Organizing Your Craft Supplies

Written by:  Eileen Troemel

You’ve just returned from the craft store with bags full of great deals on yarn, books, and other crafting items. The euphoria of the shopping and getting deals is waning as you look at your craft space and wonder where you’re putting it all. While yarn is squishy, you still need a place to put it.  Whether you have a closet, under the bed storage, or an entire room, getting your crafts organized is a task which can seem daunting. My craft room was a hodgepodge of shelving, baskets, containers, and other items which didn’t belong there.  While my yarn was sort of organized by type and color, there were a lot of items randomly put around the room. I couldn’t find what I wanted and would go buy rather than face the frustration of trying to figure out where something was stashed. This meant I needed to tackle the room and get it organized.

Think It Through

Organizing is like putting together a huge puzzle. In my craft room, I had to figure out the categories before I could figure out how and where I would store things. What did I want easy access to? What could be stored away? What did I use the most? Once I had these questions answered it was a matter of measuring everything – the closet, the room, where the windows are, the bigger storage I already had. 

Categories

Organizing is about grouping things in a logical way for you. It’s all about how you’re going to remember how you organized the items. It helps to sort your crafts into categories in order to figure out what you have and what size storage you may need.  Some possible categories include:

  • Yarn
  • Accessories
  • Projects
  • Other crafts

If you do other crafts you may have to include more categories. In addition to crocheting, I paint, sew, and embroider so when I organized my crafts, I had to include other categories in order to organize all my crafting supplies. At the same time, my craft room closet is where we store our suitcases and my husband hangs his work uniforms. This meant my plan had to incorporate these other storage items.

Space

Will your space be a full room, a closet, under the bed, or multiple places? Since my daughters are all adults, I have a room all to myself (mostly). I had so many options but a limited budget. With a whole room to work with, I needed to figure out how my storage was going to work. What would go where?  How would I accommodate all the storage needs for the room? Defining the space was key to me being able to look at what I had – cubed shelves, book shelves, and tables – and determine what else I was going to need. 

This had me facing a difficult decision – what to do about the closet. I wanted the WHOLE closet to be custom but this was not in the budget. My husband and I went to a box store to find a closet organizer which would allow us to put my husband’s uniforms in one place and still give me shelving for my other crafts. We couldn’t find one which would work for the whole closet. This was frustrating but my husband made custom shelves for the other half of the closet.

Large Commodities

The largest commodity I have is yarn. For this, I have cubed shelving which allows me to sort my yarn into categories. Sorting through my yarn, I opted to organize it by type of yarn and then by color. This meant all my crochet cotton was in a couple of rows of these cubes sorted by color. To fit my crafting needs, I chose these categories:

  • Thread
  • Cotton
  • Worsted weight
  • Specialty yarns

I have cubed shelves where I can see how much I have of each kind. This helps me see what my inventory is for color and kind. One thing to keep in mind with open shelves, if it’s on the floor you might want to use canvas cubes for the lower shelves to keep pet fur, dust and debris from spoiling the yarn.

Another big commodity I have is yarn for other people or specific projects. For this I used large storage containers. These don’t need to be out and easily available for me. They are projects I’ll get to as I’m working. It’s nice to put all the yarn for one afghan into a bin, label it and put it in the closet. When I finish one project like this, I can go looking for the next and know exactly where to look. To help with storage for large items consider some of the following:

  • Bins
  • Under the bed storage
  • Shelving
  • Drawers

My last big category was books and patterns. Some of my patterns are leaflets and magazines while others are full-length books. I’ve been crocheting for 40 years and gathering patterns. I’m attempting to go electronic with my patterns but still have a large physical collection. Electronically, I have a folder on my computer where I store all the electronic copies of patterns. I also keep this on a flash drive so I can access it away from my main computer. For physical books, magazines, and leaflets, I have two bookshelves where I put the books, binders, and cardboard magazine holders which I use for the leaflets and magazines. This helps keep all the books in one place for easy access.

Small Items

Once I had my yarn organized into cubes, I tackled other things like accessories. One of my accessories is buttons, lots of buttons. From a farm store, my daughter ordered nut and bolt organizers (container with drawers) for some of her crafts and gave me one. I sorted my buttons by color and they take up about half the organizer. I’ve put other small craft accessories in the other drawers like elastic, beads, and ribbon. Other options for small items include:

  • Peg boards
  • Small bins
  • Silverware organizers
  • Children’s pottery

Most people who crochet have several sets of hooks. The question which comes to mind is: do you keep your hooks by set or by size? Do you want your hooks in a hook organizer (like a pencil holder) or in something portable like a zippered pouch? Only you can answer these questions. Until recently, I used only a certain brand of hooks with only one set but multiples of the hooks I used the most like G and H.  However, arthritis had me buying different hooks. Now I have many sets of hooks ranging in size from the steel hooks to aluminum to the longer ones used for Tunisian or afghan crochet. For broomstick lace, I use large knitting needles for my “broomstick.” None of these have made it into my craft room. Instead they’re in a drawer organizer next to my spot in the living room where I do the majority of my crocheting.

Small Spaces

If you’re dealing with small space for your craft, you have to maximize every inch. This could be getting organizers for the back of doors or purchasing under-the-bed storage. Think outside the box by trolling the dollar stores and box stores looking for containers and organizers which are meant for other things like shoes or sweaters. One of the things I utilized was the plastic container your sheets, blankets, and comforters come in. These are great for keeping yarn clean and secure while still fitting nicely on a shelf in a closet.   

Yarn can become artwork. Instead of hanging pictures, attach your storage to the wall and organize the yarn into color blocks or in some other decorative way. Your yarn becomes art and you get storage. Additionally, the art changes as your supply changes and you do projects. 

Labels

Regardless of size, don’t forget to label your bins. At the time of organizing, you’ll swear you’ll remember what’s in the blue or red bin but 6 months later, you’ll have no idea. If you use clear bins, you can put a paper in the bin with a list of the contents. If you use solid colored bins, you can tape the list to the outside or use a label maker. 

Take Your Time

The preparation for organizing my craft room took weeks, most of which was me considering my options before making decisions. Doing the physical work of organizing and putting things away took about two days. Once you have it organized, live with it for a few weeks to see if it’s working for you. 

Organizing can seem overwhelming. The decisions involved in getting your yarn and crafts organized may seem endless. When it’s all done, you’ll be able to easily access your crafts and supplies in order to spend more time crafting. Getting organized will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Recently I needed a gift for someone and was able to walk into my craft room, find what I wanted and get to work on the gift in under fifteen minutes. My biggest problem: limiting what I took from my yarn stash. But no amount of organizing will fix that problem.

Check out our December 2016 issue of Happily Hooked Magazine!  It is full of great projects to help you tackle your New Year’s Resolutions!

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