Is your stash out of control? Between a cross-country move and consolidating all of my yarn - knitting, weaving, millspun, and handspun...things were getting a little messy over here.
I'd seen a lot of positive reviews of Marie Greene's new book, The Joy of Yarn: Your Stash Solution for Curating, Organizing, and Using Your Yarn. As the force behind Olive Knits, Greene certainly has a lot of yarn to contend with on a day-to-day basis.
I was curious to see what she had to say, so I used a bunch of those "digital credits" Amazon has been handing out, and bought a Kindle copy for a whopping $2.36. Honestly, I'm glad I didn't spring for a physical copy of the book - it's a little bit Marie Kondo, and a little bit The Home Edit, plus it reminded me of a smattering of other organizing books I've read over the years, like Decluttering at the Speed of Life.
Essentially, Greene asks you to identify all your yarn stash hiding spaces. You'll figure out how much square footage they take up, and how much of your rent or mortgage is paying for yarn storage. Then you'll decide how much space you can afford/want your stash to use, and pare down your stash from there.
Greene offers several different ways to organize your remaining stash: by color, weight, or project. She encourages readers to get away from those big plastic bins, and to organize by color. Next, you'll inventory your yarn by making a spreadsheet noting essential details like fiber, color, and yardage. You'll use that information to decide which yarns stay, and which yarns go, and she guides you through ideas for rehoming yarn you're ready to let go of.
Greene has ideas for keeping your stash tidy over time, protecting it from pests, working with frogged yarn, and what to do with works in progress. Lastly, Greene offers 10 patterns that are designed to help you work with stash yarn, especially those odds and ends that build up over time. If you've never used different types of yarn together, or are flummoxed by what to do with yarn scraps, this is a really great resource to start with!
The Joy of Yarn is a beautifully edited and photographed book, and it certainly challenges the reader to do some real work to truly get their stash under control. My favorite suggestion was to use magazine file boxes as yarn storage. This helps to utilize vertical space on my shelves while keeping those unruly hanks from spilling out all over the place.
One pitfall of the book was that it seemed to encourage you to go out and buy a whole new storage system, instead of using what you have. The result is something that’s Instagram-ready, but that ultimately adds to more waste and more expenses.
I also felt like the book offered snapshots of different systems rather than showing any one whole storage system. If that's something you're looking for, then I'd highly recommend Love Your Creative Space: A Visual Guide to Creating an Inspiring & Organized Studio Without Breaking the Bank.
In the The Joy of Yarn, Greene recommends people organize their stash by color. The advantage of that system is that it's pretty, but I think it really only works for knitters and crocheters. Why? Because of the looped structure of knit and crochet stitches, the consequences of mixing different weight yarns or different fibers are fairly low.
With weaving, it's still possible to mix weights and fibers, but it needs to be done carefully - otherwise differential shrinkage can occur with surprising (and sometimes disastrous) results!
Instead, I organize my yarn by fiber, then weight, then color, since that's how I tend to look for yarn in my stash.
I'm a big fan of IKEA for stash shelving. My current stash is organized in IKEA IVAR shelves, which offer lots of flexibility and customization.
I shared a bunch of suggestions in my last post about selecting warp yarns. Mostly, it boils down to your warp needing to be strong & durable enough to make it through the weaving process without breaking.
Still, lots of myths seem to have sprung up around what kind of yarn can't be used for warp, and that's today's topic.
Until the Industrial Revolution, ALL yarn was handspun, so it drives me a little bit nuts when people say you can't weave with handspun.
Still, weaving with handspun is a big investment of time, energy, and money, so this video goes into depth on ways you can make sure you're spinning a yarn that's going to make a successful warp. One of the key ways is to spin a consistent yarn, and you can certainly use the Spinner's Multitool to help you do that. Another great resource is the book Spin to Weave by Sarah Lamb.
Weaving with singles is another persistent "no-no" that I've heard. This one has a little bit more to it, because singles don't have quite as much strength as plied yarns.
But take a look a your denim jeans, your dress shirts, your sheets - chances are, most of the commercially woven items in your life are made with single-ply yarns!
As a spinner, I find weaving with singles especially attractive. Singles spun for warp do need to be strong and consistent (another job for that multitool!), but you don't need to spin nearly as much yardage. While I'm certainly willing to ply to get the yarn I want, plying is an extra step, and my least favorite one at that.
Why not take advantage of this and warp with singles? This video talks about some other considerations you'll want to make, like sizing your yarn, keeping an even tension while warping, and warping back-to-front to reduce abrasion on your loom.
I hope these videos encourage you to push the boundaries on what you're willing to try as warp yarn!
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