My current work in progress:

1. Woodfords, designed by Elizabeth Doherty, knit from Madelinetosh Merino Light in the "paper" colorway on U.S. size 3, 5, and 7 needles.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Paper or Plastic?

There were a couple of comments questioning the wisdom of storing yarn in ziplock bags, so I googled around a bit. I couldn’t find anything online cautioning against storing stash in plastic bags. Anyone know of any reliable info on this?

A good reason to store in plastic is to keep yarn dust-free. Not there there is ever any dust in my home. Another reason, is to protect it from any flying varmints that may be around. Now, I definitely don’t have any of those, thankfully.

I’m not sure why exactly I started putting my yarn in plastic bags — I guess it started with the non-sock stash. When you have 10 skeins of a yarn in one colorway, it makes sense to bag it together. I just kept going with the sock yarn.

Thanks, by the way, to CC, who recommending securing the “intersections” of my wire cubes with zip ties — I ordered a bunch of them and will do so forthwith to prevent cube collapse.

Just in case you wondered if I was ever going to knit again, here is an update. The sock:

sip081108 240x160 Paper or Plastic?

The shawl:

cleite081108 240x160 Paper or Plastic?

And here is one bissfully sleeping puddy-tat:

lucy081108 240x160 Paper or Plastic?

Comments

  1. Love the shawl! And that’s a great blue on the sock, too.

    I store yarn in plastic tubs. I don’t think there is any problem withusing ziplock baggies, unless they will be out in the sun. In that case, the yarn sweats and nasty stuff can happen. Not indoors!

    mehitabels last blog post..Hot Projects

  2. I store my yarn in zipper bags too mainly because it’s in plastic when it comes from the yarn producer. Textile companies use plastic bags/wraps for yarns and fabrics so should be okay for us to use. If I didn’t store mine in plastic, I’d had Debit the dog fur and Izzy Kizzy fur in my handknits even worse than now.

    I’m loving your shawl. I may have to buy that pattern yet.

  3. needleglyphs says:

    Ah such a sweet puddy tat. I use plastic bags also. I read somewhere that wool needs to breath and can break down if stored without air circulation. Must of been in a book somewhere. I can attest to this after finding a very OLD needlepoint kit and the wool just fell apart. So now I cut a little corner out of each plastic bag. The wool degeneration takes YEARs to happen, probably over 10 years for the needlepoint kit.

  4. I love your shawl! And, I can’t wait to see a finished pair of those socks!

    I keep my yarn in a tub that I found for $5 at some thrift store. It works wonderfully! I haven’t ever tried plastic bags, but I may need to start since I am outgrowing my tub!

    Sarah Diannes last blog post..Pretty Yarn and Finished Projects

  5. I’m afraid I’m guilty of the ziploc storage too. All of my yarn gets put in either bags or plastic containers to store it to keep varmints out of it (2 legged, 4 legged, & flying) It all has to go somewhere!

  6. I store my yarn in ziplocs, too, but the owner of the sheep farm where I buy my fiber says you should never seal fiber in a plastic bag if it’s going to be in the heat (like in a car), because condensation will collect inside the bag from the fiber and the moisture is, of course, not good for the fiber. She leaves her bags slightly open. This sort of defeats the purpose of the plastic bag, I suppose.

    Suzanne V. (Yarnhog)s last blog post..FO: Tahoe

  7. Ah yes, the plastic question!! Quilters also wrestle with this. I found a good summary of info on yarn & plastic bags & moths here: http://scrubberbum.typepad.com/moth_heaven/2005/02/if_you_have_mot.html (read through the comments too). I think the bottom line for both fabric and yarn is that yes, you can use ziploc type bags, but it won’t prevent damage from moths if eggs have been laid already and it might result in other kinds of damage if moisture is present. However, IMO, there really isn’t a PERFECT storage solution so a person who has a reasonable amount of humidity present in their home sealing up yarn in ziploc bags is probably going to minimize the possibilities of damage rather than increase. I tend to think that using ziploc bags (even if you then drop those bags into rubber tubs) will do the best job of limiting any potential damage. If I still lived in a really humid climate, I would probably keep a dehumidifier available in the room where I stored yarn (if I had a lot invested in the stash) with a wall thermometer telling me the humidity percentage so I could keep it toward the dry end of things.

    Just my two cents….

  8. When I travel, I use one of the XLarge zip lock bags for carrying my yarn and needles…this takes less time when you are going through security. The Xlarge ones also have a nice handle for carrying..

  9. I ziploc all yarn, except what I have around at any time. I never considered it might destroy the yarn… but I live in a very humid climate, and my appartment is quind of humid, even to the point I have to fight mildew in the winter, so I’ve always though the ziplock bags would keep that out. And dog fur, cat fur, moths…

    You’ve given me a great deal to consider.

    Andreas last blog post..Medias terminadas / Sock update

  10. I always store my yarn in zippered bags. It keeps all my wip separate from each other and limits the confusion. The only problem I have with the bags is that the youngest cat (3 yo) likes to chew on the corners.

  11. The last box of ziplock bags that I got were for this express purpose. Granted, my stash hasn’t existed for that long, so I wouldn’t have a clue about the length it stays sealed in a bag. Then again, I like to fondle my yarns from time to time to let them know I still love them.

    I am loving that shawl. You are making me feel the need to knit one. Darn it! Hugs and kitty kisses from Mini-Me and Two fingers!

    Megan S.s last blog post..Yes, I’ve been a lazy blogger

  12. I keep my yarn in plastic bags too except for a selection that lives in my bedroom. If plastic bags are wrong, I don’t wanna be right (understanding of course the environmental implications).

    I love the shocking pink of the shawl. ~ksp

    Kellis last blog post..Blue Streak

  13. Did you make a decision about the Hiyah, Hiyah needles (I most likely butchered the spelling)? I am having trouble with my knitpicks USO and US 1 (2.25mm). Thanks!

  14. The only problem I have with WIP in plastic is when I am at the beach they develop condensation which is a bad thing. I now put my knitting an open basket and just put a bandanna over it to keep out sand stuff. Otherwise, most of my home stash is in plastic.

    amysues last blog post..Interlude.

  15. Pretty shawl! I have some pink laceweight waiting for me rather impatiently…

    Opals last blog post..Monday Yarn Pr0n!

  16. I also use ziplock bags for my yarn. Another good reason to do it is to remember why you bought it in the first place. I have started writing the intended project on the bag.. This is to deal with my middle age memory which cannot remember what I wanted to do with the Dale of Norway Falk I found in my stash yesterday.

  17. I hadn’t had issues with plastic until recently when i was sent a skein of hand dyed and when i broke open the bag to wind the yarn i noticed a slight hint of vinegar, which i didn’t think about, balled up and started knitting. I understand a little about hand dying and wasn’t too surprised by this. However… the smell has intensified and i’m tempted to just knit plain stockinette the rest of the ball (i’m almost 1/2 done) soak the thing, rip, and reknit. it’s my first experience with this yarn brand and while highly anticipated has left me confused as to the delight it brings (the colours are marvelous).

    pennys last blog post..returning is difficult

  18. ellen in indy says:

    i stash most of my non-synthetic yarn in stackable clear plastic boxes so that they are not enhanced by the fur of two cats and a large dog. luckily, i have less yarn overall than wendy has sock yarn (though maybe not a whole lot less right now). one 15 or 16-quart box will hold enough yarn for an average sweater — and usually will hold the pattern, buttons and needles if the sweater’s either hibernating or waiting in the wings.

    i have several of the very short hiya hiya circs in stainless steel and LOVE them for knitting the “plain” parts of plain socks — tops and feet after gusset is done. (if i did gorgeous fancy socks like miz wendy, not so much, probably.) right now, i’m on pair 15 of a planned 25 pairs of double-strand worsted socks for warmwoolies.org, and the hiya hiyas are much faster than dps. i haven’t learned magic loop or similar tricks, but if i had, i might want longer hiya hiyas for those.
    anyway, the ones that i have are at least as functional as my addi turbos at about half the cost.
    your mileage may vary.

  19. Hi Wendy, a very interesting post. I have also heard that it is bad to use plastic bags. I read some where that cardboard boxes were good to use. However like almost everyone I use plastic bags and plastic tubs. I have not had a problem in the 5 years since I’ve done that.

  20. I am also a quilter and have heard for years that quilts shouldn’t be stored in plastic bags. But I’ve always taken that to mean “store” them. To keep flora & fauna off of them and preserve them. Because the majority are made of cotton that needs to breathe just as much as knitting wool does. Quilters make cotton pillow case things to store their quilts in. If I’m not going to be using them, I sew the open end shut with a large basting stitch.
    However, I keep my yarn in Ziplocs. Most of it is going to be used, hopefully, sooner and not kept around to be an heirloom. Is there such a thing as heirloom socks? LOL I also write on the baggie as to what I intended to make with that particular yarn. I like the idea of putting buttons, etc in with the yarn when storing it.
    I think the idea of the plastic baggie is cleanliness and to keep out bugs of the chewing sort. And pet dander for those of us blest with pets.

  21. LeahWright says:

    Either someone suggested the same thing I did (zip ties) or I changed my name. :D

  22. Leah Wright says:

    Ahhh Mystery solved – I suggested it in Plurk. She’s suggested it on the blog. Color me embarassed. :)

  23. I have been told not to leave my dry cleaned things in their plastic bags for a season, as they would yellow. So this discussion is making me think about the yarn. Most of mine is not in plastic, but it’s actually by chance.

  24. I’m a spinner, knitter and sometimes quilter since sometime last century. Unprocessed wool or less processed wool (some Aran yarns) should not be stored in closed plastic because if there is moisture in the wool and the bag heats up, the wool can self-combust. I’ve never known this to happen but I have had fleece get hot. For quilts – this would apply to those using wool batts.
    So my fleece is in open plastic with lots of cedar, my wool yarn in drawers, also with cedar – and I’ve never used wool for quilt batts.

    GailRs last blog post..First Day

  25. I use both plastic, and storing it out in the open, or in my closet, which is fairly large.

    My cat just caught a female cardinal. I wondered what the noise was in the kitchen. Sigh. Wonderful hubby took the dead bird outside. Shudder!

  26. I had stored my grandmother’s 50-year-old wool afghan for a number of years in a plastic & zippered blanket case. The afghan yellowed. Now I use old cotton pillowcases to store woolens. I keep my yarn out in the open in baskets and it seems to stay clean. I wash everything after knitting, so any dust and animal hair is rinsed away.

  27. Theresa in Italy says:

    Lucky me, I’ve got humidity, flying varmints, furry creatures, and dust to contend with. Ziplock bags are rare and available only in the smaller sizes (good for a pair of socks’ worth of yarn, maybe). But they sell plastic bags here specifically made for storing your woollies between seasons. They have a slight blue tint to them (maybe to combat the yellowing Gillian mentioned?); they are available in any supermarket, cheap and come in large sizes. My only complaint is that they are flimsy, but as long as I’m careful they work fine.

  28. I have wondered about using plasitc bags. At the moment most of the yarn is in baskets or wicker drawers and in a dark cupboard. I guess that’s where it’s going to stay for a while. I have it in my mind to make a series of cotton project/yarn bags but who knows when that will happen.

    Allys last blog post..Let the knitting begin

  29. I’ve always stored my yarn in plastic ziplocs. It’s economical, you can squeeze out a lot of air and then when you’re ready to knit, they are already in a bag ready to go.

  30. I zip yarn and bag unspun fiber. I bag the fiber because I don’t want it to get compressed. As far as yarn, there are certain yarns I will not zip because the manufacturer implied that it is not a good idea. I have a death ray machine aimed at said yarn to dispatch any winged or crawling invader.

  31. I loved your yarn cage so much I went looking on line for one and ended up at my neighborhood Target. They were on sale for 14.99!!!! What fun!!

  32. I too have always heard that natural fiber yarn and such should not be kept in sealed plastic. I think cotton zippered bags (commercially made pillow covers or homemade bags) and moth control products would be the best way to make sure the fibers survive, but………..you wouldn’t be able to see what is inside!!!

  33. I read in a knitting magazine a few months ago to store yarn in pillowcases inside of plastic tubs. The reasoning is – the chemicals in the plastic eventually yellows and destroys the fiber.

  34. Michele In Maine says:

    Ziplocks rule!

  35. I use ziploc bags with the easy zip top. They dont seem to be as air tight as the reg zip bags and still protect my yarn from any invading creatures.

    Danielle from SW MOs last blog post..Ravelympics Has Officially Started!!

  36. I use those afghan and sheet set bags for my yarn… they do have breathing holes but still keep most dust etc away. But they are HUGE and definitely not as organized and cubes and ziplock bags. But before I can do that I actually need a room to store the yarns in, and yarn to store, LOL

    Aunt Kathys last blog post..Tuesday- Thunderstorms and Thumbs

  37. So many skeins of yarn, so much plastic.

    So many knitters, so many opinions.

    Unable to contribute anything useful to this conversation (because it has all been said) I will simple say g’ mornin’ to you and the little missy prissy.

    Pretty socks and shawl.

    Have a great day,
    firefly

    fireflys last blog post..080808

  38. Somewhere I read that new, clean yarn won’t attract moths or other insects if stored unprotected on open shelves. That sounds right to me, because yarn stores don’t seem to get insect infestations, and they probably don’t turn over all of their stock every year. However, I store all of my yarn in Ziploc bags because of carpet beetles, which I have almost, but not quite, eradicated. (The dang things even ate into some acrylic stuff, which I hope was indigestible enough to kill them!) My Ziploc-ed yarn does not seem to deteriorate. One alternative to Ziploc bags would be sweater bags, the kind with nylon panels that allow the contents to breathe. I use these for all finished items. Basically, I think that one is far more likely to lose yarn to insects than to fiber breakdown caused by lack of air circulation. It is often recommended that fiber be stored in paper bags, which allow it to breathe, but I can’t see how paper bags would offer sufficient protection from insects to be worth the trouble.

  39. Remember in the 90′s when everyone *had* to have a wine cellar installed? We could design “yarn cellars” with individual compartments for wool, silk , cotton and blends.

  40. Not only am I guilty of storing yarn in plastic, I’ve been storing some in the vacuume bags for space purposes. Frankly, none of these environments is totally air free, so if yarn breaks down, it is not air, it is moisture and age. (Or if you’ve sealed critters in the bags. Horrors!)

    Cindy in Happy Valleys last blog post..The knitting gods are laughing…..

  41. I try not to store my yarn in plastic bags for the aforementioned – ‘yarn needs to breath’, ‘it may yellow’, etc…
    BUT I do have some in loosely closed clear plastic bags…
    that being said…
    ANYTHING that is stored too long without checking will have SOME sort of problem happen to it, unless it is professionally stored.
    So the best thing to do is store in what you want, but open and fondle or just say ‘howdy’ every once in a while.
    I found that putting scented candles in with the yarn made my yarn smell too much – there is a yarn store that I know that puts ORIGINAL Irish Spring bars on their shelves (the blue ones don’t work). I haven’t tried it yet- but I like that smell so I may try it next.
    I rearrange my yarn enough that I don’t think it is in any danger. If I have so much yarn that it goes ‘bad’ then I have too much yarn.
    :)

    Lises last blog post..Episode 23 Undone

  42. One more reason to pack yarn in zippy bags – to keep the cat fur to a minimum! I started storing yarn in plastic bags because of my dear BB who’s long, long blonde fur was known to cause the wives and girlfriends of some gentlemen visitors (minds OUT of the gutter, please!) to suspect them of illicit liasons…BB has been gone more than a year (sob!) and I’m still finding her fur – now it’s a sweet reminder!
    (((hugs)))

    Knitnanas last blog post..OMG! Cuteness Alert!

  43. I really do like that shawl. It is coming along rather nicely. I also keep a lot of my yarn in ziploc bags and then in bins. I guess if I had to think about why I do it, I would agree with you and say mainly to keep dust and dirt off of it. Also, I have been known to have shopping bags laying around for awhile too, especially after a fiber show. :)

    Danieles last blog post..Nutkins and Swirls….

  44. Ahhh the plastic bag controversy… I store my yarn where ever I can find space.. plastic bins, and a chest of drawers, cardboard boxes and paper bags. when I have yarn for a specific project, I put the yarn and the pattern in a ziplock bag ready for me to start on when the spirit moves me. so far i have had no damage from either the plastic bin or the drawers or the ziplock bags, but I have a rather small stash, and the yarn and fibers gets rotated around alot, so nothing is really stashed long enough to suffer any possible long term plastic storage damage.

  45. What a good idea to use zip ties for an extra measure of security for the wire cubes! Wish I’d thought about that for the ones in my kids’ rooms before a boy innocently walking by with sports equipment caused wholesale collapse of the entire structure when something caught in the wire grid.

    The sock and shawl are beautiful!

    Gayles last blog post..Spring Treasure

  46. Lovely shawl, Wendy! Somehow, I’m having difficulty understanding how zip tying the cubes together will prevent their collapse. Would the cubes not just sag over on the yarn while they collapsed with their zip tied joints?

  47. First of all: what a cute kitty! I have a big, fluffy one myself who really likes to help me with my knitting.

    And it never occurred to me to not store my yarn in plastic bags. I just find them to be very convenient for sorting and storing my (ever-growing) stash. But, then again, I try to be as “green” as possible and I hate drinking out of plastic bottles, so now I’m intrigued…

    Laura Bireks last blog post..Ravelympics, here I come!

  48. Spring 2008 Interweave Knits has info about preserving knits. It says that the best barrier to insects is plastic, but that “plasicizers” generate nitric acid which causes yellowing. So, always have a barrier, such as pillow cases, between your fiber and the plastic storage containers. I don’t have that many old pillow cases….

    suzannes last blog post..Status Report

  49. Hmmmm, after this discussion, I think I had better buy stock in zip lock bags! :o)

  50. Laura from Italy says:

    All my wool is either ziplock bagged or stored in plastic boxes. I have read somewhere that cashmere needs to breathe and it is better not to storage it in plastic bags. It was related to cashmere pullovers, but I think it may be true also for the yarn. I have no cashmere, though… my stock is mainly sockyarn, sweater yarn and a skein of qivuit and another of opossum wool… But if you have any cashmere it is worth finding out which is best for it. I hope this can be helpful.

  51. I prefer to only keep synthetic yarns in plastic or out in the open. For keeping tiny critters at bay, somewhere I read to use the Tyvek type envelopes (e.g., some USPS Priority Mail envelopes). I save all mine, all kinds of sizes, and do so. Then, ideally, keep I them in the cedar closets/chests. Unfortunately, the yarn is not visible. :(

    Cynthias last blog post..Discoveries (pt. 1)

  52. Belated comment: I’m told that plain old misty-white Tupperware(R) won’t damage fabric stored in it. It’s not cheap but I’m seriously considering it for some items of sentimental value. I use Ziploc(R) for my yarn stash, for all the reasons mentioned above.