Monday, August 13, 2007

Leftovers, Snippets, and Scraps

Every knitting project I complete leaves me with some amount of leftover yarn. In some cases dealing with the leftover yarn is easy. When I knit my Clapotis, I ended up with only a couple of inches of yarn left over and it was easy just to toss away the remaining scraps.

But in some cases I just don’t know what to do with the leftover yarn. There seems to be this inner pack rat in me that won’t let the scraps go. Instead theses scraps are getting wound up into balls and placed in baskets, bowls, and vases all around my craft room. I know some of it will never be used, but how much yarn needs to be leftover to be worth saving?

Lizard Ridge left me with a bucket full of leftovers balls of yarn in various sizes and colors. I did save all of these and hope to some day knit a crazy colored felted bag or cushion cover with the project remnants – perhaps even using the pattern from the Lizard Ridge afghan.

I have found a use for my Sock knitting leftovers. I always end up with varying amounts of yarn left after knitting a pair of socks. It all depends on the yarn I start out with, the pattern I’m using, and the size socks I’m knitting. It does seem though, that I am always left with a good amount of yarn, too much really to just casually toss into the trash. So I came up with a plan for my leftover sock yarn. I’ll be knitting squares with the leftovers for an afghan. Knitting baby booties and hats would also be a nice thing to do with the sock yarn leftovers.

But larger projects I find are leaving me with anywhere from a few yards to a couple of extra skeins. When I knit Wicked earlier this year I bought a few extra skeins of yarn because it was my first sweater and I had heard it was a good idea. It was a good idea too. I ended up needing some of that extra yarn but ended up with two full skeins and a partial left over.

Now, I’m not going to throw out two untouched skeins of yarn, but I don’t want a matching scarf or hat. Maybe I can knit a scarf or hat as a gift. Possibly I can give away or trade any full skeins and they can become someone else's delima. But what about the partial skein? Is it okay to throw away a half a skein of yarn? I don’t really imagine using it for anything, but I feel bad just tossing out 50 yards of yarn. How much is too much to simply toss out?

What got me thinking about all this is I’m currently knitting a shawl in four different colors of mercerized cotton and realized I will end up with a full skein of one color and partial skeins of the other colors when I’m finished. I don’t really want to save any of it. I just want to toss it out. But I decide to see what you do with your scraps before I do the whole baby and bath water thing. So, what do you do with the leftover yarn after a project is complete?

22 comments:

Dave said...

I usually chuck them. The psychological weight of those scraps can be directly opposed to their actual weight.

Bezzie said...

I cleaned out my little balls this weekend too and wrestled with this. I stuck 'em all in a ziplock gallon bag and have dedicated them all to use for Hats For Alex.

My partial skeins get used for the same thing. You never know with the partial skeins. I purchased a couple of partial skeins from the destash blog for a project I was working on in a yarn of a discontinued color. Maybe try to get rid of it before you chuck it?

elizabeth said...

Save it! You never know when you might want to knit a log cabin blanket and those scraps would be perfect!

Heather Lynne said...

I use my scraps for log cabin blankets a la Mason Dixon. I just knit a side with one or two scraps until it is gone, then onto the next color. They make great doggie blankets or picnic blankets.

Sue J. said...

I save all my scrap yarns, especially sock, and knit them into either baby hats or log cabin squares of various sizes. The heavier yarns also get saved for log cabins. I'm currently working on one for Milo.

Stephanie said...

I sent all of my worsted scraps to a lady who makes teddy bears and gives them to kids in hospital. That way they were out of my way but still out there doing some good. Just couldn't simply toss them out!

Heather said...

Mine are in my stash tubs, with no real plan in mind. I suppose if I got organized, I could find someone to take them. I don't knit blankets or scarves, so they aren't really any use to me. But, getting that organized would take a lot.

Lisa said...

Oh no! Don't throw them out! If you know any knitters who freeform, or if you ever intend to try it out, leftovers are perfect. As a knit and crochet freeformer, I don't even think of them as leftovers. They're just yarn I'll use in future projects-
Lisa at www.stringamajig.blogspot.com

Sherry said...

I save everything, so I'm not the person to ask about throwing things away. Items I know I can't use I donate. The scraps of yarn can come in handy for making squares (I used lots of 'extra' yarn in the squares I made for the Rebuilding Greenburg Kansas drive).

A log cabin afghan made from misc. scraps could be fun. I guess my motto is: "you just never know when you'll need some extra this or that. If you throw it out, you're sure to need/want it sooner").

Monika said...

I can't even toss out the few inches left, after weaving in the ends. I've got a tall glass vase where I throw those in, with time it will be pretty and colorful (or so I imagine). I have another glass vase where I put left overs of a few yards. Sock left overs go into a platic bag, and I guess I have a left over stash as well, because sometimes as you said, there's even 1 or 2 whole skeins left over. So I've got my normal stash, my left over stash, and the slowly growing hand spun stash. ;o)
I'm even sinking so low, that I would take over somebody elses left overs, it's sick really! ;o)

angelarae said...

I usually keep the leftovers...don't ask me why. I have used leftovers to knit other things, though. The phlox socks were knit with leftover cascade fixations...maybe I am not as bad as I think I am.

Ang

Avrienne said...

I save everything longer than a single yard. Small impulse projects, swatches to test out a stitch pattern, freeform work, bags, mittens, multicolor scarves, it's all good.

All the bags seen on my blog in recent weeks have come from my leftovers :)

Mom said...

I'm a quilter by nature so of course I save everything. I did just got rid of several boxes of fabric to a lady for her church. They do projects for needy folks, kids etc and they were excited to get this. I have to believe that their are knitters that do that kind of work too. Maybe if you keep it organized in bags or vases by color or weight and idea will come to you when you see it all together.
Don't look at it and feel badly because you aren't using it - look at it and think about all the projects you've completed to get that quanity of scraps!!
Knit a bunch of smaller things and sell them at a market in town????

The_Add_Knitter said...

If I can squeeze a pair of baby socks, I do that. Otherwise they just hang around until I get overly annoyed and throw them out!

Stacey said...

you can definitely swap the leftovers - even partial skeins....I plan on making a pair of crazy socks using a bunch of leftovers eventually...

gilraen said...

I keep them or pass them onto a friend who is knitting a blanket purely from scraps of sock yarn. I also use the little colourful yarns to tie up a few stitchmarkers as token gifts. :)

I like the decorative quality of your wire basket full of scrap balls. :)

Ava said...

What a pretty pail of yarn! I've decided to use my leftovers for baby things if I have enough, Barbie doll clothes for charity, or add to a mitered square piece that will probably turn into a blanket.

Batty said...

Fun, and very colorful! Baby socks are a good idea, but personally, I think I'd try to knit insanely colorful adult socks out of all the colors.

Soo said...

I gasped when I read Dave's blase "I usually chuck them"...Egads.

Of course, in truth I think he's right. I have so much leftover yarn that I expect I will never use and it just sort of haunts me. It should be useful. But it isn't.

But I still won't chuck it!

Anonymous said...

I love leftover yarn it's a challence. What to do with it? Sometimes you can combine different yarns for a completely different project. Same weight yarn can be made into blanket. Wool can be used for felted objects or decoration (like flowers).

It comes in handy if someone wants you to teach them how to knit. Then you have scrap yarn ready to go.

But if I can't imagine (or don't want to) using the yarn again I toss it. No hesitation. I might as someone first if they want it. This doesn't happen often.

Sonja
handavinnublogg.blogspot.com

Lazuli said...

Thanks for asking this; I struggle with the same quandary. I'd save them - but I understand your desire to just chuck 'em, too! I usually save the remainders unless it's only a few inches. What I'm not good at is saving notes about what the little balls are, or about keeping them organized, or about using them in small projects! Which explains why they give me some amount of angst!

Vicki said...

Come on over to my blog. I'm putting together a list of free knitting patterns on the web to use up those pesty bits and pieces.
http://simpleknits.blogspot.com
Vicki