YARN CHICKEN is a high risk game for crocheters and knitters where the winner takes all. Let's face it. At one point, most experienced crocheters or knitters, voluntarily or unwillingly, get involved in this gamble in the fiber arts. For me, the challenge is simple. Will I run out of yarn before completing a chosen project. As I stitch down to the end, the tension and anxiety mount. I ask myself, Will I complete the piece, or will I be forced to engage in some strategic frogging or substitution. The closest I ever got to losing was completing the final edging with a mere 6 inches of yarn left. (I will tell you about that adventure later.) On another occasion, I was left with 3 inches of border, but luckily, I had left a 18 inch tail at the beginning of the work, and I was able to snip the yarn, attatch it, and complete the final border. Whew!
Why would any sane crocheter or knitter engage in such a high risk behavior when the consequences could mean hours of wasted labor and the potential waste of several skeins of yarn? This is especially chancy when the lot has a dye lot. Even if the crafter could find additional yarn, it might not match the body of the work. Most recently, I tackled a scarf which alternated rows of puff stitch with open work double drochet. The pattern was simple, but I had adapted the design from fiberflux.com. The design called for a ball of Lion Brand Scarfie. This yarn was a bulky weight (#5) and was to be worked with a K hook. If I followed those directions exactly my finished product would be a cozy 8.5"x70" acrylic-wool blend that was ideal for wrapping in many style variations. To access this pattern, search for Tea Leaves Scarf by Jennifer Dickerson. The scarf is also a free download from Ravelry. The yarn I wanted to use was Red heart Soft (Plummy) which was a light worsted (#4). I planned to crochet with a J Hook. My finished piece would be 7 " wide and would and would stretch as long as my 2 skeins of yarn allowed. What complicated my plan was the half double crochet edging that I wanted to crochet around the circumference of the scarf. The HDC stitch would give the scarf a finished edge to look neater and more professional.
I really like the texture of the puff stitch and the row of open work that goes into this piece. It was just right to show pink, lilac, and purple strands that came together in a shimmery fiber. I crocheted until I estimated that I had made the scarf as long as I could, allowing for the border yardage. I was pretty confident when I started, and stitched along happily until I made the extra stitches in the last corner and started making my way up along the last side. Even though the consequence would not be too bad for this piece, I began to worry. If I ran short, I would have to rip out the entire border and the last few rows of the scarf before I began to redo the edging. I did finish with a couple of yards remaining. Again, I heaved a sigh of relief and began blocking my new fashion accessory. Please this is the same scarf in both pictures, but the purple comes differently, depending on the background and the light.
Another project that led me to play YARN CHICKEN was my Desert Winds Scarf I crocheted out of Caron Cakes. I followed the pattern and had ample yardage to complete the scarf. Again I decided to finish the the scarf with an edging. This time I chose a picot stitch (3sc, 4 ch and sc in same stitch .... repeat) (http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/my-love-affair-withself-striping-yarn)
Happily I crocheted along. As I neared the end, I held my breath and crossed my fingers. When I crossed the "finish line" I had 6 " of yarn. That was too close for comfort, but I had won the high stakes game of YARN CHICKEN.
A baby sweater that I wanted to knit for a friend's grandson came from 2 skeins of of sweet light blue with aqua specks in a light worsted yarn from my stash. I had purchased it from my neighborhood specialty shop, Yarn Barn in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Unfortunately, the baby had grown before I got around to making the sweater. To make a 6-12 month size, I had to go up a size,. The directions, called for 3 skeins of yarn instead of 2. Still I was willing to take the risk since I stubbornly refused to go back to the store to pay for an extra skein. I figured I would only need an extra ounce at most. The sweater knit up beautifully, but if I wanted to use the yarn to knit the ribbing on the button bands for the cardigan, I would have to secure the yarn for the seams from another source. Since the seams would not show, I decided to assemble the sweater with a scrap of light blue from my stash of odds and ends. The mother-to-be was happy with her gift. The picture she sent me of her son in the sweater showed no signs that I had experienced difficulty -- another successful end to a course of YARN CHICKEN.
I don't usually get into trouble when I am following a pattern's directions exactly. The difficulty comes when I decide to be creative. My textured band scarf was the result of just such a challenge.I was crocheting a long scarf with a partial skein of grey worsted yarn when I realized that the finished piece would be too skinny if I did not get additional yardage. The plan I came up with was to use another remnant of Homespun by Lion Brand for a coordinated textured band and corresponding fringe. Again I had to estimate how wide I could make the the band and still have enough for the fringe. My idea was to make the fringe for the grey worsted with worsted fringe and the fringe for the textured band from the Homespun. In this way The colors would extend from one end of the scarf to the other. Since I had no idea how much yarn I had in the Home Spun piece or in the worsted yarn, I had to guess for both. The resulting scarf was quite attractive, and my daughter received many compliments on her fashion accessory. I had won another game of YARN CHICKEN, actually 2 games in one. (http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/working-with-textures)
One of my most interesting games of YARN CHICKEN involved a baby blanket, constructed entirely out of yarn scraps. I am always looking for a way to empty my scrap pile. This time instead of making my go-to extended Granny Square from the center, I decided to start in the corner. As I executed the design I would go back and forth with cluster stitches on two sides of the growing corner square. I wove in the colors to provide some repetition of a basic color as I introduced new shades. The plan was to create a cheerful, unique, and kind of funky wrap for an infant. The beginning rows were not a problem, but as each set of two Granny Stripes grew larger and larger, it was harder to estimate how much yarn was needed. Occasionally I had to rip and substitute, but the final project has enough color repeat to be pleasing to the eye. I won the game of YARN CHICKEN again. (I don't have a pattern for my crochet around a corner baby blanket at this point, but the pattern-to-be will join my list of projects.) I think this series of victories and problem solving qualifies for a blue ribbon.
What are your experiences with the game of YARN CHICKEN? Have you been able to tough it out, or have you searched near and far for that last remaining matching skein? Please share your photos and reflections with our communities of readers.