Updated October 18, 2021. I had a tough week last week and I am in need of a little break. A dear friend passed away after a short battle with cancer and this week was the Rosary and Requiem Mass. I was so tired and upset by this that I made two huge messes the day after. On top of it all, my arthritic knee has been hurting. And I have a 600-page book to read by October 30. All this is a long way of saying that this is a reposting of an article from 2013. I’m hoping this week will be better.
One of the things I like best about our house is that we repurposed the formal dining room to be my studio. I spend my days in a sunny room, often with the cats close by. My threads, canvases, books, and tools are close by. Although it’s often cluttered, having everything together makes my stitching life so much better.
The key to organizing is to know what you have. This accomplishes two things. First, you don’t buy the same thing more than once (and believe me I’ve done that often). Second, you can then find ways to store and keep track of everything.
Start with one area of your stash: threads, canvases, projects, books. Spread it all out and put like with like. For example, if you are arranging canvases, sort them into small, medium, and large, started with threads, not started with threads, and the charity pile. If you are lucky you can find a container to store everything. For years, I kept my canvases and empty project bags in a moveable set of wire drawers. They don’t even have to all be in the same place. Small projects could be in a basket. Large canvases could be rolled up and in a plastic or wire office wastepaper basket. I have some especially for this purpose.
Threads can be stored neatly in all kinds of containers. Decorative tins are inexpensive and found at thrift shops. Baskets are pretty but are open. At this time of year, there are lots of plastic buckets around in cheerful colors. Cigar boxes have a lovely smell and are beautiful. Look around, they don’t have to match, having different colors, designs, and sizes can make it easier to find threads.
In organizing threads, you need to decide if you want to have threads by type or by color. Decide this by thinking about how you dream about threads. I think about texture first, so I’ve organized by thread type. When organizing your threads, put them in piles according to type (or color). You will need a container big enough for each group of threads. Splitting up threads (especially overdyes) into more than one container can make it difficult to find things. I have my Lorikeet in four baskets, warm, cool, multi, and neutral, but sometimes two skeins of the same color would go into different baskets. If I had larger storage I could keep these in one place.
Books can be organized or not, I would say mine have always been semi-organized. I put groupings of similar things together, like stitch dictionaries. Being a compulsive book purchaser this doesn’t ever work for long. Sometimes the juxtaposition of books of different types can spark ideas.
Once you know what you have you need to look for places to store stuff. Do you have tables with empty drawers? Is there an old dresser and space in the house or garage? Turn it into canvas storage. Is there space near your stitching chair? Buy a basket or big stuurdy tote and store your current projects in it. Use unused tote bags, storage space in your closet, the corner next to your nightstand. As long as there is a tiny bit of space and a container, it can help you get organized.
One last point, at least once a year, review your stash and donate canvases you won’t ever stitch to your guild’s auction or to charity. This makes room for new pieces you will stitch.