Tutorial Part II: The Proper Use of Ziplock Bags in Organising Your WIPs

Part II of the RoseRed Standard of Stash Systemisation (thanks Georgie!!) coming at you, here and now. Just for Bells (Happy Birthday Bells!) (see Part I here).

By now, I know you all will have purchased multiple sizes of ziplock (or snaplock) bags. But what to do with the ones leftover from your stash organisation? Why, as a WIP organiser of course! And here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Select appropriately sized ziplock bag. I rarely use the small (sandwich) bags, as they are generally too small for yarn, needles and WIP. But if you have a teenytiny project, knitted on a circular needle or short dpns, you could get away with a small bag. For a larger garment, you’ll need a large bag. For socks, a medium is, in my view, best. Today, I’m bagging a sock project, so have selected a medium bag. In this case, it’s a new bag, but I do recommend re-using bags where possible.
Step 2: If you haven’t already, remove label from yarn and place in bag. This is most important, if you want to avoid this problem.
Step 3: Knit swatch/es. Label with needle size, yarn info (in the highly unlikely event that the swatch will be separated from the bag and project) and any other details considered relevant. Place in bag. Labels may be purchased from your local newsagent or stationery store, or of course made from bits of paper.
Step 4: For maximum portability, place photocopy or print-out of pattern in bag. This avoids the need to carry large or heavy books or magazines with you and ensures you always have a piece of paper to write your mods or other notes on. And since a photocopy of your own book or magazine for personal use only is (to my understanding) acceptable, we’re not breaking any rules here, right!
Step 5 (where more than one piece of the WIP): As this is a project I’ve previously prepared, I have one completed sock. Place this (or any other pieces you knit as you go) into the bag. This is extremely useful for socks so that you can measure the second sock against the first. For larger projects, you may need to bring a second ziplock bag into play.

Step 6: Place WIP into bag. An optional part of this step is to place any accessory you may need, such as tape measure, sewing needles, scissors, pencil, stitch markers etc, into bag. I have all this junk in a small zippered bag which I take with me when necessary.
Step 7: Squish excess air out of bag and seal (thanks for reminding me Shan). My preferred message of squish’n’seal is to hold the bag against my chest and squish the air out from the bottom of the bag, then while holding closed with my forearm, start sealing the bag from left to right, or right to left, as you wish.
And there you go!

Pack WIPS in ziplock bags into your knitting bag and you have a ready to go bag of WIPS, or you can easily select a project at a glance before you rush out the door to work, children’s dance or sports, etc.
Tips for new players/Questions and comments from readers:
1. Be careful with the ziplock bags in the sun. Like any natural thing encased in plastic, your WIP might have a tendancy to sweat. We don’t want a soggy WIP now, do we!

2. Ziplock bags are perfect for holding your yarn whilst knitting – as Tinkingbell noted in the comments to Part I, if you don’t have your yarn in a centre pull ball (or even, let’s face it, if you do), leave it in the bag, zip it up most but not all the way, and place yarn on the floor. You will still be able to pull yarn out easily, but will avoid yarn rolling in dust bunnies, cat/dog hair, etc (because, as we know, all dedicated knitters are bound to, shall we say, “avoid” the housework to do just one more row). And click on Tinkingbell’s link above to see her awesome stash cupboard!

3. If you are using Knitpicks Options or dpns (or, really, any knittng needle), the needles will have an unfortunate tendancy to poke holes in the bags. This can be avoided if desired through the use of point protectors. Or, you know, you can just live with it. But be careful when digging around in your ridiculously oversized handbag looking for your sock WIP bag (trust me, I know from experience!).

4. Bells asked: Is the use of a bag desirable for leftover teeny tiny balls of yarn? Yes. If you want to keep your teeny tiny leftovers in bags. I’d suggest a small/sandwich size be used to hold multiple varieties of leftovers. Remember to include the label attached to the leftover (I usually punch a hole in the label and tie the yarn end through it. When I can be bothered, that is).

5. Diana noted that small ziplocks are very useful for keeping yarns separate while doing any type of colourwork.

6. Georgie and Carson noted the failure of ziplocks (even, shock horror – Glad ziplocks!) – I should mention I do use snaplocks rather than ziplocks and it seems from their experience this might be preferable. But you never know, so feel free to experiment!

7. Any other tips welcome! (As is a sponsorship deal with Glad. Happy to take your money to advertise your snaplocks, Mr Glad! I’m sure your revenues will be going through the roof right now!)
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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Tutorial Part II: The Proper Use of Ziplock Bags in Organising Your WIPs

  1. Oh my goodness. This was an extremely valuable (and hilarious) demonstration. I feel inclined to print it out and study it closely. You bloody well should get a sponsorship deal out of this, if Mr Glad knows what’s good for him.And thanks for the birthday wishes – and for being part of my birthday! You rock!

  2. VERY in-ter-rest-ing….I can see a very distinct line of difference between your knitting organizational skills and mine….VASTLY different (starting with swatching and ending with being organized).BUT I am keen to learn – I have recently cleaned out my WIP’s box and place appropriate WIP’s in Glad ziplocks….it’s a start. (Haven’t zipped them up, added ball bands, needles, accessories etc yet)…all in good time.

  3. Excellent!!! I recently ‘Gladded’ my bits’n’bobs sewing tub. SUCH a feeling of achievement and tidiness!!!

  4. amy

    I can attest to the wool-in-plastic-in-sun problem. Although I think it was more the heat than the sun. I was in a playground with the boys and took my WIP out of my bag, which had been in the shade (I carry a Big Bag full of Little Boy stuff and my knitting), and the change in temperature caused condensation to form inside the plastic bag. I immediately took out my knitting, placed it somewhere safe (ie, not dirty), and turned the plastic bag inside out so the sun could evaporate the condensation. Beware!!

  5. RR do you feel good knowing knitters everywhere (well, a few) are starting copy your style? What influence you have!

  6. Yep, I have suffered from not only the aforementioned Zip-tear-itis, but also the WIP-Zip-in the sun instant terarium syndrome (who knew there was so much moisture in yarn?) AND the pointy-knitpicks-hole-in-bag disease! Terrible.

  7. Meg

    What I still don’t get is how you celebrity cooking and craft demonstrators ALWAYS HAVE AN EXAMPLE PREPARED IN ADVANCE. How do you do it!But I have enjoyed this tutorial and will use your tips to improve my existing plastic bag organisational tactics (which pale in comparison to yours.)

  8. Good tips there, but a bit too organised for me!!

  9. del

    Glad should definitely sponser you, these tips were great! And soooo organized, my brain is hurting from the organization. Great job!

  10. Surely all this information ought to be published in a knitting book!! Isn’t that what some bloggers have done? It’s vital info you know and you should hurry for the copyright!!!! I am sure ‘GLAD’ would be VERY GLAD for the exposure!

  11. I must admit, I, too, have been a zip lock bag user (although I use a store brand) and have been content to muddle through. However, my ever earth conscious family reminds me that I am wasting prescious resources by using plastic bags. So, the only recourse I had was to make a knitting related purchase and get a “baggette” from goose pond gifts in Vermont (courtesy of Sheepie). It is very cute and holds one small project with pockets for extra bits on the outside. Now I can grab my bag while I am running out the door and still be “green”. Don’t tell my family but I still use the zip lock bags, too!

  12. I use the same method, but I keep a selection of the things you are most likely to run out of in the drawer under the passenger seat in the car. I use a pop-it case and based my list on the one in Summer Knitting.

  13. What a brilliant and clearly illustrated tutorial on ziplock bags ! I already use them in my stash, but clearly have areas I can improve on with the whole WIP scene. I tend to get my current sock on the needles all muddled up with my keys and purse and … !!

  14. Thanks for your works of wisdom. Here’s my tip: Corks from wine bottles (cut into smaller sections if necessary) make great point protectors (and they’re free!) Alternatively, cork from old fishing handlines.

  15. The ziplog bags are a great idea! I have purchased a number of small canvas or plastic ‘tote’ purses from a generic craft store (Michael’s here in the states) and these work EXCELLENTLY for holding sock projects–the plastic glad bags would keep my projects nicely sorted, but for now, when I want to go out, I choose a different color tote as my take-along…

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