Posted by: jinniver | June 4, 2010

When is it too much yarn?

The flooded basement couldn’t have come at much of a worse time.  I was in the middle of (slowly) pulling out unpacked boxes and trying to reorganize our seriously cluttered basement.  It wouldn’t have earned us a spot on a hoarder reality show, but it was bad.  Unfortunately, this was one of those situations that have to get worse before they get better, because I had everything spread out all around the basement while I tried to figure out just what I had, what we were keeping, and what was going where.

When the flooding happened–the result of a discharge hose coming detached from the back of the washing machine during a load of laundry–I was able to save everything…but that meant it had to be piled out of the way while I shoveled the water.  Yes, I said “shoveled”–when you can’t find the hose to the wet/dry vac, a snow shovel is a slow but effective way to pick up a decent amount of water.  By the time Steve was able to get home after my phone call, I was in the mop up stage.

What we didn’t realize at first was how much water had gotten under the carpet in the finished area of the basement (I’d blocked that off first thing, when I realized that the carpet was at the lowest point of the basement and the sump pump was at the highest part).  We tried to dry it out, but the restoration team that was called in declared the carpet a loss.  So that meant even more shuffling stuff around at top speed so the old carpet could be pulled and new carpet put in.

As a result, yarn (and knitting magazines, and notions, and everything else) ended up everywhere.  And now I’m trying to get it into the order that it never was in the first place.

Step one was to get all of my yarn into one spot.  The result was a bit…overwhelming.

yarn organization (1)

yarn organization (2)
My project drawers, for any queued projects I’ve already matched to yarn

yarn organization (3)
Even my work basket, on the left, needed emptying and reorganizing

yarn organization (4)
These bins were all there was of my original storage system…and they didn’t hold all of my yarn even when I first bought them

yarn organization (5)

There were some nasty surprises during the reorganization.  A friend in the Three Irish Girls group had recently sounded the alarm about carpet beetles, so I did some research about them.  I was feeling quite relieved that I’d never had a carpet beetle issue, when I saw a cute little bug crawling on a wool/acrylic blend (mostly acrylic; I think he was confused).  The coloration on the back looked the same, although it was hard to tell since the bug was so small, and I immediately went to red alert.  A search of my stash had no signs of infestation, which was good, and I proceeded to buy out my grocery store’s freezer bag section.  I was searching for contact info for various pest control companies when a small note about carpet beetles caught my eye–a mention of size.  Apparently, carpet beetles and their larvae are about 1/4″ long.  The bugs I’d seen?  About 2-3 mm.  Not carpet beetles.  Cancel red alert…but all of my yarn is now bagged.

But that wasn’t until after I found a box of yarn that one of my cats decided to use as a litter box.  Could he have peed on the cheap yarn?  Nope–he chose some irreplaceable Three Irish Girls yarn in the limited edition Dye for Glory colorways.  These are 2 cats who had each had exactly one out-of-litter-box accident in their lives (neither their fault), even when they were new kittens…and who also knew better than to go anywhere near my yarn.  I was a bit beside myself.  Fortunately, my plea for advice on Twitter garnered some recommendations, and I started with a diluted distilled white vinegar soak.  That seemed to have done a pretty good job, so I did another soak in the vinegar, followed by a long soak in Soak.  End result–zero odor (other than the faint scent of the Soak).  Then all I had to do was untangle the skeins I hadn’t made sure were tied well enough…and the one that I forgot to take out of the washing machine (spin cycle only, to get as much water out as possible) until after it went through with a load of laundry.


I figured it was going to take me days to get this one taken care of–if I even could–but to my amazement it was just several hours of concerted work. Before I went to bed, I had this:


The first thing I needed to do was decide how I was going to sort the yarn.  Originally, I’d just put it in the bins as I came to it, and the only organization I used was to try to keep all the yarn from the same company or indie dyer together.  I wanted an organizational system that made more sense–even though I had my laptop set up right next to the yarn piles so I could enter location information on each stash page in Ravelry (thank you, thank you, thank you, Casey!).  I thought about organizing by fiber, but most of my yarn is or has wool…and I wasn’t sure of the best way to handle all the various blends.  It made a lot more sense for me to organize by weight, since I’m generally going to be looking for yarn of a certain weight rather than a certain fiber.

yarn organization (6)
The organization begins.

It took several hours, but I finally got all of the yarn sorted.  I eventually had about a half a bin each of lace and bulky weight; small bits of novelty, scraps, partially used balls (larger than scraps, but need to be rewound because they’re tangled); small bins of roving and handspun; a slightly larger bin for yarn I was planning to destash; and large bins for fingering, DK, and worsted/aran weight (which ended up spilling over into a 2nd bin), and Three Irish Girls yarn.

yarn organization (8)

What…you don’t store your Three Irish Girls separately to avoid it overwhelming the other bins?  Huh.

yarn organization (11)

At any rate, I was pretty pleased with my progress, but by the time I was done sorting I knew there was yarn missing.  I was on the lookout for 2 specific skeins of yarn that I’d allotted for planned projects, and I hadn’t found them.  Then I remembered I’d stashed some yarn away in the cedar chest in my bedroom.  So, just as I thought the sorting was done…

yarn organization (9)

There are some skeins still missing, but those were ones I’d purchased in Texas so chances are they’re just in a box I haven’t opened yet. I hope.

Not all of the yarn in the original piles were sorted in these bins–some went into the project drawers and my work basket.  For this, I went to my Ravelry queue, which I’d carefully organized in order that I want to complete the projects and linked each to yarn in my stash (did I say thank you yet, Casey?  Thank you!).  The first several projects went into my work basket, and the rest went into the project drawers–in order, from top to bottom then right to left.  Where I already had the pattern printed out (since most of the patterns I have planned are PDFs), I folded it in half and slotted it neatly in the front of the drawer.

yarn organization (13)

yarn organization (14)

The larger drawers were purchased mostly to handle projects that require more yarn than I can fit in the small drawers (like the upper left drawer, which has some Three Irish Girls Springvale Bulky to make a Heather Hoodie Vest for me).  Some of the yarn, though, like in the lower right drawers, are skeins where I know what I want to make, just not which pattern, and I know I want to do it soon–so I didn’t want to tuck it away.

After I had everything sorted came the tedious part–bagging all the yarn and putting it in the bins.  I had to make a few adjustments to my plans about where everything was going to go…but once I finished, every skein of yarn I owned was in a basket, a drawer, or a bin.  I was pretty darned pleased with myself…

yarn organization (12)

…and then I brought more yarn home.  Apparently, it’s not too much yet.



  1. Richard is most impressed with your organization, considering we spent most of last weekend putting yarn in spacebags. 🙂 While I’m happy I can now walk into my craft room, it seriously lacks your organizational mojo.

  2. Love your project drawers! What a great idea!

  3. I bow to your organizational skills. I think your method of weight is a good odea. I was doing color, but Tony drove and orange car – so a mountain of orange, and it is amazing how quickly my acquisition of red yarn accelerated last year! 😛

  4. Can you come to my house. I’m having a horrible time getting organized for this baby. Sorry about the flood!

  5. Hi, loved your organizational post! I’m looking for five-drawer bins just like yours. Can you tell me the brand or where you purchased them from? Thanks! Lea-Ann

    • It’s been a while since I bought them, but I’m fairly certain those drawers came from Lowe’s. (It’s in the realm of possibility that it was Home Depot, but I’m pretty sure at the time we were only using Lowe’s.)

  6. Yeah!!
    I can just feel the organization hitting me now!! Can’t wait to head to the City.


%d bloggers like this: