We know so many awesome knitters, and if there’s one thing that unites them, it’s “the stash.” Yarn for upcoming projects, yarn they loved and just had to have, leftover yarn, gifted and inherited yarn… stashes can quickly grow out of control.
In fact, when I needed a picture of a stash for the cover photo, I texted my knitting friend and the co-owner of Fleece to Fabric and said “are you near some yarn right now?” Her response was “Always” and she sent me a picture of what was next to her at that moment!
Recently, Lenore and I had a question about how to manage a large yarn stash in a small space. Since this seems like a problem that more than one person has, we thought we’d share our answer!
Analysis: defining the problem
Hobbies are one of those things where the relationship between the space and the activity really matters a lot, because they create a lot of clutter-in-motion (happy clutter) that can quickly become just regular, annoying clutter.
If your space fits your stash but not your knitting habits, you won’t be able to maintain it. So it’s important to look at both parts of the equation when deciding how to manage it.
- How much square footage do you have to devote to your stash?
- Is there a room or a closet that you want to use? A book shelf?
- Do you want to see your stash?
- Do you want your stash to be close to the place where you knit?
- How easy is the space to access?
- How many projects do you have on the go at a given time?
- Do you keep or discard leftover yarn?
- Do you want to keep projects close to hand?
- How quickly do you go through your yarn?
- How much yarn do you have?
- Do you work with a lot of similar yarns, or are they almost all different?
- What types of yarn are you storing? Wool needs light and circulation, so that is important to consider if it is your main type of yarn. (Thanks to our knitting expert Cai Ballantyne for this feedback!)
Yarn Storage Solutions
Our solutions assume you have relatively limited space compared to how much yarn you want to store. We have prioritized vertical storage and visual assessment. So, we assume you want to be able to quickly look and see what you have, whether it is “out” on display or not.
All of these solutions compartmentalize yarn in some way. Most of the people who have taken these pictures have organized by colour, but when thinking about your own stash, include things like different weights or fibers. If you tend to have a wide variety of yarn, you’ll want a solution with more compartments. On the other hand, if you tend to say, use mostly the same type of sock yarn in different colours, you can choose options with larger, but fewer compartments.
This is a visually stunning option that has a lot of flexibility. It’s highly customizable to the space you have, and can incorporate tools as well as yarn.
- Adaptable to different sized spaces
- Makes use of vertical space
- Can hold tools as well as yarn
- Close to knitting spot
- Independent sorting (yarns don’t have to be grouped together in any particular way)
- Easy to find yarn
- Potentially a more expensive option, depending on how much peg board you use and the number of hooks and add-ons you buy.
- A more time and skill intensive solution (although still well-within the confident beginner’s abilities)
- Yarn needs to be wound into balls first
- Potential for dust
- May not be compatible with pets
Overall, we love this solution for its ease of use and beauty. However, it may not be for everyone. It’s probably best for a high-volume knitter, so that the pre-winding and dust issues are significantly lessened.
Shoe bags or over-door cubbies
What we like about shoe bags is their limited capacity per loop. It keeps things easy to find, and easy to pull out.
If you don’t have closet space for your stash, you could put up a wall shelf with hooks or a bar underneath that you can hang the bags off of. Then you can have baskets or boxes for your tools and project bags on the shelf.
There are also a wide variety of “over the door” hangers that are basically the same, but have hooks to sling them over your door instead of on a rack. Which you choose really depends on the space you’re using.
- Easy, quick, and visual
- Small compartments mean it’s easier to keep the whole organization pattern neat, and you can store more varieties of yarn
- “Hackable”: attach to a wall shelf, add hooks to the bottom and loop it in half (to keep away from floor), etc.
- No need to wind balls
- Stores about forty skeins per bag (if you get a similar size to the one in the picture).
- Might be tricky with the pets
- Better for smaller stashes
- Doesn’t have a spot for tools (unless combined with dedicated shelf)
This is a great solution for people with smaller stashes who don’t necessarily want to “display” their stash, but still want it to be visually easy to search through. It’s also got a lot of potential as one component of a larger project.
X insert for bookshelf
If you have a shelf dedicated to yarn (or that you plan to dedicate to yarn) an X insert can be a really great way of keeping it organized.
- Gives structure to an open shelf
- Low cost options for buying or building
- Relatively easy to build
- Easily customized
- Depending on the size of the triangle spaces, they could get messy easily
- Fewer compartments mean it is less effective if you have a lot of variety that you want to keep track of.
- If the insert is deep, yarn could still get lost at the back
A lot of people have used variations on this insert, but basically all bin-based solutions have the same issue: you really want to have one bin per category of yarn. So the commercial X-inserts (which are usually built as wine racks) tend to be low on my list of good options.
However, Ami’s solution pictured above was to create a custom-sized insert. The most difficult part of this is the planning: the actual process of making the insert is pretty easy. So, if you like the look of this, or have a shelf already in use that would benefit from this design, definitely check out her tutorial!
What say you knitters?
In general, we feel the best solutions are “one stop shop” solutions that keep all parts of your knitting together: yarn, tools, project bags, patterns and whatever else. That way, when it’s time to put something away or get something out, it’s all right where you need it.
But we’d love to hear what you think. Have you tried any of these solutions? Do you have different ones, or priorities we missed? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook page. And if you want more ideas, follow our Craft Storage And Organization Pinterest board.