Thoughts on my supply & tool organization

My studio is a feline friendly space so I need to keep it tidy. That task is easier when I also keep it organized. The system evolves as my work and priorities shift. Today’s post shares a few thoughts about my system.

Why organize?

In addition to helping me safely share my life with a cat or two, keeping my supplies and tools organized helps me find things when I need them. I don’t want to spend hours hunting down a tool, I’d rather spend my time creating.

It’s a challenge to find the right organization system. I know myself–if it’s too detailed, I will resist using it. If things are squirreled away in unmarked bins, I’ll forget they exist. Further, while I like a consistent look to my space, I need to be wary of it looking too perfect. In that case I’ll be hesitant to use it for the irrational fear of messing it up.

What is my system?

My system depends on multiple factors including the size of what I need to store, space available, and how often I plan to use it. No, this is not a wishy-washy response. The system needs to be one that I’ll use without putting thought into it, and still allow for flexibility as those requirements change.

Most of my supplies and tools are kept together by general category; like is grouped with like. In general, that means by the type of tool, for example crochet hooks are stored together. But it can also mean by general purpose, or by brand. My crochet hooks and interchangeable knitting needle tips each have their own compartmentalized container and are sorted by size.

Yarn takes up most of my storage space. I still use the Expedit units I bought when we moved nearly 13 years ago. The specifics of how I group the yarn in each section often shifts. Right now, the bins hold items that are similar yarn weights (such as fingering/sock), materials (cotton/blends), or are design support. Some days I fantasize about storing by color family, but I’ve not made that change yet.

Label everything

It’s important however to label everything. It doesn’t need to be perfect! I now like to use washi tape or sticky notes held in place with washi tape. They’re easier to remove than a folder label.

If I don’t know what’s in a box, I’m more likely to ignore it. This also lets me rearrange boxes and not have to take time to verify if the top right box holds scissors or sewing thread.

When do I change my system?

I know to change my organization system when I stop using it. A few months ago, the need to change my system for crochet hooks and knitting needles storage became clear when I dumped a chaotic mess of circular needles and interchangeable cables into a larger “miscellaneous” bin because I ran out of space. Shortly thereafter, a wooden chest of drawers was added to my bookshelf.

The key is to be flexible and adapt when things aren’t working. For years I struggled with this part, I wanted to set it once and it would work forever.

Simply accepting that the system needs to evolve is what has reduced friction and created a more organized studio. My skills, tools, and projects change and evolve, it makes sense that my organization system may occasionally need adjusting.

I hope these basics tips and the photo gallery below helps to inspire you.

If you would like to discuss your supply and tool organization needs, please contact me. I’d love to work with you to discover a system that helps you work best with your space, supplies, and tools.

This is a 2022 update and consolidation of posts written in 2014.

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