Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday's Toolbox - Spring Cleaning!

Spring has arrived, and it's time to make things fresh, accessible, and definitely, to purge. So, this month I want you to go through the tools and supplies that you have for all your craft type projects. Include knitting and sewing. Even scrapbooking supplies would be a great thing to organize and streamline this month.

Have you had a chance to organize your tools yet? Do you know if you have duplicates? Maybe you need to buy a few extra supplies to round out what you already have. Are there tools that you can donate or set aside for swapping projects? Depending on how much 'stuff' you have this could end up being a big project. You might have the tendency to get overwhelmed and not complete any purging or organization this month as far as your tools and supplies go! We can't let that happen, though. So, first things first: Set up a plan to work through your tools and supplies a little at a time. You absolutely do not have to have a big chunk of time to work on this project. You just need to organize your time so that it does get done this month.
1. Use a calendar, such as the one above, and designate specific days for specific small projects. Maybe on Monday you want to tackle organizing your straight needles. Wednesday could be for organizing and purging of your circulars or other types of supples.
2. Mark down your plan of attack. You could even keep track of how much time each little project took you to complete.

Next week we'll review a product that will help you supply those tools and supplies. Is there a particular set of tools or supplies that you need help organizing? Leave a comment here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Spring!

I'm on vacation this week - spring break with the kids. See you next week!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Make Youself Comfortable

From what I've been reading, most knitters have a spot in a corner with a chair or a place on the couch where they sit and knit. The questions of the day is: Are you comfortable?

Does whatever you're sitting in give you enough support? Is there an ottoman or stool you can use to put your feet up on? Would the addition of a pillow behind your back or on the footrest make you more comfortable? A plain-colored lap blanket can help you keep warm and also make it easier to see what you're knitting - when you look down at your knitting, it should stand out from a plain background (don't use a dark lap blanket and knit something black!).

What about your lighting. Is the light strong enough and 'daylight' adjusted? The reason Ott lights are so good is because they give a full-spectrum light and clarifies and illuminates without glare or color distortion. The Reveal lightbulbs also work quite well. Make sure the lamp is positioned so that the light falls on your work, not in your eyes of on the arm of the couch. I recently realized that when I knit lace and used my Ott light, I made fewer errors (you know, the missed yarn-overs, or miscounted stitches...). Just being able to see my work more clearly make a huge difference.

It is nice to have a table or, set of shelves nearby on which or in which you can store a few necessary supplies for whatever you're working on. And you also have a place to put the mandatory liquid refreshment and chocolate.

Knitting should be a relaxing experience, and the more comfortable you are, the more relaxing it should be, so make your knitting space as welcoming as possible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Let Ravelry help you with your stash organization

Your notebook in Ravelry is a great way to help you keep track of your stash. I wish I could say I take full advantage of it myself, but I promise I have great intentions.

For me, the barrier is in the photo taking. I wish there were stock photos of yarn available that would magically link to the entry. Barring that, in order for the stash area in my notebook to show the beauty of all my yarn, I must take photos. The up side is that it forces me to actually handle each ball of yarn (or at least one of each color in each yarn). And the enormity of the task might help me realize the enormity of my stash.

I asked on Ravelry for input from people who have taken the time to create a full record of their stash in their notebook on Ravelry. I wanted to know how it's been helpful. It's clear from the responses that having a stash inventory at the ready is helpful in making decisions about potential projects. (Note to self: just think, no more pawing through bins of yarn.) A respondent named fiberfreak said that checking her stash inventory on Ravelry gives her a reality check when she's got a hankering to buy yarn. My bank account would appreciate that.

As Christy pointed out in the Ravelry thread, it's easy to make your stash available for trade or sale on Ravelry, which can be a great way to reduce your stash if you're ready to part with some yarn.

One way I foresee using my stash inventory in my notebook is for ease in shopping. When I go to my local LYS, they have a computer with an internet connection running and they let me peek at my Ravelry notebook. Once my inventory is complete, I'll be able to see exactly what I have (same goes for needles), so that I have a better idea of what I need to buy. Alternatively, I can print out my stash when it's viewed as a list and I'll see all the pertinent details in terms of quantity and colors. Then I can just pop the printout into my bag.

You can also easily export your stash to an Excel spreadsheet via the stash page on Ravelry. At the moment, I'm not sure why I'd want to do that, but perhaps one of you can clue me in.

If you're like me and the prospect of inventorying your stash (and especially taking all those pictures) is daunting, do what the folks in the Ravelry thread recommend: break the project down into little bits. Enter a half dozen or a dozen yarns at a time. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Of course, that advice applies to any organizing project. Or most projects or daunting tasks in your life. Break it down into small steps and do just one step at at time.

I'm inspired to really use the wonderful tool that is the Ravelry notebook. I don't know where I'll find the time to upload everything, but it's been something I've wanted to do for some time. If I do a little bit each day, it'll be done before I know it.

Darning/Tapestry Needles

''Chibi'' Darning Needle Set 3/pkg

As I was seaming up the picot bodice hem on my Split Neckline Cap Sleeve Tee last night, I reaffirmed, to myself, the concept that it really does pay to spend a little extra sometimes. Let's face it, at some point in your work, you're going to have to weave in some ends. Might as well make it as pleasant and easy as possible.

One wouldn't really think that something as simple as a darning needle would be a big deal, but after having tried out a few different brands and materials, I've settled on the Clover Chibi brand of darning/tapestry needles.

The Chibi has a solid, smooth feel with a large eye hole that is easy to thread. The tips are just the right balance of point and blunt, so as not to stab a gushing hole in your finger but sharp enough to puncture through most knit/woven fabrics with ease. Packaged in a really, cute and cool storage/carry case, you have your choice of straight (darning) or bent needles (tapestry) needles in an assorted gauges and lengths so you can weave-in/repair practically any yarn weight.

Additionally, I prefer metal needles to plastic in that they are much more durable. Plastic needles tend to warp over time and who hasn't placed one of them in your teeth and gnawed on it a you got a chewed up plastic needle that snags. :: sigh ::

Friday, March 21, 2008

Binders !

How much paper comes into your house and you feel like you should keep it, but hmmm.... where to keep it all? Binders are the office supply wonder. I know many of you have mentioned using binders to keep knitting/crochet patterns and ball bands and other craft related stuff. Let's talk about using them for all that household paper.

What we're going to keep in binders is long-term stuff. In being organized, I don't believe in making things so daunting that you can't keep up with it, so we're not going to put the coupon that expires next week in a binder. We have several binders in our kitchen/family/office space. The main binder is the catch-all, I have labeled it "STUFF". Emergency and babysitter information is up front. There are 2 kinds of dividers in it - monthly and ABCs. Under the monthly tabs, we file those things that need to be done on a timely basis - annual check-ups, regular dentist appointments, car maintenance, birthday/anniversary lists. Everything else goes under the ABC tabs. Carry-out menus are in a plastic sleeve under "C", as are delivery menus under "D". The plumbing and heating people are under "P" and "H" respectively. Consignment shops list (torn from the Yellow Pages) is under "C". Spas, museum/science center/zoo membership information, trash collection schedule, organization members phone lists. You get the idea - all those pieces of information you need to hold onto, but in a way that's easily accessible when you need it. And to keep it simple - I use plastic sleeves to slide most of this into, because looking for that 3-hole punch might be just enough to keep you from filing that paper away.

We also have a Christmas binder (gift lists, card list, menu, count-down to Christmas to-do list, favorite recipes), a school binder (class list, school schedules, school info), and a "interesting things from magazines" binder.

Do you use binders to organize your household? If so, what've you got filed in there? Or are you going to start one today?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Madness - In Baby Steps

So, you started this month out with many plans and then suddenly it was almost the end of the month!! What is the saying? Fail to plan - plan to fail? Something like that. So, we have 12 days left in the month. Let's see if we can't tackle one organizing project a day. Remember the projects don't need to be big projects. Your project could be as small as organizing your utensil drawer in the kitchen or getting rid of the pile of junk mail that is sitting on your counter.

A few weeks ago Frances mentioned making To-Do lists. In the last few weeks I've made several To-Do lists the day before I wanted to get these things done. It worked wonders for making sure that I work on at least one organizing project during the day. An example of organizing a small area is part of my desk. If I showed you my whole desk you would faint, but here is the before and after -

This section of my desk has been this way for yeeeeaaaars! I can't tell you how many.

I moved my knitting books to my desk and purchased a few little baskets from the local 99 cent store. The binders are used to keep my clipped knitting patterns that I find in magazines and online. I also have a binder there for saved articles from Family Handyman. Everything is so much handier. I love it!

What small area in your house are you going to work on today?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Enquiring Minds Need To Know...


As I type, there are 621 members of Organized Knitting on Ravelry. That's a lot of lurkers. I get this mental picture of masses of people peering into a window...well, I have a question for all of you.

Have you just read the posts, or have any of them motivated you to make any changes? If so, what? And if not, why? (I don't want to hear that you're lazy, or whatever, but I do want to know if we're missing something - like some valuable information that you need and aren't getting)

Post a comment.

My query for today's Organized Space posting is: Do you have a space set up for your knitting? What is it like? How well does it work for you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Ravelry has the delightful category for projects known as "hibernating." We all have them. I know I have plenty of them...the projects that somehow lost their allure for me. Typically, they're the ones that have became difficult or annoying to knit. Or the season changed and the project became inappropriate. (Somehow, working on a wool sweater in July in St. Louis just isn't attractive.)

So what becomes of these Unfinished Objects? For me, it depends. If a project has become so unpalatable that I know I'll never get back it, I'll frog it. That decision might be sped up if I want to use the yarn for something else. 

But if I think I'm going to actually start knitting a project again, it goes into one of two places.  For the ones just taking a nap, they'll languish in their project bags, waiting for me to pick them up again. The ones that are truly hibernating are moved into my Kangaroom purse/yarn organizer, which hangs in the closet. (Note that the picture is from Kangaroom's website, it's not a picture of my own organizer, which is difficult for me to photograph in the depths of the closet). Occasionally, but not very often, I dig around in there and see what's waiting for me. It's cheaper than satisfying my itch for something different by going to the yarn store!

How about you? How do you store your UFOs? At what point do you retire them?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hittin’ the road!

{I've been away. Last weekend, I went out of town for my sorority conference, hence the topic here. In the midst of packing, I prepared this blog... then forgot to post it. Sorry!}

Your heading out of town, got your clothes packed and travel plans confirmed…. don’t forget your yarn! But what should you bring to work on? Consider these points when picking the project to work on.

Space & time - When and where will you be crocheting/knitting? Will you have time only while in transit (car, train, plane) or when you actually get to your destination (going camping vs. hanging out at your sisters for the long weekend)? The when and where helps to narrow down the project choices. If you only will have small space to work (in your airplane seat), then this may not be the trip to work on that king-size afghan. But it may be a great time to work on your afghan squares. Choose your project based on your space and time.

Minding the stitches – I crochet when I am in conference meetings, so I like “mindless” projects for these trips, think baby blanket, basic scarf. For a weekend at the beach I can pay attention to a pattern. Choose your pattern based on how much you can pay attention to it. When you pick out your pattern, if its from a book, make a working copy to take with you. This relieves you of the weight of carrying a book and eliminates the chance that you’ll leave your book back at the hotel.

Materials checklist – Reread the pattern, especially if this is a brand new project, be sure to read it before you pack up and leave the house. Check if there’s a hook/needle change somewhere in the pattern, do you need stitch markers or yarn needle? And of course, make sure you have the hook/needle you need. (Yes, this comes from the experience of having to buy a hook while on vacation so I could work on my project).

Now get your project bag and pack everything in. Have a great trip!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ultimate Blog Party

I am so late in posting this!! Too busy organizing, I suppose. Anyway, if you get the chance, please run over to 5 Minutes for Mom and check out all the prizes that you can win via the Ultimate Blog Party. To create a little more traffic to this site I've sponsored a $25 gift certificate, but there are so many other prizes out there you can win. A sample of the other prizes that are of interest to me are -
71 - $40 credit towards a new design by RS Designs
36 - Marketing for Entrepeneurs provided by Lis Garret
59 - $25 Cash provided by Lori

Hurry, though!! The party ends tomorrow!

Pattern Database

So, you want to store you patterns on your own computer, huh? This may seen like a novel idea when first it pops into your head, but if you don't have an organized bone in you you will end up with a lot of patterns that you won't be able to find when you need them. Ideally, you would back up your saved information regularly because we all know that our computers can be rather fickle at times, and before we know it all our hard work and saved information can go right down the tubes.

Bookmarked Sites
Many bookmark the patterns that they find on the internet. The danger in doing this is sites disappear or pages are moved by people all the time. Plus, out of site out of mind. The solution for this is to either save the pattern page on your computer by following this path -

File> Save Page As

"File" will be in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. Then the entire page will be saved on to your computer with an extension of .html. Some sites, especially personal sites, will have their code protected so that when you go back to view the page from your computer you'll see a blank screen, but this doesn't happen often. Just in case, though, be sure to open the file from your computer to make sure it saved the page as viewed. Here is a sample of the folders that you can create to organize your patterns on your computer.

The other thing you can do is print the pattern directly from the site, but to save yourself from printing the extras you can highlight only the pattern information and clicking on 'selection' in the Print Range box.

Another useful tool is the PDF Creator, which you'll see in the box for my designated printer. This is extremely useful if you design your own patterns and would like to create a .pdf out of a Word document.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Creative Space

by Suzanne, Organized Space

Last week I presented some basic Feng Shui principles with regard to the energy flow in a room – how ‘inharmonious’ placements and clutter impede the flow of positive energy (also referred to as Chi).

What is only too true is that the same principle applies to our ability to think creatively and to be able to start and finish tasks or projects.

My main point here is that we all have creative impulses, but they can be blocked by clutter. Clearing away a physical impediment can allow you the freedom to bring these creative, energizing impulses to the surface, and, more importantly, to actually bring them to fruition.

Clutter (the accumulation of unused stuff) gets in the way. It is your past preventing you from moving forward or doing new things. Think about it. You get a great idea that you want to implement, but what happens? You can’t find the tools and supplies you need. You don’t have the space available to do the work. All because of clutter. FlyLady says, “You can’t organize clutter.” You have to remove the clutter to allow yourself to move forward.

When I organized my stash, I displaced a significant amount of clutter that I am now working to remove. As I go, I find that not everything is clutter, which is comforting, but now I have to find a place for what I want to keep. What struck me is that this is an on-going process. As I move towards something new and finish with something else, I need to keep assessing what to keep and what to give up. This is why there is no one perfect organizing system - you don't keep doing the same things.
So, you need to prepare your physical space to allow yourself the mental space to be creative.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The Organized Knitting Club is all about organizing our knitting stuff...and I specifically concern myself with yarn. I'm a professional organizer, and the first thing clients and I usually do together is declutter.  It's a rare client indeed who doesn't have extra stuff she's willing to part with to make life a little more organized. 

So I challenge you to take a critical look at your stash. Do you have some balls of yarn that have been languishing? Do you ever pick up some yarn and put it right back down because you don't like the way it feels? Is there a color or two in there you just can't figure out what to do with? Perhaps you've started knitting with a certain yarn, then frogged it because you didn't like the way it knitted up. There's no reason you should keep this yarn. Lighten the load and donate it. (Incidentally, this is the same advice I give clients when it comes to clearing out their closets...if a garment doesn't make you feel fabulous, consider parting with it.) In an earlier post, I mentioned a worthy group, Interim House, who will gratefully accept your yarn donations.

Weeding out is one way to destash. Another is to make a commitment to using your stash, rather than buying new yarn. Personally, I think this is easier said than done (I get really excited by patterns sometimes), but it's a worthy endeavor. It helps your pocketbook, saves you space, helps you keep things neat and organized. For advice and encouragement on this journey, there are several Ravelry groups that can help (and I'm sure this is just a small sampling of what's out there):

Stash Knit Down 2008
Stash Busters!
Stash for Cash
Sock Stash Elimination Campaign

A third option is to swap yarn. If you have a yarn you no longer love (or perhaps never did), you might lucky enough to swap it for something you'd adore. It's a "one woman's trash is another woman's treasure" kind of thing. There are many swap groups on Ravelry. Just search the groups using the term "swap" and you'll see all the kinds of swaps available.

Flylady, the homespun guru of decluttering and creating habits, says "You can't organize clutter." If your stash is cluttered with yarn you'll never use, declutter it and then you can organize the stuff that deserves a place in your home.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ways to Organize Your Small Accessories

There are several ways to neatly organize your small accessories like stitch markers.

Since I have to be able to easily see my stitch marker inventory, I opted to use Wilton Wedding Favor Tin Kits which feature a clear lid. Each kit includes labels that can be used to denote the particulars of your accessory such as diameter of the hoop, i.e. fits up to US10. I backed each tin with magnetic tape and display them on a magnetic board by size.


Another option would be to use the Cropper Hopper embellishment boxes and storage cases.

These small see-thru embellishment boxes and can be easily labeled and organized using the corresponding embellishment box organizer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 30-day Challenge

Okay!! It’s time to think about our March Challenge!

Your mission, should you decide to take it, is to organize as many areas as you can this month. They don’t have to be big areas. Example - Spice Cabinet. Tackling a bunch of small areas will make a BIG difference in your life. Maybe you will only be able to do four, but the point is you WILL do something and it will make your life so much easier. These areas that you organize can be anywhere in your house or on your property and do not have to pertain to a craft. Organize your tool shed, your storage shed, your utensil drawer in your kitchen, or something as simple as the pencil caddy on your desk.

Make sure to take before and after pics!! Mucho importante! Prizes for the challenge will be announced in a few days.

February Challenge Winners

This week I get to announce the February Challenge winners. We had some great organization going on last month and it truly inspired many people to tackle their spaces. Congrats, ladies, on winning the prizes and on organizing your space!!

1st Prize - Cindy (rusmilen)**

1-Hour Organizing Consult by Janine

2nd Prize - Angela (CelticFrog)

Knitter’s Almanac donated by Lynne (Durango)

3rd Prize - Suzanne OwlKnits

Project Bag donated by Carmen (Dulcedosa)

4th Prize - Andrea

Stitch Markers donated by Zelphia

5th Prize - Bonnie (BonnieRed)

Hi-light Straight Needles

Here are pics from our first place winner's 30-day Challenge

**The names in parenthesis are their Ravelry ID's

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Go with the Flow

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese discipline involving the proper alignment and use of space, sort of. The most basic tenant of Feng Shui is to align your living space with the earth's flow of energy (trust me, it's more complex than that, but you get the idea). When the energy flow is unimpeded, then there are more positive influences at work.

We all react positively or negatively to the space we are in. Our responses can be based on the size of the space, the dominant coloring, the lighting, the furnishings, the amount of clutter or mess, among other things.

As we saw in the before and after pictures posted for the February challenge, the reduction of clutter and the establishment of order makes you happier and opens the door to your ability to create.

As an interesting experiment, I would like you to go into a room or area of your house and just stand there for a minute. Look around at the way the furniture is arranged, and the colors and textures used in that space, and at the presence or absence of clutter. Then imagine what you would do to improve it. How would you rearrange furniture for easier access to the space, to enhance communication (if more than one person uses the space), and would you change the colors or textures to change the mood of the space?

Enquiring minds need to know...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Measuring the oddball yarns

One of the benefits of having an organized stash is that you can find (and use) yarn that's leftover from other projects. But what do you do if part of the ball has been used? How can you tell how much is left in the ball?

One higher-tech answer is to use some sort of meter that you'd thread the yarn on the way to a ball winder. By the time you finished re-winding the yarn, you'd know just how much yarn you had to work with.

Such a meter is sold through some knitting catalogs and I was tempted to buy one, though I balked at the $50 price tag. I mentioned it to Rachel, a wonderful employee of my local LYS, Knitorious, and she told me that she had purchased one, but that she learned that it was actually designed to measure fishing wire. That's okay, except that it actually damaged the yarn. She even offered to give me hers, but I declined, for obvious reasons. I don't want to damage my yarn.

But there's hope. Rachel told me about a website for a DIY yardage counter. Check it out. It doesn't look too hard to do. When I have some time and the help of my handy friend Sally, I'm going to make one. And I'll report back here.

I was mentioning this to a knitting friend, who pointed out another solution, one much more low-tech and apparently something people who sew know all about. Just measure the distance from the tip of your nose to the tip of your outstretched fingers when your arm is held all the way out to your side. Then, hold your yarn between your thumb and forefinger on your right hand and hold it at your nose with your other hand. Stretch out your right hand (as you did when you made the initial measurement), letting the yarn glide through the fingers of your left hand. Repeat. See how many times you can do that with your ball of yarn and add it all together.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Perfect Knitting Bag?

Look what I found at Target!

Je vous presente, Le Target Merona Work Tote.
Ain't she fine? She's got all the features I've been looking for in a knitting bag, i.e. leather like exterior, nickel feet, sturdy handles, stands up by itself, and edge bumpers. The interior is quite roomy and I like the compartments. BONUS! It only cost me $29.99! YES! I haven't been able to find her online and there was only one on the shelf at the store.