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Making Time for Knitting: Organization and Inspiration

Aug 5, 2009

Carving out time for knitting has never been a problem for me, until now. I used to knit every evening for two or three hours while watching TV or listening to books on tape (and in between changing loads of laundry).

With my new position here at Knitting Daily and the classes I teach at my LYS, I think about knitting all the time, but I find I'm having trouble finding the time to actually knit! I guess it all comes down to time-management, right? And priorities . . .

Organization and Inspiration

I decided that the keys to getting my knitting time back are organization and inspiration.

First the organization part. I spent a couple of hours organizing my projects last week, and I ended up with two projects that floated to the top in "I-must-finish-this-before-I-start-something- new" land. I put each of those projects, with all of their accoutrements, in their own zip-up project bag and put them in my fab Kate Walker knitting tote. I carry my tote with me everywhere, and now I can pull one of those projects out whenever I have a moment of downtime.

I also organized and restocked my notions bag, which was a sad state of affairs. Here's what was in there:

  • various ends of yarn all tangled together with stitch markers and a paperclip
  • nail clippers that I've been using as scissors (they've never been used for their true purpose, only for clipping yarn)
  • a dried up-pen
  • a receipt with a list of patterns for "the next project"
  • a size 13 double pointed needle (no idea why. . .)
  • a paper tape measure from Ikea
  • a packet of stitch markers (all types in one packet)

Here's what's in my notions bag now:

  • stitch markers, each type in their own little plastic envelope
  • scissors
  • a real tape measure
  • a set of cable needles
  • two crochet hooks (a size D for fixing mistakes on small gauge projects and a size G for bigger gauge projects)
  • a pen that works
  • a little tablet of paper
  • two types of row counters (the clicker kind and the kind that fit on circular needles)

It's amazing how a little organization can make your life easier. If I could only apply this principle to my desk. . .

Now for the inspiration part of the equation. First off, we need to have something we want to knit! I mentioned the receipt with the list of patterns written on the back--I had forgotten about these patterns and how much I loved them when I saw them; enough to actually write them down and carry the list around for months. As I looked through the list again that inspiration came back full force.

Many of the patterns are Interweave patterns from Knits, and as I was going through the list I decided to seriously consider the Nantucket Jacket(photo at left). I wrote down the pattern names on my list, but not the specific magazine issues so I looked up the Nantucket Jacket on the website and found it was from the winter 2006 issue. I pulled out my back issues of Knits and found I was missing one--that one. I know that this issue sold out quickly, though, so it's actually no surprise that I didn't have it.

Then I realized that I do have every issue from 2006, on the Interweave Knits Collection CD! The CD is a compilation of all four Knits issues from 2006, exactly as they were printed, plus the Knits Gifts special issue. You can navigate easily to whatever pattern you want and print it out. I should know because I just printed out the Nantucket Jacket.

The Knits Collection CD is the perfect mix of organization and inspiration! I found pattern after pattern to add to my list (in the tablet, no more back-of-receipt lists for me!), and I think you will too.

I'm pretty sure I've solved my problem now--I can't wait to sit down tonight and start swatching. For my sweater knitting this fall and winter I'm going to tackle the Central Park Hoodie first, and then the Nantucket Jacket. Then it'll be spring and we can talk lightweight scarves and tee shirts.




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RebeccaA wrote
on Aug 18, 2009 8:46 AM

Great tips!  Just want to add that I did order all the available CDs and am so glad I did!  Not only do I have the issues with patterns readily available, but the freed-up space (for more knitting books?) is invaluable!  Now, when will CDs be available for PIECEWORK and SPIN-OFF and the rest of Interweave's publications?

smkibble wrote
on Aug 15, 2009 6:12 PM

i am new to this site and i posted a question days ago and i dont know how to retrieve the answer if someone has answered my question..please help desperate

Josephine@6 wrote
on Aug 11, 2009 12:47 PM

I'm really curious where you get the individual project bags, i think that's genius!  Especially for those of us that have 5 or 6 projects going at once.

diva33 wrote
on Aug 11, 2009 6:36 AM

Personally, I like to use a simple knitting basket to organize. Peterboro makes some good ones...

Kasoli wrote
on Aug 9, 2009 3:53 PM

Initially my notions pack was a little knitting starter kit with stitch markers, point protecters, a row counter, etc. I have since lost it after a very long day, a very long bus ride, and stuffing it back into my knitting bag. This produced an emergency situation I had to rectify. I decided after looking at the price of a replacement starter kit that I would be just as well off buying a small Namaste notions bag and buying the replacements I would actually use, so I wouldn't have a bunch of stuff I don't use like with the starter kit. I am quite happy with my new notions arrangement.

nita@25 wrote
on Aug 8, 2009 3:39 PM

I am very interrested in the CD's.  I have a very important question, though.  Some of the knitting CD's I have looked at don't allow me to copy to a Word document so that I can enlarge it.  I am losing my eyesight and can't read the normal sized font, and with the zoom function, it tends to cut off the edges of the pages.  Plus, even in zoom function enlargement, it will still only print in teeny tiny print.

So, I would love to get the Interweave Press' CD's because I love, love, LOVE, their patterns.  Just leary of spending my limited funds on something I won't be able to use.

Can you please investigate theis and let me know?  I am looking forward to your answer with great anticipation and ecxitement!

Nita Pomeroy

knitterie wrote
on Aug 8, 2009 2:36 PM

For those "techies"  I-phone has a lot of great applications for knitting like stitch counters, needle sizers, yarn calculators and lots of others.  All can be found by going to applications and searching "knitting".

robininmn wrote
on Aug 7, 2009 4:55 PM

Oops, my first time here and I think I flubbed my "comment".  I loved this post and want to know where to get the clear plastic zipper bags that Kathleen mentions.  Anybody?   Robin

robininmn wrote
on Aug 7, 2009 4:53 PM

Where would I get the clear plasticBLOCKED SCRIPTWebForm_DoPostBackWithOptions(new%20WebForm_PostBackOptions("ctl00$ctl00$bcr$bcr$ctl05$ctl03$WeblogPostCommentForm$ctl01$btnSubmit",%20"",%20true,%20"CreateCommentForm",%20"",%20false,%20true)) zipper bags that are shown here?  Robin

LisaW@2 wrote
on Aug 7, 2009 2:53 PM

You have inspired me to also "get my act together"!  Thank you for a great post!

Bsproat wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 8:40 PM

I bet I know why you had the nail clippers in your notions bag:  you figured out that when you fly, the TSA will confiscate your scissors, but not your nail clipper!  I've used mine for the same purpose for that reason.

Terri@77 wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 1:03 PM

Where do you get that tote?

JulieS@6 wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 7:57 AM

I love your Ideas about organizing individual projects into smaller bags. I recently put a couple sock projects into separate cosmetic bags I could pop in a purse for easy travel. The yarn and sock stay in great condition while the bag gets jostled around in said purse, so no more tangles or soiled project.

I thank you Kathleen for the idea of the organized notions, they do get away from us.

Thanks for your time,


SusanB@193 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 5:43 PM

I find it essential to also have the following: coil-less safety pins, stitch holders, tapestry needles, a pencil and eraser, sticky note pad, highlighter, a calculator, point protectors, and a small butterfly of smooth waste yarn in its own little plastic bag.

sandee@8 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 5:29 PM


i, too, find that my favorite yarn basket w/ current project seems to "collect" things over the course of a project. recently, we had hardwood floors installed and everything from downstairs went upstairs to my sewing room while the work was being done. this week, little by little, i'm bringing things back to the livingroom. last night i spent a few minutes tidying up my knitting basket in order to get back to a baby blanket that's in progress and was amazed to find that our darling cat, Rosie, had placed her favorite toys in there! how smart is she to know that when the house was in "remodel mode" the safest place to put her toys was in the knitting basket!

best regards,


TishD wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 3:08 PM

I also keep some tapestry needles (for sewing up and sewing in ends), point protectors (to keep knitting from slipping off or to turn a dpn into a straight), an emery board and a small tube of hand cream (so rough nails/hands don't snag the knitting), a small pack of tissues, a pack of gum (coffee/tea breath at knit group!) and a 6" ruler/needle gauge. I'm trying to finish off the many (many, many) projects floating around in ziplock bags (3 scarves, 8 socks, toddler sweater, girl's tank, several partially assembled stuffed toys...) before I start anything new. So far, so good.

jeanc@55 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 2:50 PM

two types of row counters (the clicker kind and the kind that fit on circular needles)

Kathleen, I would like to know more about the row counter that fits onto a circular needle.  at present,  I'm knitting with a yarn where it is impossible to count the rows manually, so have resorted to pen and paper..  but I do like gadgets!

Thanks for your help :)  Jean.

sally37 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 2:41 PM

Just read Kathleen's comments about organization of knitting projects and bags.

I have one small addition to her projects make a copy of the knitting pattern that you intend to start (now or someday) and include in the project bag, (I use the zipper plastic bags).   This saves the magazine from the wear and tear of using it whenever I'm knitting, and doesn't delay me when I ready to knit by having to go back and find the magazine.  I put the copy in a plastic sleeve to protect it, too.  Also, I copy the stitch guide for the project and any additional info for that project, possibly about the yarn, price, etc......

treefinder wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 2:29 PM

Like some of the others, I have cruised the web looking for that bag.  Would you please mention where we can find them in another Knitting daily article?



on Aug 5, 2009 2:14 PM

I found my Walker bag on the It's the Duck & Mesh Utiltiy Tote w/6 Pockets.


SwampF wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 12:52 PM

I do a lot of work - knit, crochet, tat, punta in aria, etc.  I have two to three bags that I keep at any one time, depending on where I am going because of their size.  But mainly I keep my smaller size workings in zip lock bags.  That waay I can keep several projects going at th same time yet separated.  I keep a photocopy of the pattern in the bag.  I also have found that keeping a highlighter attached to the bag to mark off the rows is a really big help.  I keep that along with a ruler, pen, pencil and I have found lately that a magnifying glass helps.

kat@35 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 12:06 PM

Kathleen, I agree that organization is key to knitting, and just being able to pick up and go with a couple of projects in a bag is heaven.  In my knit bag right now is a pair of socks that I'm trying to finish up for LAST Christmas.  I have them in gift box that was supposed to hold a bottle of wine, which was going to be a gift to go with the socks!  The pattern, yarn, dpns all fit nicely in that wine holder box, so it may just become my go-to sock bag.  My notions bag contains a nail file (in case I have a rough nail to snag yarn), an orange stick/cuticule stick (can be used for a cable needle if needed), and a small zip lock bag with stitch holders.  YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO PREPARED!   Almost everything in your bag is in my notions bag as well.   Sorry to ramble on, but I've enjoyed your take on organization.  Now, inspiration, that's for another day!!  Kathryn in Canada

nancyunruh wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 11:41 AM

Where can I find the Kate Walker knitting tote?


Mary LynnJ wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 11:25 AM

Knitpicks crochet set is a cool container.  I did take the hooks out of the packaging and cut it down to where just the "sewing needles" were still tucked in their respective slots.  I then ended up with a handy dandy clear case to put my small notions . . . plastic sleeve with markers, nail file, scissors, rubber finger tip, pen, row counter, coil wraps, cable needle, tape measure and, of course, the set of double ended crochet hooks.

on Aug 5, 2009 11:20 AM

Walker tote: For a list of retail outlets go to The site also had a shopping cart so you can purchse directly from them. I didn't see my particular bag on the site, so maybe it's a discontinued style.


BrittanyB wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 11:06 AM

Hi Kathleen, I knit the Nantucket Jacket for my mom this past Christmas. I did it in Encore in a deep red. My preference would have been something a little more along the lines of a Merino/Silk blend but she wanted something that was easy to take care of. It knitted up pretty quick and was easy enough to not be discouraging but interesting enough to not make me want to poke out an eye. In fact I'm thinking of making one for myself. As soon as I finish the Rambling Rose Cardigan from the same issue. I'm doing that one in 2 shades of purple from an acrylic/bamboo blend. Have fun and feel free to come organize my stash and knitting bag any day. :)

pvb wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 10:38 AM

I don't know if this is the right place for this feedback, but I just wanted to say that I am soooo disappointed in the new Interweave Knits magazine.  I don't expect to knit every (or even very many) projects in a magazine.  At the very least, I hope to be inspired--either to start something new or finish something already in process.  I found this issue pointless.  I have been knitting for many years and have a wide repertoire of skills and tastes.  The patterns in this issue seem to serve only one purpose:  sell gobs of yarn for one project.  Who wants to wear that much yarn??  Even the skinny models used looked terrible--so how would the rest of us normal people look?  This is one of the reasons I am hesitant to subscribe to magazines.  Had I perused this issue on the shelf, I would most definitely have passed it by.  These kinds of designs give knitting a bad name.

On a positive note:  I appreciate Knitting Daily and enjoy the insight it provides.  Thank you for this!  pvb

AmyS@5 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 10:22 AM

Would also like to know where to get the Kate Walker knitting tote...thanks!

DonnaLeeG wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:56 AM

I know this is "knitting daily", but those organization tips are great for crocheters, too.  I teach crochet at a small shop in Emmaus, PA, and people are always amazed at the things you can do with crochet.  Many tips dealing with knitting are equally good with crochet.

on Aug 5, 2009 9:55 AM


I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your daily messages, you have a gift for saying just the right thing at just the right moment and I now have TWO projects I hope you will bring to your "LYS" on Saturdays this fall, 1) Magic Loop socks, 2) Central Park Hoodie!  

Anyway, congratulations on your new position, you are doing an amazing job but you are MISSED here at your LYS!

my best wishes to you,


itsanno wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:50 AM

I agree with earlier comment. Where do we get the Kate Walker totes? My Google search didn't turn up much either.

on Aug 5, 2009 9:40 AM

Oh, LYS stands for Local Yarn Store (or Shop), one that's not a "big box" store like JoAnn's or Michael's (not that there's anything wrong with those stores!), but an LYS is an independent shop.

I'll put the Nantucket Jacket on the KAL (knit-a-long) list.

I got my tote bag at A Grand yarn here in Spokane. I can't find them on the web, either! I'll do some sleuthing and get back to you.


CarrieL@12 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:24 AM

Kathleen - I will add as well that I love the tote bag by Kate Walker that you talk about in todays entry, but can't find mention of it anywhere.


on Aug 5, 2009 9:23 AM

KDers--I can't believe I forgot to mention the ESSENTIAL tapestry needle! I have a little Chibi container with several sizes of needles, including a plain old sewing needle for sewing on buttons, in my newly organized notions bag.I keep my needle gauge with my needles, but I'm thinking about getting one of those little Addie needle gauges to keep in my notions bag.

Someone asked about Sandi--she's blogging weekly on the Knitting Daily site. From the home page, click on Blogs and then on What's On Sandi's Needles.


Humbirdblue wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:13 AM

maybe I am a bit out of it, what happend to Sandi? I don't really mind if they moved her somewhere else, But I want to hear from her from time to time. I thought she was to SHARE this with you.

PaulaW@21 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:12 AM

What great suggestions. I was looking at my "mess" of wonderful knitting projects and was trying to figure out how to fix the problem. Your ideas make a lot of sense. Thank you for putting it down in black and white. Hurray! On to a reorganization.

KimD@2 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 9:00 AM

Kathleen, I am always on the look-out for a good knitting bag.  But when I googled to find the Kate Walker knitting tote that you mention, I couldn't find anything.  (This is probably more of a reflection on my search skills than anything else.)  Could you please provide some source for the tote?  Maybe she has a website that then would list stores where they're carried?  It looks like just what I am looking for and don't have time to create myself.


on Aug 5, 2009 8:57 AM

Congratulations!!  I bet you feel much better after getting a handle on WsIP and your knitting bag.  I know I always feel better after I go thru the steps of packing up the detritus of a finished project and putting together a bag for the new one I want to start.


BarbaraR wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:55 AM

Your comments are so timely as I recently had to take "down time" because of carpal tunnel from knitting so many tiny preemie hats and guess what happened?

I had to really force myself to organize akll the other projects and in the process had the time to study a pattern I could not figure out before and suddenly I understood all the directions which became clear! As soon as I can knit again i will focus on the preemie hats and the one larger project and now i can see my coffee table again and found several other "lost" items" under the mass of paper

Thanks Kathleen.


Jamie wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:46 AM


My notions bag has everything yours does, plus the following items:

a needle gauge (when I need one -- admittedly rarely -- there really is no substitute)

tapestry needles

a small baggie with mini balls of yarn in several weights for putting stitches on hold and provisional cast-ons

I also keep a small daily calendar with my "active" knitting bag.  I keep notes on what I'm knitting (needle size, cast-on count, any deviations from the pattern, plus my stopping point each day (e.g., finished row 25 on back)).  These notes are invaluable time savers when I decide to finish a project that has been set aside for more than a few days.

PS:  I've also decided that this is going to be the year I make myself a Central Park Hoodie.

GelinaH wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:43 AM

Great tips! I also carry Post-it notes in fun colors, which are great for marking my place in a pattern and also for trading contact info with neat people I meet in knitting classes.

jrslily wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:33 AM

I love your writing and enjoy the articles that you send, but I must have missed what a LYS is. I pondered it for a while. Is it a Little Yarn Shop? I am so curious. Keep up the good work. BTW, I live just 30 miles from you in CDA.... (Coeur d'Alene for those of you who do not recognize the initials).

MelanieD wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:24 AM

LOL - I did the CPH last winter and was just planning the Nantucket in a lovely cinnamon colour I saw... :))

tinkknitz wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:12 AM

Good grief woman, where's your tapestry needle? I don't tote a cable needle unless the project calls for it, but that is essential.

SusannT wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:09 AM

I love the Kate Walker tote bag.  Where can I find these?  Susann

MarionT wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 8:08 AM


Will you do a knit a long when you start your Nantucket Jacket.  I too have had that on my list since the magazine first came out.  At that time I tried swatching it and was having trouble with the twisted stitch.  So with several more years of knitting experience I am thinking of trying it again this fall.

Would be great to have some helpful hints from an experienced knitter like you along the way.

My best,


KathyS@30 wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 7:58 AM

I too have my "carry around bag" with current projects in separate zipped bags, patterns and "misc" bag. I have a saver hint: I save "zipper bags" that sheets and curtains come in and use them for my separate projects. I work outside of the home and pull my stash out every spare minute.

JannyW wrote
on Aug 5, 2009 7:56 AM

Yay, Kathleen, for organizing your  bag!  My notions bag is also overflowing and needs to be pared down and you've given me some good ideas :)   I have a Namaste bag that I splurged on last week  ... unfortunately it doesn't hold all of the "stuff" I usually haul around with me.  Or maybe that should be "fortunately" ... hmmmm ...