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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taking pride in finished projects

September 17, 2013 at 1:25 am | Posted in gifts, projects | 4 Comments
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Not proud of how long it took me to get around to posting pictures, but hey. This is still awesome and I felt very accomplished when I finished it. And it is actually the first sweater that I have ever knitted! I’ve crocheted a sweater before, but never knitted one! So, here it is, the adorable creation I made for Lewis’s first birthday:

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This is the pattern I used: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bear-tracks / http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/pattern-correction-baby-bear-hoodie

I didn’t do the pockets from the pattern because I think they make it a little too busy. It’s cute enough with just the ears, and I felt like the pockets would detract from the overall look. Besides that, I followed the pattern and I am quite happy with the finished product. The buttons are wood.

When my aunt saw this, she asked me if I could make one in an adult size exactly like it! I said yes, but I’ll have to find a pattern. I have confidence in my knitting, but not enough in my design skills to take a baby-sized pattern and modify it for a grown-up. But I’m sure I can find a similar hooded cardigan and add ears to it.

Also, here’s another recently finished project, the latest scrapghan. I’ve lost track of what number this is.

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Cheddar of course had to help me take a picture of it. And he is sitting on my lap while I’m wrapped in the blanket right now! It’s a nice thick one because I used three strands of scrap yarn. I like using three strands because the color effect is a little more subtle and blended than it would be with just two strands. Of course, three strands also takes more yarn to get to a finished blanket, but my coworker Sara has started gifting me her scraps from her crochet projects, so at least I have a new source to feed my scrap yarn addiction!

a jar of yarn

September 18, 2012 at 10:44 am | Posted in yarn stash | 2 Comments
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I found a jar at goodwill and I am filling it with scrap yarn.  It looks so pretty!  Thanks to LH for the idea.

This is your regularly scheduled scrapghan update

July 4, 2012 at 12:44 am | Posted in gifts, projects | Leave a comment
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I finally got around to cropping these pictures.

Number one, a graduation present for my youngest sister, A.  She’s going to college next year, gotta have a cozy scrapghan to bring along.  This one is a giant granny square with two strands of scrap yarn throughout.

Number two, a knitted version with THREE strands of scrap yarn held together.  I’ve been wanting to try it with three strands for a while, and I think this turned out pretty awesome.  I tried for a gradual shift between the colors.  Sort of a rainbow effect.  This one went home with my oldest sister, C.  She already had some of my afghan creations, but she had reported to me that her roommates have apparently been stealing them.  So I figured she could use another one.  Here she is modeling it!

Sir Scrapghan the Sixth!

July 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Posted in projects, yarn stash | Leave a comment
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This one is twin-bed sized, knitted in ribs, with one strand of scrap yarn and one strand of some other yarns I had large amounts of (the green/white/orange/purple sections).  It has been delivered to my brother K, and is living with him at a state park for the summer.  Yay!

S had to stand on the couch and hold the blanket up so we could get the whole thing in the picture.

 

And I have already collected enough yarn for the next one, which is going to my best friend L.  I got really excited about it, and bought tons of scrap yarn on etsy and from recycle north, plus L sent me some to use.  I think I actually have too much, honestly, because L requested that hers be throw-blanket sized, so it won’t take as much as a bed-sized one.

I am doing something different with this next one, and I hope it will turn out well.  Instead of rolling all the yarn together into one massive scrap ball, I have been sorting it by color.  So now I have six scrap balls: red, green/yellow, pink/orange, purple/brown, blue/gray/black/white, and variegated.  I think I will use the biggest two, the purple and the blue, for L’s throw.

Isn’t that inviting?

January 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Posted in yarn stash | Leave a comment
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I love scrap yarn.  This image gets me all excited!  So purdy.  I really appreciate other people’s willingness to share their scrap yarn on etsy.  I don’t always feel like I can afford to buy it (I prefer to luck out in thrift shops), but I love to know that it’s there if I want it to feed my addiction.

Coming soon: pictures of my most recent scrap blanket, which will be mailed to my sister.  It’s almost done.

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.

art-cycle treasures

January 31, 2010 at 1:53 am | Posted in yarn stash | Leave a comment
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Today at Recycle North (or the ReStore, as it’s now called–I’m not used to that yet), I collected someone else’s scrap yarn ball.  This is a super duper awesome sauce exciting find for me!  What mysteries does it hold in its middle?  I am getting very close to being ready to make another scrap blanket, and this ball of random yarns makes me even more eager.  I am trying to make myself wait until I’ve cleared out some more unfinished projects.  I may not be able to wait much longer!

rip-it rip-it

October 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Posted in yarn stash | Leave a comment
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Another benefit to unravelling thrift store sweaters is that I get a lot of little scraps of yarn that are just the right size to add to my scrap ball.

satisfaction

April 27, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Posted in projects | 1 Comment
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It’s such a good feeling when you finish a craft project and spread it out to look at it and you realize that you’re in love with what you’ve made.

I recently finished my third scrap yarn blanket. This was the knitted version–the last two were crocheted. It took me about a year to make, working on it off and on. That’s a long time! But omg do I love how it turned out. I was so happy that I took about a million pictures.  As usual, the cats helped me out with my photo shoot.

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