Using Up Leftover Bits Of Yarn

Mar 18, 2011
One of the more annoying bits to being a minimalist knitter? All those remnants of yarn you inevitably end up with. Most patterns do not use up full skeins of yarn, and knitters are often left with half skeins, quarter skeins, or even just a few yards of yarn to place back in the stash pile.

Over the last year I’ve made it my mission to knit and crochet my way through these remnants of yarn lurking in the corners of my stash – no matter how small or large your stash is, know that you’ll have these lurkers as well! In an effort to knock these remnants out of my stash, I’ve set up a very simple plan of attack – and today I’m going to share it with you! By following this three-step process, you’ll be able to use up every last piece of your yarn when done with a project, clear through your stash faster, and even find projects for some of those lurking half skeins!  

Step One: Assess The Situation Do you have a large portion of a skein left when finished with a project, or is there less than ¼ remaining? Knowing what you’re working with will make the process easier. If you’ve got a large remnants stash problem, I suggest dividing it up into piles, one for ½ skeins or more, and one for those smaller bits of yarn. This will make it a bit easier for you to use these little bits up faster.  

Step Two: Hats or Stripes? Based on how much yarn is left, decide to do one of two things with it – either use it to make a baby or kid-sized hat, or use it as stripes in a larger, adult-sized hat. I do this on the fly, guestimating if the remnant is more than ½ skein, or less. If it’s less than ½ skein, I add it to my ‘meant for stripes” jar on my bookshelf. Once that jar is full, I grab some grey yarn (which I always use as the base color in my striped hats), and work up some ribbing. Then I use the leftover bits of yarn to make stripes of varying sizes before using the grey yarn to finish off the hat. If I’ve got more than ½ skein left of a specific yarn, I knit up a baby or kid-sized hat. I use my Basic Beanie hat pattern for this (included in Section Four of this handbook), always adding these hats to my latest donation bin.    

Step Three: Move on to the next! If you’ve got quite a few remnants laying around, I suggest working through them all before you start your next project. This way you can clear up space in your yarn storage area, and you’ll probably have a box of squares you can send off by the time you’re done! Be sure to keep your stash-busting projects in their own space, so you can easily move from your finished stash busting item onto the next project, and you’ll never have to worry about random half-balls of yarn again!  

Some helpful hints:

I use up my remnant balls as soon as I’m finished with the project they came from as often as I can. This helps keep them from piling up and taking over the stash, and I can always record my skeins as fully used in Ravelry.

Use easy-to-memorize patterns. Part of the reason I’m able to get through so many hats each year is thanks to my using the same four or five hat patterns on repeat. I know when I make a baby hat that exactly how many stitches to cast on, how far to knit before I decrease, and how the decreases will work. Same goes for kid-sized hats and those for adults. Once you know about how much yarn it takes to knit a hat, using a food scale can help you determine if the yarn you’ve got on-hand will finish one. This takes the last bits of guesswork out of the process!

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