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Sunday, February 26, 2012


Have you noticed the proliferation of articles in magazines lately about organizing your clutter? These seem to crop up every year right after New Year’s, probably because getting organized is one of those resolutions so many people make and break. The articles appear again in the spring for the traditional spring cleaning frenzy.

If you’ve been reading the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries (those books about yours truly,) you know that I had to give up my dedicated studio above my garage to rent out for additional income. I’m now crafting on some card tables in the basement. However, Lois Winston, the author who writes those books about me, has agreed to offer some of her organizational tips. You see, Lois is not only a published author, she’s a craft designer, too. (which is probably how she came up with the idea of creating me,) and if juggling two full-time jobs wasn’t enough, she also works for a literary agency. Rumor has it, she doesn’t sleep.

So Lois needs to be super organized in order to accomplish all that she does in a day. Today I’m asking her about her craft room.

Anastasia: Describe the room where you do your designing and crafting.

Lois: Because, as you mentioned, I juggle three careers, my craft room is both a crafting studio and an office where I do my writing and handle agency business. I have a large L-shaped desk that fills one wall and wraps nearly all the way around a second wall. This affords me a place for my computer and printer, plus a large surface for working on craft projects.

One wall of my room is taken up by a double closet. My husband took out the clothes pole and added wooden shelves that run the length of the closet. This is where I keep most of my craft supplies. The rest are in the bottom cabinet sections of two wall units. Books fill the shelves above the cabinets. I also have two bookshelves that sit on the desk. The bookshelves hold copies of craft books where my designs have appeared, my novels, and lots of research books for both crafting and writing, as well as the overflow of novels that no longer fit on the bookshelves in the living room and den.

Anastasia: Given that you’ve banished me to the basement, do you feel it’s important to have a dedicated craft space?

Lois: Sorry about that, but you did need a new stream of income, and now you have the hunky Zack Barnes living above your garage.

Anastasia: Hmmm…

Lois: Anyway, getting back to your question, having a dedicated space for creativity enables me to work without interfering with other family members. I can spread out and make a mess without having to worry that I need to clean everything up and put away my project and all my supplies because the space has to revert back to being the kitchen, dining room, or den at a specific time.

Anastasia: I remember those days. How do you organize patterns, fabrics, floss, notions, and and all the embellishments you use in your designing?

Lois: I’m a big fan of plastic storage containers. They come in all different sizes and can be stacked for easy storage. I have three extra-large bins for cross stitch fabric, felt, and sewing fabric. Medium sized containers hold floss, paint, ribbons, glue gun supplies, etc. Smaller ones hold everything from pom-poms to specialty threads, to beads. I use very small plastic containers to store needles, sequins, etc. I also use magazine holders to keep my patterns and leaflets organized.

Anastasia: Do you have any organizing tips for our readers?

Lois: If you have a huge collection of floss as I do, it can take forever to find the floss color/number you need for a specific project. I’ve separated my floss into basic colors -- red, pink, green, blue, brown, purple, black/white/gray and yellow/gold/orange. Each group goes into a zippered gallon freezer bag. All the bags go into an extra-large plastic storage tub. When I need a specific color, I only have to look through one bag rather than rake through all my floss.

Another storage tip is to separate your fabric in the same manner. I use a lot of sewing fabric in my crafts. I separate the fabric by solids, floral prints, geometrics, and holiday prints. The fabrics are folded into dedicated piles before being placed in a large plastic storage tub.

Another tip is don’t buy in bulk unless you really have the storage space. Yes, it’s tempting to get a better price on batting if you buy a case rather than one package, but if it’s going to take you five years to make all those quilts, both your money and space could be put to better use.

Most importantly, don’t be a hoarder. If you haven’t used that macramé cord from 1982 by now, chances are you’ll never use it. Donate it to someone who can use it, thus freeing up storage space for yourself.

Anastaisa: How do you maximize the space in your room?

Lois: I try to be as neat and organized as possible, but I don’t always succeed. Deep down, I’m a clutterbug. Every few months I go on a tidying up spree. Since I design for magazines, the products I use in my designs have to be readily available to consumers. Products get discontinued all the time, and I can’t feature discontinued products in my designs. So I’ll collect the discontinued supplies and donate them, thus freeing up storage space for other supplies.

Anastasia: What organizing tips do you recommend for someone who can't dedicate an entire room to crafting?

Lois: This really depends on the type of craft and the storage space in the home. I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this question. If there’s room for it, an armoire with drawers, shelves, and a drop-down desk would be an ideal solution. When closed, it will look like a piece of furniture in a bedroom, dining room, living room, or den.

Anastasia: Any advice for someone starting or re-doing a craft room?

Lois: Plan ahead. Think about your needs -- what you want to store and how you’ll use the room -- before you buy any furniture and storage items.

Anastasia: Thanks for joining us today, Lois! Now get back to writing, and find a way for me to win the lottery.

Lois: Sorry, not going to happen. If I did that, the series would end. I’m afraid you’re stuck in financial hell for some time to come, given that there will be at least three more Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries to come.

Anastasia: So I guess that’s a good news/bad news sort of thing, huh?

Lois: You got it.


Maureen Hayes said...

Such a fun post and packed with useful info! I don't know many crafters who are so organized, but your tips were helpful Lois, thanks.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Maureen!

Jane R said...

Great post. I'm a paper crafter and I have lots of "stuff". Part of the fun is the acquisition of all the various elements for the craft. But, that also causes the potential for a lot of clutter. I use various containers to separate items and everything is kept in a spare bedroom that sometimes takes on a life of it's own!

Lois Winston said...

Jane, it's amazing how that happens, isn't it? Every so often I go through my supplies and cull out stuff I haven't used and probably never will use. As a designer, I can't use any discontinued products in my designs, and manufacturers are discontinuing products all the time. I donate the supplies, often to local schools.

JonathanN said...

Thanks so much for the post. Great read!! Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Jonathan! Come back often. There's always lots of fun stuff at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers.

Unknown said...

Love this interview =)! Proves that business can be fun! Thanks also for the valuable tips...hmmm, change the closet into a space for business..like! aloha, Connie


Thanks, Connie!