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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:
How to Journal About Your Crochet Ideas (professional concerns) http://bit.ly/mjV3jo
New Way to Organize my Design Ideas (The 2006 inaugural blog post!) http://bit.ly/rs6ldP
The Merits of Owning 10-Skein Bags (my personal favorite) http://bit.ly/siM0Df
Bead Organization, Simple Starts http://bit.ly/sEhZ6J
Swatch Management (I no longer do this with most swatches) http://bit.ly/rW0MVt

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: http://eepurl.com/XwQk ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
Special Care of Crochet Creativity
A Pile of Crochet Sparks
Crochet is extraordinarily versatile! This means anything can spark a crochet idea, or variations of one. My ideal system would capture all sparks, from fleeting fragments to detailed designs. Post-Its (or repositionable glue) and clear plastic sheet protectors work great for me.

Old stereotypes be gone: Crochet spans the full texture spectrum from paper-thin to sculptural 3D. I'm still working out one best way to "file" both extremes.

Crochet inspiration is passionately visual and tactile. This is tricky: I have snuffed out sparks by burying them too deeply in a file/pile. I've also also lost its full tactile impact by going overly digital (such as with online image records).


Links I Enjoyed This Week
I'm reading a great book by Elissa Auther! String, Felt, Thread and the Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (2009). Her site & video about her book: http://bit.ly/vJ72Y7
"Awesome Crochet Blog" awardshttp://bit.ly/vScnr5
Beautiful video about linen fiberhttp://t.co/a8DExFYH


DesigningVashti News
I'm revising one of my earliest published designs, the Chain Link Capelet (pictured here in progress; I wore it as shown to a holiday party last night). It's one of three patterns I originally wrote for CGOA's (the Crochet Guild of America's) pattern line in 2005. The other two are Pullover Shrug http://bit.ly/tek6ON and Sterling Handbag http://bit.ly/tzAh3s
I've been revising and republishing them myself in updated yarns because the original pattern line and yarns are discontinued. You can see the
original 2005 Sterling Handbag here http://bit.ly/t8ZRzy. Here is the 2011 bag (left) and the 2005 bag (right): 

Doris Chan tried on the
original Chain Link Capelet here http://bit.ly/rRA1kq after a 2007 conference fashion show. It's fun trying on each others' designs! Guest pass showing Myra Wood wearing Chain Link Capelet on the same night: http://flickr.com/gp/vashtirama/DCk8J7 
To keep up with the
revised Chain Link Capelet, check in later at its project page: http://ravel.me/vashtirama/clc2

Stay Tuned:
I'll be teaching a FREE, IN-DEPTH SERIES of crochet classes in Sarasota Florida this winter! The location is a great yarn shop for these classes. I'll provide a link to the class schedule when they're listed. Until then you can explore the yarn shop's website: http://bit.ly/v7hA6Z

Marie Segares is interviewing me for her Underground Crafter blog! I'll announce the link to it when it's posted.

An Italian translation of Slip Slope Scarf will be published soon at http://www.maglia-uncinetto.it/
I'll let you know when that happens. Until then, check out everyone's Slip Slope Scarves in Ravelry! http://bit.ly/voLV9W

I leave you with the chillingly* pixelated crochet visage of a
Minecraft Creeper!  It's the start of a challenging crochet project my son requested. This will be an 
8" cube-shaped head; the finished 3D figure will stand 26" tall! He tells me it's being favorited with 'diamonds' in a Minecraft forum, so I'd better get crackin' on it. Second photo from the top of this column shows the planning graphs.  
http://ravel.me/vashtirama/c1p8s
*I'm told it's chilling by fans of the game.
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