How to Use All Your Yarn on a Project


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If you’re trying to bust your yarn stash or just want to make a project as big as you can possibly make it with the yarn you have, these tips for how to use all your yarn on a project should help.

While the photos (and one tip/reminder) are specific to knitting, these same ideas work for crochet, too, if you’re trying to make your yarn go as far as it can.

Work Edgings Before You Finish

Probably the best tip for how to use all your yarn on a project, particularly a garment, is to do all the edgings or finishing you can before you finish the body of the garment.

This of course works best when working from the top down in the round, because you can stop midway down the body and work the sleeves, cuffs, neckline, etc., and know exactly how much yarn you have left for the rest of the body.

But even if you’re working in pieces, you can stitch the sleeves first to ensure you have enough yarn for them, then divide what’s left to make the body pieces.

In these photos I’m showing the simple tank top from Knit Cro Addict, which starts at the bottom of the armhole, works up to the straps, then down the back and joins at the bottom of the armhole to knit the body straight down.

When I got to my last ball of yarn I worked the armhole and neckline ribbing so I knew I could use the rest of my yarn on the body of the top.

Use Your Swatch

I hope that you made a gauge swatch before you started your project, especially if it’s a garment, and if you did, you can rip it out and use that yarn to help finish off your project.

I know a swatch generally isn’t a lot of yarn but if you’re really trying to get the most out of your yarn, the couple of rows or rounds you can make with your swatch can make a difference.

Long ago I had used some of this yarn to make a swatch for a different project I never ended up making, and I happened to find that while I was working on this project, which gave me even more yarn to use to finish my project.

Weigh Your Progress

If you want to be really particular as you try to use all your yarn on a project, you can use a scale to help. This is particularly helpful if you have an edging you need to work and want to save yarn for.

Weigh your yarn ball and work a row or round (or two or more, if your project is small, just keep track of how many you work) and weigh it again. If you know, for instance, that each round takes 2 grams of yarn and you need to work four rounds plus the bind off at the end, you’ll want to save around 10 grams for your finishing.

Rip and Redo

When you really want to use all your yarn on a project, even mathing it out isn’t always perfect. I thought I knew how much yarn by weight I needed to finish my project but then I realized I had a lot more left than I thought I would, so I ended up ripping out three rounds of ribbing to knit a little more before I started my finishing.

Likewise you might misjudge in the other direction and end up running out of yarn before you expect. In that case rip back a few rows beyond where you started your finishing and try again. Free knitting (or crochet)!

More Reminders to Help You Use All Your Yarn on a Project

This one is for the knitters, but I know there is a tendency when you’re playing yarn chicken both to go faster and to bind off more tightly (the two can go together) but I urge you to try to slow down and bind off normally even if you think you might run out of yarn.

If your bind off is too tight it will mess up the fit of your project and might make it too tight to fit your body.

Since crochet doesn’t have a bind off this is a little less of a concern, but if you’re working an edging and feel like you’re going to run out of yarn you may also find yourself pulling tighter than normal, which can cause your edge to pucker.

If you find you still don’t have enough yarn to do what you want to do with a project, there are lots of options, from adding stripes to working your edgings in a different color. My Stash-Busting Strategies ebook (free to subscribers) contains lots of ideas for using up odd balls and making your yarn go a little farther.

Ended up with too much yarn? Consider adding a pocket or two, making the body or sleeves of a garment longer, adding a foldover hem, etc. Or just save the yarn for your next project!

Using these strategies to use all your yarn on a project, I had just a tiny bit left and knew I’d made my new top as long as I could make it. I’d love to hear any tips you have for making sure you use all your yarn.


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