Tips on Designing a Yarn & Knitting Studio

As editor of Interweave Knits and knit.wear, I work from home. My home is a very little house and the truth is, I don't have a designated office. I have a desk in the bedroom and my laptop moves from desk to kitchen table to couch, then sometimes to coffee shop. These days, it's pretty easy to work this way—my files are all electronic, my correspondence all happens via the computer or phone. I travel when I need to (which can be often) and my virtual office is always with me, in the form of laptop, cell phone, one scribbledy notebook. I like living and working in a minimalistic way (not that there's minimal work…you know what I mean…).

Where things get complicated, of course, is related to The Knitting. I end up with a lot of yarn, tools, and books. A LOT. My tiny house cannot hold it all and remain a functional living space. I frequently destash—one of my knitting friends is always looking for odd skeins for teddy bears for the Mother Bear Project, for instance—and I regularly reorganize, resort, and rearrange. It's hard, though! I do have a backyard studio where I keep a lot of my material, but it's easy to put things out there and forget about them. Then I go looking for a size 3 needle and I see a ball of yarn I forgot and suddenly I'm sitting out there for an hour, digging through bins. Oohing and ahhing. 

On a recent staycation, I decided to reclaim the messy yarn studio because 1) It was becoming more of a dumping room than a proper studio or storage space and 2) I really wanted a home yoga studio. But it was going to still have to store yarn and knitting tools, just in a better way. 

Here's the space before:

One of my favorite sources for inspiration has been Cloth Papers Scissors Studios.  The summer issue in particular looks at "creative spaces in spare bedrooms, garages, farms, freestanding buildings, and more." That's definitely what my studio is—a freestanding, unheated, uncooled, sort of leaky, bug-happy wooden box. But there's so much potential! And there is electricity, which is big. 

So I dug in. The first order of business was Yarn. Some tips for storing yarn, especially in a space that is not climate-controlled or bug proof:

  • Use gallon size ziploc bags to store skeins, sealing out air as much as possible
  • Use vacuum-sealed storage bags to then bag those ziploc bags
  • Stack the flattened bags in bins or on shelves. You want to keep them elevated off the floor
  • You can also stack them inside large plastic bins with lids and stack the bins, but this makes it hard to see the yarn at a glance
  • It's helpful if the bags are clear and you can easily see the yarn inside. If you're really organized, label the bags with the contents: Worsted wool, olive green, 8 skeins/1760 yds. And so forth. If you store the yarn in opaque bins, label the bins in this way.

I have three eight-foot bookshelves in my studio, so I keep my yarn in smaller canvas bins that fit on the shelves. I have yet to have any bug infestations of the yarn! Simply reorganizing and consolidating the yarn in this way has created a lot more space in the studio. I can see the floor again! There was also a lot of stuff that could be thrown out or recycled—old pattern printouts for projects dead and gone, empty boxes, etc–and things that I'd been meaning to donate and just hadn't. Bags and boxes went into my car, fated for donation centers. 

The space is coming along. I found a good use for this lovely crochet panel I bought at a thrift store years ago, and strung lights across the ceiling (I think I need a few more strings).

I've been doing yoga out there and it's quite lovely, with the glass doors thrown open for a breeze and some birdsong, soft music playing on the speakers I put out there, and orderly bins of yarn all around the walls. And at night, it makes a nice pavilion backdrop for my backyard musings. 

I think it's only natural that I combine yarn and yoga in a space that has become a retreat for me. As I blogged about before, the two practices are similar in the way they challenge and also relax the mind. Having a little backyard escape that houses both is a luxury I know most people don't have, and I'm glad I took the time to reclaim the space and give it a new life. What can you do with the space you have? Do you have an ill-used walk-in closet that could serve as a yarn room? A spare bedroom, a messy corner that could be utilized differently? It's a wonder what some magical lighting and colorful fabric can do. You don't need to spend a lot of money, just be resourceful. Repurpose things. Make space for yourself.



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