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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!

  • http://www.inkbean.org/ Chimica

    Wonderful posting. I just bought a ton of yarn today and I have no idea what to do with it. Currently all my yarn is in a number of bags. It’s not fun! Thank you for this posting.

    • Pastordoris1

      I find that those hanging closet sorters for sweaters etc keep yarn at eye level and I sort it by color/size. (Looks nice too!)

  • Jane

    Thanks for the suggestions.  They should help in finding what you already have when a new pattern or idea pops up.  

  • Pikegirl

    Plastic milk carton crates work well stacked for yarn storage.  Stack on side so opening is to the front.

    • Grosssiri

      I use those too! very convenient !!!

    • Bsa4two

      I found a clear plastic duffle bag )from Arizona Jean Company – possibly a promotion?) that lets me see all the leftovers and keeps them clean.  The zippered plastic covers from bedspreads and sheetsets would work, too.

  • Darlene

    see through totes are the best way for me to sort in colors.

  • Kohrenberger

    Donate to Senior centers. They love having the yarn for teaching classes!

  • Jesse

    I recently went through my stash and donated two boxes of yarn that I had not used in over 2 years to the women at my local Project Linus group. It was like Christmas for them and I knew that all of the yarn was going to be used for children’s blankets in hospitals all over the world. What a great feeling!

  • Fultonm04

    I use 3 pop-up nylon laundry hampers with 3 compartments each. I store a different color in each compartment. I can easily see what I have and they can even hang by their handles on the wall.

  • Fibrerox

    Great tips! I’m lucky enough to have a whole room just for my knitting stuff it’s like a mini store :) I’m going to start using the stash in ravelry though I didn’t know about that.

    • Cash12345

      The ravelry stash is great because once you catalog all your yarn when you’re ready to post photos of your work you can just use the stashed yarns feature. You can also look at the stashed yarn of other ravelry users and buy, sell or swap yarns.

    • Puppetgtay

      I am so jealous!

  • melinda

    I use zippered plastic containers that came with sheets, comforters etc. in them. Currently, they are sorted by colors, not type. I would like a hanging shoe bag. Someone had one on Knitting Paradise – it looked like it would work great!

  • Jpbrntly

    I use clear, vinyl, hanging sweater storage bags to sort my yarn.  Projects get their own shelf for the project and yarn, along with a printout of the pattern I’m using.  The rest of my yarn is sorted by color, though I have one shelf for small partial balls of various colors.  And if I know I’m not going to use something (fell out of love with the yarn, didn’t like it when I used it, or usually I didn’t like how it feels) then it gets donated or given to a friend who could use it.  I have limited space and don’t like having a huge stash, so I can sometimes clear stuff out rather aggressively :)

  • Herrprojects

    I make myself donate any yarn amount smaller than a tennis ball
    Not only do I sort by color and weight , I sort by fiber too.

  • Sebloomer

    My other thought on storing yarns is to keep the labels with yarn so you know what brand, weight, shade. etc.  I have several partial skeins of white yarn but don’t remember if it is 3-ply or 4-ply which I can figure out but not sure of fiber content.  Need to pull out all my plastic containers and sort again.

  • Mlj1954

    I created labels and have the bins and will be sorting, shifting and reorganizing this weekend.  I have so many things on needles and didn’t keep the pattern with them, that I am going to frog those.  If I have a pattern and yarn together, they are going in a zip lock bag.  My sorting is going to be by type and I am getting rid of what I don’t want or will never use.  

    Thanks for the helpful tips.

  • Fawn S Smith

    I have two 100 gal clear storage boxes that are full. When I go to use a skein, I put it in a 2 liter bottle that I have cut around the neck, and feed the yarn though the opening. That way, the yarn stays clean and fur free. ( I have several animals.) I am about to build a sorta “wine rack” to store all of my bottles on. 

    • Tpvota

      I do the same thing!  Slight difference though, I use old large oatmeal containers.  Pop the yarn skein in, poke a hole in the lid, feed the yarn throught the hole and pop the lid on the container!

      • Jojo480

        I took a large bucket with a lid, drilled out a hole and put in a grommet, then threaded all the colors through the grommet. When making a piece with multiple colors I can keep all the skeins together in the bucket and not have everything all over the livingroom!

    • holly_bleu

      Will you post a photo of your bottle?  I can’t picture what you’re describing.
      Thanks!

    • Susan Bell

      Wow! I am wandering through Lion blogs while doing the current KAL, and happened upon your comments–I use both of these ideas: the plastic bottles (mine are milk jugs) and the containers (mine are the big iced tea ones). It’s neat to find other fibre artists who have thought of the same ideas!

  • Craftyak

    The XXL and XXXL Zip lock bags are great to keep large projects together.

    • Pam

      Where do you find the XXL & XXXl Ziploc bags? 

  • Bruesch56

    I use clear totes and then separate them into baby, dark colors, medium colors, and light colors…oh yeah and then all my 100% cotton for dishcloths etc!   With the clear see thru totes it makes it really easy to see just what I need and they are stackable.

  • MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv2.1

    Great tips…I personally like those collapsible nylon laundry containers, which I use to store my fabric stash. My yarn stash isn’t nearly as large. I thank my lucky stars that yarn is more expensive than fabric. I swear that’s only thing that’s holding me back from having a yarn to keep my house warm. 

  • Bluejean33030

    Use your left over yarn (2 strands at a time) to knit or crochet dog & cat rugs.  Donate to the pet shelter nearest to you.  Then the pets don’t have to lay on a cement floor or wire cage.  :)

    • Rings2me

      I also use the leftovers to make lap blankets and donate them to a local nursing home.

    • Lise

       You can also donate the yarn to the pet shelter and volunteers (like me!) will take it home and knit them up for them.

    • Tanya Bluesky

       Awesome!  Thank you for the wonderful idea. I know my cat loves to lie on knitwear and she seems comforted by it, if it did the same for a shelter pet all the better.  Thanks again.

  • Martha B

    Zipper style storage bags are the easiest to open and close and are perfect for those small bits of yarn, or those skeins of eyelash type yarns that like to lose their label.  The bags prevent huge tangled messes.  I use covered, plastic, storage bins for average 4-ply ( by color), baby yarns, chenilles, specialty yarns, weaving/homespun (by color).  Certain yarns work best for warping my loom for scarves.  Then there’s the things in process, who’s yarn is stored with it.  I use mostly man-made fibers so I worry less whether or not it “breathes.”   

  • Catch42

    I save the heavy-duty clear plastic, zippered bags that sheet sets and blankets come in and use them to store medium and large amounts of yarn.  Easy to see thru and easy to pick up and move a bunch of yarn around when I need to get to something else.

    • ering0615

      I do the same thing! I was quite disapointed when i ordered new sheets and comforters for my kids and tey came with a heavy duty plastic band around the comforters and a cardborad ring around the sheet sets! No new storage bags for me! (sad face)

      • grandmavickiek

        Ask at a local hotel/motel about recycling theirs when they purchase new sheets or bedspreads . I have gotten all sizes of good quality bags this way.

  • Indianna

    I actually keep mine in Rubbermaid totes, the ones with the lids that are easy to open.  Mainly because sometimes we have mice in the house.  Eww.  I also make a list of the yarn in each bin where I make two copies.  One is taped to the lid while the other is in a notebook.  Mainly because I have a bad back and it is easiler to look in the notebook than pulling out the bins.

  • Lindaq49

    When caking, before I pull yarn off the holder, I slip the label into the middle. It makes for a pleasant surprise down the road when you (finally) decide what to make with that yarn.

  • guest

    People have “won’t use” yarn?!

    • pam reed

      I do. Like clothes that are super cheap that you buy, take home and realise your mistake- I have done that with yarn. One type in particular that isn’t a natural fibre, but the softness, colours and price ($5 for bag of 12!) went against my better judgement. Crochet up a few things with it and it looks tacky after one wear/use with fluff & pilling. thinking I’ll donate it to a daycare/kindy. Don’t want someone else to put all that effort in for a bad result. X

  • Joann Gardner

    i gave alot of leftover yarn, a small tote full , to the daycare where my daughter works. i am sure the kids will use it up. already started a new stash.

  • Becky_bianco

    Organize or participate in a knit for charity project, gather your knitting friends,exchange yarn so everyone is working with something new to them. Chat, knit, give

  • Megomedic

    All hints are helpful… but for the “won’t use” (?) yarn, quick knitting crate or cage pads for your local Humane Society or animal shelter is a fun and useful way to use that up… kitties & pups really don’t mind if colors match or if your gauge isn’t perfect… little tiny scraps can make great toys too. :-)

    • Shirleym997

      What size do ou make?

      • Sugarbug4u

        I’ve been making Amigurumi with my scrap yarn & there are ooodles of free patterns to be found on the internet  :)

      • Lise

        My shelter prefers them a minimum of 12″x12″.

  • Grandma2alora

    I bought a manual ball winder, and it really helps with those 1/2 skeins that would otherwise get tangled in storage. Also really easy to work from these wound balls.

    Great ideas in the comments about how to use up small quantities. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Shirleym997

    I like the idea of using odd yarns for rugs for the animal shelter.

  • Mom4ksi

    I donated my odds and ends to the elementary school where several friends teach, figuring it would only be used in art class.  Wrong!  My yarn has been used in math class (to teach about triangles and squares and other shapes) and by a history class to show the routes of early American explorers and the size of the Louisiana purchase, etc. The superintendent even used several different colors of yarn to map out the bus routes at the beginning of the new school year!

  • T. Pup

    Great tips! I have to disagree with pre-balling your yarn to store.  Yarn that has been wound into a ball or center-pull cake will lose some of its elasticity over time, so it’s best to wind just before you plan to use it.  If the skein or hank is messy, loose or tangled, simply rewind it into a nicer-looking skein (use the back of a chair if you don’t have a swift or skein-winder).  That way your yarn is store neatly and is in great shape when you are actually ready to use it!

    • Janice

      I find that if you wind the balls with a couple of fingers between the ball and the yarn you are winding on, the ball stays loose enough not to stretch, and they seem to stay together better than skeins.

      • purplkoala

        I found a way I like winding mine better than the balls, which roll and take up room. Unless your making a quilt and need your yarn all in once piece, I grab a section out of the middle and cut it away from the skein of yarn. I start w/ a piece of yarn in between my ring and first finger. I start wrapping the yarn around my 4 fingers, which I spread apart, being careful to keep the piece of yarn near my thumb hanging out. once I get to the point where it starts feeling like it’s going to fall off my fingers, I carefully remove the yarn from my fingers. Then I wrap some of the yarn around the yarn I took off my fingers a few times. tuck it in and then I put it in a sandwich bag. I can then pull the loose piece of string with out it tangling.

        • Teachjean

          Animal shelters also like bigger 20″ x 24″ or 24″ x 32″ for bigger dogs.

    • Jen

      I’m going to disagree. Commercial yarns are often wound tightly onto cones for long term storage with no ill effects. While it does relax into that state the elasticity will return when the yarn is steamed or washed. Which reinforces the need to wash your swatches.

  • Lucy

    I also keep my remnants in large labelled ziplocks (100%wool, acrylic, cotton, sock yarn). So when I have a little ball left (2″ or smaller) they go directly into the remnant bag. That way, when I need a small amount I’m not left searching for it.

  • Marybeth P.

    I collected antique picnic baskets for ages (and still do) and they became a good place to stash some of my yarn, sorted by weight and tagged as such, and is attractive storage that fits well in the decor

  • Rosette

    I also use ziplock freezer bags in various sizes. I have also made pet blankets for cats and dogs. But where is the storage for yarns I will proably never use, but can’t bear to part with ?

  • Jbermarsh

    I use CLEAN old panty hose to keep my skeins from getting messy

    • Grandma2alora

      Good way to wash it also. I bought some yarn online, and some was dirty. I should have thought of your idea to wash it. Thanks.

    • Charilu67

      I had the same experience. Now I know how to wash it!  Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    Really good to see an organization protocol written down.  Helps to keep my attention focused and mind clear on what my goals are.

  • Kidneywoman

    Our Independent Living center for special adults uses yarn to make manes on stick horses they sell to raise funds.  I was greeted like some kind of hero the time I walked in the door with bags of left-over yarn.  It was fun.

  • Anonymous

    My husband loves the pretzels from Cosco that come in large plastic containers with a plastic lid that snaps on.  They are clear and are great for holding five or six skeins.  I also use them for “leftover” yarn and they stack well.

    • Sassyangel4557

      I use the same type of container…love the cheese balls so after consuming I wash it out and its ready for use(and its full…need another one or two…lol) lovvvve all these’s ideas and now know what I need to do for my storage dilemma!! thank you all for the input of ideas!! so happy there’s a place I can come too and find soooo many great ideas!! thank you,THANK YOU!!!

  • Leodismore

    Well, I’ve read all the comments so far. Aren’t there a lot of knitting and craft lovers out there! I think all the ideas are great and very “doable”. I haven’t got all that wool in a stash, but what I do have I store in see-through blanket and duvet bags that I have amassed over the years.
    I loved the idea of pet blankets, never thought of that. And what a good way to use up all that wool which is just a bit older and messy. Thanks!

  • J2dogledr

    Wonderful info.  I have acquired a mountain of yarns, since our church started a Prayer Shawl program.I too use the sippered sheet, comforter bags and have sorted according to color as most of the yarns have no labels.  It’s been a very interesting challenge.  I have found enough color and diversity to use the donated yarns, but it is way ahead of me.  Thanks for all the hints.

  • Ering0615

    I use plastic starage bins for my yarn. I also have a hanging organizer in my closet for smaller stashes. Fir small balls and bis of yarn I use the plastic containers that peanuts ot pickles come in. I also use bigger ones that have cookies or pretzels for my smaller brojects like baby hats or booties.

    • SUCawley

       I use plastic storage bins, too, since most of my stash has to reside on shelves in the garage.  I use the shallow bins with “snap on” lids.  I took a large nail, held with pliers, and heated it over the stove.  I burned/melted several holes along the edge of the lid.  Then I threaded a small sample of each of the yarns in the bin through the holes so that they hang outside the container.  Skeins inside keep their labels until I have finished a project, then the remnants are saved in a miscellaneous bin for odds and ends (cotton becomes dishcloths, etc.) For finished projects, I staple a small sample of the yarn to a card with a label and a picture of the finished project and file it. Then I have fiber content and washing instructions if I need them.  Give a similar card along with any gift items.

  • Andrearestall

    I recently had 2 half balls of wool left over. I knitted two beany type hats in imitation cable stitch and the day care centre where I am a volunteer, sold them for funds £2.each. A cheap warm hat for an old person and I don’t have to store the wool .

  • Shellyb4x

    I bought an over the door shoe organizer! Perfect size for those skeins of yarn!

    • Honeybee

      Great for storing Fabric that way too……  always in sight..

  • Ceciliaayers

    I use the large, empty clear animal cracker containers with a lid to store small balls of yarn or smaller odd skeins.  It is easy to see what’s inside, the lid closes tightly thus avoiding pests or dust and it’s pet proof.

  • Jotpat

    My daughter moved out of the house 4 months ago, and I took over her walk-in closet.  The only thing in it is all my yarn and supplies (pattern books, hooks, needles, etc.).  Any yarn not yet assigned to a particular project is sorted by types of yarn and is stored in individual clear Rubbermaid-type storage bins with covers.  I enjoyed collecting different tote bags as souvenirs from various vacation spots thoughout my life, and I now use these for each individual project — whether in progress or not yet begun.  Once I have the yarn matched up with a specific pattern, it goes into a bag.  When I am actually working on the project, I also get to reminisce the fun and relaxing vacations from my past.  This is especially nice because I head the crafting group for our church.  We often have multiple charitable projects going — lap blankets for the veterans, baby blankets and clothes for a local shelter, prayer shawls, chemo caps.  Never thought about animal shelters though.  I can see this will be a great way to use up remnants!

  • Bonnylou

    I take all of my scraps and small amounts of yarn and make lap blankets for nursing homes.. Just picking up a  color with out looking makes different and beautiful lap blankets…. The people in the homes love to get new ones … They wear out from washing… just a thought that works for my friend and I.  I did not think of taking them to vets home in the area thanks for the info Jotpat..

  • Leramsey38

    Those pieces of yarn that aren’t long enough to do much.  cut shorter and put out this spring where the birds can get them and add thm to the nest.  Then they will have a colorful nest.

    • purplkoala

      I save all of my small pieces, no matter how small, to use as stuffing in projects. It’s very soft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1260908759 Cynde Clausen Starck

      better not to put out colorful yarn, it makes nests more visible to predators!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1260908759 Cynde Clausen Starck

      better not to put out colorful yarn, it makes nests more visible to predators!

  • Sdkimblecreek

    I have donated leftover balls of yarn for someone who makes Quilts for Kids; they love all the different colors to tie the quilts.  Also I inherited needles from my mother who was a knitter as well so I finally went through all of “our” needles, made a list both knitting and crochet, and then only kept those I liked and plan to locate someplace who needs the extra sets of same sizes.  Did keep extra sets for socks, etc.  Love all the above suggestions; thanks everyone.

  • Janice Franklin

    I roll my leftover yarn into balls and place them in a large clear plastic bag, I use one that contained a comforter. When I have enough I use these along with one large ball (one pound or so) of black, white or navy to make a scrap afghan such as granny squares. .I then donate the finished afghan. It doesn’t matter what colors you use as long as they are all outlined in the same color. I use white as a base with pastels and black with brights.

  • Cajenkins

    All my fine yarn leftovers ie baby, sock types are sorted and ready to go to very elderly lady who uses it to make premie caps for our hospital. I feel good about it having a home and also gives me an excuse to get new stuff to use and the cycle begins all over again!

  • Nbyousey

    I use the large plastic containers that pretzels or cheese balls come in to store my little balls or yarn. When I make mittens or something else that takes a small amount for stripes, or whatever, I just dump it out if I can’t see enough of what I am looking for.