Needling Around

So, I’m having minor surgery this week, and my mom offered to come over the two days following to help me out. I accepted her offer enthusiastically. Mostly, I’ll be sleeping, but it’ll be nice to have someone make tea and soup and such.

The other day, when I was visiting my parents and Dad was otherwise occupied, Mom whispered, “You know, one of the things I want to work on while you’re recovering is a quilt I’m going to give your dad for Christmas. It’s a surprise.”

“That’s great, Mom,” I replied. “You’ll have plenty of time to work on it while I’m sleeping.”

“I’d like to use your sewing machine,” she added.

“Of course,” I smiled. In truth, I was trying to avoid looking panicked.

I should have no hesitation whatsoever in letting anyone use my sewing machine. I have a sewing room with a sewing machine and serger. Although I refer to it as my sewing room, and I do sew occasionally, mostly, it’s my stash room. It tends to look like a yarn bomb went off in it, and by that, I don’t mean a proliferation of cute little knitted items. I mean it looks like a troop of deranged baboons tore up a yarn shop and threw the contents all over the room. I was going to have to tidy up. With heavy equipment, perhaps.

I managed to find some time after my usual weekend housework to devote to the sewing room. I walked in, and my spirits sank. The cutting table was covered in yarn in use in my works-in-progress. Unfiled magazines were tossed in piles on top of the bookshelves. Books that I’d looked through for patterns for projects were strewn everywhere. Knitting oddments encased the area around the sewing machine.And my needle drawer had gotten so out of hand that needles were spilling out of the drawer, which wouldn’t even close all the way.

knitting drawer full 2

I thought about my ideally organized sewing room, with books arranged by category, magazines filed by type and date in binders, and needles organized so that I could find them. Patterns would be in notebooks. Yarn would be organized by project. Fabric would be neatly folded and all sewing projects would also be organized. In the span of part of a weekend afternoon, all that wasn’t going to happen. I would have to take heart that the 80/20 rule would suffice for now. Twenty percent of the work would have to take care of 80 percent of the problem, giving Mom a decent place to sew and giving me a head start on a better organized space for myself.

I put the yarn away in cabinets. It wasn’t supremely organized, but it was out of the way. I shelved books. I put the magazines in plastic holders, with a few that didn’t fit stacked neatly on a bookshelf. I didn’t have time to put them all in binders the way I wanted, but they were neatened up and ready to be filed once I’m recovered from surgery.

The sewing room was looking more usable by the minute. Mom would have space on the cutting table to work, and a clear spot for the sewing machine, to boot.

Next, I turned my attention to the knitting needle drawer. Time was, I’d placed an organizer tray in the drawer, and it served well to hold knitting notions and my needle collection. But my needle collection grew over the years, and my system of organization failed to keep pace. The drawer was crammed. Nowadays, it could take me the better part of an hour, digging around with one hand and wielding a gauge checker in the other, to find a certain needle. When I couldn’t find needles I wanted, I was never sure whether I really didn’t have them, or whether they were just buried in that drawer. So, even though Mom wouldn’t be in the needle drawer, I decided to organize it.

I emptied the drawer, making two large piles — one of DPNs and one of circular needles. I left the notions, straight needles, and other odds and ends in the drawer. A while back, I’d bought some organizer pockets for DPNs and circulars, so I found those, plus a binder to hold them all. I laid out the DPNs from smallest to largest and set about putting them in pockets.

DPNs pockets


I did the same with the circulars.

circulars pockets

Then, I put everything in a large binder.

needle binder

Finally, I looked at my interchangable circulars kit and took note of the needles sizes it contained, plus the length of cables I had on hand.

I brought my laptop down to the sewing room, and entered all the needles into the Ravelry database that weren’t already there (which was most of them). Then, I reviewed what I had. My collection certainly showed the effects of not keeping good track of the needles I had on hand. I had two identical size 7 29-inch circulars. Why, pray tell? Was I working on two baby afghans at once? I had 5 (count ’em) sets of size 3 DPNs, three of which were an identical length and brand. Clearly a case where needles went missing right in that huge drawer, and I bought more than I needed. The cable situation for my interchangables was even worse: I have four 24-inchers, three 40-inchers, and two 32-inchers. Well, the two 32-inchers is probably OK. But three 40-inchers? What was I going to do with circulars that long?

I sat back and and exhaled. I now knew what I had, and would be able to get to it easily when I wanted to. I’d put it all in Ravelry, so I could see my collection when I was at the knitting store, debating whether to buy yet another set of size 3 DPNs. Mom will be able to use the sewing room. And next up: I’ll organize the yarn.




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