Monday, April 21, 2008

Systems that work!

This month our readers from Ravelry showcased some tool storage systems that work for them. Some of the solutions that you see below are very inexpensive. The most important thing that we must remember when trying to keep our tools organized is that everything needs to have a home. The way to keep organized from this point forward is to make sure that everything that comes into the house has a home before you bring it in.

Suzanne show used how she decorated empty toliet paper and paper towel dowel with fabric and inserted these into an unused kitchen utensil holder.

Mary loves her Jordana Paige Knitting Needle Storage Box. This box is a cute little storage for straight needles and it conveniently has a inventory and needle conversion chart on the back.

A less expensive alternative is to find a wine box for sale at a local Big Lots or Hobby Lobby. Michael's Craft Store might also carry some wine boxes.

Another straight needle option is using one of those many extra vases that we have stored in our cabinets. Karen shared her picture with us.
If you have found some interesting methods of storage share them on your blog and leave a link here so that we can visit. You never know - one of the contributors here may highlight your blog in an upcoming article.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Organized Space - Really Cleaning

I just ran a cashmere sweater through the washing machine. It's fine. You may ask why I would take such a risk? The answer - Spring cleaning.

Protecting your wool and woolens is a prime objective for knitters. One fact that I came across was that clean woolen items don't attract moths as readily. Moths go for body sweat and dirt. Eeeugh! So one of my Spring cleaning resolutions is to wash all my woolens. Doing them all by hand, given the time and space that I have, might mean not finishing until next Spring! I decided to experiment with a sweater that had already been victimized by moths. I put the sweater into a mesh lingerie bag, added a little Eucalan and washed it in the machine on a delicate/knits cycle with a warm wash/cold rinse cycle.

It survived! It's fine and laid out flat to dry. Got to go - more sweaters to wash!

Monday, April 14, 2008

How Do You Organize Your Tools?

There are many, many different ways to organize your tools. My scrapbooking stuff is nicely stored in Creative Memory totes, and my stamping stuff is stashed away in a Crop In Style tote that I paid a pretty penny for about 5 years ago.

At the moment the needles that I use most often are in a needle roll that I sewed a year ago. My other needles, however, are kind of stuck here and there in skeins of yarn that I have in the shelf next to my bed. My circulars don't really have a home. They are resting peacefully on some yarn that I have in a basket next to my bed.

So, my question for our readers is how do you organize your tools?

One lucky poster will be interviewed for next Monday's article and will be entered into a raffle for a $25 gift card for the Container Store.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

$25 Container Store Gift Card Giveaway!!

During the month of April 5 readers will be highlighted in interviews for the 5 topics that we feature here on the Organized Knitters Club. To receive a chance at an interview you have to comment to our columnist's challenges. One lucky reader will be chosen for the 5 topics, and those readers will receive the chance to win the $25 gift card to the Container Store.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Organizing photos

You’ve got them still in the envelopes from when you picked them up at CVS or Costco or they came in the mail. Stuck in a drawer. Piled in the craft boxes or a shoebox. You’ve got Christmas 1995, your parents’ wedding photos, and last September’s first day of school photos all in one pile. And you keep putting off scrapbooking because you can’t find the photos you want. This week, let’s talk about getting those photos organized.

(First, a disclaimer, I am a Creative Memories Consultant, so the physical system I use is a Creative Memories product, it is one of my favorite CM products, and though I guess I am biased, it is one of the best photo organizers I’ve come across. Now that being said, the actual process of organizing is generic no matter where you put your photos, so let’s begin.)

How are you going to organize your photos? Decide what works best for you and put your photos in your chosen order as you go through them.

  • Chronologically – in order of time (years, age, school year, etc.)
  • By subject – kids, family, vacations, holidays, hobbies, school
  • A combination of these – summer vacations over multiple years, for example

Now let’s go through your photos

  • Throw out the bad shots – heads cut off, too dark, too light, what is that? Some people even throw out the photos that they now don’t even remember who is in the photo
  • Generic photos for artsy reasons – beach, butterflies, sky – separate pile, only if you think you will use them in your album or for craft projects or something! Otherwise, sort them with the others and/or throw them out
  • Sort any related memorabilia with your photos – tickets, programs, notes, etc.

When you go back to your photos, whether just to look at them or put them in an album or scrapbook, you want to remember the story behind them. Use dividers with the basics of your journaling – who, what, when, where, why – and what was going on, how did you feel, did you all have fun, why was this event significant? I recommend a piece of acid-free, lignin-free paper so as not to damage your pictures.

The organizer I use, as mentioned is a Creative Memories PowerSort box, it’s a huge box that holds about 2400 photos in 12 mini-boxes, and comes with dividers. I use a different mini-box for each year, child, and occasion. Shop around, find a photosorting box that suits your needs and styles, but consider the following points.

  • Photosafe – an acid free box, preferably dark so photos aren’t affected by sun/light
  • Has a top – keep out dust
  • Wide enough for your photos (at least 6”)
  • Is a box – not a bag – so that your photos won’t get bent up and can remain organized after all the work you’ve done
  • Some folks want to use shoeboxes to recycle, but I encourage you to purchase a box specifically for your photos. Shoeboxes are not photo-safe and some are not wide enough for your photos, they will end up bent or don’t stay straight.

Using the box of your choice, file your photos in the categories and order you’ve chosen. Be sure to label them; many photo boxes come with index card style dividers so you can label “2007 – summer”, “Wedding”, “School” etc. and be able to find your photos. I would also have an “extras” divider – after you’ve put photos from a section into your photo album or scrapbook, place the ones you didn’t use here. When kids need photos for a school project, or you want a random photo, look here first, knowing these are extras.

It’s the little things that need to be de-cluttered that always get set aside. But here’s a little task that you can do bit-by-bit while watching TV or on a quiet afternoon. You can even get the family involved to recall some of your favorite memories!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Upcoming Projects - A Plan

As Suzanne noted in her post this week, the urge to start a new project is addictive and with the change of seasons (today is a gorgeous spring day in Northern California), often irresistible! Since my first post was all about our WiPs and keeping their numbers under control, how do we reconcile our yearning to cast on with our desire to avoid chaos?  I believe the answer is easier than we think.  It's all about knitting with a purpose.  

Again, I recognize that there are many knitters out there who believe that their craft thrives best without boundaries, but for me, my creativity flourishes within the confines of one simple guideline.  That is - I always try to identify the purpose of my knitting before I start a new project.

This purpose can be as specific as a birthday sweater for my sister, Christmas gloves for a close friend or as random as a new cozy for my iPhone.  It doesn't really matter.  It's more important that I know whose hands the knitted object will end up in and, roughly, when.   

Although I do love knitting for the sake of knitting, knowing that I will have a unique gift for someone I care about when I finish, gets me through the stretches of endless stockinette stitch that many projects require.  It also encourages me to try to new techniques and look for patterns I might not normally gravitate towards.  

Last summer, for example, I was dying to knit cables.  I had a new book on cabling and they all just looked so gorgeous.  I was tempted by a pattern for a cabled throw, but I was worried that such a big commitment might not hold my interest.  Then I came across a pattern for a cabled scarf and hat set.  It hardly ever gets cold enough where we live to bundle up to that extent, so I knew it was out for me.  But one of my friends is a skier and her birthday was just a few months away, so I spent a couple of weeks in June knitting up wooly ski wear.  When my friend's birthday rolled around, I could avoid my usual last minute dash to the florist shop.  I had a beautiful handmade gift up my sleeve. After that, I was on a roll.  I chose a lace shawl made of musk ox next (a gift for another friend whose birthday was not until January) and then I started on a hat for my son for Christmas.  

I often hear knitters talk about techniques they want to try (entrelac or knitting with 2 circulars, for example) or a brand new yarn they just have to have and I am no different.  But before I indulge, I always try to keep the end result in mind.  If I am burning with desire to knit a cabled mug cozy (which I am, by the way), I will come up with a reason to knit it.  My mother-in-law would probably like a set, or my sister, or how about I start small and just make one as a thank you gift to the mom who drives my daughter to dance class?  No occasion is too insignificant and it is never too early to get going on knitted gifts.  

I guarantee you that, if I had jumped in with both feet into the cabled throw pattern I saw in my new book, it would be at the bottom of my pile of WiPs today.  With no compelling reason to finish it, I just know that it would always get pushed aside with plenty more "inspirations" to keep it company.  

Next week, I'll be reviewing my favorite product for storing WiPs! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring Cleaning from Start to Finish

The arrival of Spring can herald an upsurge in energy as the cold recedes and the days grow longer. For knitters, this can mean the urge to cast on some new projects. But before you rush to begin, stop and take a look at what you already have.

Having enough space for all our knitting yarns, accessories, and books is an issue for almost all of us. Spring cleaning can be an opportunity to re-evaluate how much you have and how much you need; what projects should be finished and what projects can be abandoned; what you’re knitting; and why you’re knitting it.

I find the excitement of starting a new project is addictive, and I keep wanting to do more. So I have more on-going projects than I can really handle. I decided that for my knitterly Spring cleaning, I would attempt to spend more time finishing or working on current projects, and not start anything major.

The first step was to go through my WIPs (which I had done for the February challenge) and prioritize them: what needed to be done first, what projects would follow, what projects could wait, and which small projects I could put by the computer to work on as I wait for stuff to upload or as I read posts. I also actually identified several projects that I either frogged or discarded, which was very liberating. I finally recognized that I didn’t have to work on something I didn’t like, and I didn’t need to keep every scrap of yarn that came into my possession.

Once the projects were identified, I could then organize their ‘space’ – how they were to be stored. I put my WIPs in plastic bags and hung them on a metal storage rack in plain view with easy access because then I find it easier to keep myself focused on what I need to work on first and to find what I need. By not having them stored all over, I also recovered a lot of ‘lost’ space.

My outstanding “to-be-finished’ project is an Aran sweater I started in August. I designed it and it is a commissioned piece that was supposed to be an Anniversary gift. So I have set aside a couple of hours a day to work on it, in an attempt to finish it by the end of the month. I also wanted to finish a shrug that needed to be sewn up – so last night I started seaming it up, but I sewed the wrong edges together – so my message here is – don’t rush and take a good look at what you’re working on.

Don’t let the term ‘Spring cleaning’ get you down. Remember, you like to knit. You can do this is small increments. You don’t have to sit down and finish everything all at once. Do what you can, and congratulate yourself for doing it!

What are your goals for April Spring Cleaning? Are you knitting? Finishing? Organizing? Frogging? What is it that you feel you need to do?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Bagsmith Knitting Pattern Bag

The product review for this month is something that I've seen in action, and since I tend to throw stuff in a bag at a whim to go off to my knitting meetings and sometimes fail to bring an important tool, I thought this product appropriate for temporary storage of tools and patterns, as well as semi long-term storage.

Here is the write up on the Bagsmith Knitting Pattern Bag.

It has a variety of pockets that can store all of your knitting tools, as well as a wide range of projects. The bag is 12" wide x 12" high with a 8" gusset. So, it's big enough to hold projects ranging from a baby sweater to an afghan! The metal legs and thick canvas construction make it sturdy enough to stand freely next to your chair. But it easily folds up, and it is so light, that you can quickly carry it into another room, to soccer practice or even take it with you when you travel. There are two clear zippered pockets on the outside, and on the inside there are 6 clear pockets, 4 smaller canvas pockets for notions, and 4 canvas pockets that are vertically designed for storage of needles, scissors and other tools. Includes a removable strap that attaches with metal clips.

This particular item is available through KnitPicks for $29.99 and comes in black and white.

If you have one of these won't you leave your opinion of the item in the comments section?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Organized Space - Spring Cleaning

In a phrase:

This is a large space bag holding two sets of sheets (maybe three), some towels and pillowcases.
Try it with yarn.
P.S. This is a great way to store yarn, keep it visible, and protect it from dust and moths.

Spring Cleaning for WiPs

Hello Knitters and Organizers!

My name is Julie and I am, if not quite compulsive, then at least a very enthusiastic organizer.  It's a biological trait, I guess, as my 13-year old daughter wouldn't think of going to bed without first writing herself a to do list for the next day.  My 16-year old son?  He has my husband's genes.  Anyway, I am an at-home mom who used to own a yarn store.  For the month of April, I will be writing about ideas for keeping patterns and projects under control.  Here goes...

I'll start off today by talking about spring cleaning for WiPs (works in progress).  What are we knitters to do with the heap of unfinished projects languishing in our knitting bag(s)?

For me, organization in this area comes in the form of a 3-step process:

1. To gain control over your WiPs, feel free to treat them the same way you would treat an excess of anything - by applying one of the golden principles of organizing to the problem.  That is, if you haven't used it / thought about it for 6 months or more, out it goes.  Now, before you start tossing half-knit cashmere blankets in the trash, think about how lucky we are (we are?) as knitters to be able to frog.  In no other craft that I can think of at the moment can you completely undo (rip out) your entire project and return the ingredients to their original state.  I'd feel a lot more guilty getting rid of a partially assembled fabric quilt, than unraveling a long-buried incomplete wool sweater.  So, dive into that pile and if, upon seeing any projects in progress you are tempted to utter the words, "Oh, I forgot all about this one!" start frogging.

2. Next, look at the projects that remain and decide if you really even want to knit them anymore.  It's happened to all of us, and for me, it's often hard to admit.  What looks great in the photo, does not necessarily translate well to the needles, and the fact that the project is still on your needles is probably a bad sign.  You feel guilty and you ask yourself - why did I spend so much time on this project when I don't even really like: the yarn, the project, the person I was going to give it to and so on.  Because you are a knitter and you must knit whether you are enthralled with the project or not.  But now you have a better project that makes you happier and takes the place of the old one.  Go ahead and frog the old WiP.

3. And finally, there are the projects whose completion depends on a component that's missing:  a button, an explanation of a tricky technique, the recipient's measurements, etc.  For this situation, I have no advice but to tell you to make a list of what's needed and get it done.  It will take you 2 minutes to order a pretty button online, 5 minutes to find a diagram or video showing you how to put in a zipper and about 10 minutes to call your cousin and ask her to whip out a tape measure.

As for the WiPs that are left, you now have permission to adore them all and to be excited about finding the time to work on them.  Your hard work and courage with the steps above has paid off in 1) more usable yarn  2) more physical space in your knitting area and 3) more mental space, uncluttered by regret.

After all, we deserve to feel relaxed and inspired when we think about our craft - not guilty and overburdened.  The cloud of "to dos" hangs over plenty of other areas of our lives.  Knitting doesn't have to be one of them.  Besides, if your pile of WiPs contains only lovely, intriguing projects for which you have all of the necessary materials, that in itself is motivation for keeping them active.

Next week:   WiP overload prevention - how to plan our projects and manage our queues!