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  • Great tips here! I am going to venture into my stash room in the After Times (retirement!!!!). Leading up to this glorious day — 56 days and counting — I have done a DEEP clean of the rest of my home. To give you an idea of how badly this was needed, I found a flatbed scanner I had no recollection of having bought.

    • Congratulations, THE Wendy! On the deep clean AND retirement! 🙂

    • I once unearthed an espresso maker. I have zero idea where it came from, but had moved with it cross country!

      • My comment is this: i love all of my creative stuff and love to visit with it and move it around. It is all stashed in that back office tv room and now I want more space and more projects to think about, plan about and work on when the time is just so.. Thank you all for being so much like me. This community is just wonderful. Thank you MDK!

    • Congratulations, Wendy!

      Enjoy!

  • I think Olive was hoping for a ‘Log cabin’ quilt to snuggle up in when the weather turns cooler

    • Great article, Kaye. Noro Silk Garden is one of my favorite yarns to have in my stash. And to knit with. I say sew up those 111 squares and wrap yourself in the beauty.

  • Thank you so much – this is so useful! Particularly like that no photographer from Architecture Digest is coming round (that would be a wasted trip!)

    Thought people might like to know that Hedgehog Fibres take donations of every type of yarn, to turn into flecks in their Tweedy yarn; you receive a voucher depending on how much you send. I keep a Jiffy bag next to my crafting chair and all the odds and ends go in there; ends left after weaving in, yarn ties, little bits of leftovers. It’s helping me tidy on a macro level!

    • Clutterbug website is great for how to determine what type of storage you might need for your personality. When trying to get organized. I found it very helpful for my Knitting/quilting room.

    • Thank you for the inspiration. This week’s new window installation (total rip and replace, going way more smoothly than anticipated) is leading directly to next week’s deep clean. Moving everything away from all of the window areas was the hardest part. I already know that some of the fabric I was saving for a quilt back will become a dress inspired by yesterday’s post.

      My daughter’s birthday is blocked out as an August beach day.

      A friend of mine had her house photographed for her architect’s portfolio and website. Looked totally photo-ready to me. New, pristine, no clutter…Took hours of preparation in reality.

    • Anyone know of a place in the U.S. like Hedgehog that recycles yarn? Shipping to Ireland is a bit much.

      • I keep my ends for those – I need to mend a hole – or playing yarn chicken – or to put stitches on hold for a bit. Comes in handy. Or I use them when I’m weaving to add “texture” to a project”.

        • Great article, Kay…thank you! I will be referring to it when I tackle the chaos in my craft room.

      • Great article. I actually have an arts and craft play space to establish, but have to get the rest of the oddments from the move cleared first.

      • I’m not sure what Hedgehog does but I would look for local equivalents of Scrap PDX (https://portland.scrapcreativereuse.org/) – they run on donations of supplies that can be used for arts/crafting

        • Thanks for the link, unfortunately they only accept donations in person not by mail 🙁 but sounds like a great place if you’re local.

      • Keep a bag handy when knitting and use any yarn ends as stuffing for cushions (make thrm small and from fully washable and pretty fabric with removable covers) and give to charities to distribute to people in need. Shetland Islanders (Hazel Tyndall and Elizabeth Johnson) use every piece of yarn for stuffing for knitted/crocheted/sewn dolls, bears, cushions, decorations, home sewn tailor’s hams, Christmas stars etc. Cut longer pieces into shorter lengths or use brightly or contrasting longer coloured pieces as stitch markers by draping in between stitches, just pull out when finished. Use for visible mending projects. Arne & Carlos have a tip to card & felt unused ends. Put very small pieces of 100% natural yarns in the bokachi bucket or compost bin. So many uses!

    • I just returned from a family visit that included helping a nine-year old great niece organize her bedroom to make space for her ‘art table’ and crafts. Nice to see that motivation so young. #exhausted

    • Thank you.
      (Why yes, I do have far more odds and ends than any one packrat should collect. Glad to know there’s a place that can use them.

      • O:h, oops. Forgot they were in Ireland! Sigh.

    • Apparently when my great grandad died one of the things they found while clearing out his shed was an old tobacco tin labelled ‘pieces of string too small to be of any practical use’.

      • Sounds like an interesting addition to the coffee table to me! Oh the conversations it could inspire.

    • thanks! didn’t know that & feel guilty of discarding «  good ends »

    • Thank you so much for this tidbit, a real “pearl of knowledge”. Now those bits and bins will find a home

  • Thank you for this motivational post❤️ We are halfway through our home renovation. It was stalled due to Covid and now the need for a new roof (hail storm). I will have a studio! Can hardly wait to get organized

  • Kay,
    Thank you for this post! I very much need to go through my craft closet and sort. It’s been on my list forever, but now I’ve got the inner drive to do it. I’ll start today..

  • Oh, wow. You have inspired me to work faster at creating a fabric stash. Jealousy is an ever present driving force.

    • The part about don’t sit down and start reading labels is what resonated with me the most. Remain upright! I’m a spinner and weaver also so that’s what happens to me. I lose sight of my goal of clearing my work table surface and start imagining the possibilities of all the fiber and yarn I’m trying to put away instead. Sometimes I shift things around on the table because of new ideas.

  • I like the idea that this tidying is getting the work surfaces open and ready to go. I just retired and am so excited to actually have time to do stuff…so this was inspiring.

  • Will you come to my house?!!

  • Thank you. So timely and I share your Midwest-New York mix

    • Thank you for your inspiring article. Our flooded basement needs recarpeting which mean moving my stash needless to say I’m sorting and donating many unfinished projects.

  • This is probably the only useful Re-org article I’ve ever read, and I’ve been around a block or two. I’m in the process of reorganizing my art studio to accommodate a 44” x 48” floor loom, and it’s a challenge for the heart as well as fir the mind.

    • As a long time weaver, spinner and knitter I know what you mean. One bit of advice is keep the loom bench clear of things, even temporarily.

      • I’ve found that putting anything “here, just for now” is a MAJOR mistake!

  • I just did the same the weekend before last, so technically still July. I came across 3 WIPs that I had let languish. Ripped one completely and another to the armholes so can “rejigger” the patterns. Two are on vacation with me, so how about that?

    And also, hey… I thought I was the only one with a Tote Bag de Tutti Tote Bag!

    • What the heck is a tote bag de tutti tote bag? Never heard of this.

      • A bag containing other bags. I seem to collect them…

        • Don’t we all? Cloth tote bags, bicycle tote bags, leather tote bags, etc etc etc
          I felt amazing when my daughter asked for a tote bag and I had a stash

  • Best post! AND perfectionism is a hard one to deal with. I try to remember that John Ruskin thought that perfection was a sign of machine made. We are human!

    Just read “Discardia” by Dinah Sanders. It might have been a recommendation that I found on MDK?? The biggest takeaway was, when trying to decide whether to keep or discard, think – would I buy it again.

    As far as my new craft space…….our youngest just put his place on the market (Insert rubber band sound effect) and moved back in (the craft space (scream 🙂 ) till he transfers. I feel like I am invading his privacy, even though it’s my space. What’s wrong with this picture??? LOL

  • Well, thank you. I have very little stash, so I was thinking oh nice, but I have no fabric to suddenly make into something..and realized when you mentioned quilt backing a piece of terry I had never backed that patchwork quilt I never made with. And I need a robe. I think it will work! Hand stitched like everything, no machine. I will do this!

    Great idea, Kay!

  • Moving also provides motivation to clean up and out, in preparation for putting house on the market. No magazine photographers but the realtor did hire a professional to take pictures of the various angles in our home. I am looking forward to setting up my craft room in the new house – neatly and orderly, of course!

  • Oooh those pajama pants are delightful!! And based on my current Terrier experience (a Westie, aka ‘Ms Tiger’) it seems like I wouldn’t want to know what she’d say. She’d be full of sass, and that blanket is going to be fabulous!! I adore every square.

  • My favorite part of the article, ‘It’s not about getting rid of stuff’

  • Stay upright. Keep moving. You know me . . . .

  • OK that was good but what do you do with all the yarn that you don’t want anymore or think you want to clear out? Also how do you store are you are do you have them in bins do you organize them by color that’s my problem I have so much yarn I don’t know what to put them in so they are in bags under my bed hiding it thank you

    • I can donate unloved stash to my church’s prayer shawl ministry, or put it in a LYS stash sale. I try to put yarn by weight in bins that can be stacked. One woman’s solution.

    • Donate it to your local senior centers. They all have craft groups and they are SO grateful. My large knitting group has a yearly “yarn swap” event; whatever is left over goes to my local senior center. This includes not only yarn, but pattern leaflets, books, and notions. They even like to get UFOs.

    • One way to keep track of yarn is to use a spreadsheet or data base. I have a data base that includes the name, manufacturer, fiber type, gauge, total yardage/weight, and where the heck it is in the house. It also includes where it came from and when, b/c that can trigger an image for met – you would include whatever is best for you. I can sort by gauge or color, which is helpful for projects – and also helps me resist new yarn if I see there’s already something similar in the stash … well, often it does that. Takes only 1-2 minutes to enter yarn and then it can be found forever!
      If you’re on Ravelry you can do something similar with their stash pages but I already had this set up, and also don’t really want my stash list our in public!

    • P.S. First you do your cleanout, then you set up the data base and do entries gradually by area: first under the bed, then the hall closet, etc – small bites prevents overload!

    • I donated my unwanted yarn to my local high school’s textiles class and they were over the moon with all the “new” raw materials they could use.

  • Using a ping pong table as your craft table is just absolutely brilliant.

  • After some deep stash assessment during COVID, I would add three additional suggestions for organizing:
    1. If you have yarn of unknown origin, care needs, etc., donating/discarding is a good idea. I decided to do this with my stash.
    2. Keep stash in airtight bags, in case you have insect issues at some later date. I used the plastic bags that you can vacuum the air out to save space.
    3. I’ve found magazines to generally be less useful over time as the yarn used the projects get discontinued quickly. There are some exceptions to this (Lopi, Rowan, Noro come to mind). I donated almost all of them to the local public library.

    WIPS can be a minefield! I was able to complete some old WIPS during COVID but one Fair Isle project is beyond salvaging, I’m afraid.

  • This article is my very favorite thing this week. Thanks!

  • Most helpful and inspired

  • Thank you!

  • The borrowed time collection is brill.

    • Borrowed from the Apartment Therapy concept of the “outbox.” You put things in there that you’re thinking of getting rid of, but they can stay there until you’ve made up your mind. Meanwhile you experience your apartment without those things and see if you miss them.

  • What an inspiring piece! Since retiring 6 years ago, I turned my former study into a Yarn Room and a guest room into the Sewing Room—-what a mess they both are! Time to get to it—-the idea to work in 2-3 hour bits makes this seem do-able to me. You’ve provided so many excellent pithy sayings, I think I’ll write them up on index cards to inspire me during the process:-) thank you, Kay!

  • Righteous, Kay! Also, you’ve reminded me that I want to get Wonder Clips. Thanks again!

  • Love this description of cleaning up and will use it as an inspiration. Also, envious of that ping pong table!

  • Lots of great tips and advice, indeed. I am much relieved to know that I am not alone in needing plenty of room to work. And to merely carve out “adequate” elbow room doesn’t do it for me. It’s not just a physical need, it’s a mental need. The actual task of cleaning up my work space/craft room is often a hard one to start, but the rewards are so worth it! Of course the best way to tackle this is to not let your space get out of hand to begin with, but that’s never going to happen, LOL!

    • Getting out of hand is part of the fun of making stuff! I love that flow state, messy as it is.

  • Thanks for the inspiration. My house is neat and tidy except for the ‘room’. That blanket of squares is going to be beautiful. I would drive myself nuts deciding where to place each square. Ask me how I know. I started a Babette blanket more years ago than I will admit. Its still unfinished due to color decisions. That ping pong table is a great size for cutting and placing. I predict a run on sales of tables.

  • Thanks for sharing I love the tips!!! The 111 squares of Noro Silk garden are beautiful!! This article has inspired me to tackle my hidey hole too! Olive is so cute! They are great little cheer leaders but mine loves yarn too but he loves to destroy hanks from playing and I love to make projects with them!

    • Olive is only tempted by mohair. She runs off with those and likes to carefully punch holes in the labels with her remaining teeth.

  • Brilliant, simple and it works. Thank you so much.

  • I see I am not the only one to use the spectrum of easy to difficult decisions regarding the keep or donate /throw out. It helped me in the early stages of clearing my folks’ home of 60 plus years! only thing was I fell off the wagon of doing a bit each week in the latter months of my Mother’s life and still ended up with a lot at the end which I had hoped to avoid.

  • Olive WAS trying to help! She was urging you to finish that Noro blanket. After all, winter is coming and cold terriers LOVE warm, snuggly blankets!

  • Such a cheerful, helpful article. Thanks for making my day!

  • I call mine the “sack of sacks” and it lives near the “box of boxes.” Great and inspiring article.

    • Ours is “bag o’ bags” or, to be clear (and painfully accurate), “bags o’ bags.”

  • Oh man, I need to do this (again)! Not only does my workroom house most of my projects & supplies, it’s also part office, and the place where everything gets stashed if there’s a quick need to clean off the kitchen table, let’s say, or the cleaning ladies are coming and I need to get stuff out of the way! By late summer, with all the busy-ness of living, it’s a Disaster. Thanks for all the great tips! I’m a big fan of the timer.

    • Twins separated at birth? My small yarn room, just off the kitchen, is where I throw all the unopened mail, receipts, medical crap, bank statements, etc. when the pile on the kitchen table gets too big and guests are coming. I now must have a year’s worth to file away. Looking for an eyeglass prescription yesterday and discovered (to my horror) a cache of elderly unpaid bills. Luckily debtors’ prison has been abolished.

  • Kay, I was just thinking about those log cabin squares! If my memory is correct, you were just making them without a specific purpose. I scrolled IG and found two entries. The first was from November 9, 2014. Two rows of squares, a different ball of Silk Garden for each row. Reading from left to right (as was suggested), the coloring of each square shifted/changed. The caption was something like “I don’t know where I’m going with this”. The second entry was April 5, 2015. Two stacks of squares (104). The caption was something like “~300 ends and 3 season’s of Rev = 104.

    I am hoping that you will decide to make something with the squares. Olive does, too. If she doesn’t get her blanket, Ruh Roh!

  • Yes, the Flow State to create requires/produces messiness for me too. It’s a joyous “pull from the tangle” moment when all my collage materials are at hand, despite giving up our dining table for well over a year…so now that I cleared the table & organized & shelved my multiple piles of collage materials, actual collaging has ebbed! Out of sight does mean out of mind, to me, apparently.

    Kay, my fave part of this excellent post was the dotty PJ bottoms in process! I notice how many dotted items I have: Polish pottery, so many dotty dresses (thanks Gudrun Sjoden), napkins, socks & underwear, pillow covers… it’s an underlying theme that always pleases me. DOTS = JOY!

  • I did a clean out of my yarn earlier this year in two phases: Yarn that I wasn’t going to use, and so I donated it to a local group that makes hats and scarves and things for people in need, and then I took what as left and then sorted it by weight. I have matching Container Store bins with FUN LABELS and it creates a nice sense of order in the fiber madness!
    I would love to learn to sew clothes but alas, no sewing machine….

  • Thanks for a very helpful article. All the tips are great. Now all I have to do is start……
    Those Noro squares are going to make a very beautiful blanket.

  • Pretty sure your plan was to send those squares to me. They were in the donate pile, right?

  • Great ideas- but starting is the hard part. My first project was my yarn- I got 3 Billy shelves from IKEA with Glass doors. Now I can see what I have and I can keep bugs out- lots of lavender and cedar blocks.

  • I find clearing my project space and periodically going through all my stashes a totally fun rainy Saturday activity. Finding yarn or fabric or crafting books I had all but forgotten about always feels like a special treat.

  • I’m delighted to see that I’m not the only one who finds a ping pong table to be a fabulous crafty work area! I too have to impose periodic crafty cleanup sessions, as I engage in far too many passions….knitting, quilting, paper crafts…but I love them all!

  • can you please give the pattern for the knitted squares you have on your big table,I would love to use my scrap yarn,to make a cozie blanket…I’m fairly new to knitting,so I would need a pattern…thanks

  • Thank you for the borrowed time option! Love it!

    I always agonize over things in the moment. This will be a great thing for me, esp. because it has a name.

    • It’s a way of auditioning the idea of getting rid of something! You can still get it back, but by putting in the borrowed time pile you are seeing if you like that decision or not. This idea works for difficult decisions in life too! Pretend to make the decision one way and see how that sits.

  • Congrats on your re-org project and thanks for the hard-earned tips. Question: how do you organize your needles? Mason jars? Seriously? Does that work for circulars…I’m into circulars – have a few interchangeable sets but most are fixed circulars comprised of a variety of sizes, lengths and types (wood, metal, square, aluminum) etc. Maybe the answer is that I just have too many needles to organize!

    • Since I started knitting on straights, I still have a lot of them and keep them in jars. I use circulars much more often, so much so that I store them in one of those cloth hanging storage things in my bedroom so that they are easy to grab them. Mine is hand made but it’s similar to the ones that are available in white canvas with labeled tubes for the different sizes. It’s a pretty casual system but it works for me even though I have lots of circulars.

      • Thank you. I’m searching the internet now!

      • My circulars are always a jumble and I am resolved to it. I tried to reform and made one of those thingies and filed all the needles (I even made a separate layer so I could put the shorter lengths in front!), but failed to re-file the needles as I used them. So they are back to resembling a bag of tangled snakes hanging on a hook inside the closet door. But if I dump the bag on the floor and can approach the tangle and extract an 8 by eye on the first go, like some Jackstraws champ, I feel really, really good.

    • I use a cork board, and pin the needles, including circulars, in size order, in their original packaging as possible. It’s both tidy & visual. I also have a spreadsheet for needles, so I can check before buying something I already have. WIP’s and on needles present a wee challenge!

  • Great ideas! I would also add “play decent music in background” to this list – always make things go faster for me when tidying or rearranging shelves, folding washing etc.

    • My clean outs are always an adventure! Usually at least one item that is a carry over from the last clean out. Thanks for a great article – I enjoyed every minute of reading your tips.

  • Thank you Kay! I feel better already!

  • See this doesn’t help me at all. It just makes me want to run out and buy a bunch of fabric to make cushions.

  • This is the perfect blog. It reaches me exactly where I am today; organizing while knitting and sewing; deciding what to keep and how to keep it AND what to do with it; being loose, as you say, without strict deadlines for completion. This sort of time let’s me think more creatively, too. That is what summers have always been for, I think.
    I have two log cabin quilts pieced from squares that I made while sitting with a sick loved one years ago. I just kept making squares…. Everyone’s well, and now I have a couple of great quilts, too!

  • I always say, “the Queen of Wngland isn’t coming over.” Lol. What a fun, sassy and encouraging post.

  • Oh for a craft room. Try thinking about quite a few craft projects in the living room and the storage under the bed

  • This article is the kick in the arse I need to get my space organized! And in addition to the part where one does this monumental task in chunks, this advice is probably the best bit of all: “…but don’t sit down on the floor and start looking at labels. Stay upright! Keep moving!” Thank you so much for this!

  • I especially like the tip to only make easy decisions. I get bogged down with guilt when a project stalls. Keeping WIPs in view helps them get some love again!

  • Can you come to my house? My studio has become the “open the door, toss item(s) in and close door immediately… there is a risk of being sucked into that place… the “Black of of Can’t Cutta”!
    Guess I will go sit on the beach
    Kate M

  • Such a timely article with great tips, thank you! I re-read your article at least 5 times, took notes, skinnied up my to do list and spent an afternoon taking care of my rooms. I had started the process over a year ago – egad – got bogged down with cataloging supplies, thinking I would make a spreadsheet from the get go. At that point I had taken over the guest room as well for sorting. There everything sat for an embarrassing amount of time.
    Kay’s highlights and take aways for me :
    Do not sit, remain upright, keep moving.
    Think big and broad, do not get caught up in the minutiae of the beautiful bits and bobs.
    Clear work space create initial order
    Make improvements, let go of end all perfection.
    Big decisions can wait.
    By evening my guest room is guest ready – whee! – my work space is where i want to be all the time 🙂
    Thanks again, Kay, you are a wonder. Your blanket in the making is a beaut.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was just on the verge of starting to do the clean up – this is very helpful. I am inspired because my grandson has just learned to climb out of his port-a-crib (aka Pack and Play) – he usually sleeps in the yarn room – full of pins, scissors and much much more. Time to clean up.

  • The photo reminds me of using our ping pong table for a sewing surface when I was in high school. It’s a great surface.

  • Thanks for the mention of “back to school” in the same breath as craft space organization. It made me remember that I have a college student leaving home for the third fall in a row. I will get to have a craft room again! It will have ample storage and a desk and my stuff can finally get to be all in one place… As much as it’s been an unexpected pleasure to have all this extra time with my kid, I really, really hope she gets to stay at school this year… and I get her room.

  • I don’t really have a “craft space.” I have an area in our basement where I have my bins of yarn, but no real area that I can call mine and actually have space to do projects. I am biding my time until the oldest kid leaves for college (in five years), but until then, part of the Christmas closet is all there is. This post does remind me, however, that it is time to toss the stash and reorganize it. Until now, I have just been shoving new yarn into any bin that has room. It occurred to me that this was not the best way to organize my yarn when I recently attempted to put together colors for a mystery knitalong and had to pull yarn from multiple bins. I think I will sort it by weight from now on.