I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a nice holiday weekend. I am happy to report that I successfully avoided all shopping madness except for a quick trip to a local club warehouse to buy food. I'm not particularly fond of shopping and I greatly dislike crowds. Chaos overwhelms me very quickly. If we could have gone without milk, cereal and meat for a few more days, I would have skipped that, too.
So, normally, the kids and I spend the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving erecting a tree and decorating the house for Christmas, a much more pleasant, in my opinion, activity than getting mauled at the mall. But Drew was with his dad for the weekend and it feels too early yet, so we put Christmas decorating off for another week.
So, what to do with three days off? I thought about the piles of knitting projects I could dig into, the Christmas gifts I could complete and the quilts I could work on. Then I looked at the state of my sewing room and office. A big mess. And messes are a huge distraction for me. Almost as bad as shopping chaos. I am not at all productive in a messy environment...and most of the time I feel compelled to either clean the mess or do nothing at all.
Doing nothing wan't an option, as I really want to knit and sew some Christmas gifts this year. So I decided to clean the mess.
My sewing room & office is located on the first floor of my home, next to the kitchen and behind the living room. In the original design of the house, it is officially the formal dining room. Not being a formal family, we eat in the breakfast room on the other side of the kitchen. (When I'm not looking, the kids eat in the family room in front of the television!) Which frees up the dining room for another purpose...and it's my very own space!
I did not take any before photos. It was too painful. So you, dear reader, can feast your eyes on the after:
The South Wall, facing the living room
This is the wall you see upon entering the room from the kitchen and turning left. I have a small file for papers and such, topped off with a bin to catch current "junk", like catalogs, maps and a package of copy paper, that has nowhere else to go. The table houses my swift and ball winder and underneath is a box of sock yarn that is waiting for a date in the dye pot. I use this table for miscellaneous projects, so there are also some tins (99 cents each at a local drugstore!) that I will fill with Christmas cookies and a little pile of supplies that I'll turn into "save the date cards" this week to send to people for the wedding. Also underneath is my favorite basket containing several socks-in-progress.
These pieces are part of a Sauder Woodworking office suite I purchased a while back at Office Depot. The small bookcase is a workhorse and I love how it looks with everything neatly organized. The top shelf is full of books on ministry, Bible studies and leadership. The second shelf is my knitting book library. The brown looseleaf binder contains patterns I've printed from the internet and torn out of old magazines. The magazine holder contains the most recent issues of Interweave Knits as well as pattern leaflets. The third shelf holds some of my software and manuals, specifically, the ones I need for my current work project. The rest of these books live in my office at church. Finally, the bottom shelf has a container for all those miscellaneous chargers and cables that can really take over a desk, and some in-progress looseleaf binders: one for recipes that I tear out of two of my favorite cooking magazines: Rachael Ray and Southern Living. The Cooks Illustrated mags are too precious to cannibalize and live with my cookbooks in a cupboard in the breakfast room.
To the right of the table is the first shelving unit. This one holds my yarn stash and WIPs. The shelving is from IKEA and, sadly, was discontinued last year. The small baskets are also from IKEA and after I downloaded the images I realized one is missing! It's still in the family room where I was knitting last night. they hold several WIPs and smaller categories of yarn. The canvas bins on the bottom shelves I purchased at a warehouse club last summer. They are nice and deep and hold the larger quantities of fiber. I really like having each yarn organized and separated like this - no more digging for what I need and no more "lost" skeins!
The West Wall of quilting
Doesn't it look pretty? I am almost embarassed to own so much stuff. Here's what happened: I started to clean the room and it bugged me that there were still some boxes, bags and containers of quilting things elsewhere in the house. So I brought it all in and sorted. Everything. Each and every piece of fabric, every spool of thread, every pattern, every needle and pin. Yes, you heard correctly. It was a pain and it took hours. And hours. But it was so worth it, because now I can find everything, without digging. Not only that, I found some things I forgot I had and other things I thought were lost forever! Here's a run-down of the organizational system:
My fabric stash is out in the open, primarily because it looks so nice, neatly folded and stacked on the shelves. It's also easy to access this way, should I feel inspired to start another quilt. Which I do, especially since I am hungry to work with all the prints I worked so hard to collect! I digress... The top two shelves hold larger pieces of fabric, suitable for borders and backing. The next two shelves hold the main part of my stash, primarily civil-war inspired colors and prints. These pieces are generally 1/2 to 1 yard cuts. I prefer to make scrap quilts, so these are good amounts to have on hand. How did I get them to look so nice and neat? I wrapped the fabrics around a 6" wide x 24" long ruler, pulled out the ruler and folded the tube in half. I really like how the folds at the edge of the stacks make it easy to find a particular color, shade or print. The white boxes, also from IKEA, each hold a WIP or materials for a quilt yet to be started.
Here I have more yardage as well as a few tops that are waiting to be quilted. The second shelf from the top holds a stack of Christmas prints, a stack of brights, a stack of Thimbleberries Garden Graphics, and some retro prints: Dick and Jane and The Little Red Hen. The next shelf is entirely Civil War reproduction fabrics, mostly fat quarters and eighths, which is why they aren't folded as neatly as those next door. The next shelf has some overflow from the unit at the left and a stack of homespuns. There's also a little pile of things to make Wee Bunnies for some small people I love. Again, more boxes of WIPs and supplies, organized by project.
This was the most time-consuming section to organize. There were two huge projects involved. First, I sorted and organized all the little things: sewing notions, cutting supples, needles, pins, quilting pencils, templates, bobbins, buttons and more. They now live in their very segregated containers on the shelf below the quilt batting. Some of the containers have little dividers inside, making it easy to sub-divide categories, like needles and pins. The second project involved cannibalizing fifteen years' of quilting magazines, tearing out only the patterns and ideas I really will ever use, and organizing them into page protectors and placing them the one brown binder on the shelf of quilting books. I saved 48" of shelf space by getting rid of those magazines, and now I can easily find the patterns I like! There are also two magazine holders on that shelf: one holds my machine manuals, and in the other, miscellaneous patterns. The shelf above the books has thread, divided into color families in plastic thread trays (jo-ann Fabrics, $1 each, many years ago!). Next to them are my quilting rulers, except the 6" x 24", which is on the top shelf where it fits and you can't see it. The plastic tubs on the bottom two shelves have pre-cut 1.5" and 2.25" strips, sorted by size and lights/darks. When I'm using a fabric and the remaining piece is too small to put back on the shelf with the rest of the stash, I cut it into strips for log cabin, rail fence and pineapple quilts. It's nice to be able to pull out the containers and whip together some blocks when I have some free time. Finally, hiding behing this unit are my large cutting mats. I know you're supposed to store them flat, but they're securely against the wall and I've never had a problem storing them this way.
The North Wall, facing the back yard
On a nice day, I open the curtains and have a pretty view through the sliders to the back yard. It's gray and raining today, so I left the curtains closed. This little old kitchen table, illuminated by an Ott Lamp, holds my sewing machine, current quilt project and mending pile. If I put the mending away somewhere, I'll forget about it and that won't do anyone any good!
To the right of my sewing table is my desk, the rest of the Sauder set. The small cabinet at the right opens up to form an L with the desk if I need more work space. Inside are file folders, paper, envelopes and other office supplies. The small desk drawer holds desk junk: tape, paper clips, memory sticks, calculator, etc. The cupboard under that holds greeting cards, thank you notes and stationery. Above the monitor are CDs I use frequently, a bill organizer and small notebooks where I jot things down. On the top shelf is a bin holding printer cartridges and photo paper, a shoebox of pens and a box of scratch pads and post-its. The quart-size jar holds my straight knitting needles. I keep my circulars organized in a "worm wallet" that I got at Walmart for $5.99. The zip-lock pockets are just the right size and inside the front cover is an additional pocket for cable needles, stitch markers, crochet hooks and tapestry needles. If you have a super-size Walmart, you'll find the worm wallet in the fishing department. I want to thank my friend Erin, mamatoabigail on Ravelry, for the worm wallet idea.
So that's the room, and I'd say my mission was accomplished. Now it's time to stitch those Wee Bunnies!