Category Archives: scrap yarn

Upcycled Bag

Here’s a little experiment I tried with some of that t-shirt yarn (aka “tarn”) I made a few weeks ago. All I did was coil it and secure it into place with single crochet stitches and cotton yarn.

Drawstring tarn bag

Drawstring tarn bag

Well, that’s how I built up the sides.

I started working the bag at the bottom, and added a few chain stitches here and there to increase the diameter of the spiral. Once it was the width I wanted, I switched to single crocheting thought the spaces (as opposed to through the loops like a standard single crochet).

Adding chains between some of the single crochets allowed the coil to get wider

Adding chains between some of the single crochets allowed the coil to grow wider

Since I wanted random colors, I used shorter scraps of tarn and several colors of cotton yarn leftover from other projects.

The drawstring is simply tarn that’s been chained. I made slots for the drawstring by skipping six stitches (evenly spaced around the bag) and adding an extra chain stitch over each gap. Then I worked a couple more rows, adding those skipped stitches back by crocheting into the chain spaces. (Trust me. That will make sense to crocheters.)

Some people tie strips of tarn together with knots, which adds more texture. Others sew one piece of tarn to another. I chose to join them as if I were linking two zip ties together. It’s faster and easier than it sounds:

  1. Fold the end of a strip of tarn over by about 3/4″ and make a tiny cut at the fold. (I discovered the smaller the cut the better, since the opening can stretch larger when you pull the tarn through.)
  2. Do the same thing at both ends of a second piece of tarn.
  3. Slip the second piece of tarn through the hole in the first, then through the hole at the opposite end and gently pull it tight.
  4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

If that’s not clear, here’s a link to another blog that beautifully illustrates all three joining techniques. (And yes, I plan to make their tarn Swiffer Duster cover next!)

I love that this fun and funky bag was made entirely of scraps. It’s really the epitome of this blog – creating something out of virtually nothing.

Weaving Magic

A few months back I heard about something called weaving sticks, which, I was surprised to learn, have been around for a very long time.

Always one for finding new ways to use up my scrap yarn — or for an excuse to get more yarn — I decided to buy some weaving sticks. The only problem was none of the local craft stores carried weaving sticks. I looked around and wound up ordering both small and large sizes of bamboo weaving sticks:

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Here they are, all spread out…

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Basically, they’re like pencils or chopsticks with eyes at one end.

Following the package directions, I first tested two of the smaller sticks with some lovely alpaca yarn I had left from making my sister some arm warmers. First I strung a length of yarn through the eye of each stick and let it hang. Then I made a slip knot from a ball of yarn and put the knot around the left stick and began wrapping the yarn in a figure 8. I only spent about five minutes testing it, and this is what I came up with:

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Next, I tested three larger needles with a bulky yarn. That resulted in a nice, thick fabric:

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When I was ready to end, I simply tied the ends together.

Then I got bolder. I decided to try all of the large sticks at once, and change the color every five layers. I also remembered to photograph the process:

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Weaving the yarn, left-to-right...

Weaving the yarn, left-to-right…

...and right-to-left

…and right-to-left

As you wrap, you push the work down the sticks and eventually onto the yarn you fed through the eyes of the sticks when you started. My goal was to make a cowl, so I only wove about 26 inches. (In retrospect, it would have been a better idea to have more layers between rows. It took me longer to weave in all of the yarn ends than it did to make the entire piece.)

This is what I wound up with:

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I still haven’t figured out how I want to connect the two ends. They aren’t flush, like you’d get with a knitted or crocheted piece. I could attach a button, or even braid the strands of yarn left on each end and tie it together. I might even un-weave it and start over since this was just a practice piece to get me used to working with weaving sticks.

My experiment taught me how to use weaving sticks and also gave me a glimpse into yet another method our ancestors used to create woolen garments to help fend off the cold long before there was indoor heating.

If you like yarn but don’t have the patience for knitting or crocheting, consider giving weaving sticks a try. All you need to do is wrap, wrap, and wrap some more.

 

 

Scrap Happy Pillow

Every knitter has leftover yarn. Sometimes entire skeins are left once a project is done, but it’s usually just a few yards of this and a partial skein of that. They may be different weights, different fibers, and they’re always different colors.

What do you do with all that scrap yarn?

I get scrap happy.

I’ve made scarves, a granny square afghan, and other things over the years. Unusually cool summer weather, a desire to use up some of my yarn stash, and a spare bolster pillow form inspired me to turn this basket of mismatched yarns…

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….into the pillow on the right:

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Look closely and you’ll see a few remnants from the square pillow in the bolster.

The cool thing about using random colors in one project is how they almost always find a way to pull together. It’s the reason I love scrap quilts more than matchy-matchy color-coordinated quilts.

But there’s a trick to keeping all the different colors from fighting. Balance.

In this case, I doubled the yarn scraps with black yarn. (I used a couple different black yarns in this project.)

I decided to knit the bolster cover on size 11 circular needles, and switched colors at the end of every round. It would have been easier to use random lengths of colored yarns, but I was going for a subtle stripe.

To create texture, I used a seed stitch, but garter would be nice, too. (Remember: because you’re not turning the work, doing a garter stitch on circular needles is like stockinette on straight needles. Knit one row, purl the next.)

I wasn’t sure how to do decreases in the seed stitch, so at the ends I switched to garter stitch and decreased on my knit rows, switching to doubled-pointed needles as the number of stitches decreased.  For the second end, I picked up stitches from the cast-on edge and decreased as for the first end. I’m not entirely pleased with the decreases — I was hoping for flatter ends — so I can’t say I’d make it exactly the same way again.

Scrap happy projects are fun because you can play around and make mistakes without the worry of wasting yarn. When it comes to leftover yarn, the only waste is in not using it.

What are some of your favorite uses for scrap yarn?

Here come the (felted) bangles!

A couple weeks ago my sister-in-law told me “heavy wrists” are in style this season – the more bangles the better – so I decided to make some.

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My marble rolling pin made an excellent form for drying and shaping the bracelets. (I only set them on the wooden tray after they were thoroughly dry, and then only long enough to take a photo.)

Late last year I made a few felted bracelets following a pattern someone else developed.

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These were my first attempts, using the other pattern. I decorated a few with needle felting, but broke several felting needles because the bangles are so dense. Needle felt at your own risk.

Some turned out really cute, but some wound up with a groove down the back where the edges curved in during felting. I knew there had to be a way to make smoother edges, so I created my own “pattern” by knitting and felting i-cord.

What’s i-cord, you ask? It’s a small tube of knitted fabric that looks kind of like knitted rope, and is often used as drawstrings or handles on bags.

Knitting i-cord is faster than knitting the same number of stitches in a flat piece since you never turn it. It’s sort of like a micro version of knitting in the round – using only two double-pointed needles.

This is a 5-stich i-cord.

This is a 5-stich i-cord.

My “pattern” is simple: knit about 12″ of i-cord from feltable wool yarn, then whip stitch the ends to form a circle. Some are made using 3-stitch i-cord, some with 5-stitch i-cord, a couple with 7-stitch i-cord.

Once you’ve knitted a few, pop them into a zipped laundry bag or into a pillow case tightly closed with rubber bands (I usually knot it, too). Set your washing machine for a small load and hot water. I like to add a tablespoon or so of baking soda to alleviate the “wet wool” smell. They might felt perfectly the first time, but sometimes it takes two or three cycles to achieve the look you want.

This is my trial batch, before felting:

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Looks like a bunch of hair scrunchies, huh?

The same bunch, after two feltings:

A bunch of little bangles, all in a row.

Like magic, the stitches seem to melt away during felting.

I put them on a marble rolling pin to dry because it seemed about the right circumference for bangles. It was perfect. My first batch was made with single stranded wool using size US 10.5 double-pointed needles. Next, I decided to try double stranding on size US 13 DPNs. That let me mix colors as desired. The result: slightly bulkier bracelets.

These also took two feltings.

These also took two feltings.

I kind of like mixing and matching the thicker and thinner bracelets. Pardon the odd angle, but it’s a bit tricky to take a photo of your own arm…

My favorite warm tone bangles...

Some of my favorite bangles all in a row!

Heavy wrists might be in vogue, but I think I may have overdone it a bit. In  my defense, they all went well with what I happened to be wearing that day.

If you’re a crocheter who’d like to try making felted bangles, let me know. Crocheted stitches don’t dissolve as nicely as knitted stitches, but I’m up for trying to test some ideas for crocheting some felted bangles, too.

Turning scrap wool into a basket of Easter eggs

Dyeing Easter eggs is messy. I don’t actually like hard boiled eggs, but I do like the symbolism they hold this time of year. That’s why I try to find different ways to bring eggs to the Easter table.

Last year I stumbled upon a simple pattern for making felted Easter eggs. Well, it’s simple if you know how to use double pointed needles.

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Similar patterns are probably available elsewhere online for crocheters, but crocheted stitches don’t always felt as smoothly as knitted stitches.

The eggs don’t use much yarn, making them a great way to use scraps – just make sure they’re wool, alpaca, mohair or other feltable fibers. Synthetics won’t felt.

You can incorporate shorter lengths of yarn by knitting stripes or patterns. Want larger eggs? Use two strands of wool and use larger needles. I even doubled white yarn with a strand made of short bits of random colors, which resulted in speckled eggs. I call those my duck eggs. Use more scrap wool to stuff the eggs if you want solid eggs, or stuff them with fiberfill that you can remove later if you want to hide candy inside. (I tried both. The solid ones turned out the best.)

The magic of felting comes after the knitting is done. Pop the pieces into a zippered laundry bag or pillow case, toss them into the washing machine using hot water…a little agitation and and these….

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shrink a little and solidify into these….IMG_0538

Looking at the eggs reminds me of the projects some of the yarn came from. I wonder who I’ve made things for can spot remnants of their bag, clogs or scarf among these eggs?

If you want to get really creative, try needle felting designs or names on the eggs. Carefully, of course.

What spring projects are you working on right now?

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