Most people who've been knitting for any length of time have accumulated some kind of stash, yarn that's in our homes with no particular purpose in mind for its use. Some of us have yarn that's been sitting around for years or decades, yarn we don't remember buying and don't know what to do with if we did want to use it.
Melissa Leapman aims to help knitters clear out, organize and use their yarn stashes with her fun and colorful book Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn.
About the Book
- Pages: 144
- Format: paperback
- Number of patterns: 21
- Skill level: 8 are rated for advanced beginners and 13 for intermediate knitters
- Sizes: garments have 5 or 6 sizes except for one baby project, which has 4 sizes
- Illustrations: full-color photographs, black and white line drawings illustrate techniques
- Knitting lessons: a 12-page section on techniques covers things readers might not already know and offers tips on reading charts
- Publication date: November 2011
Organizing and Evaluating Your Stash
Leapman knows that most of us with big stashes have yarn spread all over the house that isn't particularly well organized and we often don't know what is in there. So the first step to using more stash, she says, is to get all your yarn together, sort it and store it. She suggests arranging by weight and then color, just like yarn stores do.
Once you know what you have you can get a better idea of how to use it. Leapman offers a quick look at different ways to plan color combinations based on what's in your stash, including monochromatic color combinations and 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-color options based on the color wheel.
She also touches on other ways to make color choices more harmonious, such as the golden mean and the Fibonacci sequence, as well as some ways to get random coloring in your projects.
The 21 patterns in Stashbuster Knits are arranged by yarn weight -- 5 for superfine and fine yarns, 5 for lightweight, 6 for medium (worsted) and 5 for bulky. There are suggestions for combining yarns to make a thicker yarn, too, if you don't have just the right thing in your collection for a project.
Either Leapman's stash is much, much bigger and nicer than mine or yarn companies provided samples for the book, because the project samples are not true scarp projects as they might look if they were knit out of my stash (or yours, unless you happen to have multiple shades of 7 different kinds of Classic Elite yarns just hanging out in your stash, for example).
I understand that projects made with the same brand and line of yarn throughout have a more harmonious look that is great for a book, but it would have been nice to see at least some of the projects literally done with stash and odd balls that aren't all the same -- or even identifiable -- to simulate real-world knitting.
Some of the projects rely on you having a large amount of one yarn; if you're a serial collector of single balls you might have to do a little more shopping to complete, say, the Cables and Colors sweater (pictured on the cover), which calls for at least 1,000 yards of a single color.
Still, these projects are pretty and care was taken to make sure they don't look like scarp projects (of course, if you're using a more random assortment of yarns, your projects may come out scrappier).
Maybe that's why some of my favorite projects are the ones with more colors that could easily be done with a more random assortment of yarn. The Greenmarket Bag, for example, is worked in alternating lacy stripes of fine weight yarn but could easily be worked in a whole bunch of different colors (or even heavier yarn to make a bigger bag).
The kid's Sporty Stripes sweater is already worked in a bunch of colors but you could easily throw in more or fewer depending on your yarn supply. Puzzle Play is a baby blanket worked in an array of colors that repeat, but each puzzle piece could be a different color to use up small bits of stash.
The Sausalito Bag is another one with multiple colors of stripes -- this time in a fun star stitch -- that could be knit in a ton of colors.
Other cool patterns include Mona's Little Bias Scarf, a great way to make oddments look like they belong together; the intarsia Harlequin messenger bag; the circular jacket called Roundabout (that's the one that used multiple colors of 7 different kinds of yarn); Tamara's Wrap, also pictured on the cover, it uses Linen Stitch to make colors blend; and the cute, cropped, bulky Hot Yet Cool Cardi, an easy knit to make over a long weekend.
While I would have appreciated projects that looked more like they came out of someone's stash, Stashbuster Knits still has great tips and patterns to get you started organizing, categorizing and using your stash.
Whether you want to clear out for your peace of mind (or that of someone you live with!) or just to make room for more yarn, this book is an inspiring place to start.