Getting Organised – Sorting your stash, hooks and needles

11/01/2013 · 2 comments

in Craft,Crochet

There is a point in the life of a crocheter when your collection of yarn, hooks and other bits and bobs start to grow somewhat out of control. We seem to be surrounded with books, magazine articles and even television programmes which encourage us to organise ourselves, sort out our ‘life laundry’ and generally de-clutter. You might well say – ‘This is my hobby, my escape from the serious world – leave me alone’.

However there is nothing more frustrating than spying a really exciting pattern, collecting together the yarn you need and then discovering you can’t find a 4mm hook. Worse still is being sure that you already own two. With a little bit of organisation, you can avoid forking out for tools and notions which you have, but are lost in the bottom of a very muddled yarn basket. Similarly having a system of keeping track of your yarn can avoid duplication – and in some cases having to answer awkward questions about your mounting wool obsession which is threatening to take over the spare room.

Avid readers of novel often have several good books on the go at any one time. The same is true of the ardent crochet fan. We frequently have a couple of projects started simultaneously. Depending on the way you work, you might have a work basket sat by the sofa with a couple of on-going projects stuffed inside, or a slightly less organised heap by the side of your bed or favourite chair. Little wonder, then, that, over time, the hooks, yarn and ‘works in progress’ get muddled up, scrunched and even damaged.

I am a crocheter who takes her work ‘on the move’. Over the years, I have found that having a separate work bag for each project makes it easier to keep the project tidy and avoid those annoying tangles. Just before I leave the house I can pick up the project I will be working on today, safe in the knowledge that everything I need is stashed inside. A bit like transferring my purse and phone from one handbag to another, I have a little bag in which I keep all my key tools. A small ‘zip-lock’ purse is perfect – you can see everything in it and it keeps things you need together for your current projects. Zip-lock bags are available in supermarkets and can be bought very cheaply. Another alternative would be using a make-up bag or pencil-case which you already have in the house.

It’s great to choose the type of project bag you use according to your tastes. A traditional wicker basket is always attractive, and may provide a constant connection to the heritage of your craft. In order to avoid my project basket being used as a cat bed, I made a small cover for mine with spare t-towel and a length of elastic. It’s now more attractive to me but far less so to furry friends and curious little fingers.

You can get ready-made project bags for purchase ranging from the vintage inspired by Cath Kidston to the seriously practical from the Nantucket Bagg Company. The craft shopping website ‘Etsy’ is a wonderful resource for finding something a little bit unusual at a reasonable price. Check out the designs by Etsy Shopowner – Clever Clementine. There are a range of sizes and each bag is reversible with handy little pockets to keep hooks, your tape-measure and needles in check. I particularly like the clip lanyard which is great for guiding yarn through and I also use it to clip my craft scissors to my bag, which acts as a handy deterrent against pesky scissor thieves.

Keeping your hooks, needles and notions in order is a great time-saving and money-saving habit. If you have a dedicated workspace, where you are sure your craft materials won’t be ‘borrowed’, then having them on display is both handy and attractive. You can either use a standard stationary organiser, or for a great thrifty solution recycle old tins to make a chic display. I like to keep my golden hooks in an old golden syrup tin (having first washed away all traces of the sticky stuff, of course). I have also brightened up this soup can by making a little crochet sleeve for it. I used a ring-pull tin which leaves no sharp edges. It seems appropriate to have a crochet cover for my crochet bits and bobs.

Other thrifty but stylish solutions include using old jam and sweet jars for storing beads, buttons and notions. I have labelled these using blackboard labels, but why not use a preserving label or if you have particularly fine handwriting how about labelling your storage jars with a permanent marker.

If you would like to store your hooks and notions away then you can make a crochet hook roll. There are many free patterns for you to follow on the internet. If you don’t have time and would like to add one to your wish list there are beautiful purpose made versions available from Etsy retailer Atelier De Soyun.

It never ceases to amaze me how much my yarn stash grows each month. I’m sure it has a life of its own. I have found the easiest way to store unused yarn is in under-the -bed storage bags. Many different retailers stock these and you can even buy some which are on wheels. If you can find clear storage bags then all the better. This allows you to see what you have stored away without having to open the bag. A serious collector of yarn will make sure that they have sub-divided their stash in the different yarn types, ie cotton and wool. They might even think about sub-dividing this into weight. If you are inspired by colour and have the space you can create a mini yarn shop by stacking you yarn into hanging jumper or shoe dividers. Just open the wardrobe doors and let the yarn stash inspire you! In all cases it is worth putting a small sachet of lavender in amongst your yarn to keep the moths at bay.

Since I first started writing this article I have found this a wonderful way to store my yarn and it enables me to mix colours very easily. As you can see the idea has developed and got more messy. It is also quite a shock for anyone staying the night in the spare room.

To really make sure all your crochet supplies are organised you can log your collection in a notebook or on-line using Ravelry’s personal database.  I did a quick survey of blog readers for their top organising tips we were particularly impressed by the professionalism of Christy Lutz:

‘I use a rolodex to keep track of yarn I have in my stash and yarn I have used in projects. I cut pertinent information off of the yarn band and staple it to the rolodex card along with a small sample of the yarn. When I make a project, I make note of it on that yarn’s rolodex card, in case I need more of the yarn or want to use it again.’

Now that is some thing to aspire to. But remember – a crocheter always has a stash organising trick up their sleeve. By starting a granny square blanket you can whittle away at that mounting collection of wool and make something very chic and practical. Happy sorting!

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