Knitting Blog

8 Savvy Ways to Organize Your Printed Knitting & Crochet Patterns

Everything is digital these days, but some of us prefer printed paper patterns to digital ones. They’re easier to read, plus they’re portable and come in handy when we don’t have access to digital files.

Digital patterns are easy enough to organize — we can keep them on our computers organized by project type or yarn weight, or we can just access them from places like our Craftsy libraries. Paper patterns, though, are a little more difficult to organize.

Paper Pattern Storage

Let’s start with ideas for a couple of ways you can store your paper patterns, and then we’ll list some ways you might want to organize them.

First, where should you store your paper patterns?

Three-ring binders

I use sheet protectors to keep my paper patterns from ripping or tearing, and then I add them to a three-ring binder.

File cabinets

If you have the space and like the idea of having loose paper patterns that you can grab when on the go, a file cabinet might be your best option. You can organize the patterns by categories and place them in file folders with file labels or file tabs so you can easily find what you’re looking for. 

Everything Mary Folding Yarn Caddy

Magazine racks

If you don’t have room to devote an entire file cabinet to your patterns, or you don’t have many paper patterns to corral, then a magazine rack might work best for you. You can file the patterns in file folders with labels just like you would a file cabinet, but the magazine rack will take up way less room.

If you want your storage to be pretty and decorative, you can even consider using something like the Everything Mary Folding Yarn Caddy pictured above to store the files.

Once you’ve decided where to store them, how should you organize the patterns?

By yarn weight

If you tend to choose patterns based on what’s in your stash or based on a new yarn you purchased, this might be the best option for you. Organizing by weight means you can choose a yarn, check the weight, then browse your patterns by yarn weight to see which pattern you want to work on next.

Adding labels or tabs to each group of patterns (Fingering, Light, Worsted, etc.) can help you quickly find the collection you need.

By project

This is how I organize my paper patterns, and it works really well for me because I often decide what I’m going to make based on project type. For instance, I might be in the mood to stitch a pair of socks, so I can check my Socks section and see what my options are.

The labels I use include Shawls, Socks, Sweaters, Bags and more. You can even break down some categories even more. Sweaters, for example, could be broken down into categories like Fair Isle, Top Down, Seamless, etc.

Knitting chart

By technique

For knitting, you might separate your patterns into techniques like brioche, colorwork, cables, etc. For crochet, you might consider categories like granny squares, Tunisian crochet, shuttle tatting, cables, etc. This works well for stitchers who might get an itch for trying a specific technique, rather than a specific project type.

By date

If you’re using the paper patterns to organize your knitting queue, this organizing system could work for you. It’s also a good system for stitchers who don’t often stitch the same pattern more than once.

Place the patterns you want to stitch in order, with the next pattern you want to start on top. If you don’t want to knit the pattern again, you can just recycle the print-out. Otherwise, you can create a section in your binder or file for completed patterns that you might want to stitch again in the future.

By designer

If you tend to buy from the same designers again and again, you might want to organize your patterns by designer. This is especially helpful if you remember patterns based on who designed them, or if you’re in the mood to knit a specific designer’s style.

How do you organize your knitting and crochet patterns? Tell us all about it in the comments. We always love to hear your ideas!

19 Comments

Muriel

I put my patterns by project type in 3-ring binders. When I take a pattern out to knit, I put it in a plastic sleeve to protect it as l take it in & out of my knitting bag. One problem however, I have accumulated too many patterns that I’m running out of space to store the binders. So, now I remove &recycle at least one pattern that I most likely will not use before I add another one.

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Kathleen Libbey

I use knitCompanion and Ravelry to store my patterns. If it’s a paper pattern, I scan it and file it electronically by project type until I want to knit it. Once I decide to knit it, I open the pdf in knitCompanion and it’s always there for me. I store the pdf’s in the cloud so I can access them from any device. I do have books and magazines and I add them to my Ravelry library with tags and make a note if it’s physical copy or a digital copy. Having the patterns available digitally allows me quick access for shopping and reference.

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Kay

I use All Of The Above Suggestions to store my printed patterns.
It’s all good.

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Barbara

I store digital patterns in Evernote and print them for one-time use when I’m working on a project. After I’m done, I transfer any notes I’ve made to the digital copy for next time and recycle the paper copy.

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BBen

I use three-ring binders and sheet protectors and then according to project I’ve been doing this for many years and find it’s perfect for me.

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Junice

I put my printed pattern in plastic sheets, then organize into note books by subject.

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Jennifer McGown

I have gone digital and use the Knit Companion app on my iPad. I also keep the patterns on several digital libraries like Craftsy, and Raverly. If I have to print them out I keep them in gallon zip lock bags. I organize by project.

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Karen

I take my patterns and put them in sheet protectors and then put them in a three ring binder. I had not thought of the idea of organizing them by project type. Good idea.

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Paula Carli

One winter, I bought 3 binders and started piles of my patterns. Knitting, Crocheting, Crafting. Once sorted, I then put the paper patterns into groups of what they were-i.e. sweaters, rugs, hats, gloves, etc. I had purchased a box of plastic binder covers so I put patterns back to back into the plastic covers. Then lastly, I used small sticky tabs, wrote the subject and stuck it to the beginning of each group. A large label on the front of each binder stating: “Crocheting Patterns”; “Knitting”; “Craft Projects”. I felt really good when it was all done as my patterns were a mess for years and I seemed to spend so much time looking for them when I wanted to start a new project. Now if I can just force myself to put each new one in the plastic, in the proper binder-into the proper section, that will be good!

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Bonnie Jull

I glue each piece of paper into a journal type notebook. Leave room for your own reminders or hints for another time. Works like a charm.

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June Higgins

More and more of the patterns I get are digital downloads, so I’m keeping them in Evernote. I have 9 “notebooks” within Evernote that are in my Knitting Stack: the notebooks are like folders, labeled for Hats, Scarves, Shawls & Afghans, Socks and Gloves, Sweaters, Dolls. One also for “Holiday and Misc.” patterns. I also have a notebook for Knitting tips and one for Knitting emagazines. They’re easy to search and also good for browsing when I need a new project.

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June Higgins

Whoops, I didn’t see that you were asking about organizing paper patterns only. Those I keep in binders and organized by type. Don’t bother to post my previous reply. 🙂

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Amy

I use a binder, well several binders. Each one is by project. If I see something I like I print it out put it in the correct binder and when I am in the mood to do a project I pull the binder and go through all the possibilities. When I have completed a project I put the date and any other comments like yes lets do it again or not for me.

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Linda L.

I keep them in file folders of similar patterns and then those go into bankers boxes. When the boxes get full, I move them into a file cabinet. If I’ve made a pattern, I staple the ball wrapper and a small piece of yarn to it. I also put a note in the upper right corner of the first page saying who I made it for if it was a gift, if the pattern was hard or easy, which hook(s) I used and any other things I want to remember if I ever make it again. If the notes get too long, I attach a separate sheet.
I do the same with other crafts such as sewing and quilting.

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Irene

I organize my patterns in 3 ring binders. I use tabs to write categories on such as sweaters, hats etc. and animals, dolls, blankets and such.
Actually I binders for Knitting and for Crocheting.
It makes it so easy to find what I am looking for.

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Wanda Swartzbaugh

I have volumes of printed sleeved patterns and computerized patterns but just the basic categories such as Baby Items, Socks, Cowls, etc. I do have the hats in multiple categories such as sets w/ gloves, etc. It hasn’t bothered me much since I usually find what I’m looking for with Minimal effort. One day I just might organize deeper but think of all the knitting time I would be wasting.

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Helen Gallivan

For 5 decades, I have organized my crafts by 3 ring binders, with different binders for sweaters, blankets, paintings, needlework, etc. Additionally, I make notes and date each project on how it turned out for me individually, suggestions for future use and info on to whom it was given or why I did it. Also, I staple some yarn or a practice swatch to the info. Since I have many old pattern books, I copy the cover along with the pattern. Saves time and energy. Perusing these binders brings me happiness of years gone by.

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Nancy

I use one binder for each of my favorite designers with tabs inside for each pattern. Then I have one multi-designer binder for random designers and patterns.

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Lynne Chamberlain

I have a lot of pattern books and magazines so I store them in plastic magazine boxes by technique. I store all my embroidery magazines and books in their own cupboard underneath. So all my patterns have their own book case.

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