5 Tips for Managing Fiber & Yarn Stash from a Hoarder Professional

When Lisa asked for a photo of my fiber and yarn stash for National Pack Rat Day, I was sorry to disappoint her. It’s not that I don’t have stash—nothing could be further from the truth (just ask my husband)—but my stash is stored in bins. And by “stored in” I mean “crammed into and bulging out of.”

yarn stash: fiber storage.

A fraction of my fiber storage. Note the lids that don’t quite close.

I have not yet achieved Stash Management Perfection, but here are some things I’ve learned about storing fiber, yarn, and textiles.

1. Flexibility is key.
No fewer than four times, I have bought enough bins and tubs to store all my unspun fiber, handspun yarn, and commercial yarn, only to discover in three months that I’ve brought home some skeins of yarn from work and gotten a processed fleece back in the mail. The new additions sit on the floor for a while, accumulating friends, and the cycle begins again.

2. Stash expands to fill the space allotted.
Fiber holds a lot of air; the fiber for a sweater can take up an 18-gallon tote even if the finished sweater fits handily in your drawer. But fiber grows in another way: It multiplies every time you hit a fiber festival, spend a little time shopping online, or get a generous gift from a friend. Do you plan ahead to fill up more space, or do you hold the line and hope your lack of space will curb your acquisition?

3. Plan for easy access.
When I can’t see what I have, I forget it’s there—and half the time I buy the same thing again at the next festival! Jillian Moreno’s first suggestion in her video Spin Your Stash is to get reacquainted with it. Make an honest reckoning of what you have, what you love, what you hate, and what you’d like to transform. I do this a lot more frequently when my bins are stored on open wire shelves than when they were stacked on top of each other or hidden under the bed. (One benefit of Stash Analysis is that once everything is carefully repacked, you can often find a few free inches here and there.)

yarn stash: bin of fiber

When replaced in the bin, the fiber has made way for a few new friends . . .

4. Decide on your air/sunlight plan.
You will hear lots of opinions about storage, some contradictory. Judith MacKenzie stores unwashed fleeces by compressing them very tightly in 5-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids. Some spinners believe in cotton pillowcases so that stash can breathe. Sunlight can discourage critters, but it can also ruin color and cause dramatic temperature shifts. And in my house, anything that can be punctured by fangs or pulled out through a home and chewed on will be.

5. The best fiber strategy is to keep things moving.
Buy it. Spin it. Enjoy it. I’ve started describing my stash as a fiber collection, but this collection really doesn’t improve with age. Spin it up. Make more room.

—Anne

Featured Image: A deep dive into just one of the bins unearths forgotten treasures—fiber I forgot buying but fell in love with all over again. Photos by Anne Merrow


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One Comment

  1. JOCELYNE F at 1:26 pm June 8, 2017

    Yes, one key is to know your stash. Otherwise it might as well not exist. A good rummage will uncover forgotten marvels but also things you do not like or need any more or, perhaps , never did like or need. GET RID! Be generous with your friends! Then label the rest. Write big on a big sheet of paper what there is in every transparent box and place on the Inside so it can be read immediately.

    Another key is to know yourself. Then you won’t be hanging on to stuff you have little interest in now, even if you did have a passion for it in another life. BE BRUTALLY HONEST! (That applies to everything else in the house, of course!)

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