The Yarnologue

Yarn Organization: Sorting Yarn

Ah, the New Year. A great time for finishing up projects.

For instance, my series of blog posts about organizing the yarn you have at home.

The first blog post was about yarn storage.

Ready to load up!

Ready to load up!

See more shelving and storage ideas on the Juniper Moon Farm blog.

This Pinterest board is visually stimulating (and makes me feel inadequate).

The Second blog post was about all the projects sorting my yarn made me want to start.

Juniper Moon Farm Yearling yarn and book

Juniper Moon Farm Yearling yarn and book

Let’s finish it up with some practical ideas of how to sort your yarn.

After all, if your yarn is well organized you’ll be able to more quickly determine that a trip to your local yarn store is necessary because you don’t have the yarn you need on hand.

Pull Out Projects

The first step, which should be easy, is to pull out all the yarn you have earmarked for projects you know you’re going to make.

Put the yarn and the pattern in a bag then put it away.

Louisa Harding Colline book and yarn

Louisa Harding Colline book and yarn

That way, when you’re ready to work on that project all you’ll have to do is round up your hook or needle and notions.

If you buy yarn based on projects you’ll be well on your way to being organized!

Say Goodbye

The second step, or third depending on your mood, is to let go of yarn you won’t use.

We all have skeins lurking in our stash that we don’t like. Either the color doesn’t appeal to us any more, or it’s a partial skein that isn’t enough for a project, or the texture isn’t pleasant.

Even if you don’t like it, someone else might. Organize a yarn swap with your friends. Find a charity to donate it to. Or just throw it away.

If you know you are not going to use it, those reject skeins are just cluttering up your yarn collection!

Category Suggestions

The final step is to decide what categories you want to use to sort your yarn.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to have at least a top level category and one or two sub categories.

Things can get complicated when you consider the various categories can be either top or sub!

Let me back up. Here are categories to consider:

  • Brand
  • Weight
  • Color
  • Fiber
  • Project

See? You might want to sort by brand, then by colors in that brand. Or group by colors (blue), then weights in those colors (bulky, worsted, fingering, etc).

You can get inspiration from local yarn stores you visit or ask your yarn loving friends what they do.

sorted yarnIn that chaotic picture just above, I’ve sorted my yarn by brand. Turns out my at-home collection is heavy in Louisa Harding, Juniper Moon Farm, and Elsebeth Lavold. They each got their own shelf!

Because a lot of my at-home yarn is related to my job, I decided it would be best to sort by brand and then weight. This should allow me to quickly locate what I need to take pictures or start a project.

Ella Rae Lace MerinoFor instance, all of my Ella Rae Lace Merino fit into one cubby. The other Ella Rae yarns I have are on a shelf. Having all my Lace Merino in one place allows me to see my colors at a glance if I want to make a striped project.

I used Lace Merino for my Wine Bottle Mini Mittens and Hat. It was easy to locate red and green in my stash because my yarn was organized.

finished closetOnce my yarn was sorted, it was a simple matter of putting it on shelves and into cubbies.

Now when I need something, or want to admire my collection, I just throw open the closet doors.

There is also plenty of room in my office for the dogs to stretch out nearby when I’m working or to pull out my loom if I want to weave.

A lot of our fans on Facebook mentioned organizing their stash as a New Year’s Resolution. I hope I’ve inspired you to get to work and given you ideas you can use.

How do you like to organize your yarn at home? Which categories have you found to be more useful?


  1. I have just decided to put my up coming projects into the bigger shoe boxes with yarn, pattern and needles. I think we all probably have duplicate needles that we can do this with and when you are ready to knit you just have to pick up your shoe box.

  2. Shoe boxes sound like a good idea. They would be easier to stack than plastic bags, too.

  3. Never thought of shoe boxes must look for some, this way I can write all the information about the yarn, instead of every time pulling a ball out to find out, also I could tape the pattern or person I have in mine to knit for.

    One of my biggest problems I buy yarn, it sits there for a while and I can’t remember why I bought it, there was a reason at the time.

  4. I had been procrastinating dealing with my small yarn/craft closet. I rent this home so I cannot take shelves down and put in the cubbies that I would love to have. So, instead I have opted to get clear totes, inside I have put the yarns according to weights. However after reading and thinking about how much of that did I have and so on, I am going to purchase a few smaller totes and put the yarn in plastic bags with the patterns. Will use my sticky notes to label what patterns are in what tote so hopefully they will be easier to find. I did go through and bag up yarns that I don’t remember buying or why I did, LOL those I gifted to a friend whose granddaughter is learning to knit and crochet. I had so many cotton dishcloth type yarns that I took those to a group that knits washcloths and towels, they sell those at church functions and the monies go toward the local women’s shelter. So many wonderful organizations that would love to have our scraps or yarns that we changed our minds about that I hate to see any thrown away.
    Thanks for the ideas, in this tiny room I need all the help I can get!!!

  5. We’re renting, too. That does make it tricky to figure out a good system! I should be able to pull my shelves and cubbies out of the closet when the time comes.

  6. Staying on top of it once it’s organized is important. I know I often change my mind about what project I’ll make with certain yarns.

  7. I organized my yarn with totes from a food store. They are shaped like cubes and it was easy to sort by manufacturer. When you have an empty cube (ha,ha) you can collapse it until it is needed. I stack the cubes in my sewing room.

  8. You can always donate unwanted yarn to your local grade schools, youth groups such as Girl Scouts or the Boys and Girls clubs. Many senior centers and retirement homes also welcome donations. If you have the time to make up small blankets, many animal rescue groups like to place them in with the animals to help the animals feel more secure.

  9. I am fortunate to have a 4 bdrm home and only use 2 of them for sleeping in. I have a dedicated craft room and put up the plastic shelves Wal-Mart sells. I put up baskets/totes/space bags to store all of my yarns. I have a shoe hanger that holds my straight knitting needles and patterns. A bracelet hanger that holds my circular needles. My crochet hooks are in a rectangular kool-aid container. I have purchased some gorgeous yarns from Big Lots for $1.00 a skein and am converting them over to patterns that call for name brand yarns. I have some name brand yarns I purchased with projects in mind and have included those in the storage containers with the appropriate yarn. I had some yarn I donated to a friend who volunteers her time to the seniors in the community. She runs an exercise/fall prevention class and knits for a lot of different people. The church I attend has a knitting group and I donated a bunch to them as well. They make numerous items for people who are being treated for cancer. I hope this information will be of assistance to someone. God Bless.

  10. I like to use those canvas sweater organizers that you can hang from a clothing rod. You can also use the smaller ones meant for meant for shoes. I have a three ring binder that I keep copies of patterns( In plastic page protectors) in, with notebook paper in between each pattern for notes. When I find a pattern I like and find the yarn I want to use for it, I write what yarn I will be using on the pattern, along with where I got the yarn. I always keep at least one sleeve from each color of yarn that I use with the pattern in case I want to make the same thing again. Happy knitting!

  11. I’m in the process of reorganizing my yarn collection ( +/- 300 balls; hey, I never really counted before – it could be 500 for all I know!) and rethinking my system (Rubbermaid-type lidded translucent bins). Currently, I go by weight first, then color. However, my most-used, go-to brand (Plymouth Yarns’ “Encore” worsted wt.) is kept all together by itself [brand], by color family (since I have all 60+ colors). But I’m not happy with the way I have them in bins stacked in the closet. Also, all “novelty” stuff (eyelash, fur, metallic/glitzy, etc.) is kept separately regardless of weight. This system works to protect all my yarns very well but is a hassle when I’m planning a new project; I have to pull the bins out of the closet and spread things out (floor, bed) all over the room (it’s a guest room I don’t use often).

    Though I’m not happy with the bin system, I do prefer it over open shelves exposed to normal room dust (which, having a forced-air HVAC system in my home, is my constant nemesis!). There’s a storage unit I’ve seen at (and other yarn suppliers) that hangs from a closet rod on one hook (like a coathanger) and has six 11″x 11″ compartments. It also has pockets on the side for storing pattern leaflets, needles, and what-have-you. The best part is the price: only $14.99. I think maybe 4-5 of them will take care of most of my stuff – affording easy visibility of shelves plus protection from dust, being in the closet. Well, that’s my plan, anyway. I’ll order 1 unit first to see if it works.

    Now all I need is better lighting in that closet (simply inserting a higher-wattage bulb just won’t cut it). Funny how one “little” organization project leads to another, eh? 🙂

    Happy knitting (and organizing) to all!

  12. Hi Kathy.
    I’ve used the plastic tubs in the past, but was always annoyed at needing to dump an entire bin when I wanted something

    I’ve seen ligh tbulbs at the grocery store that are labeled either “true light” or “full spectrum.” They might work well for your closet. I haven’t tried them, but keep thinking that should be my choice the next time I buy light bulbs!

  13. Rebecca Hickman

    January 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Between knitting and designing for 25 years and having worked as a designer in some of the greatest shops my dilemma is that I know own the equivalent of a small yarn store. I have already gone through and given away what I no longer wanted. I just started this project this week. I am limited to how I store the yarn. We live in a high rise condo, and as wonderful as it is, limited space is a huge issue. I don’t want to give any more away, because I am no longer working, and I can go through a lot of yarn in a month because of how fast I knit. My “stash” is all extremely high end yarns such as Great Adirondack, Prism, cashmere, silk etc. so storing properly is important. Any information you could give would be so appreciated. I know there are much worse problems to have in life, and as a knitter, so I want to make sure I don’t sound ungrateful. I have started to put things on Revelry as a start if that helps. THANKS GOBBS

  14. Hi Rebecca!
    When storage space is an issue, I’ve heard those “space bags” are a good option.
    You know, the ones were you use a vacuum to evacuate all the air.
    I think yarn in the hank would be the way to go in that situation, since it would flatten out better.
    I haven’t tried it myself, but I hear the yarn fluffs back up just fine.

  15. I donate my unwanted and odds and ends of yarn to a women’s prison ministry. It is so appreciated and it makes me feel good too !

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