Seems like no matter which pattern you use or follow, you’re likely to have scraps, ends, and even partial skeins left over.
If you’re anything like me, you use a ball winder to cake your leftovers and safely store them somewhere. And let’s be honest, many a skein have died a slow, painful, and lonely death waiting on me to return and come up with some sort of creative use for them. Many turn into yarn ties for handspun skeins, or less occasionally some sort of embellishment.
But why not turn yarn odds and ends into works of art or at least functional entities?
Historically, handcrafted items were a necessity. As we transitioned away from leather clothing, we learned how to take various fibers and bind them together. I mean, the Egyptians made rope as early as 4000 to 3500 BC from water reed fibers. Hemp, date palms, flax, grass, papyrus, leather, or animal hair – all could be leveraged.
Eventually, we started making thinner and thinner “ropes” aka yarn and thread, which we then wove into fabrics, thick and thin. Blankets, quilts, clothing – all started from the same humble beginnings.
These days, sustainability is a big issue for the planet. We’re encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle. There are entire subcultures of folks who spend their weekends in the thrift stores buying clothing that they then upcycle into something new.
The same can be done with your yarn, fiber, and fabric scraps.
We are all guilty of getting excited at the prospect of going to the yarn store for more provisions (aka stash.) But if you have a sizable stash, it’s possible you have what you need to make or create something beautiful right now. You might also look to your previous creations. I recently found a scarf I’d made years ago that was sitting in storage. I decided to get it out and deconstruct it, and turn the yarn into something I would wear today.
It’s important to use up those left-over yarns from previous projects. And fairly easy to do.
Throwing away yarn is the same as throwing money away
Throwing your project ends and mini-skeins of yarn away is wasteful. A much better option is to find a project where you can best utilize those scraps and make them into something beautiful and useful. What those bits and bobs become depends on what you have in your scrap stash.
Even one or two inch bits can be used. I often use them as stitch markers, or stuffing for amigurumi crochet creatures and dolls.
Organizing is key
For your larger bits, It’s easiest to keep them sorted into color groups or groups that at least look pleasant together. I’ve found that most of the time people tend to like certain colors or color ranges. That means their stash can also (usually) find rough color groupings to fall into. Don’t worry about trying to jam every scrap in a group. After all, you occasionally need to be able to snip a foot or two of a yarn without worrying about sabotaging your project.
Think about what you want to make
Next, start looking for patterns (or make your own) where you can mix and match colors. Scarves and blankets are sometimes really good options. Something as simple as a granny square can allow you the latitude to create both small and larger squares (depending on the amount you have) as well deal with yarns of different weights (like chunky yarn with worsted yarn), colors, and textures (like cotton yarn with wool yarn). Use a neutral color to join the squares, such as black, white, or cream and you’ll still be able to join them all together.
- Granny square or simple stitch blankets
- Create a mandala for your wall
- Create a stash busting scarf
- Create your own “yarn cake”
- The possibilities are ENDLESS.
Learn something new
If you’re concerned about the number of knots that you might have in your project, consider learning the Russian Join – which will keep you from having to weave in ends (which I know we all hate.)
Swatch Swatch Swatch
It’s fun to swatch and try out different stitch patterns and see how the yarns interplay. Combine colors and techniques to get ideas about what you could make with all the scraps you have of one color or another. But crochet and knit are not your only options for using up those ends. Weaving has also become very popular, with local yarn stores often carrying affordable weaving options.
Get more information
Check out my board of scrap yarn projects for more inspiration.
Christy R. Hall is the owner of Hand Cramp Crafts and fancies herself to be a String Wrangler, and an all-around fiber phreak. In her free time, she spins yarn (both literally spinning fiber into yarn, as well as, writing), crochets for charity, watches silly cat videos, looks at pictures of Corgis, and plays PC and console games. Her current (ongoing) favorites are Skyrim and Elder Scrolls Online.