Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!

Mix It Up 3: Using Yarn Grab Bags


A couple of days ago, in an effort to be creative with “orphan” balls of yarn, I started putting them together into grab bags I call “Fab Five Plus“: 5 different balls of yarn, all in the same color family, along with a coordinating hand-painted silk ribbon (that’s the “Plus”). Here’s one example:

Fab Five Plus in Citrus

Fab Five Plus in Citrus: 5 different yarns, plus coordinating silk ribbon!

Note: This Fab Five Plus collection is currently up for grabs (pardon the expression) in an eBay auction, ending 1/17/13; click here to go directly to that page. This link will most likely not work after the auction ends.)

This morning, I got this question from a lady who has placed bids on some of my Fab Fives: “Do you have a recommendation for a pattern for this combo?”

Having owned a yarn shop, and since I’m currently selling my one-of-a-kind skeins (in my Etsy shop, if you’d like to look), this is a very familiar question; it’s also why I’ve developed my own line of patterns specifically for my Scraplet Skeins. However, the Fab Five Plus groups are grab bags, as opposed to kits, so I generally assume that buyers will come up with their own unique ways to use the items, together or separately.

But since this buyer asked, I didn’t want to just brush her off. And in thinking over how I would respond, it occurred to me that I could make a useful tutorial out of this, not just for using one of my Fab Fives, but also as a way to use up your own orphan balls of yarn. (By orphan, I mean the yarns of which you only have 1 ball left: not enough to do anything with it on its own, but you don’t want to just toss it either. Now that I think about it, not unlike the oddball garments mentioned in my last post!)

Here are my suggestions, starting with the general ones that can apply to any of my Fab Fives or to your own leftover yarns:

  • Incorporate one of these skeins into a project, for example, as a trim or a stripe.
  • Use yarns singly or in combination (especially the ribbon types) to make fringe.
  • Knit (or crochet) each ball into separate pieces, using the whole ball; this will give you different-sized pieces, which you can sew together to make a unique scarf. You could even make a blanket, by adding pieces made from your own yarns. (I personally love multi-textured blankets.) Incidentally, this is also a good time to practice new stitch patterns!

Here’s my general strategy for dealing with yarns with many different thicknesses: start with the yarn with the largest gauge (usually the thickest yarn); in this case, that would probably be the variegated novelty yarn (lower right corner in photo). Then combine strands of the other yarns to more or less equal the gauge of the thickest one.

With this collection specifically, I would combine the nubby one (upper right) with the narrow ribbon below it, then put the variegated silk (lower left corner) with the sparkly eyelash (upper left). Along with the novelty yarn, that gives you 3 groups of yarns. I would probably use a U.S. 13 needle to knit these combinations.

Now it’s time to decide what to make with these combinations. Personally, I like the idea of a patchwork-y kind of scarf, i.e. make stripes alternating the 3 groups of yarns (a simple garter stitch would be great for this); to make it even more crazy-quilty, I’d probably vary the size of each color section, rather than work hard at making them exactly the same. (I don’t like working hard when I’m knitting.) To finish your fabulous scarf, use combinations of the leftovers, along with pieces of the silk ribbon, to make a super-fun fringe!

You could also make a really unique bag using the same combinations of yarns, but I would do this on a much smaller needle, to make a fabric tight enough for a bag. You could twist the silk ribbon with several strands of yarn (or loosely crochet a chain with multiple strands) to make a handle.

Ooh, I just thought of something else: how about a pillow cover? Here’s one that I made with one of my Scraplet Skeins:

Sapphire knitted pillow cover

Sapphire knitted pillow cover, combining many different yarns and textures. (Click on the picture to go to the pattern in my Etsy shop.)

This is made with a simple garter stitch, knitted diagonally using increases and decreases, making sizing a cinch; the pillow back is made with 2 overlapping panels, so there’s no need for a zipper or anything complicated. (The pattern is available in PDF format.)

Yes, mixing up a lot of diverse yarns takes some thought, but whatever you choose to make with your Fab Five Plus (and/or your own leftover yarns), it will be not only fabulous, but fabulously unique!

Update (2/8/13): My remaining Fab Five Plus grab bags are now available (still at 75% off) in my Etsy shop, here:

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

2 thoughts on “Mix It Up 3: Using Yarn Grab Bags

  1. I wish I could knit. It seems that I am not dextrous enough.

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