Top 5 Techniques to Maximize Leftover Yarns

Filed in Skill Building by on July 8, 2013 0 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I have LOTS of leftover yarns and I really don’t want them to go to waste. So I’ve got a few techniques for using up leftover yarns to share with you!

Techniques for using up leftover yarns

In less than a month, we are going to be starting the FLY (From Leftover Yarn) Skirt KAL. (See the results of this wonderful KAL here.) For me it means I have to get started on my finished project.  Although I am not guaranteeing that I will have my skirt finished before the start date of August 1, I at least need to be several steps ahead of the participants.

One of the first things on my task list for this project is getting my yarn “ready”. When I know I can work on a project almost exclusively from home, there is not quite as much prep involved.  But I will be traveling a fair bit starting next week, so I need to make this project portable. This means getting my leftovers randomized and ready to knit. There are many techniques for maximizing the beauty of the fabric created from leftover yarns.  These are five of my favorites.

For all of the techniques for using up leftover yarns, group yarns that can live together in a broad color family. Think in terms of generic color descriptions like blue, green or red as opposed to getting too hung up on the subtle differences. Spread them out on a dark surface and it quickly becomes apparent which ones just don’t “feel right” with the group.

Technique 1: Start with two containers, one filled with the yarns you want to utilize and one empty. Without looking, grab a ball (or two if needed to bulk up to the appropriate weight) and use that yarn for a few rows. When done, toss the yarns into the empty container. When the first container is 3/4 empty, dump the remainder into the second container, mix up the balls and start over again.
Technique 2: Assign a number to each ball of yarn. Using a random number generator, create a series of random numbers ranging from 1 to your total number of balls, paired with a number from 1 – 5 to represent to the total yardage to use from that ball. Work with the designated ball for the specified yardage then move on to the next pair in the list.
Technique 3: Combine your leftover yarns with a contrasting solid (preferably a dark color). Utilize a stitch pattern that uses two colors, like a slip stitch or mosaic pattern using the leftovers for one color and the solid for the second color.
Technique 4: Create two groups of colors (e.g. blue/green, light/dark). Cut random but relatively short lengths for each group and hold together in the middle. For each group, tie a loose overhand knot. Pull a strand loose from each group by gently pulling a strand from the knot. Work the project double stranded (one from each group), adding more yarn from each color group as necessary as the color runs out.
Technique 5: Create 3 balls of leftover yarns. The first ball is created with short lengths (1 -2 yds). The second ball uses medium lengths (3 – 5 yds) The last ball is made up of long lengths (5 – 10 yds). Each ball can be the same color group or three different color groups. Working in a simple knit/purl pattern like seed stitch, work one row from each ball (rows 1 – 3) and repeat back with ball #1 starting on row 4 and so on.

Of course there are several other options to choose from.

So let me know, what are your favorite methods for using up leftover yarns in small amounts, or which one of the techniques above are you going to try out?

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