Online organization resources for hobbyists?

I am a knitter. When I’m not eating, sleeping, or writing, I’m usually knitting. As a hobby, knitting comes with a lot of stuff. There are needles of varying size and type; yarns of different weights, fiber, and colors; and projects in various states of completion. A quarter of the space in my office closet is dedicated to my hobby.

A quarter of a closet, compared to many other knitters, is extremely minimal. As someone who subscribes to a lifestyle of simple living, however, I see the stash as a thorn in my side. I go through stages of acquiring and then using. Right now, I’m using a great deal of my stash on Christmas knitting projects, which is helping to alleviate some of my anxiety about the size of my stash.

In the knitting world, there is a new online community called Ravelry that has proven to be an incredible resource to me. I had to sort through my entire stash and catalog it with photographs and information and then enter it into the site’s database. Now, I can pull up a ball of yarn online and cross match it to projects where people have used the same yarn in the past. It saves me time thinking up project ideas and reminds me what I have and how I can use it. Additionally, it connects me with other knitters who may be willing to take some of my yarn off of my hands.

I’ve been searching for days for similar services connected to other hobbies. As of right now, I have been unable to find such services. Resources like Ravelry can be valuable for organization and planning efforts, and I would love to be able to compile a multiple-hobby list of online resources for our users.

In the comments’ section, please tell us about your hobby and any online resources that can help with its organization and planning. Services that help our readership to be less cluttered are worth sharing!

35 Comments for “Online organization resources for hobbyists?”

  1. posted by shris on

    Hi.

    For book readers, there’s Paperbackswap.com. You post the books you’re willing to send and ‘shop’ from what’s available. There’s a wish list so people can see what others are looking for. I have reduced my library incredibly because of PBS. And I can use my book credits on any kind of books. I can send out a reference work and get back a children’s book, send out a children’s book and get back an instructional book or a novel..

    For movie watchers, there’s SwapaDVD.com. It’s a sister site of PBS, so you can ‘move’ your credits from one site to the other. I traded in 9 book credits for 6 DVD credits and now I’m sampling various exercise videos I’d been thinking of buying, all for the cost of postage only. So now I can get rid of 17 DVDs we don’t watch anymore (the kids are beyond Baby Einstein and honestly, how many times can you watch Willow?) and trade them in for something else we want to see. Think Netflix, except that there’s no limit to how many movies you can ‘have’ at any time, and you *own* the DVDs that are in your house.

    Anyway, both of these sites have helped me reduce my stash–I got rid of a bunch of stuff before we moved to a new house, and I still haven’t ‘stocked back up’ again. I have credits waiting for the day I discover something I want to read/watch, and a much smaller stash of books and videos taking up space. I should list some more, I still have books in my library I haven’t re-read in a while, but I’m getting there. πŸ™‚

    I saw an auction site once specifically for beaders, but it’s been a while so I can’t remember the name. That, though, was specifically for buying/selling stash, not projects per se.

    shris

  2. posted by hobo on

    Short and sweet – LibraryThing.com for organising books. Fabulous site.

  3. posted by Marianne on

    I am a knitter and an avid Raveler. I love the site, especially the ability to look at what other people have knitted with yarn in my stash – it has really helped me re-discover my stash and start using it. I also love the fact that it is a pretty comprehensive pattern library in a central location – it has given me a lot of inspiration.

    Another life-saver is the ability to catalog all of my needles and print a wallet-sized card with that information on it. Before Ravelry I was always buying the same size needle over and over again because I wasn’t absolutely certain I had the size a needed for a project.

  4. posted by kat on

    I love Ravelry! Ravelry forums actually lead me to LibraryThing.com, which I want to try out. First I organized all of my books using the software Delicious Library for Macs. It’s pretty awesome, and will keep track of all forms of media for you. Bonus points for being fun to use (you can scan the barcodes with your camera).

  5. posted by Russel on

    I’m a potter and, while they aren’t quite as organised as your Ravelry, there are some great resources for potters to echange information and materials

    PotterBarter is a Yahoo group for the exchange (not sale) of pottery equipment, materials and services. It can be joined at:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/potterbarter/

    Clayart is sponsored by the American Ceramics Society and is an online discussion group (Listserv) for potters of all levels to discuss all things pottery related. I’ve been on this list for nearly 15 years and find it the people friendly and helpful. It’s a moderated list so flame wars and off topic posts are kept to a minimum.

    You can find the searchable archives and join at:
    http://lsv.ceramics.org/archivedata/clayart.html

    They are due to move the server and upgrade the software in the near future but you should be able to find it SOME HOW from here:

    http://ceramicartsdaily.org/

    This is a very new site created by the publishers of Sherman Hall, editor of Ceramics Monthly and Bill Jones, editor of Pottery Making Illustrated, both are publications of the American Ceramics society. It’s still a bit too early to tell how useful the site will be but with that pedigree, it should be good.

    Russel

  6. posted by Eponin on

    Ravelry sounds like a fabulous concept! I’m a beader and have tons of little boxes of beads, spools of wire and tools. Finding a neat, easy way to organize it all has been a fruitless search so far.

  7. posted by Tobias on

    This may be somewhat off-topic, since it’s not the sort of hobby where you continually construct things and need to track supplies, but letterboxing is my hobby. For tracking boxes you’ve planted and seeing others who’ve found them, as well as learning about boxes others have planted, letterboxing.org & atlasquest.com are my two favorites.

  8. posted by Sarah on

    I’d love something like this for embroidery/needlework– any ideas?

  9. posted by J. Benjimin on

    For board gaming there is boardgamegeek.com it has information on thousands of games, and a thriving community of gamers.

  10. posted by wren on

    I am a Raveler too. Last night I inventoried by entire yarn stash. Tonight I’m tackling hooks and needles.

    Because of Ravelry, I’ve found projects inspired by others so I can use up some of this stash and declutter!

  11. posted by sarah lynne on

    i love ravelry (id: bluenewts)! i used to accumulate yarn all over the house in baskets and drawers. i recently got rid of a lot of stuff i would never use, and its now relatively well contained in one space in my office. i’d love to know the other ravelers ids, and also if you have an “uncluttered” group there.

  12. posted by Christy on

    Another Raveler weighing in. I adore Ravelry! That said, I put some yarn up for sale/swap recently and when my partner heard that I’m swapping for some cashmere, she said “I thought the point was to get rid of some of this stuff.

    When I told her about the new Noro sock yarn last night, she told me that I need some self control and to knit through some of the damned sock yarn already.

    It’s funny to me that we stashers are also trying to unclutter.

    I’ve been using LibraryThing for a few years and love catloging my books that way.

  13. posted by Molly on

    There’s a great group on Ravelry that’s about de-stashing during 2008: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss.....-down-2008

    I feel like knitting, stashing, and becoming overwhelmed with stash is part of what led me to overall uncluttering, and to blogs like this one. And now we come full circle …. πŸ˜‰

  14. posted by Beth on

    Christy, us stashers are trying to declutter so we have room for more stash πŸ˜‰

    I’m another raveler and I agree, I haven’t seen many sites that have taken the same approach for other hobbies, but I can see the potential in it’s model for collectibles, other crafts…

  15. posted by annie on

    http://www.craftmemo.com is awesome…it helps you keep track of projects, resources, inventory… and you can post pix of finished work too… sewing, beading, whatever….

  16. posted by amy on

    did you say hooks? Can I use this site for crochet too? πŸ™‚

  17. posted by jacicita on

    @ amy – absolutely! Come on over — we need more crochet action!

  18. posted by Vis Major on

    Another Raveler weighing in (I’m vismajor there). My stash takes up 75% of an armoire if I count books + needles + yarn or about 50% of that armoire if I count just needles & yarn.

    I may never operate stash-free, despite striving towards an uncluttered life, but I’ve found my stash hasn’t increased since I started Raveling. In fact, the act of photographing & cataloging my complete stash actually reduced my stash as I purged the stuff I really had no use for.

    I plan to keep my stash restricted to its current size – yarn for new projects can come in as I knit up or dispose of yarn that I have – and location.

    (Although, I’ve been trying to get my husband to see the value of turning an unused crawl/storage space into my yarn room – the space is currently uninsulated and I’ve been pushing the concept that increasing my stash & storing it there would save money by insulating that space. Oddly enough, he’s not going for it. πŸ˜‰

  19. posted by Nichole on

    Any one have ideas for helping with scrapbooking?

  20. posted by Sarah on

    Hooray for Ravelry! As “greendillybean” on the site, I love that the knitters and crocheters among us are coming out in droves to respond to this post! One of the great unforeseen benefits of the site has been the motivation I have found to use up yarn that has been languishing in the far corners of my closets. Inventorying and photographing everything was a much needed reminder that I have some great stuff squirreled away.

    For any other hobbyists that may be wishing for or thinking of creating a similar site, it might be good to know that Casey and Jess, the husband and wife team that founded Ravelry, have been overwhelmed by the response. The site is undoubtedly a resounding success, but it has been a ton of work keeping up with the hordes of eager fiber fiends!

  21. posted by Sarah on

    PS Ravelry currently has a waiting list to join (see overwhelming response mentioned above), but it moves pretty quickly.

  22. posted by TJ on

    I’m a Raveler too (KnittingMango). My stash is in plastic bins that stack in my closet; larger ones for wools, a small one for all cotton. I keep my WIPs (Works In Progress) in a lined basket next to my couch and my sock yarn in a basket on top of my tv cabinet – it’s so lovely and inspirational.

    I bought a scrapbooking tote to organize my tools and notions, and it’s been super handy. I keep stitch markers etc in Altoids containers. I have a few roll-up needle holders for straight and DPNs; my next step is to buy plastic pencil holders that fit into binders for my circulars. I have a shelf for my knitting books; I need to sort through my printouts and zeroxes and put them into binders.

  23. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sarah — The list does move relatively fast. I think mine was a three week wait.

  24. posted by Kristine on

    I’m a stamper/scrapbooker and I like to visit organizedscrapbooks.com. They have a great set of planner pages for scrapbook planning.

  25. posted by RogueTess on

    Another Ravelr-er here (RogueTess), as well as LibraryThing user. Yay for the convergence of some of my favorite blogs! Ravelry has helped me declutter my home and computer by housing the databases of my stash, projects, etc. as well as providing access to great forums and photos of completed and in-progress projects.

  26. posted by Janine on

    I’m a huge fan of Ravelry (my id: kramerscout). I haven’t taken the time to inventory my stash and needles and upload the data (though I’m looking forward to doing that), but I’ve found it hugely helpful to find patterns for holiday knitting and to find ways to use yarn in my stash. The people who developed it are geniuses! It’s a truly wonderful organizing tool.

  27. posted by beth b. on

    ohmygod, your blog is brilliant.

    i can’t wait to come back and read it all when i have more time!

  28. posted by Cara on

    Oh my goodness, I <3 Ravelry! Glad to see it mentioned here. πŸ™‚

  29. posted by Ro on

    I love LibraryThing. I also belong to Paperbackswap and Bookmooch. Great websites!

    I love Wesabe too for organizing my money.

  30. posted by ellipsisknits on

    ^ravelryId^

    One of my biggest wants for ravlery is for Casey to be able to license out his genius and make a version for gardening. (and quilting, and beading, and cooking, and music, and every other stuff-related hobby that I don’t necessarily partake in)

    It’s flat-out the best web-app I’ve ever seen. There need to be more of them. I want the whole internet to work like that.

    Dave’s Garden has a little tiny trickle of that functionality for gardens now (members can add notes and pictures to plant pages, which include links to retailers) but a lot of the functionality is paid-only, which limits contributions, and there isn’t anything close to the level of ultra-integration ravelry boasts.

  31. posted by L. on

    Came across this post while “decluttering” my RSS feeder. LOVE Ravelry. It is everything that is good about the web.

    I would love to see a post from you about organizing needles (in particular) and notions.

  32. posted by Josephine on

    While I’m familiar with Ravelry and other such online resources, I personally don’t wish to store my personal information online. Instead I keep my knitting inventory in an Excel workbook. For each of the following items, I set up one sheet in the workbook: yarn inventory, FOs and UFOs, needle inventory, book inventory. In case of the yarn inventory, I list number of skeins, fiber contents, yardage, weight, color, dye lot, cleaning instructions, intended project. The FO / UFO sheet contains the same information in addition to recipient, item made, and pattern source.

  33. posted by chromy on

    In answer to ellipsisknits – there is exactly a site out there that people seem to be calling the “ravelry of gardening”…it’s called MyFolia and it’s pretty new – not many people know about it, but they are trying to spread the word about it. I’ve been using it for a while to organize my seed stash and track my plants and it seems to be really really useful for me at least (its free too)

  34. posted by Unclutterer » Archive » Organize your gardening projects with Myfolia.com on

    […] explored Myfolia.com and it seems very similar to Ravelry. Any tool to help organize your hobbies sounds like a terrific resource to me. Happy […]

  35. posted by Elizabeth H. on

    I’m also a Ravelry user (lizardknits), and user of Library thing. I don’t see http://blog.evernote.com/ mentioned here.
    You can create notebooks of any subject you want, then copy/paste them full with whatever. I use it to keep patterns I don’t want to lose track of, and spinning wheel info, etc. I think the free version is limited to 100 notebooks, but as far as I know, there’s no limit on the size of each notebook.

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