Displaying/storing yarns

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sjb2727 wrote
on 7 Aug 2012 10:12 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm a new weaver (but an old machine knitter), and trying to tackle organizing and storing my yarns. Some are on cones, and some are in skeins and balls. I know protection from the sun is top priority, followed by damp and insects, so they will be in tubs and baskets for the most part.

The thing is, I am inspired by displayed yarns, so don't want to pack everything away. I am looking for nice shelving to hold the containers and display any cones that I leave out to get me going.

I've been poring over back issues of Handwoven, and am especially taken with issue 147, Nov/Dec 2009, that had many examples and ideas on studio set up and yarn storage. I have several questions that I hope can be answered by anyone (even if you don't have that issue in hand).

I'm leaning heavily toward the Ivar system shelves from IKEA, they look modular (a plus for an apartment) and can be ordered over the internet (no IKEAs by me, sad face). Anyone have any other suggestions or ideas for shelves?

On page 22 of the issue I mentioned above, there is a picture of a dowel and chain structure hanging from the wall that is holding spools of yarn. It looks like it holds 10 spools across and 18 rows of spools to form a block of color.  Any instructions or ideas on how to construct something similar?

Looking forward to your ideas!

Thanks, Sandra B.

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on 31 Aug 2012 1:58 PM

Hi Sandra. I'm 58 and have been knitting, spinning, weaving and making lace since I was little. My preferred fiber has always been wool. Mind you, I live in Texas and in the summer it's over 100 degrees every day, hence the fact that I concentrate on lace knitting. Fortunately, four of my children went to college in northern Ohio and my relatives are in New England, so they get most of the knitting.

I too was searching for a way to display my yarn so I could continue to be inspired. Even though it's a hot climate, we do have moths, and for years wool-containing clothing (like suit jackets) would get moth holes in them. I now keep them in drycleaner's plastic.

For the knitting and weaving wools I found a wonderful solution that does not involve using mothballs. (Right now I have 4 cones of wool outside in the heat for the third day in a row trying to get the moth ball smell out of them. No luck so far.) I ordered clear PEVA sweater bags from The Container Store, mail order from their online catalog: "They feature easy gliding nylon zippers and clear, heavy-gauge material that resists wear and tear year after year. A standard Sweater Bag will accommodate two lightweight sweaters. Each Large Sweater Bag (shown) protects up to four sweaters. To clean, wipe with a damp cloth."

I ordered four of the large bags, and I can see right through them but they are protected from insects and damp, important here since Houston is a swampy area with high humidity. I put a huge collection of my sock-knitting and lace knitting wools in them, sorted by color. I liked them so much, I am ordering more for the cones I have. They're very sturdy but allow me to see the wool, and they fit on bookshelves. Just an idea for you. I love the look in magazines of all the wool out on shelves, but have so much trouble with moths that it's not worth the loss of the wool. This is a good compromise.

Virginia M.

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cinny9 wrote
on 7 Oct 2012 9:51 PM

Hi Sandra, Since I recently got back into weaving I also had to find a way to organize my rapidly growing collection of spools of yarn & thread. The easiest thing I did was clean off my bookcase and store away any old books I didn't need then I sorted my yarn & thread  and arranged them on the now empty bookshelves. I also have 1 shelf for all my weaving books, patterns, catalogs etc and on the top shelf I found some pretty baskets to store tools and odd balls of yarn & thread. It didn't take long to remember where everything was when I needed it.

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cinny9 wrote
on 7 Oct 2012 10:03 PM

HI Virginia, I had some nice cones of some wool that had a bit of a smell when I got them so I made some 'yarn bras' for each cone. I took some of those plastic body wash scrubbers when they started to fall apart and I cut them a bit longer than the cone, tied a knot at the top then tucked  some inside the bottom of the cone before standing the cone on a shelf. If moths are a constant problem you might want to look into using some herbs in your storage containers. Tansy grows wild around here so I pick some every year, dry it out then put it into lillte cloth bags and store the bags with my wool yarn. So far, I haven't had any problem with any kind of bugs finding their way into my yarn. You just might want to research what other kinds of herbs you could use that maybe you could grow yourself or buy rather inexpensively.

good luck

Marcia C.

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PadreWayne wrote
on 30 Oct 2012 10:38 AM

Lavender is also a good preventative. If you can, grow your own, dry it, put it in little cloth bags (reusable tea bags from your local health food store/co-op work very well!), place them in and around wool. Plus your studio will smell nice!

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Peacecat wrote
on 2 Nov 2012 11:06 AM

I have struggled with a similar dilemma - so many beautiful yarns, and I want to see them all at once!


Shelving, containers, etc are all well and good.  But a thought I have is - what if you carefully store the yarns in protected boxes, but have a small mini-skein or ball of the yarn to display in a visible way?  It may be enough to inspire your creativity.  I know one teacher at Convergence (Ruby Leslie, I believe) talked about using the embroidery floss cards to create your own "color library".  Using this concept, but taking it a bit bigger, if you wind a small skein or ball of each yarn, you can display them beautifully and know what you have on hand.


Hope you find great inspiration!



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SoNouveau wrote
on 15 Jan 2013 8:18 PM

This response might be slightly askew, but ... nonetheless.

I live in Peru and I buy a lot of yarn locally. I wanted not a way to "display" my yarn, but a handy way to "work with it." That is, to mix and match and find nice combinations for the scarves I weave. (I used to constantly fish out skeins from my bags and then replace them, but that was cumbersome beyond belief--and it lacked all organization.)

I ended up with a "line"--a nylon cord strung across one wall of the studio. On the line, I have large safety pins (which can be easily removed or repositioned or slid left and right) with a 3-foot-long loop of yarn attached to each safety pin. At the bottom of each loop I have half of a tag--like the kind a watch repair man might use, numbered sequentially. The other half of the tag is with the corresponding bag of yarn--tucked away wherever--but in order: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, etc.

Soooooooooo, I group like colors of yarn together on the line so I can easily find a brown, say. And I can take down this or that loop of yarn and compare it with others. Or I simply stretch the long loop across to another color of yarn and compare them. It's a quick and dirty way to find a good combination--at least for me. Too, I have a quick annotation on each tag, telling me the type of yarn ("BL 80/S 20" = Baby Alpaca 80%, Silk 20%) and the weight.

When I find the combination of yarns that I want, I just go and pull bag #8, #32, and #44. And I'm done.

When I run out of a particular yarn, or when I buy new yarn, I just add or delete sample loops of yarn from my "line."

Oh, the little tags at the base of each loop of yarn flutter in the wind. So, you get an object d'arte (sp?) at the same point in time.




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