When I finish a knitting project, or even just finish a skein of yarn, I’m often met with a slight dilemma: what to do with my yarn labels. For the longest time, I’d just shove them into the middle of a densely-packed gallon zipper bag, end of story. Then I started designing. Since the time between design concept and publication can be so long (when dealing with print in particular), it’s important to know which label goes with what yarn and project.
Phase 1 of the label organization process for me involves a single hole punch, a permanent marker, and my unoccupied yarn labels. When possible, I also look for a scrap of yarn that goes with the label. The analog part of the process is obvious: punch a hole in the label without cutting off important info about the yarn, loop the yarn through the hole, and write the project(s) this yarn was used for and when on the label. Below you can see my stashed labels from the Long John Cowl and the Simple Basketweave Baby Blanket.
Why save this stuff?
I think saving labels and scraps is important for any knitter. For one, there’s the nostalgia factor. If you’ve knit for years, especially, you might want to go back and remember what yarn it was that went with what project. You might want to look back and laugh at the trendy colorways from ten years ago.
You might also want to know what dye lot, fiber composition*, or even just the yarn’s brand or name. Let’s say you’ve got a small ball leftover of a bunch of different yarns from years of projects. You find the perfect stash-buster type pattern, but you want to make sure to use roughly compatible fibers and/or you want to have a vague idea of how to wash these different yarns together. Keeping your labels can be useful, even for hobby knitters.
*wool, cotton, what percentage of multiple fiber types was used in the yarn
As a designer, I need my old labels for reference for a lot of things. I might need to remember if I simply liked a yarn used in the past. Once you’ve been knitting awhile, there might be a finished object in your closet that just hasn’t stood the test of time. If it’s one of my designs, I like to look back at my stash and take note of what that yarn was so I can bear that in mind when I design with that yarn next. I get reader questions sometimes from folks who lost track of their labels for a project they know I’ve designed with. Sometimes people who like my patterns or read this blog are just looking for some help since they can’t remember how to launder a project or remember what the yarn used was called. I could seriously go on – there are lots of reasons to save those labels! ;)
How I organize yarn labels digitally
I’ll be honest. As a librarian, I’m kinda into organizing things. On top of the analog system outlined above, I have a couple of digital elements involved in my stash organization. For one, having this blog is an easy way to go back and see all of my patterns and their corresponding supplies logged in one place. Since it would be pretty random to have wrinkled old labels with yarn scraps hanging off them, it doesn’t make sense to have those included in a blog post. Instead, I’ve been using my new HP Sprout to scan in my labels and scraps.
Over time I’ll build a virtual library of all my labels, and even the blocked swatches I have laying about. This library can be stored in the cloud, where it will be a lot more secure than a physical storage system would allow. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still keep my physical labels & swatch stash for measuring gauge, feeling texture, etc., but what if there’s a natural disaster some day? Or a fire? I’ll still be able to see my digital swatches and labels so I’m not left at square one despite decades of knitting experience.
As you can see in the images on my Sprout below, I’m also experimenting with scanning in full balls of yarn. While Ravelry has great tools for cataloging your yarn and needle stash, I want to play with the idea of making a visual archive of my yarn craft materials, including labels, swatches, balls of yarn and more. This is where my librarian career influences my creative career, I realize, but how cool would it be to link a scan of yarn with its corresponding swatch & label in a database, and then catalog it so you could search it by fiber, color, washing instructions, and even anecdotes about how it was to work with?
Nerd alert? Perhaps. At least I’d be an efficient, organized one! :)
This post is sponsored by HP, who provided compensation and a Sprout in exchange for blog posts highlighting its innovative new technology. All opinions are my own.