I knit a lot and virtually every day.
Some of my knitting uses thrifty, frugal options, but some of it includes luxury handspun alpaca. It is my hobby and whilst I do try to source eco-friendly alternatives (I never buy standard cotton for dishcloths because it’s eco-footprint is so bad) I have bought some wonderful expensive and luxury yarns for my hobby over the years. I’ve even bought a few and had them posted from the US because Socks that Rock is really the best sock yarn I’ve ever used and you can’t buy it in the UK (I’m weaning myself off this habit though and haven’t bought any yarn for over 6 months – I’m pleased you agree that is a REALLY LONG TIME!)
But I never throw any yarn away. I am a master at stretching out yarn and finding ways to use up the leftovers once a project is done. Like with food and garden prunings there is no such thing as yarn waste.
This post is a list of my 3 tips for using up yarn and 3 patterns which are really good at making the most of every scrap.
1. The Beekeeper Quilt – by Tiny Owl Knits. This is a paid for pattern, but it is worth every penny. Not only because I love this design, it is modular and therefore easy to knit whilst out and about, but of all the patterns I’ve ever knitted, this is the best pattern for using up leftovers.
Firstly it is made of tiny hexapuffs knitted in sock yarn. In my knitting career I’ve knitted about 90 pairs of socks (I know!) that is a lot of leftover sock yarn. Some of my leftover sock yarn went into darning but darning doesn’t use it all up. This project is perfect because I can knit hexapuffs out of all my fabulous colours put them all in a basket and only start to make up the blanket afterwards at which point I can pick the colours and place there where I want to. I’m not limited in placing colours next to each other in the order in which I complete my original projects that generated the leftovers!
Not only do I knit with the leftover yarn but the teeny tiny scraps of yarn which get snipped off after sewing in the ends… they get used to stuff the hexapuffs.
AND… I fill some of the hexapuffs with dried lavender from my garden to give the blanket a lovely smell and keep the moths out.
This is the ideal pattern for using up things and just look at how gorgeous it is!
2. The Oddball Spiral blanket – by Sarah Bradbury (free pattern). This is my current big project. Up until recently I had a huge bag of leftover Aran weight wool and no idea what to do with it. I tried to knit a stripey vest but I couldn’t get enough colour repeats out of the yarn I had left so I ripped it out for this blanket. There are only 9 live stitches at any time and the pattern is easy to memorise. You will end up with a giant blanket if you keep going (like me) and I’ll probably finish this in the Winter now as it is too hot to work on. But if you don’t mind the blanket looking a bit mismatched then use long and short colour repeats where you have bigger and smaller partial balls of yarn. I think because of the geometric design you can pull off irregular colour patches which only makes this pattern more brilliant.
3. Baby Trousers – by Mini Magpie (free tutorial). This is not a knitting project. This is what to do when knitting goes wrong… so horribly wrong.
Many moons ago, before I was as wise as I am today, I knitted a wonderful Hoodie in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. The pattern was incredible and I will knit it again one day. The yarn was super soft… but that was the only good thing about it. It pilled (went bobbly) and looked terrible after I’d worn it precisely once. I kept wearing it because it was warm and I’d worked so hard on the amazing patterned cables. And one day in a fit of helpfulness Josh washed it for me. Pure wool, 20% cashmere in the washing machine. I think you can imagine what happened (I won’t describe it for the delicate amongst you but let’s say it involved, felting, shrinking and a lot of swearing).
It is a testament to my stubborness that I’m still wearing it about 7 years later despite the fact it is clearly a couple of inches too short, everywhere. The yarn cost a fortune, the jumper took ages to knit I wasn’t going to give up on it that easily. But I think the time has come to say goodbye.
As I said above no wool is wasted.
I’m going to cut the (now felted) jumper up to create the trousers in the above tutorial (possibly even dungarees if I can work it out) and then cut up the rest to use as stuffing in the beekeeper quilt!