Get Your Knit & Crochet Patterns in Order With Today’s Spring Cleaning Challenge

When it comes to decluttering, we automatically think about organizing yarn and your WIPs, right? but what about all of those patterns that you’ve collected over the years? Those need organizing, too! Today, we’ll help you make sense of all those patterns — printed and digital — for our Spring Cleaning Challenge.

Spring Cleaning Challenge Day 2: Take Control of Your Patterns

The cleaner your stash of patterns, the easier it is to find a pattern to match whatever yarn or idea you have in mind.

Organizing digital patterns

Many people collect patterns online through a variety of channels. How can you keep them all organized?

First, you have to find all the places you’ve stored patterns online, such as:

  • Inside of your online communities. For example, in the “My Patterns” section of your Bluprint profile or on Ravelry.
  • In your email. Sometimes patterns purchased online are emailed directly to you.
  • As bookmarks. When you see a free pattern online that you might want to use, you may bookmark it in your browser.
  • As computer files. You may save your favorite patterns as PDF files on your computer. Hopefully they are all in one spot — but if not, now is the time to get them there!
  • On unsynced devices. Don’t forget to check your e-reader, iPad, phones, etc., for extra patterns that aren’t on your desktop or laptop computer.

Step 1: Migrate

Determine whether it makes sense to keep all of these patterns in separate locations, if possible. Some knitters and crocheters don’t mind having many storage areas online. For others, it’s easier to aggregate them in one place.

Want everything in one place? Download all of those patterns from various locations to your computer, where you can collect them in a single folder.

Step 2: Label

Finally, select a labeling system that makes sense to you. Some people find that a spreadsheet works great. Your spreadsheet could be so detailed as to include the name of the pattern, its designer, the yarn and yardage used, the type of project and where the project is stored. Then when you want to start a new project, you can easily sort and review your spreadsheet to find the right project and exactly where the pattern is located.

If you don’t like the spreadsheet system, a set of labeled files stored on the desktop of your computer will work as well.

crochet binder cover

3 Ring Crochet Binder Pattern image via Desert Diamond Crochet

Organizing loose printed patterns

Digital patterns are great, but they aren’t practical for everyone. Some people just prefer working off the printed version, and some print a pattern to take on the go. This can result in a large stash of loose printed patterns.

Step 1: Toss

As with the digital patterns, get rid of all of the ones that you aren’t going to use. Shred them or recycle them.

Step 2: Organize

Organize those patterns into a three-ring binder (or a set of three-ring binders, if you have many patterns). Further organize the binder by project: you could separate them by type (“patterns for the home,” “patterns for summer”), by fiber (“bulky worsted wool patterns,” “thread crochet patterns”) or any other way that makes sense to you.

Label each section so that you can easily locate patterns. Then store these binders in an out-of-the-way but easily accessible location in your home or studio.

magazine basket

Dark Victorian Magazine Basket Crochet Pattern image via Needle Me That

Organizing patterns in magazines

There are a lot of great knitting and crochet magazines, old and new. If have a lot, your stash can get quite huge. Let’s get them organized!

Step 1: Sort

First, decide if you really want to keep these. If you regularly use patterns from the magazines, then it may be worth keeping them all. Flip through and add labels with the patterns you want to use.

If you don’t want to keep all the magazines, take the time to go through them, tear out the pages for patterns you’ll use and get rid of the rest of the magazines. Magazines can be recycled or donated.

Step 2: File patterns

Place the torn-out pages from your magazines in a three-ring binder or whatever organizing system you chose for your printed patterns.

Step 3: Protect

If you still have a lot of magazines to keep, determine whether you want to protect them. I have a set of nearly century-old craft magazines that fall apart to the touch, so I store these carefully in waterproof plastic bags and containers. I also keep a set of all of the magazines I’ve written for in a waterproof tote. The rest I’m not worried about, so I don’t keep them protected to such a degree.

Step 4: Organize or display

Stack magazines by project type or by crafting season.

Alternatively, you could display the magazines for inspiration. In that case, find a beautiful way to display them (Country Living has some great suggestions for magazine displays).

You may find that you have a combination of magazines — some that you want to leave out for inspiration, some that you want to keep accessible to use the patterns and some that you want to store away for a later time. Sort and store accordingly.

craft books

Image via Bluprint writer Leah Day

Organizing pattern books

Finally, you might have an amazing library of knitting and crochet pattern books. In true library style, meticulous organization can help you make the most of them.

Step 1: Donate

You will want to begin, as always, by sorting through them and determining if there are any that you no longer want. Donate those immediately.

Step 2: Sort

Take the remaining stash and sort them into “reference books” (those that teach you how to make certain stitches or perform specific techniques) and “project books” (those that are themed pattern collections). Most people want their reference books accessible, so find a shelf in your home and organize those books there.

Step 3: Label

Then it’s time to deal with the project books. You can sort these by type (“amigurumi projects,” “Christmas projects,” “lace projects”), by designer, by publication date… figure out what feels best to you.

Step 4: Display or pack away

If you have shelving to keep the books on display and accessible, that’s great. If not, you may need to resort to stacks and storage bins. Don’t pack away the books that give you the most inspiration and that have patterns you intend to use soon. Then box up and store the rest out of the way. Dwell offers some great ideas for book display and storage.

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