Mar 18, 2011

Using Up Leftover Bits Of Yarn

Stash bust
{I used to have this many remnants of yarn!}

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: Squares or Blankets?

Based on how much yarn is left, decide to do one of two things with it – either use it for a blanket square, or knit it into a stash-busting blanket like the ones I’ve always got going. 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 knit or crochet it into at least one blanket square. The squares go into a box for donation; once the box gets full, I tape it up and send it off to one of my favorite square-taking charities. If I run out of the yarn before a square is done, I just set it aside to be added to with the next remnant.

If I’ve got more than ½ skein left of a specific yarn, I knit or crochet it into my current stash blanket. My first stash blanket was knitted, and while we love it dearly, it seems easier to crochet a stash blanket than knit one. No needles poking out, potentially dropping stitches, and I can start and stop at the middle of a row without much concern. And these larger remnants will give me at least one row {usually two or three} before I run out!

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. This helps keep them from piling up and taking over the stash, and I can always record my skeins as fully used in Ravelry.

Know ahead of time where you’ll be donating your squares. Charities that accept squares may require different sizes, ends to be left hanging, or a variety of other specifics – by knowing ahead of time where you want to donate your squares, you can ensure the charity will take them!

Use simple stitches on both your squares and your blanket. You won’t have to keep a pattern nearby if your stash blanket uses double crochet, and if you work a simple granny square, you won’t have to think about which pattern to use when starting a new square.

Once you know about how much yarn it takes to knit a square, 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!

You may be able to donate your stash blankets right along with your squares – some charities accept fully-formed blankets in addition to squares, so you can package them all together in one large box!

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