My yarn scrap pile is formidable. Remnants from completed projects are outgrew their original container and now overflowing from a 23 inch long x13 inch wide x 13 inch high bin. Many knitters and crocheters brag or complain about their stashes. I understand those who love their craft and who are drawn to acquire the beautiful new skeins of yarn. While I am apt to purchase some of the new trending fibers, at present I am more likely to buy skeins on sale, when I can envision a future sweater, cowl, blanket, or shawl. These acquisitions do not bother me. I know that once I have embarked on and completed a large scale project, many skeins will leave my yarn storage bins. However, most projects do not use up every last bit of yarn. Scraps vary in size from just a few yards to almost a complete skein. They vary in weight from DK to Bulky and from the lightest and brightest to the darkest colors. Why don't I simply throw away these left-overs? I have paid for the yarn. I might need that color to crochet or knit a stripe, or flower, cuffs, or some other design element. I don't want to buy another skein if I have stockpiled yardage that will do the job. Since I am both a very enthusiastic crocheter and knitter, I have completed many projects in the last couple of years. Hence, I have accumulated a large collection of remnants, and the remnant pile seems to have taken on a life of its own.
Last week I was determined to take control of the situation. When I dumped out the bin on top of the desk top, the heap that covered the desk was 15 inches high. The pile also included random crocheted flowers, pompoms, unadorned hats, and a scarf that needed to be frogged for its yarn. Decision time: Do I discard the entire pile, without a care, to neaten up my space, or do I dig in and attempt to use as much yarn as possible in a focused effort to transform the yardage into useful and attractive pieces. The fall craft fair season is gearing up, I decided to make as many small accessories as possible. My inventory includes many beautiful scarves, shawls, hats, and baby sweaters . However, many craft fair attendees are looking for an inexpensive gift. I couldn't even calculate the cost of this left over yarn since I had used the bulk of most batches for larger projects. In essence these materials were a bonus. the critical cost element would be my labor. Making batches of small items can be even more time consuming than finishing off a scarf , shawl, or blanket. At least with these projects, I knew when I was done. Happily, I would crochet the final trim, add the last fringe, or piece together and sew buttons on that baby sweater. I was excited with my accessory boutique plan, but I could crochet or knit endlessly and still not use up most of the scrap pile. Optimistically, I proposed to myself that two weeks of concentrated effort should be enough to make a sizeable dent in the yarn scrap pile. I would work diligently for a week. Then I would take a week off to work on one project and come back for a second week of yarn scrap pile marathon. At the end of that time, I would dump most of the unused yarn.
As I causally surveyed the yarn scrap pile, a ball of mint green worsted caught my eye. I had sufficient yarn to crochet a one year old's baby hat. A ball of white would be enough for the rolled lacy flower. If I hoped to make headway on my mission, I would have to use any available time. As my husband and I were joining friends for an outdoor concert, I packed my yarn and lighted crochet hooks along with our folding chairs and picnic dinner. As I tapped my foot to the tribute songs for Bruce Springstein, I was able to crochet my Double Crochet beanie even in the dusk and darkness. Several fellow concert attendees stopped by to watch with amazement as I clicked away with lighted hook. When we packed up to go home, I had finished the beanie. The next day I would make the white flower and affix a daisy button to the center.
I love fingerless gloves, and the turquoise and light acqua bands from my self-striping baby blanket project would be sufficient for the cuffs and flowers for a new pair. There was also enough worsted black to make the hand in a cluster stitch. I am still working on the directions for this pattern for later publication, but I continue to follow my own writtern directions to make sure that they are clear to a crocheter who is not familiar with the pattern. By Saturday evening, I had attached the black buttons to the center of the flowers. Now I had two projects to show for my efforts. The workmanship was great. The projects were attractive, but I had a long way to go to accomplish my goal.
I still needed an accessory that had sale potential and could easily be replicated. My search of Pinterest's visual data base resulted in two ideas. The first was a set of colorful spiral hair ties for girls' pony tails or bunches. The ties could be used singly or in a combination of two different colors. I had several small balls of yarn with just the right amount of yarn to crochet a tie. Danyel Pink Designs features an easy to follow free set of directions that I was able to execute on the first try. (http:www.danyelpinkdesigns.com/2012/04/crochet-pattern=hair=spirals.html) I will revisit this project as I prepare for the craft fairs, but I wanted to offer several different accessories.
Hair scrunchies can also dress up a pony tail. There are many different styles. using varying amounts of yarn.One of my favorites is a three line pattern that requires a elastic covered band, yarn, G crochet hook, and a tapestry needle for sewing in ends. In row 1, single crochet yarn around the elastic band and slip stitch to join. In row 2, crochdet 3 Double Crochet stitches in each stitch around and slip stitch to join. In the final third row, again crochet 3 Double Crochet stitches in each stitch around. Slip stitch to join. Fasten off, cut yarn, leaving a few inches, and weave in end. Trim. The finished scrunch is substantial and attractive. As an alternative, I changed the color of the last round to some glitter yarn that i have left over. This will provide a bit of glam to the scrunchie. There are so many varieties to this hair accessory. When i revisit the Scrap Pile Challenge in a couple f weeks, I will offer some new patterns.
My scrap pile also revealed some large store-bought pom poms, star buttons, and two navy beanies. As I rarely have hats for boys, these gender neutral hats now were fixed up to sport their new decorations. I have a few more pompoms left. I probably have some other unadorned hats. I really like this look.
Finally, I spilled out an entire bag of crocheted flowers. After a trip to the dollar store, I was able to attach them to elastic bands or clips. Some of the larger orphan flowers I attached to head bands. You all know about my love for self-striping yarn. I yarn left from my mismatched gloves, to crochet headbands for the flowers in the pile.
So now after a week of hard work, I have made a small dent in my scrap yarn pile. I really like the pieces that I have crocheted, but much work still remains. There is a lot of yarn left. One problem in writing a blog post about many small pieces is that it seems to take every available minute until writing, photographing, and posting time. For the next week, I plan to switch back to a single project before I complete my scrap pile challenge.
Please share your scrap pile experiences or confessions. What do you do with your leftover yarn? In previous posts I shared my knitted pattern for using scraps for the wrist and finger cuffs of a pair of fingerless gloves.(http://www.lilcreates.com/lillians-blog/knitting-with-scrap-yar-free-pattern) I also crocheted an extended granny square blanket, working around a corner square. (http://www.lilcreates.com/lilliansblog/yarn'chicken-a-high-risk-game-for-crocheters-and-knitters) Do you save or discard your scraps? What are your favorite scrap yarn projects?