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.

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ufo, completed

May 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in projects | 2 Comments
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Last post, I mentioned that I had a total of four unfinished afghan projects sitting around my house. After I wrote that, I kept thinking about it and feeling a little bad about it. So. This is the oldest one of those projects. I dug it out and finished it! Yay!

100% cotton, two strands throughout. Crochet. One strand was unraveled from a striped sweater. I combined that with a progression of white, gray, black for the main body of the blanket, which is a giant granny square. Then I made a single crochet border with yellow and one row of red.

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It turned out great, but now I am faced with my perennial problem. What do I do with it now? Keep it? We have so many blankets already. Give it to someone? But everyone I know already has at least one and probably more than one of the blankets I have made. I just love to create them and I cannot stop!

Thomas likes it:

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yarn-mass is almost as good as christmas

May 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Posted in projects, Uncategorized, yarn stash | Leave a comment
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Scraps I got in the mail the other day:

I am working on a fourth scrapghan right now, and I ran out of my own scraps way before I was finished, so I started ordering more on etsy.  I had to ask for the really small scraps (in the alchemy section), but there were plenty of destash listings with larger scraps that I found through searching.  And then I got lots and lots of packages!  It really did feel almost like christmas.

And now my scrapghan is nearly finished.  I started putting the border on earlier this evening.  And then I’ll start collecting scraps again!

S’s beautiful blanket

April 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Posted in gifts, other people's awesome crafts | Leave a comment
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S has been crocheting a blanket for her sister, and she just finished it!  I really love the colors she picked out–they’re so rich and vibrant.  I turned out really beautiful.  Here she is posing with it:

I hope her sister will love it.  I’m sure she will.  All that love crocheted into every stitch.  That’s the perfect thing to cuddle with when you’re feeling chilly and perhaps a little sad.  Nothing like bright colors and sisterly care to keep you warm!

a striped blanket

March 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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I started making this blanket, but then I got bored of it, so then S took over.  It’s a cooperative effort!  And the animals seem to rather like it.

Here’s a picture of just the blanket.

The green yarn in every other stripe is the last of a humongous cone of chenille that I got from freecycle when we were living in Atlanta.  I already made another afghan with the same yarn.  That’s a lot of yarn!

Done Already

January 16, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Posted in projects | 1 Comment
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I love it when I have a project I’m so excited about that I can hardly put it down.  Last night I put the finishing touches on my asymmetrical scrapghan, just a few days after I started it.  Tonight I took it to yoga class and wrapped myself in it during our moments of deep relaxation at the end of class.  I’m very happy with the way it turned out!  Instead of the crochet ripple I had originally envisioned, I decided to go further with the theme of scraps.  I dug out three orphaned granny squares and a knit cable sampler from my yarn project dresser and used them as the center of the blanket, crocheting outwards in a spiral with six corners dictated by the odd shape of the granny squares and knit piece.

 My cats like it, too!

cat on blanket

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