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Category Archives: Organization

Third try at Alexandra’s Needle Case, this time for myself.

I went to find needles for the chemo caps, only to discover I couldn’t find what I needed. Time to get organized.

Knitting Needles - Before

Knitting Needles - Before

Knitting Needles - After

Knitting Needles - After

“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” – Marcus Aurelius

The crafting space is getting a bit untidy, especially with the addition of several bags of soon-to-be-unraveled sweaters. I’ve been searching for weeks for a bookcase narrow-enough to fit between the fabulous daybed and the wall. The space is less than 10 inches wide and every new thing I found was too big. And too expensive, even if it had fit into that space.

My frequent ramblings to area ARC Thift Stores resulted in the following:

Bookcase / Storage

46H x 30W x 9D

Scored on Saturday at 50% off. A whopping $7 for four shelves of storage for weaving supplies and cones of yarn. I’m in! I’m going to try to fit wheels onto the bottom to make it even easier to move, but it is so light it can be moved easily as is.

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” – Anna Quindlen

Spring cleaning this year has involved taking all the boxes of craft supplies out of the closet and organizing things. Put all the sewing supplies in one box (Five rotary cutters? I have five rotary cutters?). Put all the knitting yarn in one set of containers, the weaving yarn in another set.

Spring cleaning has also involved finishing up some long-delayed projects. Getting those UFOs (UnFinished Objects) out the door. One of these projects was the Labyrinth Quilt lap quilt, from a pattern by Laurel Reinhardt, http://www.healingpathquilts.com/art_quilts

You can see my version here:

Labyrinth Lap Quilt

This quilt has been sitting around for a couple of years, patiently waiting for me to finish hand quilting along the walking path of the quilt. Soon the new owner will be able to trace the path of the labyrinth with her finger, from the entrance through to the center and back again. Hopefully it will provide warmth and comfort, even if it is arriving in time for summer.

“He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.” – Victor Hugo

Some loom manufacturers recommend that your loom be kept out of direct sunlight, to protect the wood from drying out and cracking. When not in use my loom rests directly in front of the window, and I want to be able to open the curtains and still protect the loom. At a recent round-robin workshop, a fellow weaver brought her Schacht loom complete with homemade loom cover. She used to be a home ec and sewing teacher, so for her crafting a loom cover was probably a couple of hours of work. My brain, not being so spatially-oriented, is taking a bit longer to figure this out.

My eco-friendly take is that I shouldn’t purchase brand new fabric just to cover the loom. I took a trip to my local ARC Thrift Shop and found two Martha Stewart cotton duck curtain panels ($8 total). The panels are 42″x77″, tab-tops not included.

Loom Cover I

Loom Cover Supplies from ARC

I’ve spent two days thinking, pinning, and cutting judiciously. By making use of the existing side and bottom hems, I won’t need to hem the cover when it is done. Tailoring around a loom would seem to be easy at first, but not for the spatially-disoriented. Two tricks:
1) One side of the loom has a handle that sticks out. The clever person in the weaving workshop put in a kick-pleat.
2) My loom is wider at the bottom than at the top because of the wheels, so I need rhombus shapes instead of strict rectangles for the side pieces.

Loom Cover 2

Attempting to Tailor the Loom Cover

Next steps will be to take it off the loom and get this onto the sewing machine. I’ll keep you posted.

“We share the earth not only with our fellow human beings, but with all the other creatures.” – The Dalai Lama

Yes, we are a bit obsessed with storage.  Living in a small space and being a crafter aren’t always a good match. Whenever possible, we both look for furniture with built-in storage.  A coffee table/blanket chest can serve as craft storage. Or those great new ottomans at CostPlus that have storage AND a tray built-in.  There’s your craft work table in 2 square feet.

One of our best finds was a Duo-Bed daybed that a friend was selling.  It looks like a funky 60s couch, but the seat cushion pulls out into a single bed.  You can just see the plastic blanket box underneath, which houses the knitting yarn stash.  The best part of the Duo-Bed is the backrest, which flips up to reveal a small bookcase. Just the right height for DVD storage – or storing cones of weaving yarn. Nothing gets dusty and you can see all your supplies at once.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A. A. Milne

The other star of our space-limited crafting show is a Schacht folding floor loom. Schacht Spindle, http://www.schachtspindle.com/ , located in Boulder, Colorado, has been making quality looms for 40 years.  One of their most popular is the Baby Wolf folding loom. Folded up, it is 34” wide and 18” deep.  You can buy the wheels/stroller and roll it into a corner or closet when you aren’t using it.  You can even fold it up mid-project and put it away.

I found this one on craigslist for 1/5 of retail – what a steal! I took weaving classes at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins, http://www.shuttlesspindlesandskeins.com/ , a brilliant local weaving shop.  Judy Steinkoenig is one of the best teachers and weavers around, and she’s available 5-6 days a week at Shuttles for questions and advice. In fact, no one at that shop could be considered a “grumpy yarn lady” and they’re always willing to help. They’re even happy to help you if you purchased your yarn at a different shop – and very few places will do that!

“We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Before you get the wrong idea, neither of us has a fabulous home studio for crafting. We both work at least one outside job, in some cases more, and we have very small living spaces.   Crafting is something we do to make each day as creative as possible, but we have to be realistic in our approach.  We can gaze longingly at those coffee table books about setting up a home studio, but neither of us has the money or space to store the book much less have the studio!

You can still make crafting work, regardless of your employment or living arrangements, you just have to be logical in your organization.  Case in point (pun intended), this great wheeled suitcase purchased years ago.  As a travel accessory, it is fairly useless when compared to more modern luggage. But as craft storage, it works brilliantly.  This simple wheeled suitcase holds 13 plastic bead cases, top loaded.  13!  Plus the pliers, crimpers, clips, and other tools needed for beading.

When you want to craft, you take out all the supplies and put them on the table. Or sit on the floor, open up each bead case, and surround yourself with all the creative options at once.  When you’re done for the day, pack it all up into one suitcase and tuck it away in a corner or closet.  That’s it, our entire jewelry-making business in roughly 3 cubic feet.  So worry less about where you craft, and spend time on the crafting itself. Check out your local thrift shops for sturdy, compact storage options for your own jewelry-studio-in-a-case.

“I have a small house so I borrow everything except art, that’s what I love.” – Salma Hayek