This is how I: Organize my Spinning Stash

Pretty much my whole spinning stash, except for two fleeces

Pretty much my whole spinning stash, except for two fleeces. It looks like more than it really is. Really.

Now that we’ve made the new house somewhat liveable for our daily routines, I spent NFL GameDay (*cough*, I mean, Sunday afternoon) finally working through the craft room and trying to get just a few things organized. Namely, the spinning stash.

A few days ago, Grace penned this awesome post about all the different ways to organize your spinning stash and personally, I use several of her ideas to organize my own stash. My decisions about organization are usually tempered by my obsessive-compulsive need to keep things from getting dusty and my extreme aversion to bugs… Not in a cowardly “eek there’s a spider” sort of way, but more of a “omfg die evil moth, die” sort of way. And in my case, I’m willing to sacrifice the breathability of my fibres for the sanctity of a bug-free environment.

Organizing by type of fibre

I overturned every box of spinning fibre and sorted every bit by type. (When I showed Grace this photo, she said “is that all?”… which is completely the opposite reaction of my husband. Go figure.) The floor was divided into superwash and non-superwash and then within those two main branches, further organized into natural/undyed fibres, silks (bombyx and tussah), camel/alpaca/cashmere, merino, merino blends, bfl, bfl blends, etc. I suppose I organize this way because I think about the type of project I want to spin for ahead of time — e.g. if I’m thinking “lace shawl”, I’ll look the non-superwash blends and maybe the silks or cashmeres, but if I’m thinking “socks”, I’ll want to look in the superwash collection.

Keeping records

With each fibre, I weighed the total amount and then made a physical record on a slip of paper. The record sheet and the fibre were placed in a ziplock bag and then grouped together with “like” fibres in a plastic storage box. I designed these little quarter-sheet slips of paper so that I could easily remind myself how much fibre I have in the stash. Too often, I’ll look at a random bag of fibre and think, “is this enough to spin for socks?” and now I will know! Painless.

Storage Containers

I found that I really don’t have that big of a spinning stash. And I don’t have sweater-quantities of fibre… at the most, I have 1/2 lb of any given fibre… probably because I mostly spin fine yarns for socks or lace. There are two small containers for cashmere fibres (all of which were samples given to me during various spinning classes), silk fibres, and then two large containers for separating all the superwash blends and the non-superwash wool blends. There is one separate plastic box that contains all my lovely undyed fibre including two braids of Finnsheep wool that were a gift from Liisa when she arrived from Finland and a box of precious Pygora fibre from Marlene, one of my students at Place des Arts.

Finally, I corralled all the Russian spindles into one plastic shoebox (from Home Depot) and all the tiny Turkish spindles into a second shoebox. And the hand cards and hand combs were organized together in a plastic file box (from Staples).

Two things that haven’t made it into my craft attic yet are two raw fleeces, one Dorset Down and one Gotland, that are sitting in cardboard boxes at the studio still. I have to figure out the best way/place to store those… I’ve heard pillowcases and cardboard boxes in the garage are a potential solution.

Maintaining the “current” spinning basket

"Current" spinning basket with felted soap or lavender sachets to ward off pests

“Current” spinning basket with felted soap or lavender sachets to ward off pests

I know it sounds like I really adore plastic, but really I simply adore having things in sturdy containers that I can see into while keeping everything dust-free and tidy. I do afford myself one basket of gorgeous, inspiring spinning fibre that I set up next to my wheel. It also holds the bobbins for current spinning projects and fibres that I’m planning on spinning in the short term. In the basket, I keep a small bar of felted soap and a lavender sachet to help ward off pests. Of course, things like soap, cedar, and lavender seem to be as effective to moths as garlic is to vampires… they are deterrents but not a permanent solution. If you do use baskets to store your fibres and yarns, just be sure to keep checking the contents on a regular basis. Move the fibres around, dust and vacuum, re-organize… and check for icky moth droppings (they look like black sand) and clean, clean, and clean.

Tracking the stash on Ravelry

Spinning stash documented on Ravelry

Spinning stash documented on Ravelry

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for a long while now is keeping track of all my stash on Ravelry. It seemed like such a labour-intensive job to take photos of everything and then upload them all, but it actually wasn’t as painful as I thought. I set up the scale and laptop on the table next to a plastic box arranged by the window that I used as a make-shift light box. Every bit of spinning fibre would get weighed, recorded in Ravelry and then positioned in the plastic light box for a quick photo. Later, I quickly cropped and colour-corrected the photos and uploaded them to Ravelry individually. It took some time, simply because I haven’t kept up. But if you were adding a few fibres at a time, it shouldn’t be difficult at all! The functionality of the “fiber stash” feature on Ravelry is still a little rough and often unintuitive, but it’s better than relying on my sieve-like memory for now.

Now, my spinning tools and fibres are all organized ahead of Spinzilla… I just have to ply off several old spinning projects, empty a gazillion bobbins now and then decide how I’m going to sort, organize and document my handspun yarns… and THEN, onto organizing the yarn stash!

How have you organized your spinning fibres? How about raw fleeces? How do you store those? Any other tips or tricks for preventing pests from destroying your precious fibre stash? What’s your favourite storage method? Would love to hear how you organize your stash!

  • Beehive Rugs

    Love seeing how you store your stash. Do you have a handy chart for knowing how much unspun it takes to make a shawl, sweater, socks, etc. I’m a newbie at spinning and I would like to spin a shawl but I wonder how much fiber I should buy when I start a project.

  • June

    So impressive! I can see your love of jewel tones in your stash, too.

    • http://blog.sweetgeorgiayarns.com/ SweetGeorgia

      Thanks June! Yes, it looks like my colour tendencies become obvious when all the stashed fibre is laid out side-by-side :)

  • Monika

    OMG- this is NOT a fiber stash! You should see what I have! :) I need to stop buying fiber NOW, and maybe in a few years I can think about buying some more. My fiber is mainly stored in plastic bins, and even garbage bags, since most braids are in plastic bags anyway. At least I don’t won whole fleeces at the time. :)

    Monika/SmokingHotNeedles

    • http://blog.sweetgeorgiayarns.com/ SweetGeorgia

      Tee hee… I would LOVE to see your stash. You spin such beautiful yarns, how do you keep track of it all?!

  • laura

    You can store raw fleece in one of those plastic buckets you get from Home Depot or Lowe’s. They are really cheap and you can pack a couple of fleeces in one bucket. I know that Judith MacKenzie suggest that and she said she has being doing that for years. I also put in some lavender to keep away anything but with the lid on those really not gets into them.

    • http://blog.sweetgeorgiayarns.com/ SweetGeorgia

      That’s a good idea… then you can still see inside (rather than the blind cardboard box!)

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