Spinzilla Series: Organizing Your Spinning Stash

We all have one. Our collection. Our stockpile. Our stash.

Regardless of size, we all need to keep our fabulous fibre collections organized. Let’s discuss a few ways to keep on top of our generous acquisitions, or just celebrate our small assembly of wooly delights.

If you have a large stash…

Storing your fibre in plastic containers (Photo by Grace Verhagen)

Storing your fibre in plastic containers (Photo by Grace Verhagen)

  • See-through bins are a terrific option. They keep your fibre from compacting under the weight of fleeces piled above, and stop any dust, dirt, children or pets from soiling your roving. They can easily be stacked in a closet or corner so the DH doesn’t stumble over them. Label the boxes with stickers for reference. It’s so quick and easy to find what you need!
  • Comforter bags are another alternative that let you see the contents inside. These clear, tough, squishy plastic bags are originally used to package store-bought blankets, but they can also be purchased from dry-cleaner or moving supply companies.
  • They are designed to protect textiles, and many have vents to promote air circulation as well as providing sturdy protection against moths, mice, etc. One of these bags can store an entire fleece or a few pounds of roving.
  • Pillowcases are another popular way to store smaller fleeces. The cases themselves are easy to clean and readily available. Just remember to stick a tag or label on the outside of the bag before putting it into storage so you can easily find the fleece you are looking for!

If you have a small stash…

Storing fibre in baskets (photo by Grace Verhagen)

Storing fibre in baskets (photo by Grace Verhagen)

  • Plastic sandwich or freezer bags can be purchased at any grocery store. The clear sides allow you to easily observe what is inside and will protect your fibres nicely. However, a row of plastic baggies doesn’t look very pretty on a shelf, and it can be a lot of work to unwrap individual bags to touch the fibre inside.
  • Small cloth bags seem to provide more protection, but they are not my favourite option. You cannot see inside them so you have to work hard to poke through your stash. Also, many cheaper cloth bags do not close securely and can still provide an entrance for moths and mice if you are not careful.
  • Baskets are one of my favourite ways to display the fibres I am about to spin. They grant very little protection, but they are so inspiring to look at. It’s really satisfying to root through an entire basket of goodies to choose your next roving to spin.
  • Bowls maintain little safety from small grimy hands, dust or critters, but they can be a stunning way to decorate your crafting space (or even your kitchen or living room!). There is nothing like surrounding yourself with beautiful colours and textures to motivate you to spin…

How to sort your fibre…

Sorting your fibre by type (photo by Grace Verhagen)

Sorting your fibre by type (photo by Grace Verhagen)

  • Some people sort their fibre by weight. They might store sweater amounts of roving in one closet and small odds and ends in a covered basket somewhere else. By strategically placing your stash in different areas like this, it is harder to lose track of the amount of each type of fibre you have. The next time you add a lovely sweater pattern to your Ravelry queue, you only need to open one or two labeled bins to see if you have the appropriate amount of wool to complete the project.
  • Fibre can also be sorted by purpose. Blank white fibres can be kept together before they are dyed, batts can be bundled together in one bookshelf, and top for spinning worsted can be stored in a separate area yet again.
  • You can also sort your fibre by type. One basket can be filled with silks and blends, raw wool can lerk in the second bathroom shower stall – I mean closet, and processed rovings can be displayed in plastic tubs.

How to protect your stash….

Cloves (pictured above), lavender and cedar can be used to deter pests (photo by Grace Verhagen)

Cloves (pictured above), lavender and cedar can be used to deter pests (photo by Grace Verhagen)

  • Don’t crush your stash! When fibres are compacted, they can be harder to work with later. If you must pile your stash because there is a lot of it, store them in solid plastic tubs stacked on top of each other.
  • Wool needs to breath. Don’t suffocate your wool in tight plastic for long periods of time. Many comforter or dry cleaning bags include breathing vents so some fresh air can reach your textiles.
  • Some natural dyed fibres will fade when exposed to light for long periods of time. Please consider how colour-fast your materials are before storing them.
  • Moths are devasting pests that can do great damage to your fibre stash. Do your best to prevent creating a habitat for moths to live in. They love the dark, so keep an eye on any fibre stored in closets and dark corners. Moths are repelled by certain smells; place satchels of lavendar, cloves or moth balls near your fibre to keep the pests at bay. They also dislike the smell of cedar – store your fibre in a cedar chest if you can or add baggies of cedar wood chips to your stash. Moths are especially attracted to unwashed fibres – keep your fibres and handspun nice and clean!

Keep track of your stash!

Keep a journal to keep track of your spinning fibre and handspun (photo by Grace Verhagen)

Keep a journal to keep track of your spinning fibre and handspun (photo by Grace Verhagen)

  • Take photos for your fibre! It’s incredibly interesting to look back and see what your roving looked like before you spun it.
  • Keep a journal. Log books are a fantastic way to keep notes about what fibres you liked, when you spun it, what you used the yarn for, etc. Tape samples into the pages. Record the final weight, wraps per inch, and yardage of your handspun.
  • There are many online apps and websites available to help you with this process. Ravelry has a handspun tab where you can log your finished yarns, as well as a ‘fibre stash’ tab where you can place photos and notes about your rovings!
  • Create a blog and share your fibre stories with others.

When it is time to destash?

“SABLE- A common knitting acronym that stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.”
― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much

Grace's spinning stash

Grace’s spinning stash

Sometimes the stash size gets a little out of control. It’s healthy and good to recognize when your collection of goodies has reached it’s maximum size. At this point, it is time to consider some gentle ‘grooming’ to your stash. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Can I actually spin all this fibre? If the answer is no, then now is definitely the time to consider finding a new home for some of your stash.
  • What fibres have I fallen ‘out-of-love’ with? Are there any fibres I do not enjoy spinning? If you heart doesn’t thrill at the site of that lime green Wensleydale or you have discovered that spinning cotton sends you into conniptions, it’s time to give it away.
  • Who would need and appreciate this fibre more than yourself? There are many charity events that welcome donations of fibre or yarn, and beginner spinners need materials to make a start. Consider contacting a local guild or school to see if they would have any use for your extra goodies.
  • Can I do anything else with it? This many not be a ‘de-stashing’ solution, but consider over-dying any unpleasant colours combinations you have, or blending different fibres together to try create something new and interesting to spin.

How do you organize your spinning stash? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Have you had to go through a major de-stash before?

Join us on the blog in a couple days when the staff at SweetGeorgia Yarns will share their personal preferences and ideas on spinning stash and storage!