Do you have lots of supplies, Dear Reader, for things like a craft, (or more than one), a hobby, for kids, or for your home office?
Do you know where everything is?
Loaded question, I know. Some of us might have things totally organized. But I suspect there are a lot more of us who, well, don’t.
It’s that part of us to whom I write.
When I’m not writing, I make stuff. Mostly, the stuff I make involves yarn. Not always, but in the interests of time and staying focused, (i.e. not chasing ALL the squirrels), I’m going to stick with yarn for the purposes of our discussion.
I truly do have a LOT of yarn. I started knitting the year my mother died and found, through knitting, a solace that other things haven’t brought me. But my obsession with yarn didn’t start there. If I look back in my own timeline, I see yarns woven in and out of my tapestry since I was a little girl. My first art, in fact, was embroidery.
I made a unicorn.
What about you? Do you have a particular interest in a type of material? When I was little, I loved stickers – a thing that has matured, I find, with friends who geek out for hours about washi tape and bujo (“bullet journals”).
So here’s where things get interesting. I love to write, I love to make things – particularly with yarn, and my day job is highly organized, (I work in the insurance industry). How are these things related? Well, I could get really philosophical and talk about relationship-driven business and how much I love to teach, and teaching is woven in and out of all three of those pursuits, but that’s not what I’m after today. No, today, I’m all about the organizing.
When I buy yarn, it’s usually in a specific place for a specific reason. I don’t necessarily mean “sweater for husband.” I mean I’m at a writing retreat, say, and we go visit a local yarn shop, (known in our subculture as an “LYS,” or “Local Yarn Shop). I buy a skein or two of high-end fiber, maybe out of the sale bin, (these fibers can be spendy!). I haven’t yet decided what to make, but it will likely be a shawl to commemorate my experience. My “Bryce Canyon Shawl” is one such example – made after a trip to, you guessed it, Bryce Canyon. (If you are a fellow yarnivore, my Ravelry is here.) More often, though, I don’t yet know what it will be, just that I want to connect the yarn to my trip and the people with whom I’m retreating.
Here’s how I do it: I have bins that I numbered. My first bins were actually repurposed cat litter buckets, washed out, and with the labels removed. My more recent ones are plastic shoe boxes from the big box store. (Now I feel compelled to note that some purists feel storing fiber in plastic can degrade it, so it pays to do your research and understand how you are choosing to curate your collection.) I made numbered labels for the bins, and then tracked them in a word table, something like this:
I’ll give myself as much context as I can, without going overboard writing a novel. I stress, the detail matters. “Green yarn for Suzie” is going to be a lot less helpful two years from now than you think it will. And definitely go through your collection from time to time. There are many benefits to this: maybe you and “Suzie” aren’t as close as you once were; maybe you have a new idea for an existing fiber – shop your stash!; maybe you want to use it for a new craft – this happens, as for example when I took up weaving.
There’s no reason you can’t have a well-managed yarn collection, and as my coauthor Rachel Wilder puts it, “it’s hours of pre-paid entertainment.”
Any other ideas? I’d love to hear in the comments.
And stay well, Dear Reader. ~hugs~