Quick Tips: Packing and Moving Your Stash

It's The Big Day, the day when The Big Truck shows up in our driveway. This move seems like a teensy, tiny one (40 miles) compared to the two other moves I've made in the past six years–California to Colorado (1211 miles) and Colorado to Toronto (1508 miles).

But it's still pretty crazy around here…which means I'm a bit crazy, too. So I feel as though this isn't a Real Sandi Post, it's just a little mini-post–just me waving hello at you all before I run back to check that no one is using a hockey stick to launch the box with Grandma's china into the back of the van.

(waves hello!)

However, even in a mini-post I feel compelled to say something worth your time, so here it is:

Sandi's Quick Tips On Packing Yarn and Fiber for a Move

If it is hot, or if the moving van will be traveling a long way through hot areas, do not put your wool yarn or spinning fibers into sealed "ziplock" plastic bags for the trip and then pile all those airtight bags into a box or bin! The heat (intensified by the bags) can draw out any bit of moisture caught in the fibers, the movement of the truck can cause things to shift around inside the plastic bags, the wool can rub against itself and against the bag…and you could have lovely felted balls and skeins and rovings at the other end of your trip.

Ask me how I know this.

Ask me how much spinning fiber, how much lovely lovely knitting yarn, felted up and had to be thrown out after moving from California to Colorado (across the desert…).

Yeah. Ouch.

Plastic bags are just not good packing enclosures for yarn, especially if you seal them tightly. Better just to place the um, "naked" yarn (or fiber) gently into "locking" plastic bins. Leave some airflow space around the yarn, toss in a few cedar sachets, and then send the bins on their way.

Sealable plastic bins are preferable to cardboard boxes, ESPECIALLY if you are using a professional moving van service. Why? Moving van services may carry two or more loads on a single truck. If the other loads have a moth infestation, or interesting smells, or sticky leaks, then your precious yarn is better protected in a plastic bin. Choose sturdy bins, and make sure that the bins are not at the bottom of a big stack of heavy book boxes.

Identification: With spinning fibers, often the original plastic bag has a label affixed to it–a label that tells what the fiber is. If you pack the fiber separately from its bag, you might forget what that pretty roving is! I make a little card for each bit of roving that tells me what it is, then I fold the card in half so the ink can't come off on the fiber in the heat. I unroll the roving a bit, place the card in the folds of the fiber, then roll it back up again with the card securely inside.

Yarn labels: Most yarn labels these days are some sort of uncoated paper or cardboard, which aren't slick enough to cause much friction. I leave those on, provided they are loose enough and don't squeeze the skein too tightly (a recipe for rubbing). If the label is slick, or coated, or plastic, or too tight, I slit the label and leave the skein cradled in the now-loose label.

Finally: Keep it loose. Don't shove down on the yarn to get as much in the bin as possible. Just drop the skeins in and let 'em play nicely with each other on the trip.

Am I being too paranoid? This is YARN we're talking about, my friends. Pretty, fuzzy, soft, colorful, wonderful, amazing YARN. My stash is a considerable (!) investment; I learned a hard lesson six years ago and so perhaps I have good reason for a little bit of OCD behavior when it comes to packing my yarn. I know that yarn companies ship yarn in plastic bags all the time, but those bags are much thinner plastic than regular ziplocks; usually the bags also have holes or openings in them to let the air flow through to prevent "chafing." After talking with the experts, and after a successful stash move last summer (no felting! yay!), I'm OK with a little paranoia, if it protects my beautiful–and much beloved–stash.

Time to go!


Knit with joy,

– Sandi

P.S. Yes, I will be knitting in the U-Haul truck all the way to our new home…

Next week: I promised you a post on what I learned about wrangling a lace pattern as you add or decrease stitches, and I'm going to keep that promise. "See" you next Thursday!

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can leave a comment below or even email me at sandi@knittingdaily.com.

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9 thoughts on “Quick Tips: Packing and Moving Your Stash

  1. I just moved from Florida to Colorado, and I may or may not have used most of my stash as packing material. The music boxes that my parents gave me every year on my birthday? Nestled in some lovely Koigu. My rather impressive or insane collection of mugs cuddled up with some (okay, lots) of Lorna’s Laces. My boxes and furniture were moved in a POD, so I didn’t have that concern about other people’s stuff making my stuff smell funky. I’m very glad to say that all of my yarn weathered the move quite well. Good luck on your “little” moving adventure!

  2. Sandi, it’s good to hear your voice. I will remember (or probably reference!) your tips if I ever get the chance to move. I’m so excited for you and the changes in your life. May they all lead to good and blessed things.

  3. Though this will probably help with moving, it’s not the reason I do it. When I started spinning and attending fiber festivals I learned that roving is often just plunked in a bag with the company’s business card. What a great way to not remember who you bought it from or what the fiber really is once you leave it in your stash for a bit!

    So, I take tiny little blank cards (the “to” and “from” sort for gifts, but the nice blank ones meant for scrapbookers) and write down the type of fiber, the name of the people/business selling it and their contact info (in case I want more from them) and where and when I bought the fiber (especially for fiber festivals). (If the seller gives me the name of the animal the roving came from, I even write that down. Then, if I run short, I can always contact the business and ask for more roving from Bambi. And I don’t have any worries about color matches.) Once I have spun the roving I also write down the finished yardage, and then attach it to my skeins as my own personal yarn label. It tells me everything I need to know about the fiber or yarn for years to come and only takes a quick minute to write it all down. Best of all, I never have to wonder what fiber it is, or where I can get more if I really like it or run short. It’s fast and simple and gives me all the info I can possibly need.