We’re all aware as makers that crocheting and yarn shopping are two separate hobbies. And many of us have very large yarn stashes—seriously, I’ve seen some pictures on Facebook that make my jaw drop. But, if you are like me, you might sometimes wonder how do I use up all of this yarn in my stash? Especially if you are trying to live a more minimal life, or have limited space to store all that yarn. And, I don’t know about you, but once I’ve bought yarn I do feel guilty if I don’t use it in a project. Especially when I buy pricy yarns.
So how do we use up all of that stash we buy and collect and that sometimes stays in our collection for years? The answer is not always to put it into projects, though of course that’s a great way to use up stash and the way we want to use up stash. But let’s dive a little deeper into this topic and see what alternatives we have when it comes to how we can use up yarn in our stash.
If you are making garments, you should always make a swatch before you start your project to make sure you are meeting gauge. This is a given, and you want to buy enough yarn for your project to be able to make a good size swatch for that project.
But, you can use up yarn in your stash by swatching for different reasons. One of these is to try out a new to you stitch like the feather stitch. You can then keep the swatch for future reference and inspiration. It also gives you an idea of how the yarn works up with different stitches—not all stitches shine with every yarn and vise versa.
Later, you could potentially use these swatches in some sort of scarpy project if you are really not partial to letting those swatches go down the road.
Many makers enjoy making pieces and then gifting them. And if you are one of those people, I applaud you because everything I make is strictly for me! But have you considered giving away yarn? While you might not want to give away specialty yarn or yarn that you especially love working with, if there is yarn sitting in your stash you have no idea what to do with or just aren’t in love with it anymore, giving it away might be a good idea!
I recently gave away a bunch of yarn to an older lady in my building who works with a group that knits and crochets items that are then sent to Indigenous people in need in British Columbia. It made reducing my stash so easy and I felt good about it because the yarn wasn’t going to waste. The ladies get the joy of creating with it, and the finished pieces will be put to good use.
You could also give it to a friend interested in learning to crochet or who just likes the yarn.
Finishing with Yarn
Often when we crochet a piece, we weave in all the loose ends and call it a day. But, finishing a piece really elevates it which is why blocking is so important. But there are other ways to finish a piece that include yarn.
For instance, you could add fringe to a project. A granny square bag can become boho with fringe and more on trend. Shawls are pieces that often beg to be finished with fringe. Even adding fringe to a couple sides of a blanket gives the finished piece another feel and look. Adding fringe eats up a lot of yarn so it might be the perfect way to finish up some projects.
If fringe isn’t your thing, or doesn’t lend itself well to the project, you can consider appliqués. You can crochet these up quick and add them to socks, blankets, hats and bags. This is a great way to make a simple beanie or add that final touch to a bag and use up some yarn that otherwise might sit in stash for another year.
And don’t forget to top off hats with pom poms! Pom poms can also be added to the corners of blankets for a cute look and to the ends of scarves as well.
Throw it Out
Now, I see your outraged face. Hear me out. I am not suggesting you simply throw away your yarn. But, if you have less than half a ball or skein left, you might well consider discarding this yarn. If it’s not enough to make anything with and requires you buying more, think about whether or not you really want to keep the yarn. Will you work with it again? Did you enjoy working with it? What can you make with just those leftovers? Sometimes I ask myself these questions and decide it’s just not worth keeping that bit of yarn. Especially if it’s a less pricy yarn I can easily purchase again if I want to work with a project that the yarn would suit.
So when I say throw it out, I mean throw it out if it’s likely not to be useful to you in the future and can be affordably replaced six months or a year down the road.
What I am talking about really is being intentional with what scarps and leftovers you do keep. For instance, I’ve decided to keep leftovers that are fingering weight and variegated in colour and are a sock yarn. I’m not so worried about ply but I’ve intentionally chose to keep these to one day put into a scarp project. And the reason I chose these to go into a scarp project is because the colours are just too pretty to throw away in my opinion.
Using Your Yarn in Projects
I’ve left this till last because I wanted to try and shift your thinking a little about how we as makers use our yarn and what we can do with it. Not every inch of it needs to worked up into a finished piece no matter how big or small. But of course, we all want to crochet and knit with our yarn.
So take a good look at your stash. Do you have enough of a yarn to put into a sweater, large shawl or blanket? Are there patterns that your suit calls for or suits? Patterns that you actually want to make? If the answer is yes, then earmark those yarns for those projects. If you have yarn stashed that you aren’t sure about, you can consider it for any of the above suggestions, or if it’s a special yarn, start looking for a project you can put that yarn into.
One thing I learned as a collector of yarn and crocheter of things, is that when I used my yarn for a project I really loved, was excited about and suited the pattern, it brought me so much joy. More joy than just throwing a yarn into a pattern because I had it when it might not suit the pattern at all.
Looking for patterns? Be sure to check out patterns on the blog!
It’s about being intentional with what you do with your stash. I’m not always a super organized person and I like to let the moment and creativity guide me. I call it being resourceful. But being more intentional about how I use my yarn has really allowed me to grow as a maker and designer and create pieces that I truly love and use because I’ve given more thought to how to use each particular ball of yarn when I’m thinking of what to crochet next, or what yarn to throw into the latest project to capture my fancy. It’s made me a happier crocheter!
I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how to use up your stash in a way that matches your maker life and needs, and that maybe you are also thinking about changing the way you use, and possibly even buy yarn in the future. Since my husband and I have recently bought a house, I know I will need to go through my stash and make some decisions about what I keep. I’m actually excited about this part of packing and decluttering because it’ll allow me to really tailor my stash into a stash that I love instead of a stash I simply have. I want to have a stash I love and I want YOU to have a yarn stash that you love too.
Which of these ideas are you going to use when using up your yarn stash? Let me know in the comments!