All things considered, I’m probably not the world’s most organized person. I put up a good search for our wedding photo album the other day with no success, yet Forrest’s basket of plastic Easter eggs seems to have found its permanent home on top of the fridge (logical). But one thing I really am careful to keep neat and organized is my crochet pattern collection.
I’m a little protective of my pattern binder . . . many of the patterns it contains are no longer available online, or come from books or magazines that I don’t think I’d be able to find a second time if I were to lose my copy. Here’s how I keep my pattern collection safe, organized, and maximally useful to me.
1) Keep patterns in one spot.
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but crocheting is way less fun if it starts out with an hour-long search to find that one pattern you’re sure you printed, and you thought it was in your desk, but maybe it’s in your closet? no? Or, there’s one page of it, stuffed under the bed, but where’s the rest of it . . . ? Or even worse, what if you’re searching for a pattern you’re sure you saw on Pinterest a few weeks ago . . . ? You’ll never find it again. Sorry. If your frequently-used patterns are all kept together, always in the same spot, you’ll know just where to look and you can jump right into your project. I keep all my patterns in a 3-ring binder, so I always know where to look to find a pattern I need.
2) ALWAYS print out your patterns.
This is my top organization tip for your pattern collection. If you purchase a pattern online, print it out. If you use a pattern that you found free online, print it out. If you see a pattern you love but don’t plan to make it anytime soon, print it out anyway. I can’t even tell you how many patterns in my binder were once upon a time available for free online, but have since been removed or put up for sale instead. And how frustrating would it be to make something great from a free pattern (or bookmark it to make in the future), then return to it later to find that the author has changed her mind and pulled it off the internet, or shut down her blog, or decided she’d rather sell it than offer it for free? If you use a pattern or even think you’ll use a pattern, print it out right away and keep a copy in your binder so you’ll never have to kick yourself later if you can’t find or access it again.
3) Categorize and protect your patterns.
I may be a bit overkill here, but I like my patterns to be easy to find and, most importantly, safe from sticky little fingers. I put them in plastic sheet protectors, and use tabbed dividers to create sections for different types of patterns. That way, they’re easy to find quickly and I don’t waste time flipping through 50 pages looking for the specific one I need. And not to point fingers here, but a certain someone likes to 'read’ to me while I crochet, and his book of choice is usually my open pattern book (yesterday, it was a story about ‘silly monkeys’—creative!). Since each pattern is safely tucked into its own plastic page, the worst he’s ever done is crinkle the papers instead of rip or smudge them. I can deal with that.
4) Keep notes.
One of the best parts of crocheting is adapting patterns to better suit your style or needs. Don’t be scared to mess around with a pattern to adjust the size or finished look . . . and if you’re the type who likes to play around with patterns, make sure to keep notes of what you changed! I hate it when I know I altered a pattern once before, but can’t replicate my own work later because I can’t remember what I did. If I change a pattern, I like to add a little slip of paper with my changes to the pattern page so I can make the same changes next time I use that pattern.
How do you keep your patterns organized? Have any tips to improve my system?