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12 Tips on How to Organize Your Yarn Stash

February 2nd, 2012

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Organize Your YarnWhen you’re a crafter, loving yarn is easy, but keeping it organized can be a challenge. Keeping an organized stash will help you know what you have, find what you need, and make projects you love. Whether you’re a beginner learning how to keep you new yarn tidy, or an experienced crafter with a stash that feel like it’s out of control, these 12 tips will help you organize your yarn and focus on the fun part: making beautiful projects!

  1. Take stock of what you have.
    One easy way to sort your yarn is to label 4 boxes; “WIPs (works in progress),” “Will Use/Have Pattern,” “Will Use/No Pattern Yet,” and “Won’t Use.” Take the opportunity to look at the yarn you have and decide how much you have room for.
  2. Separate your projects from your supplies.
    Keep “WIPs” in easy reach and separated from the rest of your stash. If your projects are hard to get to, or hiding under the rest of your stash, you’re less likely to work on them. A storage ottoman, large project bag or basket works well to store WIPs.
  3. Put your yarn where you can see it.
    Keep all your “Will Use” yarn easy to access. Think creatively about where to put yarn, you can use many things besides plastic boxes or bags. Just remember to keep yarn away from pets, moisture and dust.
  4. Discover or create a storage method you love.
    If you’re looking at those beautiful skeins for inspiration, keep yarn visible in clear vases and decorative bowls. You can transform a door by adding a shoe organizer filled with yarn, or re-purpose containers you already have! For inspiration, follow our Pinterest Board: Craft Spaces & Storage (you may be asked to sign into Pinterest).
  5. Choose an organization option; sort yarn by weight, fiber or color.
    Keeping your yarn in groups will help you find what you need once you’ve picked a project. Choose whichever appeals to you the most!
  6. Use your Ravelry ‘Stash’ to save yarn info.
    Photograph your newly-sorted yarn and post it to your stash on Ravelry. From there, you can easily compare what you have, search for patterns of what to make, and keep the details like dye lot and yardage in one convenient location. Plus, you don’t have to worry about saving all your labels!
  7. Convert messy skeins or hanks to balls.
    Balling-up yarn is a great way to tidy up hanks and skeins that have begun to loose their structure, and it makes the yarn easy to use when the time comes.
  8. Store multiple balls of a dye lot together.
    If you bought multiple skeins in the same dye lot, or dyed multiple hanks in the same bath, keep those yarns together. It’s much easier to make a large project when you have all the yarn together. Gallon-sized zip-top bags are a great option.
  9. Keep projects to frog handy.
    If you have been meaning to frog (or undo) a project, keep it on hand for at-home activities that don’t require full attention, like watching TV.
  10. Protect yarn from water, dust and creepy-crawlies.
    There are some bugs that might try to live in your yarn, so keep it up off the floor, dry, and in a well-lit place to discourage them. If you think there might have been insects near your yarn, seal it in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for a day to get rid of bugs.
  11. Put tiny scraps in one location.
    When you need “waste” yarn, or an amigurumi needs an embroidered face, you’ll be glad you know exactly where to find small scraps in your stash.
  12. Don’t be afraid to let go of extra yarn.
    Yarn you don’t love just takes up space and makes it harder to find the yarn that you do love. Donate or swap anything in the “Won’t Use” box, and you’ll be helping others as well as yourself.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you used any of these? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

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  • Qwertymiss

    I use both the plastic milk carton method (which are stored upstairs in my craft room) and the stacked picnic basket method (to store yarn in my living room – I knew there was a good reason to haunt those tag sales).  Bought myself a metal 10-oz. ball winder and went to town one Saturday winding ALL the yarn in the house, and FINALLY taking the time to sort it all out (I found by colors worked best for me).  Now I’m busy crocheting hats for future sale (or donation, depending :-).  The “rugs” for animal shelters is a great idea – will use tag sale yarn for that.  As mentioned before, I find that if you gently “guide” the yarn going into the ball winder with your fingers, it does not wind too tightly.

  • Allie

    I like to look at my yarn and have it handy in my hobby room where I knit and sew.  So, I bought several small open wire containers that connect together and built a wall of 12 storage bins.  I cut squares of plastic the size of the bin (10 x 10) and put them in each square to keep yarn from falling through.  It is absolutely wonderful and convenient and my knitting friends are doing this now.  It was very inexpensive and can be dismanteled by hand and stored or moved !  Since I store the yarn by color, the wall looks like a rainbow !   

  • Anne Barker

    Another project for yarns not being used is to call your local library and plan on teaching kids and adults how to knit and crochet. Many kids have no one to teach them these wonderful skills. Have some of your knitting and crocheting friends help you with the teaching. Contact the children’s or young adult librarian at your library. They are always looking for great ideas for programs. We have had a couple of these in the large meeting room with one table each for learning embroidery, knitting, crocheting, paper arts, and jewelry making. These have been really popular and lots of fun for a wide range of ages. Guys enjoy this too. The Friends of the Library paid for some supplies such as knitting needles, and some supplies were donated. Now every year we have people asking when we will repeat the program.

    Another idea for storage is to use the old hat boxes that your grandmother kept. These have string handles and look cool on a shelf in your den waiting for you to get back to your project.

  • E9wife

    I just finished reorganizing my yarn. I store yarn for specific projects in clear plastic containers with notes as to pattern, needle size and project written on the backside of large bright sticky notes stuck to the front side of the container. That way I can stack them on high shelves and pick my next project without moving everything. I store my knitting needles in clear budvases by height. These are stored on open shelvesin the guestroom with funky hats purched on top. My current projects and things to be frogged are indeed in the storage ottoman in the tv area.

  • Charilu67

    I have spend almost two months in organizing my stash! But it worked.  I used large ziplog bags (heavyduty) and placed all yarns of the same color in one plastic bind with a top.  I also “labeled” the bin with tag paper in green, pasted 4 inches of each yarn to the label, adding the amount in onces, grams, yards and meters. (I have a large collection of books and patterns in several languages. Some directions are given only in grams.) When I get too tired to knitt I look for patterns that I can use with the available yarn.  If I need to buy, I know exactly how much.
    Although I’m lucky enough to have a  “resource room” where I keep all books magazines and supplies for sewing, crafting and knitting, I was literary running out of space.
     I also donated yarns to the Senior Center every six months of so.  The ladies make small blankets for primature babies  and donate them to the local hospital, maternity ward.  Other ladies like to crochet lap blankets and organizers for people in wheel chair. Another group of knitter, make nd donate blankets to my Church Adoption Center, and for children in Foster Care. So much to knit, so little time! 
    I like the idea of  knitting “pillows” for cats and dogs. Wonderful idea!  Thanks!


  • Anne Wolf

    Lucky me! I have a cedar lined closet for my yarns. I am a weaver and knitter. I organize by fiber first, then color. Some “to be finished” are in plastic boxes. Some, ribbon yarns, are in boxes. On the side I store my weaving reeds, etc. Multiple skeins are in soft plastic containers with zippers.

  • Scrappy Grandma

    Great ideas on here!  I like to store my yarn in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase that allows me to see everything that I have available at one time without digging through boxes or totes and wearing myself out looking for the right yarn.  I attached a curtain rod w/shower curtain to the front of the cabinet to keep the yarn dust free.  The stash is sorted by color, so you can see in a glance if you have enough for your project.  For my leftover stash, I purchased a small chest of drawers at a thrift store that I nestled into a corner of the living room where I sit in the evenings to work on scrap projects.  Very small amounts of yarn become animal blankets, tennis ball size scraps go into charity lap robes (wheelchair size), and larger amounts become caps for the homeless, or scrap blankets.  Scrap projects look nice with a base color (your choice) repeated every few rows to anchor the project, and I like to use my “I’ve decided I really don’t like this yarn” for the base rows because it’s absorbed into the colorful rows around it. 

  • Eredondo619

    If anyone is fortunate enough to have a 99 cent store or Dollar Tree store near them I  suggest you check those out!  The Dollar Tree I go to has shoebox containers, stackable bins and plastic containers of all sizes (either clear or white) things like that and I love it!  Every store is different and they do change stock sometimes but I’ve found enough to make it easy to find and organized enough for the space I have!  It doesn’t cut into my yarn budget either!

  • NM in MN

    Thank you everyone for sharing your hints and ideas! The only thing I can think of that I do that hasn’t been addressed is to place all my circular needles, in their cases, in gallon Ziplock freezer bags, for strength. I have an old, 3″ 3-ring binder, and I punch holes in the Ziplock bags, along the bottom edge, which I insert in size order into the 3-ring binder, so that the zipper edge is flush with the long edge of the binder. I put all of one size in one bag. Place the binder on a shelf, and voila! There are all my circular needles at a glance! When I remove one, I either leave its case from the store in the Ziplock bag, or I leave a note stating which project I am using a needle for. Then, when I need a certain length needle, I know whether to buy one or not. I also keep a needle sizing gauge in the front bag so I always know where one is if I have a question about a needle size. I have those little sizing gadgets in lots of places, like a desk drawer, in a pencil/pen holder, hanging on a push pin on my cork board, etc.

  • MHH

    Where do you find the XXL or XXXL Ziploc bags?  Someone told me Target carried them, but when I asked them at my local store they looked at me like I was nuts!

    • Rhondita95

      you can usually get them at Home Depot

  • Sharren

    Thank you for all the tips.  It has inspired me to sort my stash of yarn.  I have been putting off doing it.

  • Chlosturg

    Answer to where to get XXL or XXXl Ziplock bags, Try Walmart on the Ziplock bag aisle. They usually have them. If you can’t find them, ask one of the Sales people or one of the Stockers. They will be happy to help you.

  • Cee

    So many great ideas!  I have used many of them – rubbermaid containers (huge size), ziplock bags, boxes stacked on their sides with lids off, etc.  I am now using space bags – the kind you use your vacuum to take the air out of.  I used a bunch when I moved and wanted to repurpose them.  They work great keeping dust, bugs, water, pet hair out and save so much space.  Now only one wall of my spare room is devoted to my stash.  I sorted by color and fiber and can see what I have.

  • maillady

    Thank you everyone for all of the wonderful ideas.  I think one of the best ideas was re-using the oatmeal container! 
     I keep any pattern I like that came with the label or even the ones I printed online in the clear top-load sheet protectors.  I have these in a 3 ring binder, sorted by category.
     I put each skein of yarn in a ziplock bag.  Then put the ones I need for a project in a beach bag, they do come in different sizes.  I also put the needles required with the instructions in the bag.  All I have to do is  grab a bag and go.  Off to the park bench, beach or even the doctor’s office, it helps to pass the time.  I keep all labels til the yarn is done, this way I can store the label with the leftover yarn. 

  • Nck4915121c

    great ideas, just up early and got inspired to destash things in my closet.  Some yarn is in plastic bags, projects in bags, etc, time to get organized, of course who has not lost a skein of yarn or two in hidden bags,happy knitting

  • Sequimbloomers

    I use clear plastic makeup bags-cheap and strong, for storing needles and tools.  Makes it easy to find an item.  Also the cheap glass vases that are used for floral deliveries ( and can be found at thrift stores) make good containers for keeping yarn from rolling around during knitting or stash tall knit needles and ruler and calculator in them.

  • Sequimbloomers

    I have a carpenters bucket cover with pockets to keep yarn and tools untangled.  Keep a nail file and lotion in one pocket also.  Available on line or at hardware stores.

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  • Msmindyf

    I use the cubicle system I purchased at target with several fabric drawers..several house ongoing projects…one has nothing but scrap yarns..and the open compartments house unused yarn. I should seperate by colors, tho..maybe I will make that my project this week.

  • Judyinoz39

    I use the Starlight doubledoor cabnets…keep everything on shelves,by color and weight.  Keeps all in order and dust free. I have 6 on one wall in a spare bedroom. When I have to much  I donate some.

  • Dee

    I think my “won’t use” box will be pretty much empty! LOL Seems I always feel I could use it for SOMETHING!

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  • Colleen

    Where can you find free patterns for the pet blankets for shelters?

  • cheryl

    Hi Colleen,I think I read some place that if you make them the size of a medium sized kennel ,thats what they’d like …not good at figuring inches off the top of my head but can measure my girls(my dog) kennel and get back to you…But I just crochet like i would be making a small afghan…..thats what I have done so far…and no matter what The kittens and pups would love to sleep on them !! scraps are great for these as they dont mind all the different colors!!!
    Happy crocheting/knitting!!

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  • Jo Ann Morgan Anderson

    Small amounts of yarn make great premie hats for the local NICU. As soon as my premies are big enough that I have time to myself I plan to donate hats to bless other mothers as I was blessed.

  • c00leen from Tucson

    I love Love LOVE all of these great ideas for storing my stash! I’ve recently converted one of our bedrooms to a “craft room” (since my husband converted one to a “man cave”). My girls “left the nest” about 3 years ago, leaving my husband and I 4 bedrooms! I found these “bins” online (they remind me of flour bins in an old-fashioned store) – and each bin can hold up to ~5 medium skeins of yarn. And I bought 4 of them – with 9 bins each! They’re open, so I can easily see what’s in each one! I had a sudden inspiration about a year ago to make a fair-isle sweater-of-100-colors – and bought 100 skeins of Knit Picks “Palate” wool. I’ve not yet started my sweater, but I’ve had SO much fun using it to knit up some darling stuffed animals! I’ve now sorted all of those skeins – along with the REST of my stash – by color into my bins. They’re SO inspiring to see!

    • demelzabunny

      Can you say, “….leaving I 4 bedrooms?” No, you can’t. Therefore, you must say, “….leaving my husband and me 4 bedrooms.” I that sentence, “I” is the object, therefore necessitating the use of the object form of “I,” which is “me.”

  • Linda

    I have bins I bought from the Dollar Tree. I use a spare closet with shelves for my bins. I put the sizes together, and the scrapes I make an afgan square an keep it going till it’s big enough for a table. They are very beautiful with the different colors blended.

    • demelzabunny

      I think you meant to type “scraps.” “scrapes,” are what you get on your skin when you slide it along a rough surface.

  • Oddbjørg Hartveit

    Jeg har en kiste, med rosemaling og navn, der har jeg GARN. Små rester av noenlunde samme tykkelse, Mine barnebarn elsker sokker og labber, så når jeg ikke har noe “vettugt” å strikke, blir det sokker i alle regnbuens farger, Rester av veldig tykt garn-pinner 8-9- har blitt til sofaputer. Rester av babygarn kan bli til et par små sokker. Har en plastpose med ferdige produkt,: pulsvanter, votter og labber, og hussko. Den står fremme, så når barn og barnebarn kommer innom er det rett i posen for å finne noe varmt. Er kanskje litt ” rotete ” av meg, men garn og strikkepinner har jeg orden på. Jeg elsker å strikke, store og små plagg, gensere, jakker, tunika, you name it.- så litt restegarn blir det, men prøver å bruke det etterhvert,

  • Jessica

    Dollar Tree has those under the bed zippered storage bags, that would be great for people on a budget to keep their yarn organized. I know I’m going to try them and see how well they work, I have mine in clear plastic boxes and I am quickly outgrowing them…need something larger…much larger LOL

  • Michelle

    I’ve been using my won’t use yarn to make baby and kids hats and then donate to goodwill. It’s been a rough winter here and every little bit helps

    • TheEmperorIsStarkers

      Yes! This is such a wonderful thing to do.

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  • Ute Willmore

    I have a tip for storing yarn that you already know what you will make with it. I save the zippered bags that sheets and blankets come in and use them for my yarn. They come in different sizes, depending on what was in them originally and I find I can usuall fine one that fits the amount of yarn I have for a specific project. Most of these bags also have a kind of pocket that used to hold a picture of the item to show what it looks like when not folded: Sheets are shown on a bed to show the pattern for example. I remove the picture of the sheets or blanket and use the pocket to store a copy of the project I plan to make. Not only does this serve as a reminder of what I had in mind when I bought the yarn, but it also makes sure I don’t have to search for the pattern when I am ready to get started. If I got the pattern online, I don’t have to worry about the site closing or the pattern getting deleted, or even my computer crashing resulting in the loss of the patterns store on my PC.
    I find the bags that my sheets and blankets came in VERY useful for organizing my stash, they are free and it’s a way of recycling plastic bags. All my yarn is in such bags, even when I don’t know what I will make with it yet. Give it a try, I think you’ll like the idea.

  • Ute Willmore

    Lots of great ideas for yarn storage and using left overs or yarn you don’t like. I got lots of inspiration reading your comments. I will make a donation to a charity knitting group soon, since I barely have time to knit for myself, friends and family.
    What I didn’t find yet was a good solution for storing knitting needles, especially circular ones, so I thought I’d share mine.
    I keep mine in a 3 ring binder, but I don’t use ziplock bags as someone describer. Instead, I went to the local office supply store and found plastic sheets designed to store CDs, 2 per sheet. The sheets are sturdy and designed to store in a binder, so the holes don’t rip so easy. And I can label each CD pocket to describe what size needles are in the pocket. I find I can store several circular needles in one pocket. The sheets are inexpensive too, around $5 for a packet of 6 sheets I think. That gave me 12 pockets to store my circulars, and that is more than enough. I use the pocket on the inside of the binder to store a needle sizer tool, just in case I need to check the size of a needle before storing it.
    I haven’t found a great way to store my sock needles yet. I have several sets of double pointed needle of 4 or 5 needles to the set. does anyone have a suggestion for storing them? I would be grateful for some hints.

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  • Nancy

    Whenever I have just a small amount of a yarn leftover after a project and I know I won’t need it for repairs or anything, I cut it up into small pieces, an inch or two in length, save it in a box or a plastic baggie, then in the spring when I see birds starting to gather nesting material, I’ll scatter it about where I see them search. It gives me a real smile to see a bird nest with a bright piece of yarn woven in.

  • nancyintexas

    I have a four unit book shelf. Just went through & cleared all the books I no longer want. Rearranged the books so I have the top shelf, all the way across empty. Grouping my yarns there & love it. Looks like textural art. Also, right now I have a three ring binder with plastic sheet protectors. In each sheet I put my project instructions, my yarn label, and my 4×4 swatch, and any notes about the project.

  • Monga

    I’ve been keeping my yarn stash in those vacuum seal bags. That way I can safely store it in the basement without worrying about bugs and that basement smell getting in. Got them at Dollar General and are so easy to use. Also a few years ago I found a beautiful pottery soup dish with a lid that has the cut out for a ladle. Had to have it – didn’t know what to do with it until I realized I could put my ball of yarn in there with the string coming out of the lid and when not knitting the needles can also stick out of the hole. It looks pretty as well as being functional and I love it!

  • Grand,ma

    I use clear plastic boxes, let’s me see the yarns at all times…good post, thank you!

  • KarenAnn

    If you have yarn you won’t be using, please consider donating it to an animal rescue organization. I belong to a “knittin’ for kittens” group whose members knit and crochet beds and snuggles for the cats at a shelter. We accept any acrylic yarns, in any amounts and colors. Naturals like wools and cottons tend to shrink in the big industrial dryers. The cats sure enjoy having a soft bed to sleep on. Some members also make cat toys and dog decorative collars with the yarn. Please remember the homeless pets!

    • Petrina

      Sound like great tips KarenAnn! Thanks for sharing.