Stash is the glory and the bane of the productive fiber artist. There’s never enough stash on hand, and there’s even less room to keep it all in. The colors have to be visible, but the fabric has to be protected from sun fade and humidity changes. My system of plastic storage bins with flip top lids worked fairly well when I was knitting. When I added weaving to the mix, which needs a different fiber preparation process, my system crumbled.
One day at the PTA thrift shop, I found a collection of vacuum storage bags. Some were small, for travel, and used body weight to generate compression. Others were larger and used a vacuum to suck the air out of the bag, creating a more compact package. As it turned out, only half the bags “worked,” and the remaining bags wouldn’t hold a vacuum. I hate to think that someone would donate trash, but the price was still good when divided over the number of bags that did work. I had a partial solution to my storage problem.
The picture below shows a bin full of yellow stash. This is the way I store fiber intended for a hand knit rag rug. The bin is full. The three “next” hand knit rugs will not use yellow, and I already know I have at least 10 more balls of yellow fabric fiber to add to the stash.
I did some research and discovered a gusseted storage bag that compressed to a cube shape, rather than a flat lozenge shape. It’s made by Storage Caddy. The combined reviews across this product category suggested that my odds of these bags holding a vacuum, and being used repeatedly, were at least as good if not quite a bit better than other products. The price was right, too.
I shook the bag fully open, and placed it in a empty storage bin. Then I poured my yellow stash into the bag. The picture below shows what the bin looked like. The stash looks a bit bigger, but that’s because all the balls of fiber fell into the bin. They would compress a bit under their own weight in a day or two.
The picture below shows what the bin looks like after about 60 seconds of vacuum suction. There’s room for a lot more fiber in there!
The one drawback to vacuum storage is that I can’t completely control the final shape of the compressed package. I could not gain as much space again by adding a second vacuum storage bag full of fiber to the bin. In addition, I suspect that the vacuum storage bags themselves will last a great deal longer if they are stored in a smooth, safe lining–like a hard sided plastic bin. The bag I compressed and put on a closet shelf lost its seal overnight. I suspect a nail or splinter is responsible, because all of the other bags from this vendor have performed well.
Note as well that I don’t gain anywhere near as much space when compressing flat fold cloth. I put my bin of black flat fold into a vacuum bag, and while I gained some space, it’s not much. I am happy to know that the fiber is protected from humidity and insects until I’m ready to use it.
Vacuum storage bags aren’t the complete answer to a fiber artist’s prayers, but they are a tiny little step in a useful direction.