5 Ideas for Scrap Yarn

Since the first time I knitted a pair of socks, many sock yarn dyers have started including generous yardage in their skeins. Occasionally I’ll run out of yarn (especially on a top-down sock), but more frequently I wind up with bits of scrap yarn.

I've lost track of the number of yarns used to darn these socks.

Some are tiny 10-yard balls, and some are generous 100-yard lengths. Especially when these are lovely, colorful yarns from my favorite sources, I have to figure out what to do with these little treasures. Here are my 5 favorite leftover-yarn tricks:

1.      Darn it . . .

I knit faster than I used to, but knitting socks still takes me a while. (Just ask my Dad, who often waits for his knitted gifts all year!) So when a pair starts to show wear, I make my socks last as long as possible.

Eunny Jang wrote an article and demonstrated two darning methods in the Fall 2011 issue of Sockupied, and I’ve tried both Swiss darning and woven darning. My preference, though, is for reinforcing the weak spots in my socks before they completely develop a hole. If I have some of the original yarn left over, great, but the bottoms of my socks are often a colorful mosaic.

2.      Finish up a skein when I run short on yarn

I’ve gotten so used to 450-yard skeins that I don’t always remember to conserve yarn when adding an extra repeat to the leg (or knitting for my big feet). One of my colleagues recently ran into the same problem, and she was happy to rummage around in the waste yarn bin until she found an appropriate yarn to finish the socks.

I blithely added repeats to the leg, then ran out of yarn for the toe.

3.      Swatches!

I often need to pull out some yarn and needles to try out a technique that one of the designers is describing. No matter how well I read the pattern, there are some things that are easiest to see when you’re making the stitches yourself.


Sometimes a swatch is a veritable rainbow.

4.      Spice up a pair of socks

I’m knitting my Dad a pair of Candace Eisner-Strick’s Semaphore Socks from the Fall 2012 issue of Sockupied. Like a lot of men, my Dad wants his socks to be pretty conservative in palette. However, he likes a little pop of color now and then. The short-row toes and heels of the pattern lend themselves nicely to a contrast color, so I’m adding bright-red accents. You could add a touch of contrasting color to a cuff for a little pizzazz, too.


A waste-yarn cast-on and cherry-red toes, all courtesy of leftover yarn.

5.      Waste yarn

What if all I have left is a few little yards, not even enough to make a respectable ball for darning yarn? I love the fit of short-row toes and tubular cast-ons, but sometimes you have to start with a little waste yarn. I hate to think of any yarn as wasted, so sending the last tiny bit of a beloved skein is a worthy end.


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