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Organizing winter scarves, hats, and mittens

Here in Missouri, it’s starting to feel like autumn. After a blistering hot summer, it actually feels like gloves, hats and scarves may some day be worn again.

I’m a knitter and one of the occupational hazards of being a knitter is that you tend to have a whole lot of handknit scarves, hats and mittens or gloves. (I don’t tend to knit gifts for people for fear they’ll feel they can’t get rid of them if they don’t love them. I hate to burden people with handmade gifts, so I use what I knit.)

As the season changes, I’m starting to think about breaking out those warm items. How about you? It’s a great time to think about accessible storage for your winter accessories. I’m going to give you some ideas on how you might store them, but first I’d like to encourage you to pare down your collection.

Pull out all your family’s gloves, hats, mittens and scarves and do a big sort. Look for the following, with an eye toward discarding or donating:

  • Errant mittens or gloves whose mates have gone missing. (Mittens can be like socks–their mates mysteriously disappear.)
  • Items that are too worn to use another winter.
  • Items that no longer go with your coats.
  • Items that have been outgrown.

Once you’ve weeded out the items that you can discard or donate, think about categories in which you might store the remaining hats, scarves, gloves and mittens. Some ideas:

  • Store color schemes together: Your blue hat, scarf and gloves become one unit, for instance.
  • Sort by heaviness: light-weight gloves and hats together for fall, heavy-duty ones for deep winter.
  • Store each family member’s items together.
  • Store all gloves together, all hats together and all scarves together so you can mix and match.

Now it’s time to think about how to physically store them. All too often, I see these winter accessories strewn along the shelf above the rod in a coat closet. There are definitely ways to improve on that method.

  • Put categories in open, labeled bins or baskets on that shelf. For easy access, don’t cover and stack the bins; just place them side by side. Alternatively, store the baskets on the floor of the closet.
  • Use an over-the-rod shoe holder to store ten different categories. (This is what I do–the photo is my scarf and hat collection.)
  • Use an over-the-door shoe organizer for the inside of the coat-closet door. Each pocket can hold a pair of gloves, a hat, or perhaps a glove/hat/scarf set. Use the lowest ones for small children’s accessories, so they can access them themselves (and put them away).

When it comes to winter accessories, you want to make it easy to put away your items, but you also want them easily accessible. By weeding out the non-essential and opting for simple storage, you can make it easier for your family to get out the door with warm necks, heads and hands.

Janine Adams is a messy professional organizer who loves helping others create order. The co-founder of Declutter Happy Hour, she believes in having as much fun as possible in the organizing process. Check out her web site at Peace of Mind Organizing!

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  38. Martha Sobolow Friedman October 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    I’ve always had a shoe organizer hanging on the inside of the hall closet door. I would put individual sets of gloves, hats, etc. in each pocket and the kids always know where their things are.

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