I was selling girl scouts cookies one time and really wanted to meet my quota. I lived in Chicago at the time and my mother did not want me going door to door. So after selling to as many of our friends as we could, she brought the last 60 boxes to help me out. After doing so, she was too embarrassed to tell my Father, (who has since been told) that my Mother hid the cookies all over the house. We had cookies everywhere from inside the dishwasher, the dryer and even in the closets. My Father finally asked one day after months of going to a bottomless cookie jar how many cookies did she buy. Then the truth came out that we had cookies hidden all over the house; and at this point my Mother was not even sure how many she had purchased or what remained.

So you’re wondering “What does this got to do with yarn?” This is a story that reminded me at one time of my yarn. I had it stashed all over the house, some in out of the way places, and others that were a tangled up assortment of colors and projects all knotted up elsewhere. I often overlooked or couldn’t find what I needed and would go and re-buy exactly what I had at home – until one day I decided to organize my yarn.

If you crochet, the fact is you have or will accumulate a lot of yarn. It is just a problem all crocheters deal with. You will usually have left over yarn from the projects you complete. Then you may have those that are works in progress or maybe you saw some yarn in the store you just had to have, but have yet to find the perfect way to use it. Let’s face it we have yarn stashed all over the house that is totally useless to us because we do not really know what we have, or we cannot get to it easily enough or  just got misplaced it.

I decided this week to do some spring cleaning. I mean why wait to spring to do it all; after all that is when I will want to be outside.

First thing – is to get all your yarn in one spot. Go right now to all the places you have your yarn. Every closet, shelf, crate, basket, corner and bag; where ever you like to store your yarn. Get every one of those odd balls of left over yarn and put all your yarn in one room. Do not forget all those unfinished projects you started and have not gotten around to finishing. Now sit back and look over all the yarn you have gathered up. Right now you are thinking one of two thoughts: you now are aware of the fact that you do not have a lot of yarn and you need to go shopping or you just had a horrified realization that you have enough yarn to open your own store. What ever the case might be once you have all your yarn in one spot you can get started.

Now I want you to first look at all your unfinished projects. This is when you need to be really honest with yourself. Ask yourself the following questions, will I really finish this project? Do I like the way it is looking? Do I know where the pattern is to finish it? Do I have the skill to finish it? Can I still get the yarn to finish it? If you said no to these questions; take a deep breath and start pulling it apart. I know you are thinking about all that work. It does not matter, the truth is if you are not going to finish the project it is a waste of yarn and space. As you pull it apart roll the yarn into nice, neat balls; then place the balls into a container.

Just think of the future projects you can make with that yarn. There is nothing that can make you feel more guilty then to have a bunch of incomplete projects laying around your house. Now that you have no reminders of negativism around you we can move on to the next step.

This is the tedious part. You are going to take all those half skeins and roll them into balls. Half skeins have a habit of tangling. Take the time to get rid of them now before that happens. If it already has happen, take the time right now to untangle the yarn and roll it into balls. When you are crocheting the last thing you want to do is stop crocheting to untangle yarn. Place all the ball into the container you started early; keep going till you have nothing left but full skeins.

Now you must choose the method of storage you would like. You can choose anything from milk crates to totes. What ever you choose make sure that your yarn is in a safe container, that will keep them dust and moisture free, and one that mice cannot get into. Yarn is an expensive investment and should be kept in a safe place.

Before my husband and I decided to downsize I was blessed with a walk in closet that had all my yarn in eye sight and easy to get to. On a book shelf we used stackable wire baskets and milk crates. But when we moved and decided to go into a smaller house this was no longer a possibility. Now I have four – under the bed totes for my full skeins of yarn and two totes for the rest. I also keep a duffle bag for my work in progress because when I am working on a project I do not like to keep all my yarn in my crochet bag. I usually carry six skeins with me and place the rest in my tote. This keeps it in one spot, easily accessible, and more convenient for me.

Everything up to now was preparation; now here comes the organizing part. This is what I have done that seems to work good for me. I looked over my yarn and if I had a large amount of one kind of yarn (like the projects I took apart or the yarn I brought but have not found the perfect project for) I place them in one tote. This is the first place I would look to either get inspired or to look for yarn before heading to the store. In the other tote I place all the balls of yarn I rolled up. This way they do not unroll and they are easy to go through for smaller projects. These are placed in the closet in my office. Easy to get to but out of sight.

The totes under my bed is where I place the rest of my yarn. They are grouped by color that matches for example my greens and yellow are together. then my reds and blues, etc.. Two totes hold my yarn weight 4 and up, another one of the totes hold my baby and sport yarns. The last one is my string and cotton yarn for things like doilies and dish clothes.

Do not ever throw yarn scraps away since one of two things can be done with them; One can keep them in an accessible location to be used for waste yarn, practicing new techniques, or even making a new scrap afghan. Secondly, if I have really small amounts of yarn left over from many different projects that I finished – I can now use these in an afghan pattern I have discovered and really like. (Picture below) This pattern requires only enough yarn to do the first round of a granny square. Whenever I have a small amount of yarn left I quickly make up one of them and keep them all together. When I have 760 squares (which usually takes me around 12 months to accumulate) I crochet the squares together to make the afghan. Lo and behold , no more unusable scraps and a paid for afghan for a gift.

Of course there are different organizing systems, and this is the one that works for me with our available room and space. Whatever system you choose, it will only be as good as how you maintain it and use it. So take the time to organize your yarn, you will be so glad that you did, and it just might be you will not buy yarn that you already have at home ever again.

Do you have an interesting system that worked for you? How about sharing it with our readers? Until next week keep those hooks flying.