Is your stash so large that it's stressing you out and taking over your home? Are you ferreting yarn in your linen closet, your dresser drawers, and the trunk of your car? It is hard to select yarns for your projects because you just don't know where to start? Are you worried you'll have to live to age 247 to have any hope of using all of your yarn? Maybe it's time to...
Today I'm going to give you some helpful tips on decision making when it comes to your yarn stash. Here's how to Evaluate, Designate, and Donate for a stress-free and well-organized stash. You'll want to set aside one to two hours for this process depending on how large your stash is.
What needs to be tossed out right away? If some of your yarn has unfortunately been attacked by wee beasties like moths, mice, mold, and the like, throw it out immediately. Some folks might tell you to try to save the yarn by sending it through the washing machine in a lingerie bag. I wouldn't recommend it, especially if the pest in question was mice. Machine washing yarn might work if you accidentally spilled something on it or if you'd like it to smell fresher, but pests are not something you want to mess with. Do you really want to risk contaminating more of your stash? Take a gulp and toss it. It's sad and a bit of a waste, but hopefully this can be avoided in the future by storing your yarn in a clean, dry place and discouraging pests with cedar or lavender sachets.
Where am I going to store my yarn? Notice this is not necessarily the same as "where have I already been storing my yarn?". Whether you've got an entire craft room, a closet, a chest of drawers, or a single plastic bin to work with, you need to build a stash that fits there comfortably without overflowing into other places in your home. You may wish to invest in some new containers or shelving for your yarn. I personally store my yarn in two three-drawer Sterilite towers.
How do I want to organize my yarn? If you like to pick a project and then find the yarn for it, you may want to organize your yarn based on weight. If you like to pick a yarn and then find a project for it, you may want to organize your yarn by color or fiber. If you have a ton of projects in mind you may want to group your yarn according to project. You'll likely use a few different approaches. Take a good look at the space you have set aside for your yarn and mentally label your shelves/drawers/bins.
What am I going to keep? This is the beginning of the hardest part of the process. Start by picking out the yarns that you are really invested in based on what's important to you. This could be cost based, brand based, weight based, color based, or similar. Go ahead and put this yarn in your stash location to see how much room you have left for the next step.
Do I already have a project in mind for this yarn? Now that you've already set aside your favorites it's time to be practical. Pull up your Ravelry queue. Pop open those Pinterest boards. Dive into your pattern library. Set aside yarn for specific projects. It only counts if you have all or almost all of the yarn required for the project. Mind the age of the yarn and think about how feasible it would be to get more in the same dye lot. Put away all of the yarn you've gathered so far. You may want to label it in bags or similar based on the project it's set aside for.
What else will fit? If you've still got some room left you can allow yourself to keep more of your stash based on impulse. For example, if I had extra room I would probably keep all of the purple yarn since it's my favorite color, or keep all of the softest yarn.
Whew! Give yourself a pat on the back. That was hard work. Maybe all of your yarn fit in your stash spot. Awesome! However, it's more likely that it *sniff* didn't. Now you've got some extra yarn on your hands. If you want to make some last minute yarn switches that's okay. Don't let yourself ferret the yarn somewhere it doesn't belong. Let's solve your problem once and for all!
There are many excellent choices for re-homing yarn that is perfectly good but doesn't fit into your new stress-free stash lifestyle. You may wish to sell your extra yarn on Craigslist, on Ravelry, or as part of a yard sale. If you're looking to donate the yarn here are a few options:
Make a friend's day. If you've got a friend (or two, or three!) who shares your love of fiber arts, see if they'd like to have any of your extra yarn. My friend Toni recently gave me some absolutely lovely yarn that she was looking to re-home and I am very appreciative.
Donate the yarn to a local community or senior center. Google community centers in your area. They may enjoy having your yarn on hand for kids crafts, crochet and knitting lessons, and more.
Donate the yarn to a specific charity. Many charities ask for finished objects but there are also a few that ask for yarn. Do some internet sleuthing. One good option that comes to mind is groups that teach prisoners to crochet and knit. Lion Brand Yarn has an excellent database of charities to explore.
Donate the yarn to Goodwill. When all else fails you can always donate your extra yarn to one of the major thrift store chains and feel good knowing that it will find a new home and help provide services to those in need.
There's one last thing you need to think about before you can consider yourself destashed. What kinds of limitations are you going to put on your yarn collecting? Decide how much yarn you need to use before you're allowed to buy more. That way your stash will stay organized and you can avoid another big explosion :)