Untangling Yarn Troubles

Paper Scroll Tied with Yarn & FlowersSemiannually, I take a pair of scissors and work my way through box after box and bag after bag of yarns which seem to have the ability to form tangles without human assistance. I untangle what I can, cut loose impossible knots, and roll up dozens of tidy yarn balls which will somehow unravel themselves in the next few months.

I have no trouble with the yarn I purchased for myself; these I keep in resealable plastic bags organized by fiber type. The real trouble is the accumulation of “interesting” yarns which my grandmother—a highly skilled knit and crochet artist—gifted regularly to me as a solution to her own yarn buildup. These yarns come in a larger variety of fibers than I usually buy and range in appearance from extremely beautiful to frightfully gaudy. There is rarely enough of one type of these miscellaneous yarns to make a whole project.

I have now resolved once and for all to reclaim the hours I spend reorganizing yarns for more profitable use. Having just become aware that many people are troubled by yarn accumulation and resort to giving away or donating materials which had cost them money, I would like to share my solution for disposing of yarn without waste.

Convert yarn into useful items

Yes, this is done by knitting or crocheting. You may say that not having time to knit and crochet was the cause of your problems. I do not insist, however, that you make the project you planned when you purchased the yarn. Instead of painstakingly following patterns and counting stitches, easily dispose of your yarn of by forming them into square or rectangular shapes. Knitted or crocheted squares and rectangles can be sewn into charming pillows. These pillows may be plain or trimmed with lace crocheted from more of your extra yarn. Crocheted squares make very charming blankets, large or small, for yourself, children, or pets.

It is logical to use one type of yarn for one project, but I did make one blanket from an incredible hodgepodge of my grandmother’s old yarn including silk, wool, natural & synthetic fibers of all colors and sizes. I expected the resulting blanket to be quite ugly, but was proven wrong. Each crocheted square has a resemblance to something such as strawberries, owl feathers, Japanese kimono fabric, etc. The whole is unified by a white border and is only slightly lumpy due to the combinations of so many types of fibers and has been machine washed and dried without warping or shrinking. This blanket which rid me of a great box of yarn is my favorite throw for reading in the winter.

These easy projects can be done while watching television and made shorter by the use of large crochet hooks or knitting needles. I myself knit and crochet in the evenings while watching a DVD and pedaling an exercise bike. Avoid wasting the money already spent on your yarn and save extra money by making something you would otherwise buy. Some easy rectangular projects are: blankets, pillows, scarves, arm and leg warmers, bags and purses, square pockets or patches for clothing, bed skirt or ruffle, curtain valance.

Uses for odd bits of yarn

After you have made useful things out of your yarn, roll the leftovers into neat balls and store them on a basket for miscellaneous use. Some possible uses of yarn remnants are:

  • Tie yarn around rolled up paper containing handwritten or typed messages. This is a economical substitute for greeting cards, note cards, and gift tags. Insert a sprig of herb or small flower under the yarn for a special touch. 8.5” x 11” papers look fine, but smaller pieces such as 3” x 4” are prettiest.
  • Use yarn instead of ribbon to tie around a present. Two strands in related or contrasting colors look very nice.
  • Tie around papers such as computer printouts, research papers, poetry and manuscripts to keep them together.
  • Use to secure sets of stationary and envelopes for attractive storage on your desk.
  • Bind notes, music, recipes, & scrapbooks by threading yarn through punched holes in paper. I use this method to secure sheet music in manila folders. Paper bound this way can be easily added to, reorganized, or taken out for use. Attractive covers can be printed on card stock.
  • Crochet trims such as ruffles, lace, or furry cuffs onto plain sweaters and gloves.
  • In crafts such as with plastic canvas which can be purchased for about $0.3o a sheet, creating attractive small storage solutions (see monogrammed suitcases pictured).
  • Yarn can often substitute for twine and string.
  • Stitched with blunt needle to secure braided hair on your head.
  • Hang Christmas ornaments or Easter eggs from ceilings, windows, or other places.
  • Use as embellishments: threaded through fabric or baskets, in bows, tie closures for clothing and boxes, curtain tiebacks, decorative stitching.
  • Holding some desperate broken thing together.
  • Replacement shoe laces?

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