A Swim Through the Stash

By Melissa Mintern

a blue couch covered in bags and boxes full of yarn
My couch piled high with all the yarn from the various hiding places

My stash is out of control.

Since the beginning of COVID, I have felt the need to purchase yarn from all my favorite yarn stores and indie dyers to support small businesses during these really hard times. I have out purchased my knitting speed and now my tiny home is overrun.

The significant other, while infinitely patient, is wondering where all this yarn is supposed to live. I used to have a system, but between working from home and never leaving my home, the system has become a bit more flexible, so we need to start at the beginning.

Since my stash is also insured, I’ve lost the value of what’s here and need to update my insurance policy.
How would you handle this? What organization methods have worked for you? I’m going to take the upcoming long weekend to get my hands around the stash and to bend it to my will.

Here is my plan:

shelves covered in yarn piled high and messy
This has been the go to landing space for yarn for awhile and its out of control

I will gather all the yarn into one space. I loosely have yarn currently stored in three categories: sweater stash, sock stash, and miscellaneous stash. I admittedly haven’t done a great job sorting my stash in the last two years, which makes this step pretty important. With all the yarn gathered in one space, I want to reacquaint myself with what I have. I will handle and match every skein with any of its siblings. This is also a wonderful opportunity to check thoroughly for signs of pests.

When purchasing yarn, I lean towards buying for specific projects. If the project is still enticing for that yarn, those labels will be marked with the pattern name. Label marking examples: There are 7 skeins of the same yarn in different colors purchased for a pair of color work mittens. Labels will be marked 1 of 7, 2 of 7, etc and the pattern name Logan. Example 2: I buy NFC studio DK in Oliver whenever there is a sale. It’s a favorite for quick last minute baby knits. So all those will be labeled 1 of 4, 2 of 4, etc. with no pattern name. Anything that no longer fits into my knitting life will be donated to the Guild.

Once everything has been matched, labeled and checked for pests, I need to decide on organization. When it was still organized, the previous categories worked fairly well for me. Sweater stash (7 skeins or more of a matching yarn) in one space, sock stash in another and miscellaneous stash in another. In addition, I might create a queue stash. So maybe the next 5 projects I want to make will go in a visible area to keep my imagination engaged. Currently the sweater stash is in one large vacuum storage bag like Space Savers. The sock yarn is laid out on shelves that are visible at any time. Miscellaneous stash is in containers under my bed. Optimally, all stash would be contained to those 3 areas. Send leftover yarn to the Guild.

yarn in bags with all the matching yarn
yarn match with siblings and placed in plastic bags to deter pests

Now that all the yarn has been organized, let’s talk about your investment and how to make sure it’s protected. So in fairly basic terms, all your craft items are covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance under personal property (for condos your master condo policy will not cover personal property and you need a walls-in policy). Your policy has a limit, usually $5,000 for ALL your personal property. Your policy also has either a replacement cost or a what-you-paid limitation as well.

Let’s say I paid (these are imaginary round easy numbers) $1000 for the stash, but the retail value of the stash is $1500. If my policy is a replacement cost, the insurance company would pay me $1500. If my policy only covers my cost, they pay me $1000.

This goes for everything. That spinning wheel you found on FaceBook Marketplace for a steal? You paid $100 but you could never replace it for that cost. Check your policy. What is your personal property limit? $2000?  $5000? Is it enough? Most companies will say you need a special rider for jewelry, but anything of value probably needs a rider, including your stash. Insurance companies won’t ask you about the $5000 investment in knitting.

Instead of doing intense math I estimated $20 per skein and I used that to discuss with my insurance agent. My agent laughed at me when I told them the replacement cost of the wool in my home but in the end we did need to make an adjustment to my policy. Photos are important documentation if you ever need to file a claim. If your stash is photo’d and uploaded to Ravelry, you’re ahead of the game here.

Once all the stash is categorized, planned out and insured, I shall sit back and enjoy my organized stash for 5 minutes. And then I’ll probably go order more yarn.

Misc stash ready to go under the bed
organized sweater stash

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Meg Duncan

Vice President

(Term 1, Year 1)

Meg grew up surrounded by makers. Her mom, a master quilter, former Home Ec teacher, and 4-H club leader in Duluth, taught her to sew, embroider, and cook. She won a trip to the State Fair as the Dress Review Princess at 13! Another MKG member taught her to knit continental style 15 years ago. Meg can’t sit still and NOT be knitting, embroidering, rug hooking or sewing. Favorite thing to knit? Mittens! She loves taking classes and learning new things – absolutely amazed and inspired by all the amazing knitters in the guild! (she, her, hers)

Jess Dahlberg

Newsletter Editor

Jess learned to knit in middle school and attempted (but never quite finished) a few garter stitch scarves. Years later, she picked up crochet with her best friend in law school and eventually fell back into knitting. Ever since then, she's been a daily knitter (commuting time for the win!) and has never looked back. She enjoys knitting gifts for friends and family and loves trying new techniques. (she, her, hers)

Laura Haave

Great Guild Getaway Committee Chair

Laura learned to knit in 2003 by taking a four-week class during MIT's annual January Independent Activities Period. The class project was a striped hat knit in the round, and since that time, Laura has been a big advocate of 1) helping other adults learn to knit for the first time, 2) hats as a manageable first project, and 3) circular needles for everything. She enjoys thinking about knitting and planning her next project almost as much as she enjoys actually knitting. Laura is highly motivated by knit-alongs and loves to knit in community. (she, her, hers)

Anne Rojas

Librarian

Anna Turk

Yarnover Committee Chair

While Anna learned to knit at some long-forgotten point in time, her commitment to the craft really began her freshman year of college. Sitting still has never been Anna’s strong suit, and giving her hands something to do while chatting with friends or watching movies in the dorm brought a sense of calm during this new chapter of her life. Once the sense of calm wore off (and no one else needed a scarf), she began trying new techniques, patterns, and projects, and until 2018 was primarily a self-taught knitter. After being intimidated early in her crafting, Anna feels strongly about creating a welcoming environment within the fiber community for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. She enjoys knitting and fiber traveling, test and service knitting, a good challenge (knitting or otherwise), and is likely to have at least 3 WIPs at any one time. She is also learning to spin and ply her own yarn! (she/her/hers)

Bonnie Swierzbin

Marketing Director

(Term 1, Year 1)

Bonnie comes from a long line of makers, so between their sewing and her own knitting, her Barbies had loads of one-of-a-kind dresses. She loves to buy yarn and knit while she travels, so she has a yarn stash the size of Cleveland and memories imbued with knitting; she can tell you exactly what baby sweater she was making on the overnight ferry from Rab to Split, Croatia, in 1985. When she isn't knitting, Bonnie is dyeing yarn and vintage textiles, embroidering, and making felt or silk paper vessels. She's happiest when she is learning a new skill or knitting technique. (she, her, hers)

Melissa Mintern

Technology Director

(Term 1, Year 1)

Melissa has been knitting for 15 years. She loves socks and sweaters. She is a new member who hopes to use her marketing background to lift up the MKG. While she isn't local to MN, she really loves the atmosphere created by the Guild. Melissa and significant other Al enjoy traveling, wherein Al graciously offers to drive so Melissa can knit in the passenger seat. (she, her, hers)

Nikky Heidel

Membership Director

(Term 1, Year 3)

Nikky was first introduced to knitting in 2012 when her visiting sister-in-law taught her the basics of casting on and the knit stitch. A few weeks later, she learned how to purl from her mother-in-law. From there, it quickly became a passion and she has taken on each new project with a desire to expand her skill and discover new techniques. She loves a good mystery (knit-a-long) and knits way more shawls than a single person can wear in a month.

Betsy Preston

Service Director

(Term 1, Year 2)

Betsy never had patience for knitting, until she found herself spending a lot of time at little league games and waiting for the last kid to emerge from the locker room after swim practice. With her background in graphic design, stranded colorwork has a natural appeal. Not to mention the practicality of an extra layer of warmth. Betsy has recently begun publishing her original hat and cowl patterns, which are available on Ravelry. (she, her, hers) (See our Service Knitting Page for more information about our current projects and donation process.)

Janet Ungs

Programming Director

(Term 1, Year 1)

Janet taught herself to knit from a small green and white paperback called “Learn to Knit” at the age of 10ish. Her first attempt at a cardigan, with some very heavyweight baby blue yarn, was done without checking gauge. As you can imagine, it was very large, but amazingly still lives in the closet of one of her younger sister‘s friends! To this day, she still struggles with doing a gauge swatch every time, although the journey of making the product is always fun! Janet loves to knit socks, sweaters, and hats, but blankets? Not so much. She likes color knitting as well as making cables. Lace? Not very good at that. (she, her, hers)

Rose Tobelmann

Treasurer

(Term 2, Year 1)

Rose learned to knit from her mother at the age of ten. She started knitting on the ends of small paint brushes. She continued to knit off and on through her teenage and young adult years and became a more avid knitter after taking a Norwegian sweater knitting class through community education. Today, knitting has become a passion and she knits for charity, herself, and her family her stash. She enjoys meeting other knitters and learning new techniques.

Kelsey Sorenson

President

(Term 1, Year 3)

Kelsey learned the knit stitch from her grandmother in middle school, and filled in the gaps enough to make lots of scarves for quite a few years. She began expanding her skills in college and is always looking to learn more. Kelsey is drawn toward projects that are seamless or include stranded colorwork. (she, her, hers)

Kelly Amoth

President

(Term 1, Year 1)

A visiting friend from Seattle taught Kelly the very basics of knitting (a twisted loop cast on and just the knit stitch) in 2008 before flying home. Turning to the internet (thanks knittinghelp.com!) Kelly taught herself through a lot of trial and error. Uncontent to keep knitting the scarf she’d started as her first project, she jumped into knitting a pair of striped mittens for her non-knitter, but very knitworthy, twin sister. Twelve years later the mittens are still in her sister’s glove box, and Kelly is usually horrified when she pulls them out and sees the mistakes she made using double pointed needles for the first time. Kelly loves knitting socks and is thankful for the many months of cold weather when she gets to exclusively wear her handknits. (she, her, hers)

Kathy Lewinski

Webmaster

Kathy has always been into crafts, but didn’t teach herself to knit until after college. She really got hooked while living in San Francisco when a friend opened a knitting store. To pitch in, Kathy started knitting up fun (and odd) things for window displays, as well as teaching classes. In the last couple of years, she has started designing her own knitting patterns (many of them available for free on Ravelry!) with toys and mittens being her primary obsessions. (she/her/hers)