How to make a scrapghan

April 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Posted in blogging, pattern | Leave a comment
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ZIGZAG

Someone commented on one of my older blog posts and asked me for a pattern for the creation of scrapghans. I can’t really write down the pattern I use, because there isn’t one. But I can write out a sort of recipe so you can see my process. So here goes…

RECIPE FOR A SCRAP YARN BLANKET:

Ingredients— Lots and lots and lots of yarn scraps. If you’ve ever knit or crocheted a blanket, you know it takes a lot of yarn. Since a scrap blanket is made from small lengths of yarn, be prepared to collect a lot of them.

My single criteria for a piece of yarn is that it is long enough to tie a knot on either end of it to connect it to the rest of the yarn. You might choose to be a little more selective than this if you don’t like tying lots of knots. The larger the piece of yarn, the longer stripe it will make. A “scrap” could be anything from a few inches to half a skein or even more.

Potential sources for scrap yarns include: leftover pieces from your other projects, ribbons and strips of fabric, friends and family members (I have trained mine to save their leftover bits for me), thrift stores (people often donate their leftover yarn), etsy (sellers will sometimes put up a “destash” listing of unwanted yarns), unraveled sweaters (gather the small connecting pieces for your scrap ball while you are deconstructing the body of the sweater for other uses), etc.

Note on fiber contents: I will combine any type of fiber into my scrapghans because I love to have as much assortment as possible. However, different fibers do have different washing instructions. If you want a machine-washable blanket and don’t want parts of it to get felted, then you might choose to avoid wool and other animal fibers.

Optional ingredient: A large amount of one or two other yarns. In some of my blankets, I have worked with one strand of a single color held together with one or two strands of scrap yarn. This will give your blanket a more unified look. For instance, this one has the same gray cotton throughout the blanket, worked together with a restricted palette of scrap yarns. You can see it looks very different from the scrapghan at the beginning of this post, which is only scrap yarns.

oct 2011 078

Step One: Organizing your yarn

Once you have collected your scrap yarns, you need to decide whether you want to arrange the colors at all, or whether you prefer complete randomness. Obviously there are lots of different options for designing your blanket, so think about how you would like it to look as a finished product.

If you want wide stripes, you would group like-colored yarns together. Here is an example where I did that. For this blanket I made a separate bag of scraps for each color, then blended them together as I went along.

sister

To have a more random assortment of colors, my usual procedure is to start knitting or crocheting the blanket when I only have a little bit of yarn, and then I just attach new scraps as I acquire them until the blanket is as big as I want it.

You could also collect all your yarns first, then draw randomly from the bag each time you need a new color, or you could wind them all into large balls of scraps. The large balls are fun because you forget what’s inside so you don’t know what’s going to come next as you’re knitting along, but they can also be a little unwieldy.

You can also restrict your color assortment, as in the gray blanket above. It will take longer to collect the yarn if you are drawing from fewer colors, of course. But you might choose to do this to make a blanket that matches a room’s color scheme, or as a gift for someone in their favorite color, etc.

Step Two–Creation

A scrap blanket can be made with any standard blanket pattern, but simpler is better. A complex pattern won’t show up well against the backdrop of color changes, and more complicated stitches might be hard to do with the thicker lengths of yarn. I usually do either garter stitch or single crochet. I have also done a few giant granny squares, one wide-ribbed knit, and my current project is the zigzag blanket in the picture at the top. When choosing between knit or crochet, keep in mind that knitted fabric uses less yarn and is stretchier and thinner, while crocheted fabric works up faster, uses more yarn, and is thicker and sturdier. Both make excellent finished products.

I always work with at least two strands held together because this helps to unify the varying weights of the yarns. You will need a large sized crochet hook (I am using a K on my current blanket, and I could easily go up a size or two), or for knitting you will need a large circular needle with enough length to hold lots of stitches.

Since you are going to have a lot of knots, I find it easiest to just leave the ends sticking out, and I like the way it looks as well. If you don’t like the knot ends, you may choose to join your yarn differently, or to fold them in as you go along.

I would recommend starting with a throw-sized blanket for your first scrapghan so you can get a sense of what you like before moving on to a bigger project, and so you can be finished faster! Really, the most difficult thing about making these is the time commitment, because it does take a while to collect and organize all those little pieces of yarn. It actually amazes me to think of how many scrap blankets I have made since I started them!

Finishing touches

Since a scrap blanket is, by nature, a jumble of many different yarns and colors, you might like to add a crochet border in a contrasting color around the edge to pull everything together. I think this looks nice and makes the blanket feel more finished, and it also helps to give a little more structure to knitted blankets. Here is one of my crocheted blankets with an added border of blue and black:

yarn 171

And I think that’s everything! These blankets are a lot of fun to make, and I love to think of other people putting their own spin on the idea. I’ve loved every picture I have seen of other crafters’ creations of scrap yarn blankets. In fact, I think it was a picture on another blog that inspired me to make my very first one, several years ago. So, I hope this write-up is helpful to anyone who was thinking of trying one, and I am happy to answer any questions in case I missed anything here.

I’m going to be an auntie!

June 27, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Posted in pattern | Leave a comment
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I am super excited that my sister is pregnant.  She’s due on September 1st.  This is the first baby in my family, so everyone is thrilled and looking forward to his arrival.  And let me tell you, this baby is going to have a TON of handmade gifts.  He has some already, and he isn’t even here yet.

So, I started knitting a wee little baby hat with some soft cotton yarn.  But I make hats all the time, and I want to make something special and unique for him, too.  That’s why I have just now been looking at patterns for plush goats.  My sister’s favorite animal is goats, and her husband’s favorite is giraffes.  They’ve received some really cute giraffe gifts already, but no goats, so I am taking a look at what I can do to remedy that situation.  Because giraffes and goats are both adorable creatures and should have equal representation.

I am actually surprised that I haven’t found more goat patterns than I have.  Kinda makes me want to write my own, except writing down patterns is rather tedious.  I don’t usually like following patterns anyway.  My preferred method of yarn creation is to make things up as I go along.  But I wanted to look around the internet and see what’s already out there.   Here are the three that I found that I liked.  Some of the patterns didn’t even look like goats, so of course I had to reject those!

Two knitted versions, one realistic and the other more cartoony: http://www.etsy.com/listing/101881053/goat-knitting-pattern-pdf and http://kimberlychapman.com/crafts/knit-patterns-frankgoat.html

And one amigurumi crochet pattern, which I think is my favorite of the three: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/gogi-goat

What I will probably try to do is to use these guys as inspiration and make my own goat with ideas from here and there and everywhere.  I think it’s quite important for my finished goat to have the sideways pupils in his eyes like real goats have, so even if I follow a pattern, I will be sure to make his eyes the right way.  That’s one of the best goat features and should not be left out!

Another neat-o way to keep your yarn under control

July 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Posted in pattern | Leave a comment
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I just remembered that I have this pattern in my ravelry queue, and I thought I would post a link to it here as a follow-up to yesterday’s post about yarn bowls.  This is a little bag that hangs from your wrist while you knit, so your ball of yarn is right there with you, and you can even walk around with your knitting!  I think it looks like it would work best with a yarn cake rather than a yarn ball, because a ball might have trouble moving around in there unless it was little.  But I like the ultimate portability of this.  Check it out!

http://knituition.blogspot.com/2007/04/wrist-yarn-holder.html

How to make tie-dyed yarn

May 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Posted in pattern | Leave a comment
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This is one of my new favorite techniques for dyeing yarn.  It takes a few steps, but it’s fun, so I thought I would share my process with you so you can do it too!

First, find an ugly sweater or other garment that’s suitable for unraveling.  Pay attention to the fiber content as well as any other factors you usually use when selecting sweater for destruction (such as thickness of yarn, type of seams, etc.)  I chose a hideous and unflattering tan sweater vest.  I like to unravel things that deserve to be unraveled!

Second, obtain and prepare dye for the type of fiber you’re using.  My example here is a cotton blend, and I used a powdered dye that was labeled for use on a range of fibers.

Tie and dye your garment according to the instructions on the dye package.  With this sweater vest I did two dyeings–first olive green, then turquoise.

Once your garment is rinsed and dried and everything from the dye, you can unravel it!  Unraveling can be tedious, but I actually enjoy it, especially when I’m feeling upset–then I can take my aggressions out in the act of sweater destruction.

Here are a few balls of yarn from various sweaters I’ve dyed and unraveled:

Finally, make your yarn into a lovely skein!  If the wrinkly texture of unraveled yarn bothers you, you can straighten it out by wetting the skein and hanging it to dry with a weight at the bottom to stretch it.

I don’t mind mine wrinkled!

The best thing about this dye technique is that you can create unpredictable variegation in your colors.  With the sweater vest in my pictures I did horizontal stripes, which will work out into wide bands of color with gradual transitions.  If you tie circles or spirals or vertical stripes, then you’ll get smaller patches of color, but the repetitions and pooling will not be anywhere near as regular as those you’d get with a commercial skein of variegated yarn.

amusing pattern

October 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Posted in pattern | 2 Comments
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This looks fun and silly, and I’m going to add it to my ravelry queue:

Crazy poking stick!

How to make a mouse

November 4, 2007 at 4:53 am | Posted in pattern | 6 Comments
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cat mice

I make toy mice for my cats.  While Darjeeling mews at me and bats one around the carpet and drags it around by the tail, I’m going to share the pattern.  Here goes!

Use double-pointed needles, whatever size is appropriate for the yarn you’re going to use.  Scrap yarn is best because of its gleeful random colors, and because the pattern really doesn’t take much yarn.

Cast on nine stitches over three needles, three per needle, leaving a long tail.  Knit one round.  On the second round, increase in the middle stitch on each needle.  On the third round, increase in both middle stitches on each needle.  You should now have six stitches per needle.  If you want a larger mouse, do one more round of increases.  Otherwise, knit two rounds.  After the two knit rounds, start decreasing by two stitches per round.  You can arrange these decreases any way you like.  I usually line them up into two seams, but this isn’t necessary.  When you have decreased until there’s only one stitch on each needle, cut the yarn off, again leaving a long tail.  Pull the yarn through the remaining stitches to close off the nose, then pull the end of the yarn through the body of the mouse so it is trailing through the opening at the back of the mouse.  Stuff the body with batting or scraps of fabric and add a pouch of catnip if desired.  While you are stuffing, be sure to keep the two ends of the yarn outside the body.  Once you’ve stuffed it full enough, thread whichever end of yarn is longer through all the beginning stitches, and tighten to close the opening.  Make sure that the mouse’s face isn’t getting smooshed in, which will happen if that end of the yarn is pulled too tight.  To make a tail for the mouse, add a length of yarn to the back of the mouse by pulling it through near the closure with both ends trailing, then braid all the loose ends together, knot, and trim nicely.  Add more lengths of yarn for a thicker or more colorful braid.  I usually knit with two or more colors anyway, so I don’t need to add more yarn at the end because I already have enough strands for a lovely braid.  Now you’re done!

Optional embellishments:  crochet some ears on!  knot some yarn at the nose to make whiskers!  add beady black eyes!

Important: please take the mouse away from your cat and discard it if your cat chews it apart.  It can be very dangerous for a cat to ingest yarn, and this is supposed to be a fun toy, not a nasty trip to the vet!

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