Before I share Sally's recommendations, I should give some background. Listeners of the show know that Staci doesn't have a stash. While she has tons of leftovers, she picks a project, buys the yarn, knits it and moves on. She doesn't buy and put the yarn away and she doesn't buy without a project in mind.
Ya, whatever. Sometimes when I'm at a yarn shop, especially one with limited-edition hand-dyed goodies I can't help myself. If I knit as fast and as often as Staci, perhaps I wouldn't have much of a stash either. But, over the years I've collected some yarn. I'm not ashamed!
At least my stash is not so bad that I have to get a storage unit! Read the blog to get the story on this one and a deeper discussion on collecting and stashes. Yikes!
In an upcoming episode, I'll talk to folks at Austin Creative Reuse to get the story on this stash. Rumor has it the donor couldn't get into her "yarn room" so she had to donate it. Lucky me, she had some Koigu yarn in there and I, being one perfectly okay to buy yarn without a pattern in mind, scored and bought it at less than half price!
This year, I'm determined to cut down my stash at the very least. Not necessarily because it's out of control, but just as an overall goal in my life to have less stuff, spend less money and use what I have.
Which brings me to:
Tips for organizing a large yarn stash from a professional organizer!
1) Minimize. Look at what you have. Sort into piles for donating, trash, or keep. What is trash? Items that can't be used again. Think yarn that is torn, too small to use again. Create a pile of your go-to or most used tools.
2) Visualize. Look at your area. Take a picture of what you have. Create a plan for how to organize it. Make a drawing if needed. Plan, plan, plan. Those go-to items that you sorted out in step one will need a spot with easy access.
3) Maximize. How can you make the space work best for you? Can you move stuff out of the area? Can you create more space?
4) Containerize. Find the best containers for your materials and to fit your space. Sally recommends clear containers so that you remember what you have. Or, take a photo and put the photo on the outside of the box. She does not recommend under bed storage unless it's your only choice. If it's out of sight, it's out of mind. If you see it, you'll be more likely to remember to use it.
Sally recommended items from the Container Store because over the years, she has found them to be just as cost effective as other stores (especially with sales) and, possibly more important, they are consistent. If you want to add another container to your design, you're likely to find the same containers even years later.
5) Digitize! This is my recommendation. Put that stash to work on Ravelry! In another episode of the podcast Staci's mind was blown when we talked about the stash feature. Upload how much you have of each kind of yarn, then you can search for patterns that use that yarn. Or, when you find a pattern you like if you have yarn in your stash that is similar, Ravelry will recommend that yarn.
I even cleared out my queue to include only patterns that will use up yarn in my stash. I am committed to sticking to that goal this year. So far, so good. I did knit a new project that wasn't on my queue, but only because I had the yarn in my stash.
We hope this helps gets you motivated to get organized to use up that stash. Or, know when it's time to call in professional help!