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.

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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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a crochet spiral

April 14, 2013 at 12:50 am | Posted in projects, yarn stash | 6 Comments
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I went to Goodwill on Wednesday because I happened to be nearby and I ended up shopping there for two hours!  Clearly, it was a good day for thrift shopping.  One of my finds was some cones of yarn.  Someone had donated a whole bunch of yarn on cones, the type that’s used for knitting machines.  There were tons of them, a whole shelf-full.  I looked through them for a while and eventually decided to buy just two of them, even though they were only four dollars each.  But unfortunately most of the colors were kinda ugly, and I also didn’t want to have too much to carry because I was taking the bus home.  So, after much deliberation, I decided on a fuschia and a turquoise.

And then my itchy little paws wanted to start making something with it right away, so I spend almost a whole day at work (in between phone calls) looking through patterns on ravelry trying to decide which one I wanted to try.

Here’s the one I finally settled on: http://morepjs.blogspot.com/2009/08/baby-blue-spiral-baby-blanket.html

And here are some pictures of my progress.  First it looked like a doily, and now it looks sort of like a large jellyfish, but I am confident that it will start to look like a blanket eventually.

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cat bed finished!

June 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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I keep forgetting to take a picture of this, and I finally remembered today!  Here is mama Memphis kitty all blissed out in the finished cat bed I made with those fabric strips my mom gave me.  In other fabric strip update news, I can also report that my test basket went through the washing machine just fine.

Look what my mom gave me!

June 11, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Posted in gifts, yarn stash | Leave a comment
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A whole bag of these big rolls of fabric strips!  There were 22 of them in the bag.  She got them at a yard sale, and then she shared them with me.  Thank you, mommy!  My mom knows my crafting habits well.  I’ve already started to crochet a basket, but I had to stop and put it down for a while because my wrist was getting tired.  I had surgery on my wrist a few weeks ago, and it’s not back to full strength yet.  Knitting is ok, but crochet is still a little difficult.  Anyway, I set the unfinished basket on the dining room table, and one of my cats immediately came over and climbed into it, even though he didn’t really fit.  Silly kitty!  I guess he was trying to tell me that I need to make a cat bed next.

I took this picture with my cell phone, so it’s not the greatest, but at least I captured a cute facial expression.  Cheddar the cat says, “you left this on the table and walked away, so it’s mine now!”

So, after I make a better-sized cat bed, what else should I create with this stuff? There’s enough to crochet a whole carpet!

pictures of scrapghans

January 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Posted in gifts, projects | Leave a comment
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I’ve completed four scrapghans since this past fall, and I don’t think I’ve posted pictures of any of them here.  So I have come to remedy that!  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of one of them, and the pictures I have of two of the others are of unfinished projects.  Still, I am proud of my scrapghan output and I would like to share them with you.  Two of the four were given as just-because gifts, and the other two were christmas gifts.  And now almost everyone in my family has received one of my scrapghans!

I am especially happy with the blue/gray one above.  It was part of my experiment with sorting the scrap yarn into colors, and this one had a particularly lovely result.  Also, the gray yarn that I used as a background yarn was a really soft cotton, which made the completed blanket extra snuggly.  That one was sent to my friend L in NYC, and it makes me happy to think of it keeping her warm.

some lovely things

April 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Posted in other people's awesome crafts | Leave a comment
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This shop was just featured on the front page at etsy, so perhaps she doesn’t need any more publicity, but I just love the artfulness of these crochet creations.  They have such pleasing, organic shapes, that I just couldn’t resist writing this little note about them on my blog.  I especially appreciate the fact that the artist doesn’t feel the need to make her crochet into something useful.  Many of the creations in the shop are sculptures, art.  Crochet is familiar to most people as a domestic craft for making dishcloths and afghans and hats and such, but it also is a wonderful sculpture technique.  In crochet, it is very easy to make a three-dimensional shape, and the possibilities are endless, especially once you free yourself from the need for a pattern.

Uloni on etsy:

and

and

etc.

new cat toy design that I’m playing with

June 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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I made a couple of these for some kitties I was cat-sitting last week, and they seemed to like them.  I’m sure they didn’t mind being test subjects, anyway.  I usually give prototypes to my own cats, so it was nifty to have some new cats to test on.  I will probably make a few of these for my cats, too.  Then maybe sell them on etsy?

It’s called a curly mouse:

finished scrapghan 4!

May 28, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Posted in projects | Leave a comment
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Four!  Holey moley!

I crocheted this with two strands of scrap yarn held together throughout, single crochet with a blo ribbing.  I don’t like it quite as much as scrapghan 3 (the knitted version), but I am quite happy with it.  It is also nice and thick, which will be great for winter.

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!

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