Fiber Storage - Felting Fridays
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Clutch your pearls, because I'm about to admit that I did not get any felting done this week. I KNOW! The horror... The thing is, I'd totally taken advantage of the really awesome weather we had the prior weeks, which meant cleaning had gotten away from me, and I couldn't take it anymore, so I needed to buckle down and get that wonderful echo of semi-emptiness back in the house. I know you're wondering what the heck does that have to do with anything, but it had me thinking - let's talk about fiber storage!
I know it's a topic that has come up from time to time in the Facebook needle felting groups. After all, unless you're just starting out (though I'll get into solutions for that too), chances are you have amassed quite a bit of fluff. We'll go over all sorts of fun ideas, from solutions for storing your fiber out of the way to showing off your stash!
If you live in a tight space or need it out of the way
I know a lot of people likely store their wool in plastic bags and/or in tubs, and that's fine! It's not optimal, but unless you live in a humid, non temp controlled area without AC (like if you live in a hut out in the tropics, I'm incredibly jealous, but don't store your wool in plastic bags). The reason is because wool has moisture, the air has moisture, and you're trapping it in a container that does not allow it to breathe. It can get gross. I made that mistake once when I still had mine in bags and took my work outside to felt in the heat of summer, and a few hours later saw condensation inside the unopened bags. GASP! PS. for those of you who store your wool loosely in larger tubs, it's okay, there should be enough air to breathe. So, what I would recommend is using fabric or mesh bags, and then storing that in a container that is not air-tight. If you have batts, roll them up in paper like a jelly roll and stuff it in a fabric, like a muslin bag. This is actually how I get batts when I order them (minus the fabric bag). Or head out to the thrift store and buy up a bunch of old pillow cases. Or get some old tshirts, cut off the sleeves, sew that into a bag, and put it in there. There are lots of easy ways to make fabric bags (I make them all the time, in fact, I even use them for gifting). You can then store those in banker's boxes or other some other breathable container. In fact, I REALLY love the pop up mesh hampers you can get at Walmart for next to nothing (pictured). They're a great size, you can roll up a bunch of batts, stack the batt roles in the mesh hamper and put it on a shelf. Or stand them up on end and you can see what you need instead of digging through the stack. If you no longer need the hamper, it folds down flat. If you need to stack the hampers one on top of another, you can get hard plastic folding crates. Or, you can even get fancy with it and put them in some cute wooden crates! For my raw wool, washed/uncarded wool, and undyed core wools, I keep them separate by breed in large laundry mesh bags which are cheap. Of course, at the moment I seem to have those all over the place, a few bags of the unwashed ones in the laundry room, the clean stuff against the wall in the art room, etc. But, organization is one of those ever-evolving things as you find yourself needing to re-prioritize your belongings and what works for you. Note: the other argument against storing wool in plastic bags is static. This is more of a problem for spinners than needle felters, since we don't really care if the wool is a bit messy, but if you like to spin yarn, it's something else to consider.
If you don't have a lot of fiber, but want it out on display
This is actually how I stored my fiber for a long time, before I outgrew this solution. I still keep my fancy exotics, curly locks and merinos this way. You can get giant Anchor Hocking jars, like gallon or even larger, for fairly cheap. The large jars can keep quite a bit, as I've been able to put 1lb of roving in one of the 5 gallon jars. I've found them at Target and Big Lots, but don't forget to check places like thrift stores or yard sales too. I wanted all of mine to look the same, hence buying them from the same manufacturer. Then, I grouped them by color, so blacks/greys, browns/tans, reds/pinks/purples, oranges/yellows, greens, and blues. For the most part, mixing the colors in the jars is not an issue. I will add that I wish I had put the whites in a separate jar (and will do so at some point) because it can be annoying to have to pick out the occasional black or grey fiber as I'm working. So, those are going to be separated. Then, you can display the jars on a shelf or shelves in a beautiful wooly rainbow! The great thing about this is when I'm working on a project, I only grab the jars with the colors I need. You have likely seen them in my youtube videos. If you're concerned about moisture, don't screw the lids on all the way, or just leave them off. I leave mine off unless I'm not using them for a while, then the lids help to keep the dust out. Another solution would be to create little fabric tops and attach them with a rubber band. It keeps the dust out, but lets the wool breathe.
Another solution I've seen is using over the door shoe organizers, such as this one, or this one. If you have a dedicated craft room with a door or empty wall space, this is a great way to have your wool up and separated, especially if you don't have a whole lot of it, but a lot of individual colors.
Other fun ways I like to store my wool is in baskets and antiques. Most of my core I keep out of the way in a big laundry mesh bag, but instead of dragging that bag around when I'm working on a project, I keep about a lb of core in an old wooden dynamite box that I picked up at a flea market. Just make sure it's clean or line it in some way, or you might get some residual dust on your wool. I have on mine, but since I use it for core, I'm not worried about it. Thrift stores seem to always have a steady supply of baskets in various sizes for ridiculously cheap prices. If the natural look of the basket isn't your thing, you can always spray paint them (and make sure it's dry, like wait a few days) before displaying your wool in them. If you have a cute bookcase, find some fun, unique baskets in different shapes and colors and store your wool on the bookshelf. I keep my yarn in an old picnic basket that fits my cube shelf perfectly, which brings me to my next storage method.
If you have a lot of wool and want it out on display
SHELVING! Lots and lots of shelving. One of the things I did, prior to converting our dining room into an art studio was to convert my bookshelf next to my desk into a fiber storage. I hammered nails in on the sides, then used yarn to wrap criss-cross up and down to create a sort of net. Bookshelves are fairly shallow, so if you have quite a few balls of wool, you'll want to keep them from randomly rolling off and onto the floor. The net was loose/elastic enough for me to move it out of the way to pull some wool out, despite wrapping it tightly. This solution is wonderful if the only space you have is
Nowadays, with my art room, I have a big cube shelf that we purchased from Ikea a while back. There is more than enough space on there to store all my wool, and then some. I'm still working on rearranging it to accommodate more wool and figure out what I want on hand. The nice thing about this is if you ever do decide that you don't like the cluttered look that an open shelf like that might give off, you can always find a nice fabric and attach a curtain of sorts. Honestly though, who doesn't want to look at all those gorgeous colors? One thing I've been looking for is some sort of clear cube-shelf baskets, maybe some wire baskets, that would fit the wool perfectly. That way I can optimize space, using the entire shelf instead of worrying about things rolling off.
My DREAM would be to find one of those antique apothecary display cabinets, the ones with the glass fronts. Or a vintage pattern display cabinet. Or a few.
Another idea, if you're handy with a sewing machine, is these adorable quilted pods. You could hang a few bars across a wall with coat hooks, (or look up other cute ways for doing coat hooks) and hang these pods off of them. This is great if you don't want to invest in a huge shelf, but have far more fiber than you can store in jars.
Are there any storage ideas I haven't listed in here? Feel free to share in the comments or share a photo on my Facebook page! I'm always up for some new ideas!