Sunday, April 8, 2012

Conducting a Yarn Stash Inventory

Let's see a show of hands: Who collects yarn? Yeah, I thought so. Rare is the knitter who just buys one project worth of yarn, knits it completely, then buys more yarn. I've never been that kind of knitter. Ever. I have a lot of yarn. No, seriously. You might *think* you have a lot of yarn, but honey.....

I try to regularly "air the stash." I don't remember who I heard that term from, but I like it. As in "Nobody bother me today! It's time for the annual airing of the stash." (said in a British accent, always.) Well, I don't get around to it annually. It's more like every 18 months or 2 years. But this year, the first weekend of the year, the stash got some air. A lot of air. It wasn't just an airing of the stash. It was also a project purge. I ripped out tons of old projects, recovered lots and lots of needles....but I'm getting ahead of myself. We must start at the beginning.

I have yarn in several placed throughout my house. In the living room, there's an armoire that holds all of my current projects. Upstairs, in the hallway, there's the big linen closet. In the master bedroom, there's the small linen closet and the cedar chest. All of these locations had become poorly organized and no longer made any sense. Time for an intervention.

First, I gathered my supplies:
  • Giant cup of Diet Coke from the Family Express
  • Digital Kitchen Scale
  • Ball winder
  • iPhone (equipped with Knit Minder; also for taking photos)
  • Battlestar Galactica, the complete series on Blu-Ray (which was an anniversary gift from my husband. You might choose some other form of entertainment while working.)
  • Baskets 
    • small--for organizing projects to be kept
    • large--for transporting all the freshly frogged and newly-wound yarn upstairs to join the rest of the stash

I tackled the armoire first. Any "current projects" that I knew were destined for the frog pond were pulled, ripped, rewound, and returned to the official "stash" upstairs. This, by itself, took an entire day. There was sorting and weighing and winding to do.
 This is the armoire before I emptied it. Complete mess. Each basket held its own project. Some of the baskets hadn't been taken out of the armoire in a very long time. Plus, there was stuff just crammed in, not in baskets at all. Sigh. (The bottom of the armoire holds Christmas dishes on one side and a file bin with nicely organized magazine clippings on the other.)
Clean slate! Diego liked it. So what happened to everything?
I spread it out on the living room floor for evaluation. Only several projects survived the purge. Most of the projects got ripped out, reclaiming the yarn for the future. Once the sorting/ripping/rewinding happened, it looked like this:
This is the yarn that was ready to move upstairs and be reintegrated with the rest of the stash. But the newly-organized armoire, full of projects I actually have plans to finish now looks like this:
See those baskets on the bottom shelf, on top of the bolt of fabric? Those are EMPTY! Ready for new projects.  (Supplies: Baskets are all from the Dollar Tree; I made the canvas circular needle holder myself.)

That was one full day of work. The next day was dedicated to the usual "airing of the stash."  I started with a big linen closet, small linen closet and cedar chest that looked like this:

Please tell me you can relate to this mess. I had just been shoving yarn in wherever it would fit. I'm really good about keeping an accurate inventory in KnitMinder, but sometimes I had to dig through the closets and the cedar chest before finding what I knew I had.

So, I pulled out EVERYTHING. My queen-sized bed isn't big enough to hold all of it at once, so I went a few boxes or bags at a time. I pulled the yarn out, gave it a good looking-over for moths, a little fluff, and reboxed in a way that made sense. For example: sweater-quantities (or project-quantities) of yarn went into individual boxes; most of my fingering weight sock yarn fit into one box. 

Short break to pet the kitties:
Spinning fiber went into X-Large Ziploc Bags.  I also picked up some sweater bags that were like cheap space bags at the Dollar Tree and used those for the yarn that would be stored in the cedar chest.

Then, I opened the bin of "leftovers." You know what I'm talking about. The partial balls that are leftover after you've completed a project. I can't bring myself to get rid of them, so they go into a bin, waiting for the day I come up with some brilliant way to use them.  A bin of unattended leftovers can be worse than a room full of unattended children:
 I love the challenge of detangling yarn. But this was ridiculous. I salvaged what I could and tossed the rest. In the end, my closets and cedar chest looked like this:
(I've since done something about the ugly pocket organizers on the door too, but I'll save that for another post.)
(If you noticed that I conspicuously left out the top shelf of this closet, you might like to know why. It's a mess of bags and purses I'm unwilling to part with. I'll deal with those later as well.)
I realize that, visually, the cedar chest doesn't show a huge difference. But, trust me, it's a huge improvement. 

Every time I complete an airing of the stash, I update my inventory in KnitMinder (as I mentioned before) and in an Excel spreadsheet. KnitMinder is handy and useful because it's on my iPhone. I can see what I have, what I've used for past projects, and how I'm planning to use certain yarns.  But, the Excel spreadsheet in useful in a different way.

I create fields for the standard stuff: yarn name, color, quantity. But I also include yards/ball and price/ball. This allows me to quickly calculate fun little things. 

What's the average yardage per skein of all of the yarn I own? 435.25 yards. (I own a LOT of lace weight yarn.) 

What's the average amount I've spent per skein? $11.46. Which is awesome....until you start doing some more math--or rather, letting Excel do the math for you. 

How many full skeins of yarn do I own? (I don't count the leftovers.)  656 full skeins. Yikes. 

How many yards of yarn do I own? Do I really want to know? 169,814 yards of yarn. 

Convert that to miles: 96.5. I own 96.5 miles of yarn. And I don't even remotely feel bad about it. I know it's all yarn I will use someday. I know it's all quality yarn that I love. No one I live with gives me a hard time about it. My husband has his own hobbies and hang-ups, so he knows better (you should see the vacuum tubes and vintage electronics in his project room!). 

Now, go organize your stash! If I can make my 96.5 miles of yarn look tidy, you can do the same with yours!

1 comment:

  1. Honey, as much as you think you have a stash mine would make yours looks silly. It's to the point that I feel liken a yarn hoarder. I'm with you tho, there's no Red Heart in my stash, it's all quality yarns and sooooo much of it! LOL! Good Luck with keeping it straight. i'm lucky enough to have a large Craft room as I need it since I also crochet, weave, spin, sew, needlepoint, and do counted cross stitch. I also like to play with beads and am looking for a tatting teacher! And all of my different hobbies have their own stashes, but the yarn is gettitng to a point that is scary! LOL!!