When Stash Attacks: Creative Techniques for Storing Yarn

As I write this, we’re entering the second week of January, and many of us have already broken our New Year’s resolution to stop acquiring more yarn.

But why fight it? If you’ve already maxed out all the visible storage space in your home and are desperate for more, it’s time to take some… um… creative measures.

What follows are some tried-and-true techniques for squeezing yet more yarn into your life (and that 500-square-foot apartment). They also work to hide your best yarn from any other knitters who may reside in your home and mistakenly believe that what’s yours is also theirs.

(Please note that, fundamentally, I do hope you have a solid enough financial and domestic and emotional relationship with your significant other that you don’t feel the need to hide anything. Chances are they already know, anyway.)

Suitcases

The most modest proposal of them all is also the simplest. Most of us have one or two empty suitcases that—no matter how broad our travel dreams—never seem to go anywhere.

If you haven’t already filled them with yarn, stop reading this right now, grab some yarn and a mothrepellant of your choice (cedar is always a good choice) and stuff those suitcases!

Artful Appliances

Nothing says, “There’s no yarn in here” like a non-functioning appliance. Have a dead dishwasher, stove, or refrigerator you can’t bear to part with? (Heck, even a non-functioning car will do.) 

Pack your yarn well, so that any lingering odors from the appliance don’t permeate your precious fibers, and stuff away.

The only drawback here is if your well-intending significant other decides to dispose of the appliance without your knowledge. If this is a risk, read on for more options.

Fibers in the Firewood

The more firewood you have, the greater the yarn storage space at your disposal—especially if you’re the only person who retrieves firewood from the wood pile.

Simply put your yarn in a large rubber tub for protection. Then use the wood to build a fake wall around the tub. Presto, instant mini-knitting room!

Fabulous Fakes

If you tend to garden during the warmer months, use this to your advantage. The next time you go to your local garden center, get a few extra bags of composted cow manure.

Empty the bag onto your garden, wash it out well, and bingo, another storage place for your yarn. When was the last time anybody voluntarily peeked inside a bag of composed cow manure?

Variegated Vegetables?

Speaking of decoy bags, this technique also works well on a smaller scale in your kitchen. Simply go to the frozen vegetable aisle in your local grocery store. The more generic and unattractive the bag (and the vegetable), the better.

Once you’ve done away with the vegetables, wash the bag and stuff it with extra yarns. Put it back in your freezer, where it is sure not to be disturbed by even the most curious appetite.

For similar results, you can also wrap small amounts of yarn in butcher paper and write “liver” on the outside.

Gender Games

If you’re a woman and your housemate isn’t, play the gender card to its best advantage: Go to Sam’s Club or another similar bulk discount outlet and get the biggest box of sanitary napkins you can find.

Do away with the napkins (as women tend to do), but keep the box. Your yarn will be absolutely safe inside, and nobody will be the wiser.

This also works in households with multiple female knitters—mothers and daughters, for example—who need to conceal their cashmere for fear of having it appropriated by another knitter. A little privacy can be nice.

Men who knit, fear not—the gender card works just as well in the other direction. Most women aren’t likely to look inside a box of bulk hose clamps or latex foam sealant.

Likewise, they may not regularly look in your tool chest. (Never mind if you have no tools, just go out and get a tool chest so you can stuff it with yarn.) This won’t work if you happen to be partnered with an exceptionally handy person. Proceed onwards for more ideas.

For men and women alike, empty paint cans that have been cleaned provide a fantastic and foolproof (not to mention moth-proof) hiding place for your precious fibers. But like those old appliances, make sure no well-intending person throws the can out by mistake.

Other Box Bluffs

Empty cereal boxes present a marvelous yarn-storage opportunity, but only if you pick the right cereal. Sweet, colorful cereals pose too many risks for discovery, since nobody can pass up a bowl of milk-coated sweetness now and then.

But stuff your yarn in a box of sugar-free bran flakes, and your stash is safe for one more day.

Couch Capers

So you’ve done all these and still have more yarn to store? Desperate times demand desperate measures.

We’ve already heard of stuffing yarn under and behind large pieces of furniture, it’s time to turn the furniture into its own storage device.

That’s right, unzip your back cushion covers, remove the stuffing, and replace it with your yarns. Everybody knows couch cushions get lumpy over time, and only you need to know the cause.

Yarn doesn’t enjoy being compressed for too long, so be sure to rotate your stuffing every few weeks.

Spare Tire or Spare Fiber?

Tech companies are always talking about remote disaster and recovery solutions. Why shouldn’t we too? It’s (probably reckless but) simple: When was the last time you actually used the spare tire in your car? Just think of all the space it takes up… space that could be used for valuable fiber.

Just be sure to keep a cell phone handy and your AAA membership current. If your car ever breaks down, simply pull over, pull out a new project, and wait for help. I was once stuck on a drawbridge and the woman in front of me got out, rummaged through her trunk, and pulled out a box of cookies from her grocery bags. She saw me, smiled, and came over to offer me one. Be prepared to do the same if a knitter spots you. It’s in our code of conduct.

A Friend in Need

In high school my best friend Theresa had very strict parents who wanted her to excel and get into a good college and land a good career. (She went to Stanford and became a doctor, so their approach worked.) There was only one problem: She loved, loved, loved her record collection. Her parents did not. They saw it as a threat to their plan, and they threatened to throw every single record out. We worked out a solution: I store the collection, she comes over after school and listens. When the coast was clear, she’d have all her records back.

Now, let’s apply this to knitting. Nothing diffuses the question, “You bought more yarn?!” like the answer, “It’s not mine.”

Make up a knitting friend, let’s say Lily, to whom terrible fate has befallen her. A leaky roof. An overactive Cairn Terrier. When asked about the bag of yarn you’re carrying into the house, all you need to do is say, “Poor Lily. I’m storing this for her until her house gets fixed.”

Meanwhile, Lily can be storing your yarn, making the same explanations, and nobody’s the wiser. The only problem is that your stash is at somebody else’s house, so make sure you include visitation rights while negotiating the arrangement.

If All Else Fails…

If you’ve tried everything else and still have too much yarn to hide, I have two final words for you: storage unit.

Depending on where you live, a small unit will run you $30 to $60 a month. Consider it your little secret, a home away from home, your very own fiber room.

Drawbacks center mostly around smell, because most storage places tend to smell of mothballs, and they may even have mildew issues. Invest in air-tight bags and large bins with lids that seal. It’s a small sacrifice for complete peace of mind.

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