|Workable Organizing Systems for Crochet
I hope this last issue of 2011 finds you happily snacking on holiday cookies and looking forward to 2012. I've been reorganizing. I love filing and organizing almost as much as I love crochet. In fact, my very first blog post in 2006 was about using clear plastic sleeves to organize my crochet design ideas.
Being a Filer vs. Being a Finder: Taking Stock
I know the filer's woe: a system seems promising at first, and then later you can't quickly find something you filed. Over the years I've blogged about promising methods of managing my crochet projects, yarns, hooks, even beads. [See links at end]
Pictured: a few years ago I tried organizing my yarn stash by color. It worked better for my son than for me--I could never find the right yarn when I wanted it. Before I could shelve it, my son dived into it to play a mini video game.
Today I take stock of which organizing methods are working for the kind of avid crocheter I am. Perhaps some of what works for me works for you too.
Yarn & Thread Stash: My ideal method is a paradox! I need most of my yarn stash out of sight, yet also see any kind of yarn I have at a glance and sorted multiple ways: by thickness, color, fiber content, amount, and exactly where it is in my house. This ideal system must also be easy to update. Too much to ask?
After trying a gazillion methods (I once taped a snip of each yarn on index cards!), I now use a combination of giant clear vinyl storage bags + a simple map of where each bag is hidden for "deep" storage. I also list my stash in Ravelry. I sort yarns into these big bags mainly by their behavior as a fabric (how limp, how stiff, how summery, how wintery, etc--because these qualities affect my designs the most). The bags flatten, stack, and slide easily under the bed. The map tells me exactly where each bag is behind the couch or under the bed.
In Ravelry I can instantly sort my stash any way I need to. I can even assign my own tags. (In Ravelry you can also say where each yarn is stored but I prefer my simple map.)
A Real Life Test:
I wanted to crochet quick warm sock-slippers. I knew I had thick wool-elastic yarn in "deep" storage somewhere. I went to my Ravelry Stash page to recall its weight, how many yards I have, see if I still have it or gave it away, and to see similar yarns I might be forgetting I have. Glancing at my map, I see that I stuffed all super-stretchy yarns in a flattened bag that's under the left side of my bed. It took mere minutes to confirm that this weird old yarn is the best choice on hand, and find all skeins of it.
Crochet Project Notes:
I love using clear plastic sheet protectors for this tricky combination of papers (pattern, yarn ball bands, diagrams) and thicker stuff like swatches. They tend to be stackable and easy to file, unless they're overly lumpy. They're durable, weightless, and reusable. When the project is a WIP
(work in progress), I add the crochet hook and small scissors to it, fold or roll it up, and add to my project bag like a kit. When the WIP becomes a FO
(finished object) I remove the tools from the pocket, add small amounts of leftover yarn, any notes I've scribbled about the project, and maybe a photo. If it's someone else's design, I file it away as a project journal page. If I designed it, I add it to an open bin of pattern drafts to publish.
Stalled, Unfinished Projects:
If the WIP stalls and becomes a UFO
(unfinished object) or 'PIG
' (project in grocery bag), I leave most of the info with the project in a zip-lock bag and shelve it. Then, I put the sleeve with basic identifying info in a UFO pile as a tidy way to instantly see my stalled projects.
Ravelry project pages are great for many features. For example, I find it's much easier to go directly to the Flickr photo set from the Ravelry page than to find the set from within Flickr. They're also designed to keep track of stalled projects, but I still use my sheet protector system for this.
I love clear sheet protectors so much that I also use them for organizing professional crochet contracts and ideas.
The high-capacity type is especially handy for keeping the freelance contracts, payment stubs, tech editing correspondence, and rough drafts together with each published design.
Blog posts I've written over the years about organizing crochet:
That's it for #34! If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks! --Vashti