Stash-Busting Basics: How to Use Your Yarn Stash

I’ve been sort of working on an ebook on how to use your yarn stash for a few years now, but in the meantime I wanted to share some stash-busting basics that I’m using to help pare down my stash.

I decided that this year (as I have several times before, with varying degrees of success) that I want to try not to buy any yarn and to knit as much as I can with the stash that I have.

I have a lot of small quantities of different kinds of yarn, and I like to knit sweaters, so this is probably going to result in some creative projects.

In fact, it already has.

Stash “Rule” 1: Last In, First Out

For Christmas I bought myself a grab bag of Lion Brand Yarn, and in it were three skeins of Hometown (the linked color is not what I got, which was the colorway Elmore City Dance). I decided I wanted to make a project with that yarn as my first stash-busting project.

It doesn’t always work out that the last yarn you purchased is the first one you’ll use, but the odds are good if you just bought something you might be inspired by it to make something. Bonus for me: this yarn hadn’t even found a place on my shelf yet.

I decided to make this bulky sweater vest from KnitCroAddict, which I thought I had enough yarn for.

Then I decided I needed to knit the ribbing on bigger needles, and I made the body a little longer, and before long it was clear I was going to run out of yarn.

But isn’t using it all kind of the goal?

Use Your Yarn Stash “Rule” 2: Stripes and Color Blocking are Our Friends

Probably the easiest way to make your yarn go a little longer is to knit with stripes or color blocking, which is exactly what I did.

If you plan ahead in your stash busting adventure a little more than I did, you can plan to work stripes throughout, or you can change colors when you run out of yarn, like I did.

It turns out I didn’t have the exact yarn I needed (or couldn’t find it; I’d still swear I have a ball of super bulky purple yarn somewhere) but that wasn’t really a problem either.

Stash Busting “Rule” 3: Improvise

What I did have was a bulky purple yarn (Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky, which I don’t think they make any more) and a sort of light worsted weight magenta yarn.

Held together they kind of evoke the marled look of the original yarn, and they’re close enough in gauge that I could just carry on as established.

It’s a great rule for how to use your yarn stash in general though, that you if can’t find the perfect yarn you might be able to come up with something that will work. And you might end up liking the result more than you expect. I’m sure I like the mix of yarns here better than I would have liked solid purple.

And I used the mix for the neckline and arm holes (they were supposed to be ribbed but I just did single crochet around instead) which ties it into the part worked with the other yarn a little better. That’s a bonus tip: use a contrasting yarn for the edging if you need to (or want to! just doing the cast on and bind off in a different yarn saves a bit and is really fun).

Bonus Tip: Keep Using Your Yarn Stash

When I finished the vest I still had quite a bit of the two yarns left, and I liked the way they looked together, so I decided to find another project I could knit with them. I went with the (warning: Ravelry link ahead) Itasca Beanie by Katey Stolhammer, which used the same size needle as I already had out.

It’s a fun, fast (seriously it took an afternoon to knit) textured beanie pattern that’s a little snug as written but would be great for a teenager. And bonus bonus tip: add a pom-pom! It ties the project together and you can make your own and use more yarn. I still have more of both these yarns so I’m sure they’ll turn up again soon.

Do you have any stash-busting tips? I’d love to hear them!

PS. Want to use more yarn without doing more knitting or crochet? Check out Knitless.

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