats of small children, damp weather, and insects. If you're purchasing new stash receptacles make sure that the bins or bags fit in the space they are going to live. Measure your closet, your piece of furniture, under your bed, or wherever you're stashing your stash to make sure that doors close and lids fit. If you're a person that likes everything out where you can see it clear bins are probably ideal since you'll want to see those yarny innards to remind you what you have. Households that don't contain moths, carpet beetles, small children, and/or yarn-eating pets may enjoy having yarn on display. I've dreamed about lovely glass-fronted cabinetry with drawers and bins galore but it's just not going to happen in my house.
5. Extra stash happiness. I try to keep my Ravelry stash updated to show my current at-home stash so I can easily match patterns and yarn. I've also used the stash tool do deter me from spur of the moment purchases since I can check my Rav stash out and see that I already have about 10 skeins of sock yarn in varying shades of blue. An added bonus is that you can put a note on each yarn page listing where in your home (or yarn storage facility) each skein is located.
Going through my stash regularly allows me to plan projects accordingly. My three dark-brown sweaters of yarn? Yep. Not buying more dark-brown sweater quantities any time soon. If I feel the urge to purchase more sweater yarn I'll try to fill in the color gaps a little better.
Using what I have comes from knowing what I have and when I knit from my stash it makes room for more stash enhancement, what could be better than that? I managed to empty a large space bag and a small space bag in one organizing and condensing go-through. Sure, my bag of partial-skeins got larger but now I don't have those guys wreaking havoc and leaving their yarn trail all over the place. My scrap stashdown project is higher in yardage but the nice and tidy balls of yarn that I put away look much more alluring than the tangled mess that lived in my cedar chest this morning.
How do you organize your stash? Do you have one and if so how much real estate does it take up in your home? If you've recently re-organized, or are in the process of doing so, how do you feel about your stash now?