Tag Archives: scraps

Apparently It’s Leftovers Month

I feel like I’ve been talking about using up leftovers a lot lately.  I suppose, I have been trying to use up my stash before I go buy more (I’m almost out of space in my yarn bins).

And this week isn’t any different.

Over the years I’ve collected a bunch of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in a selection of natural heathered colors from off-white to dark, chocolate brown.  I’ve used this yarn in a bunch of projects- mostly blankets, and no matter how carefully I plan, I always end up with a bunch of half-skeins leftover.  I even had several half-skeins of the same colors, but different dye lots.

I had to figure out what to make with this ragtag bunch of yarn.  Anything fancy, like a sweater, was out because of the weird amounts of each color yarn.  Anything that took a lot of planning was out, too- I wasn’t in the mood to do a lot of math on this one.

So, I arranged the yarn in a gradient from lightest to darkest, dug out my crochet hooks and just started making a granny square.

And kept on going- using up one skein after another.  (The little bits leftover are going to turn into another Mother Bear– I think I have a problem.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe blanket ended up about 4 feet by 4 feet- a nice size for a lap blanket or maybe a baby blanket (though I don’t know if I’d give a baby an itchy wool, non-washable blanket).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOllie seems to like it.  He saw me taking pictures and came over to give it the official “Dog Seal of Approval.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And then he fell asleep- because he leads a very high-energy, stressful life.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat have you been doing to use up your leftover skeins of yarn?


I am convinced that every knitter is a bit of a pack-rat.  Or at least has some pack-rat-ish tenancies.  I catch myself doing it all the time, and have to consciously make myself stop it when I go to far.

I’m not talking about buying more yarn than you could ever knit (which would be a problem, but I’m not convinced that it is possible.  At least, I haven’t reached a critical mass of unknit skeins yet).  I’m talking about those little bits of leftover yarn that you end up with at the end of every project that you are sure you can use for something else.  You can’t just throw away 50 feet of merino hand-spun.  That would be heresy!

So, when those little bits of yarn get ready to overflow your craft bin/closet/room, what to do?

I organize my scraps by weight (worsted together, sock yarn together, etc), then i pick a project.

I am a big fan of scrappy afghans to use up my little leftover bits.  My Call the Midwife-inspired blanket sits on my couch, and used up approximately a metric ton of sock yarn scraps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m in the midst of making a great big Yo Yo Lapghan with all my worsted weight scraps.  I can make a handful of yo-yos during a rerun of Law and Order.  And, once I have about 2000 (no joke… they’re pretty small), I’ll crochet them together.  I like this pattern especially because, even though I’m making thousands of little circles, if you do it right, you have no ends to weave in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother afghan that people are going head over heels for is the Beekeeper’s quilt.  I’ve never made one; I think knitting that much at such a tiny gauge without ending up with a pair of socks (or ten) would give me an aneurism, but if that’s your jam, I say: Go for it!  It looks like a super cozy blanket when it’s done.DSC_0518_medium2[1]Don’t want to make a blanket?  Think about stripes.  Match up your scraps of a similar weight, and make a cool abstract striped sweater, or a pair of fraternal twin socks.

Whatever you do, just don’t let the yarn just languish on your shelf.  Yarn is for knitting (and crocheting) and keeping you cozy and warm, so let it do what it wants to do!

A Recipe for Anarchy

This recipe is for a basic yarn bombing piece.  I’ve purposefully neglected to give you yarn requirements, gauge measurements, sizes and other specifics.  Because, well, this is graffiti, and should be sort of free form.  And rules are for squares.  So, feel free to change, modify, add to, and alter to your heart’s content.  Change is good!  Anarchy!  Down with the Man!



Yarn-As much or as little as you like.  Don’t use anything expensive, since it’ll get gross out in the rain, and may be torn down quickly.  Odds and ends that you have laying around will work fine.  I used some Red Heart that I had laying around, waiting to be used.

Needles- To match your yarn.  I recommend a large gauge, so that your knitting goes quickly and you can cover a larger area.  I used 10 1/2.

Crochet hook (optional)- In a gauge to match your needles.

Buttons (optional)-Again, nothing fancy or expensive.  If you have some laying around that you don’t mind parting with, feel free to use them.  Or, you can make your own buttons using an old plastic container (like a milk jug or other food container).  Cut out circles about an inch around, and use a hole punch (or a knitting needle) to poke two holes in each button.  They won’t be pretty, but, they’ll do the job.

Scissors and tapestry needle.


1. Cast on any number of stitches.  This should be easy and free-flowing, so don’t worry about gauge or where the knitting is going to end up.   I’ll just make something, and then find somewhere to put it.  However, if you have a particularly sad tree or something that you think needs a little knitted excitement, feel free to measure the circumference of the tree, make a gauge swatch, and figure out the number of stitches you’ll need to go around it.

2. Knit for a while.  Let your creativity take over!  Change colors, mix patterns together, do things that you wouldn’t usually do.  Think of this as an opportunity to “sketch” with your needles.  Here are some ideas that you might want to include:

  • Stripes
  • Ribbing
  • Lace patterns (How cool would a tree look covered in gigantic lace?  I just thought of this… and I might go try this soon.)
  • Cables
  • Intarsia, Fair Isle, or other Color work
  • Adding beads or other unconventional materials

3.  When your piece is finished, cast off loosely.

4. Optional-Use the crochet hook to edge the whole piece with a single crochet edge.  You can use this to burry any yarn tails that you may have, so you don’t have to actually sew them in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5. Optional- Add buttons and button holes.  You can skip this step if you want to sew your piece directly onto your tree/light pole/sign post. If you want buttons, attach them to one side of your piece (mine are on the right in the above picture).  On the opposite side of the piece, make some button loops.  You have two options:

  • Use the crochet hook to make loops in the edging.  Make another row of single crochet along the edge.  When you reach a spot where you want a button hole, chain 3 stitches, then continue doing the single crochet edging.
  • Using your tapestry needle and a length of yarn, you can add simple button loops as follows:  Sew in one end of the yarn.  Wrap the yarn around your non-dominant thumb, right down by your knitting.  Sew other end of the yarn.  You’ll end up with a 1” loop of yarn hanging off the side of your knitting.  This loop will act as your buttonhole.


6. Sew in any ends that haven’t been sewn in already.

7. Install your work.  This is the sneaky part.  I recommend doing it under cover of darkness.  But it’s up to you.  Find where you want to put your knitting.  Trees in parks are good, or maybe there is a bike rack near your house that needs a little perking up.  Look for something with a circumference that is roughly equal to the width of your knitting.  When you have found a good spot for you knitting, install your graffiti!

  • If you have buttons:  Button the piece to your tree/pole etc.  Easy!
  • If you didn’t put on buttons: Using a long piece of yarn, sew the piece into place.  A simple whip stitch works well.  Work quickly!

8. Run away!

9. Come back the next day to appreciate your work.  Take pictures.  Pretend to just be a passer-by who is tickled by the cool knitting.