Top 8 Tips for Knitting and Crocheting with Stash Yarn

Top Tips for Knitting and Crocheting with Stash Yarn by Kristin Omdahl

Stashbuster projects to knit and crochet are a fantastic way to use up the yarn left over after finishing projects. Over time, it is very easy to accumulate a large stash of leftover and partial or remnant balls of yarn. It can be stressful and overwhelming to watch your stash grow and grow without a clear plan of how to use it.

You spend so much time and money choosing your yarns, purchasing yarn and patterns for special knit and crochet projects, and making your handmade items, that it makes sense to have a good solid plan for what to do with the leftover yarn.

Over the years I have seen many stashbuster patterns that don’t really highlight color or design, but rather focus on speed and simplicity. I always say there is a yarn for every project and a project for every yarn. Of course, there are good reasons to knit and crochet stashbuster patterns that focus on speed and simplicity.

With some good organization and forethought, there are ways to use up your stash yarn with knit and crochet projects that focus on color and design, too. Working through your stash yarn clears your space for better creative thinking, and it makes room and justification for buying new yarn, too!

  1. Organize your yarn by weight and then by color.
    I like to organize my yarn by weight first, and then by color. I organize my #1 fingering weight yarns separately from my #2 sport weight yarns, #3 dk weight yarns, #4 worsted weight yarns and #5 bulky weight yarns. Not only does this help when looking for the right weight yarn to achieve gauge on any pattern, but it is also helpful when you want to double or triple yarns to match the weight of thicker yarns, too. Once I have yarns organized and labeled by weight, I like to organize them further by color: pinks/reds, orange/yellows, greens/blues, purples, and neutrals. Clear bins are my favorite, but if you label your bins that is good, too.
  2. Inventory your yarn.
    Make a detailed list or spreadsheet with the yarn brand, yarn name, color names, fiber content, yarn weight, and how many balls you have of ever color. Even clear bins that are organized and labeled can still hide many treasures inside. Having a good inventory sheet will help you decide if you have enough of any given yarn for any project that interests you.
  3. Be creative with combining colors.
    Many people are intimidated by color work in knitting and crochet with yarn. Having a little knowledge of color theory is very helpful, but in a pinch, I always suggest to look to Mother Nature for guidance. Mother Nature is the best artist for combining colors! Notice how there are greens and brown neutrals that balance the bright pops of colors in trees, flowers and plants. I think this is wonderful basis for experimenting with color work and yarn.
  4. Study a stitch pattern to see where it would make sense to change colors.
    Even if the pattern you want to make from stash yarn is originally made in one color, you can still knit or crochet in multiple colors. For example, I crocheted the Isobella Poncho Crochet pattern in one color then remade the shawl portion of the pattern in multiple colors of stash yarn to showcase how similar and yet different the same pattern can be when shown in one color or multiple colors of yarn.
    Isabella stripe comparison
  5. Color Stripe Variations
    *In this pattern, I recognized from the 4 row repeat that there were 3 rows adjacent with lace and one solid double crochet row between each set of 3 lace rows (3 + 1 = 4 row repeat). I thought it would be interesting to pick one main color for the 1-row double crochet stripes and alternate the 3-row lace stripes in various colors.
    *On the other hand, you could also just change color for every stripe: 1-row double crochet stripe color A, 3-row lace stripe color B, 1-row double crochet stripe color C, 3-row lace stripe color D, etc… This technique would be great for rainbow or tonal gradient stripes, too.
    *You could also just change color at the end of every single row for more variation.
    *Depending on your yardage availability, you could also choose to stripe with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more colors depending on what is in your stash.
  6. Color Stripe Sequencing
    Let’s say you start with color A, then knit or crochet a stripe in color B, then color C, color D, and color E. The sequence is A, B, C, D, E. You also have options for how to repeat color stripe sequencing. You could continue to go in the same order throughout the pattern: A, B, C, D, E, A, B, C, D, E, A, B, C, D, E, A, B, C, D, E. Or you could choose to mirror the stripe sequence like this: A, B, C, D, E, D, C, B, A, B, C, D, E, D, C, B, A. This sequence looks especially pretty with tonal or gradient shades of the same color.
  7. Improvise
    Whether you are attempting new color combinations, a different weight of yarn or a combination of yarns held together, the pattern may not turn out the same way it did the first time you made it with different yarn. Part of the creative process is exploring new thing, and trial and error. We often learn best from our mistakes. It is part of the process. You can also try to create without patterns, too. Try any one of the stitch patterns in four different construction styles when experimenting with leftover stash yarn. Try a top down increasing in rows stitch pattern from Crochet Power, with any weight yarn, in any combination, and make a triangle shawl for gifts, charity or for yourself!
  8. Donate, Sell or Purge
    Let’s face it, we don’t always use 100% of the yarns we buy. Maybe you didn’t like working with the yarn. Maybe you once loved it but just don’t anymore. For whatever reason you are not inspired to work with leftover yarn, I would rather see the yarn be loved and used by anyone rather than be stored in definitely. Donating yarn to shelters, churches, libraries or schools helps promote crafting in the community. You can also sell your leftover yarns. Facebook marketplace, eBay, Etsy and Ravelry also have options for trading or selling yarn. Do a mystery swap with friends. Or just offer your stash to crafty friends. One persons trash is another person’s treasure!

What are your favorite ways to bust through your stash yarn? Let me know in the comments below!

Kristin Omdahl is the best-selling author of dozens of knit and crochet books; designer of almost 1000 knit and crochet patterns; and producer of award-winning videos. You can join Kristin LIVE 5 days a week for The Kristin Omdahl Show on YouTube and browse through thousands of tutorial videos there, too. Kristin donates a portion of every sale to help survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about Kristin’s charity, Project Kristin Cares HERE.

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