Solutions For Small Spaces

I’ll bet you have a huge arts and crafts room, right? Doubtful. I work with very few clients who have an oversized craft room–most of us use an extra 10×11 square foot bedroom. I’ve even had clients who sew in a small corner of their walk-in closet or laundry room. Now that takes creativity!

But what can you do to maximize your space if you have a small room? First, purge your stash. Second, re-evaluate your set-up. If you have a full-sized cutting table, don’t keep both sides up and open at all times. This just becomes a clutter magnet. Instead, consider keeping one side down and one side up, or keep it folded down completely when not in use. Better yet, get rid of it. Skeptical? Read on . . .

In one of my client’s small sewing room, I needed the flexibility to combine tasks into one area. The key is to go vertical! I bought a BIG Board (available on-line or special order through your local quilt store) and measured the space inside the raised edging underneath (BIG Boards are designed to fit snugly over a standard-sized ironing board and have little batting to ensure that they’re firm enough to cut on and yet soft enough to press). I then went to an office supply store and measured the top of the tall plastic towers (the kind with clear pull-out drawers), ensuring that the raised edging of the BIG Board would fit over the tower. I bought two of the towers (you may need to order them to get the correct height). My client also had several bolts of fabric which took up too much floor space. I took the towers and pushed them close enough together so that the edges of the fabric bolts would fit on top of the plastic drawer’s black edge runners. So, with this small space solution I was able to take a window area and combine the following tasks: 1) cutting table, 2) ironing board, 3) storage area for bolts of fabric, and 4) drawer storage . . . all into a 20×60-inch floor space!

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3 Best Tips For Creating a Knitter’s Workspace

Knitting is the best of hobbies. Just think of all the parts that make up the knitting “whole.” We have knitting needles, beautiful, colorful yarns, accessories galore, and too many patterns and books to name!

Whether you are new to knitting or have been creating knit masterpieces for years, all these supplies have a way of building up until, before you know it, you can have quite the knitting mess on your hands.

So, what to do?

As with any hobby that you are passionate about, knitting deserves a place of its own. Your knitting fancy is something that has taken time to create; little by little, yarns are bought, needles find their way into your stash and there is always another knitting magazine or book to buy. If you are like me, you just HAVE to have them!

Suddenly, it will dawn on you, that knitting is a very important piece of your life. And as with all things of importance, it deserves some prominence.

Following are my three best suggestions for crafting your knitting bliss by creating your own knitter’s workspace.

First, dedicate an area to your knitting. This can be anything from a cozy corner by the fireplace, to an entire room designed around your knitcrafts. Here is where you will find all your knitting needs. Rather than have boxes and storage vessels here and there all over the house; rearrange, move, file away, or throw out all those things in your house that you’ve outgrown or really never look at anymore. Just how important is something that you never touch or use again?

So, take a look around and if you come down with anything this year, let it be the re-decorating bug! Once you have created your space it will just make all the difference in how you approach your knitting.

Secondly, decide which items to include. Of course, space will be the factor here; but whether you have 40 inches or 40 feet, there are knitting staples which should always be the tools of your trade.

Include various sized knitting needles, scissors, a tape measure, your favorite stash of yarns, and keep those knitting books and magazines close by. They always offer good ideas and never leave you wondering what to knit next! If anything, you will have too long a list of projects you want to complete. And don’t forget, cable needles, stitch holders and a pen/pencil and notepad for when those inspirations hit you! You want to remember them, so write them down or they will be lost in some vague “memory tank” which, you may or may not recall.

Thirdly, don’t forget this most important item of all: YOU. Make time for your knitting. No matter how busy, how torn in twenty different directions you are daily, no matter what, make time for knitting! It doesn’t have to be an entire afternoon or evening; most of us only wish we had that kind of time! But, clear the decks, take a good hard look at what you can do, how time can be rearranged and then make the effort.

You will never be sorry. You will knit more, and finish more, and then want to, in the words of a favorite song of mine, “do it all over again.”

Life is about finding our bliss. It may not be easy, and the road there will oftentimes be strewn with every distraction in the world. No matter. If you want it, you will have it. That goes for knitting, too.

Organizing Your Craft Stash

Happily, I finally have a studio, in the largest bedroom upstairs I now have all my threads, my stash of canvases and all my needlework and design books. This represents a great step forward for me as the stuff used to be all over the place. And that space was stolen from the dining room, breakfast nook, my closet, and a ton of other places. I have been an expert of finding space when you don’t think you have any.

The key to organizing your craft stash 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: in my case, these are 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. I still do this every time I put away threads from the last few projects.

Storing Large Items
Most crafts have some large items. These often require special storage.

Do they need to be flat? Think about plastic underbed containers (cheap) or flat drawers (more expensive). My dream is to have a set of flat architect’s drawers for needlepoint storage.

Other ideas include an empty dresser, a set of wire drawers, or even a plastic bucket or large basket if the items can be rolled.

Thread Storage
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. Often you can find lots of plastic buckets around in cheerful colors. Cigar boxes have a lovely smell and are beautiful.

In organizing thread, 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 had my Watercolours in four baskets, warm, cool, multi and neutral, but sometimes two skeins of the same color would go into different baskets. The new bin is large, but I know where the thread goes.

Yarn Storage
Yarn presents different problems than thread because the skeins are bulky and there are so may of them. If your stash is not too big, store them in baskets. I have even used wicker laundry baskets and an unused bathtub for yarn storage. If your stash is large, invest in those canvas storage boxes. They will keep your yarn away from moths, but they won’t cause the yarn to deteriorate the way plastic does.

A less expensive alternative is to use old pillowcases, but be sure to tie them securely.

Storing Bits and Bobs
Every activity has little tools or items which don’t fit well into the other categories. These can be stores in inventive (and often lovely) ways.

Stick-like things, such as brushes or pens can be stored in jars, glasses, or vases. If you don’t have any vases, go to thrift shop to find inexpensive ones.

Flat things, such as die-press cuts, should be stored flat, either in file folders (I like patterned ones) or in sets of flat drawers.

Small, easy to lose items, like beads or buttons, should always be stored in containers which close tight. These can be as simple as disposable food storage containers, or as complex as bead storage systems. But get them into something — there’s nothing worse than spilling beads everywhere.

The Tool Box
Most crafts have a set of tools which are used often. These should be corralled into some kind of storage. My beading tools, which are used all the time are in an open box on my worktable. My needlepoint tools which are used often are in a tray on my stitching table. The less used tools are in a tin box under the table.

Book Storage
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.

Now that I have the space, I organized the books and put them into the same room. It rarely stays this way, but at least now I have a “go to” room for finding them instead of playing hide and go seek around the house.

The Big Picture
Once you know what you have you need to look for places to store stuff. Do you have tables with empty drawers? My floss (now my daughter’s floss) is in the coffee table 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 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 stuff you won’t use to charity. This makes room for new pieces you will stitch.

3 Ways to Use the Space Under Your Bed

There are those who believe that you shouldn’t store things in the space under your bed. I’m not one of them. Whether you live in an apartment without storage or a home that’s short on closet space, your storage can be maximized by using the square footage under your bed. Even if you have the luxury of not needing to use the extra space, under the bed is still prime real estate, in my opinion. Depending on the size of the bed, we’re talking somewhere between 20 and 40 square feet of storage space. That’s substantial!

The idea isn’t to have a place to stash things when company is coming, or to let it become a catch-all space for anything left on the floor. Let’s get one thing straight: shoes, socks, and clothing kicked under there don’t count as “storage.” So what works? Try one or all of these ideas:

1. Store bulky items – Under the bed is perfect for items that need to be kept rolled up. It frees up valuable closet space, or the corners of the room, when you place your yoga mats, extra area rugs, or posters/maps/artwork that are stored rolled in a tube or canister. It’s also the perfect place to store things that can lie flat, such as the leaves to your dining table and the table pads. Airtight Space BagsĀ®” can fit extra guest linens, blankets, and bedding dust-free, while freeing up much needed shelf space in the linen closet. Large pieces of artwork or portfolios also work perfectly under there.

2. Protect your archives – Place photos, mementos and souvenirs in an airtight container and slide them in this great storage spot. This is especially helpful if you don’t have a dry basement. It’s out of the way, protected from potential environmental changes in the attic or basement, and safeguarded from being jostled. This is far from climate-controlled archive storage, but it will do the trick.

3. Create a craft or hobby “station” – Try using the space under the bed as a gift wrap station. Use one bin for wrapping and tissue paper, one for gift bags, and one for everything else (bows, ribbons, tape, scissors, tags and a pen.) Just slide out the bins as needed, wrap the gift right there on the floor or on the bed and slide them back into place. Easy. Storing all of your craft projects is also a clever way to use the space. Easily accessible bins for things such as knitting, cross-stitching, and scrapbooking materials make organizing your hobbies a breeze and keeps your work-in-progress from getting crushed at the bottom of a closet.