That terrible feeling you get when working a project that you realize you will use your your last ball of yarn up before getting to the end of the project…maybe you keep going anyway, hoping it will be just. long. enough. This is what we call playing “yarn chicken”.
It is especially common when working with yarn from the stash. That is when there is usually no hope of finding another ball. In this installment of Stashbusterology I show you a way to choose and work a pattern in stripes to use up unequal and mismatched colors of yarn without worrying about running out!
The two examples are baby blankets using acrylic four-ply yarn in assorted colors. Both are crocheted, but you can just as easily use knitted patterns the same way.
You can estimate the amount of yarn by weight if you don’t know the yardage: work a swatch then weigh it, multiply it’s weight times the number of swatches it will take for the size blanket you want. For example, if your 3″ x 4″ swatch weighs 1.5 oz and you want a 36″ x 48″ blanket, you will need 36/3 * 48/4 squares = 12 x 12 = 144. The weight of yarn needed is 1.5 x 144 = 216 oz. This is an approximation, so round up to make sure.
Project A. Pink and white arches pattern.
Pick a pattern that has two different pattern rows and at least three colors of yarn. Use the color you have the most of for one of the rows. Plan on alternating the other two (or more) colors in some way relatively proportional to their quantity. For example if you have light and dark pink in about 1/3 to 2/3, do one pattern row in light pink for every two in dark pink. The pattern I used here (from Crochet Magazine Best-Ever Afghans) has a chained row and a shell row that alternate. I used an off-white fuzzy yarn for the chained row and alternated different numbers of rows of dark pink, light pink and white. Groups of one, three, five or seven rows look nice.
Chain or cast on desired number of stitches and work your color pattern for a few inches. Now pick up stitches in the back of your foundation chain or cast on edge and work exactly the same pattern the other direction. Keep alternating working a few rows on each side.
Here is what the middle of the blanket looks like:
When you get close to running out of one of the colors of yarn, make sure you will have enough to work the matching pattern on the opposite side, or stop. Finish out the pattern and bind off or continue the pattern without that color (or add in another color–in my case the white) until you reach the desired size. Add a border if it suits your fancy and/or if you have any matching yarn left!
Here is the finished product folded in quarters.
You can see that I changed the stripe pattern a couple of times. It still ended up looking nice!
Project B. Blue, turquoise and purple corner-to-corner blocks pattern.
The other way I approached using up small amounts of stash yarn was using a corner-to-corner pattern. Usually you increase to the middle then decrease to the opposite corner. I just work two pieces from the corner to the hypotenuse and sewed them together at the middle.
For this project, I had the purple and blue yarn from my mother-in-law’s stash and added the white and turquoise (Caron Pound of Love) that I had fairly large balls of left over from another project.To make sure the pattern was even from both sides, I worked a few rows on each side alternately. I started with a blue-white-purple-white-turquoise-white pattern with skinnier stripes of the white. When I only had enough blue and purple left to do one more row of each on each side, I finished the middle with a wider stripe of turquoise. Again, you can see that I had to change the pattern, but it still looks nice.
I also ended up working the border on opposite sides in different colors. This took a little trial and error but I really wanted to use up the rest of the purple. And it turned out looking nice, too.
Don’t be afraid to give it a try! Show your stitch’n’bitch pals your progress and get their feedback on how it looks and keep bustin’ that stash!
Share you pictures with us, too.