Friday, April 20

Part 3 : The Organized Woman's Guide - Clutter Control

Clutter Control & Projects

Or whatever you want to find more time to do.

This series is about discovering time you already have that maybe you just aren't using as wisely as you could.  I decided to do this series because I've learned some things that work for me, some things I'd like to improve upon, and some things I still need to learn!

Whether you want more knitting time, or time to spin, crochet, paint, or read.  There are sure to be some tips and techniques you can use for better time management.

Laceweight Yarn in a basket
 Resources vs. Clutter

Resources:  assets  to help you complete what it is you want to create. 
Clutter:   a confused or disorded state; when the assets become so numerous and disorganized they are a burden instead of being useful.  

Keeping your tools (assets) organized makes them immediately usable and available.

Take some time to set up a system that is:
                   1.  Maintainable : Somewhere between "stuff it" and "tagged and sorted 14 different ways".
  1. Simple : The simpler and more intuitive your system, the easier it is to maintain over time.
  1. Flexible : Yep, cause let's face it.  What are the chances you won't be buying more yarn?
  1. Personalized : Work to your own strengths.  If you love having your yarn out where you can see it, use beautiful baskets or open containers.   If you want a clean, streamlined look, use a closet, drawers or opaque containers.  The choice is yours, and it should make you happy.

Pick a container or containers to hold your yarn and/or fiber.  This can be a bag, a basket or baskets, box or boxes, a closet or an entire room.  The choice of container is up to you and your idea of how big your "stash" should be.
If you are trying to grow your stash, then plan accordingly.  If you have more yarn than you need already, give yourself a finite amount of space, get rid of some yarn and use the limit of your space to help you control your stash (instead of it controlling you).
If the idea of having more yarn than will fit in your grandmother's antique dresser freaks you out, then that's your "stash limit."  If you can foresee an entire wall of yarn, you have a bigger "stash limit."   Be true to yourself and your own limits. 

Having said that, I know it can be helpful to see what others actually do.  My system may not be the perfect fit for you, but it might give you some ideas and it works well for me.  It's pretty simple and straight forward:

The shelves in my craft room hold yarn, books & magazines, & accessories
Yarn / Fiber -
Contain it in one place
I have 90% of my yarn in baskets that sit on my shelves.  It's simple, it's easy and it works for me.  The other 10% is in a bin under my craft room worktable.  I'm not a "tiny stash" sort of girl, but as I get older, I prefer my stash to be smaller rather than larger.   Whatever you do, try to keep your yarn in one place.  My place is my own craft room (a room of my own is a big luxury, I know that).
Yarn bin under my craft room worktable.  The other bins under here hold
sewing supplies, fabric and quilting magazines.
Sort it
Choose your favorite way to sort:  color, fiber, weight, company or itch factor...whatever works for you.
I sort my yarn mostly by weight:  sock yarn in one basket, laceweight in another, dk & worsted in a couple more.  My exception to this rule is my handspun.  All my handspun yarn is in one spot.   All of these baskets are in my craft room.
My one exception is a bowl of about 3 or 4 beautiful skeins that sits on a cabinet in our living room. 
My spinning fiber is in one place, my grandmother's cedar chest. 

Needles -
I have 2 sets of Knit Picks options interchangeable needles, which are kept in the binder that came with the first set (very compact).  I have one mason jar with straights (which I rarely use), and another basket (!) holds my dpns (which I use a lot). 

Basket full of DPNs.  Simple, easy to maintain and use.

Patterns/Books/Magazines -
My loose patterns are mostly stored on my computer and/or Ravelry library, where they are printed as needed.  I do have one binder of printed patterns (a lot of which I've already knitted) sorted by category:  socks, shawls, hats, mittens, etc.  It's hard for me to conceive of keeping binders and binders full of printed patterns in this day and age, when you can keep an online library, or at least folders on your computer. 

Books and Magazines are all on one shelving unit in my craft room.  It's very easy for these to get away from you in short order.  There are always new books that are "must haves" and regular magazine subscriptions showing up in the mail.  Decide right now to have a zero increase system.  If a new book or magazine comes in, an old one goes out.  Yes, really.  I know it's hard, but decide to do it.  If it seems impossible, consider buying CDs of back issues or scanning older issues onto your computer. 

Knitting books (top shelf)
Fingering weight yarn, Knit Picks Options needles, handspun & dpns (2nd shelf)
Accessories - 

I have a couple of pouches that hold my small knitting accoutrements.  They both have several kinds of stitch markers, a needle gauge & ruler, a tape measure, small scissors, a pencil, a highlighter, a small notepad, tapestry needles, and a kitchener cheat sheet.  One stays by the chair where I do most of my knitting, and one is ready to go into my knitting bag or my purse (or wherever).

Other small items (cable needles, duplicates of stitch markers, scissors, needle gauges, etc.) go into guessed it, basket!

I keep my blocking squares and blocking wires in the closet in my craft room.  My ball winder and swift stay out on my worktable.

Your reward 
Imagine how it would feel to know that your yarn has a place, it's in its place, and you know exactly where that spot is.  You can put your hands on any skein of yarn in your home within 30 seconds.  Your needles are all categorized and in their place.  Ditto for accessories, patterns, books, etc. 

Getting your knitting "stuff" organized frees up not only your physical space, but it releases your mind.  You don't have to spend 1/2 an hour searching for that skein of gold silk laceweight that you just found the perfect pattern for, because you know right where it is.  You don't end up frustrated, mad at yourself and out of the mood to knit.  You're just ...ready to knit.  Which is the whole point, right?

Keep it up
  • Use the "10 minutes a day" rule to keep everything where it should be.  Don't let things sit and gather.
  • Clear off your desk / workspace / table every night.  This gives you a fresh start every morning.
  • Don't be afraid to let go of things you no longer need or want.  Get it out of your life and off your mind.

Now, go conquer the whole house!
You can use these concepts for other areas of your home:  the kitchen, bathrooms, garage, and closets.
  • Bundle "like" things
  • Use containers appropriate for the job:  open & accessible, or streamlined & clean
  • Don't keep what you don't use...seriously, DON'T
  • Have duplicates of regularly used items
  • If something new comes in, something old goes out
Take 10, 20, 30 minutes to tackle one area at a time. 

What are your favorite organizing tips?  Do you have a system that works great for you?  Share your ideas.

There is a lot of information here, so I'll break this point up into 2 posts, this one for clutter control and next week will cover projects.

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