There’s a dark side to buying enough yarn for a project–sometimes enough turns out to be too much. Rather than let that investment languish in your stash, following are some ways to optimize those leftovers.
Once you have a pile of yarn that felts, you can find numerous free patterns online for felted bags, slippers, and children’s toys and pet toys that will look just fine in an unusual color scheme. Just google free knitting pattern purse (or slippers or whatever) and you’ll have more than enough to choose from.
What about the non-felting yarn? Fear not. These yarns can also be combined into a wide variety of useful objects and delightful gifts. Again, the internet is your best friend for free patterns. Consider sweaters, blankets and hats for babies and children from the leftover superwash wool and durable synthetic yarns. Kids look cute in wildly patterned garments and it’s a great way to play with new color combinations. There is a knitter’s forum that lists projects you can make with 100 yds, 200 yds. etc.
You can select a group of co-ordinating yarns (this is in the eye of the beholder) and knit a multi-colored scarf. A simple scarf pattern is called “13 on 13,” which means you use a bulky or chunky yarn and cast on 13 stitches on size 13 needles. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) alternating different yarns until it’s as long as you like it. This is a great way to get every last ounce of goodness out of those luxury fibers.
Cotton, linen and hemp yarns make great washcloths, which are a surprisingly welcome gift (it surprised me, anyway).
Here’s how to see if two different yarns will knit to roughly the same gauge.
- Take a length of one yarn (about 18 inches) and tie both ends to something–a cupboard knob, chair leg, whatever. This will give you a free hand. You will have a long loop.
- Take another strand of the same yarn and thread one end through the first loop. Now pinch the two ends of this loop together in the other hand. You will have one loop threaded through the other.
- Now twist the ends you’re holding in your hand so you form one twisted strand out of the whole thing.
- Run your fingers over the place where these yarns join and notice how smooth or lumpy the join is. If the yarns are the same gauge, the join should be smooth and almost unnoticeable.
- Now substitute a different yarn for the second strand, twisting the same way.
- Run you fingers over this new join. If it’s lumpier than the first one, your yarns are different gauges. How different and whether it matters depends on your project.
Another great use of leftover yarn is charity knitting.
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