Ever since I began to collect yarn, I’ve been puzzled by the problem of storing it in an organized and highly accessible manner. It began with a basket, then another basket. The yarn in the baskets grew more and more squished. Skeins got buried beneath other skeins. Baskets got buried beneath other baskets. Getting inspired by the yarn in your stash is an ordeal when you have to take out a basket, then take out its contents and lay them all out on your floor in order to see what you’ve got. Having to make a mess in order to practice your craft is the worst de-motivator. You know what I’m talking about, person who stores her sewing machines at the back of the closet and must use it on the kitchen table. The matter was complicated by living in a rental home, and my dreams of the perfect yarn storage solution were tied to my ability to buy a house.
I happened upon “The World’s Best Yarn Storage Idea” (Click the link – I dare you to disagree) while working on the Pot O’ Gold newsletter about a year ago now, coincidentally at the very same time that my husband and I decided we were ready to buy a house. The world’s best yarn storage solution is, of course, an entire wall covered in peg board with skeins of yarn wound into cakes and stuck onto individual pegs.
This is me gazing up at my yarn from the living room sofa.
So what do you think the number one qualification for my dream home was? It was not a jacuzzi tub, a front porch, or a spacious kitchen; it was a perfect wall to dedicate to my yarn stash. I think I nailed it with this house.
When we moved in, I had to get started before I’d even unpacked. Frankly, half the boxes were full of craft supplies, and what would be the point of unpacking my craft supplies prior to the construction of my yarn wall?
The fact that I have no idea how to build anything and can’t find my way around a hardware store was no impediment. I burst through the doors of Home Depot and scanned the aisles with bravado. I identified the peg board. I realized I would never be able to fit it into my car, but I found the wood-cutting machine (reminiscent of the one I used to cut pieces of mat board in art school, only more scary). I got the board sliced up and I bought out all of the 2-inch pegs available in the store (who decided to stock them so far away from the actual peg board?). I returned home, and got to work with a bit of help from my sweet husband who is brilliant at many things, but maybe not construction projects.
It came out a little bit crooked, but that’s ok. I had a Pinterest-inspired trick up my sleeve. I went back and picked up some strips of molding to create a framed edging for my yarn wall, and I made sure the frame appeared straight.
It’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect! I feel inspired by it every single day. I think I am the luckiest girl alive now that I’ve built myself a yarn wall, and it wasn’t all that hard. You should build one too.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year here at the yarn shop, and not just because it’s spring. Yes, indeed, it is Yarn Rep Season at Over The Rainbow Yarn, and we’re having a great time.
Twice a year, representatives from our favorite yarn companies come to visit us. They bring enormous rolling suitcases and duffle bags, large enough that I could comfortably fit inside — except that the cases and bags are full to the brim with yarns, patterns, and color cards. Sometimes, they’re even full of buttons. These patient reps sit down with us for hours. They show us yarn after yarn, encouraging us to pet all of the delicious fiber, tempting us with beautiful patterns. Sometimes these meetings last all day. Sometimes we stumble out at the end of a meeting with glazed eyes, victims of “yarn overload”. (Luckily, this is a very temporary condition.)
Our reps really know what they’re doing, and they always bring wonderful things to show us. The big challenge is to be selective, and not get carried away. We start out with a big pile of things we want, and then have to whittle it down. Once we decide on a yarn, we still have to select the colors. So many colors!
If we had unlimited shelf space and a Scrooge McDuck style swimming pool of money, we wouldn’t have to choose. We could buy everything that caught our fancy, and then a few more things just for good measure.
But for better or worse, our space is finite and we aren’t doing the backstroke in piles of gold (and Ryan Gosling has yet to hand me his credit card), so we only buy the things we’re really, really excited about. No spoilers, but… I think you’re going to like the things we’ve chosen so far! Stay tuned for new product announcements in the newsletter over the next few months.
You probably all know about Ravelry.com by now. (As I write this post, 5105 Ravelers are online, on a Tuesday afternoon.) Ravelry is where I usually find my pattern inspiration, and I suspect that I likely spend more time browsing Ravelry than I do actually knitting.
Believe it or not, I’ve actually been quite selective about my Ravelry favorites.
But this post isn’t about Ravelry. I recently received an email about another fascinating resource: The Knitting Reference Library. This online database is a project by the archivists at University of Southampton in England, who have scanned and uploaded 164 books, magazines, and pattern booklets since December 2015. The oldest item I’ve come across so far was published in 1847, but the collection also includes some amazing patterns from the 1970s and ’80s. (Oh yes. They’re glorious.) Most of the items are only the cover photo, but a few of them are complete patterns that can be downloaded as PDFs.
While I don’t think I’ll forsake Ravelry for the Knitting Reference Library just yet, it is amazing to see the evolution of styles (both sweater and hair) over time, and it is lovely that University of Southampton is recognizing the value of knitting and its history. This is a website I will be checking up on periodically as the project continues. You can visit The Knitting Reference Library here, or check out a great article about the collection by Ayun Halliday on openculture.com. I especially love Halliday’s suggestion that “[s]ome enterprising librarian should get cracking on a sub-collection, Fashion Crimes Against Male Knitwear Models, 1960-1980”. There are photos, and you should see them. Just maybe don’t knit those ones.