Stashbusting in 2018: Making the Most of Your Yarn Stash

We know that some of you may be “cold sheeping*” in 2018, but even if you’re not, we all have yarns marinating in our stash that we’d like to use. Today’s blog post will talk a little about how to use your stash, with a look at a few ways that Ravelry can help you make the most of your precious skeins.

Better Stashbusting Through Ravelry
First, we'll look at a few tools on Ravelry that can help you find the perfect match between yarns in your stash and patterns to knit with them.

We recommend taking the time to enter ALL of your stash into Ravelry - even those skeins lurking in the very bottom of the bin! While this may take an afternoon of your time (or perhaps several afternoons), it's worth it if you are committed to stash-busting.

You can easily go to the Stash tab in your notebook and see what you have already entered into Ravelry, and also use the Add to Stash button to enter your yarns into your stash.

If you decide at some point that you want to knit with a specific yarn in your stash, you can click on that yarn entry, and then view projects that have been made with the same yarn. This may help you narrow down your choices for that perfect pattern!

Perhaps you'd rather start with the type project you want to make and then figure out what yarn in your stash you'll use for it - Ravelry makes that easy, too! First, go to the Patterns tab, and then click Pattern Browser and Advanced Search. You can now sort by a variety of factors: pick the kind of project you might want to knit (hat, scarf, shawl, sweater, socks, etc.), and then you can scroll down the page and on click the menu option Yarn in My Stash.

If you want to narrow down the pattern by what weight of yarn you have and how much you have (for instance, say you have 1,000 yards of worsted weight yarn in your stash), then select the appropriate parameters and Ravelry will find patterns calling for just that amount of yarn.

Mixing Yarns in Your Stash
Sometimes there are a variety of skeins that appear in one's stash that are all different weights and fiber types - have you ever wondered if you could use some of them together? In general, you may not want to mix yarns of extremely differing fiber types or weights within the same project because they may detract from the finished object. For instance, you might not want to mix merino yarn with a cotton yarn because the merino will be soft and stretchy and bounce back into shape, whereas the cotton may not have very much give or might get stretched out of shape more quickly. Or you may not want to knit a striped project out of a fingering weight and a worsted weight because there will be such a variation in your gauge between the sections.

However, you may want to explore projects where yarns of different fibers and types are worked together. Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter is a hat that is knit by holding a lace weight strand of mohair together with DK strand of merino yarn to create a super fluffy and warm hat. Stephen West designs a large number of his patterns to be knit with yarns of multiple weights and fiber compositions, and his latest Marled Mania theme is all about holding two strands of different yarns together for the effect it creates.

Do you have a ton of leftovers in specific weight(s) of yarn? Perhaps you knit socks like crazy and always have odds and ends left over, or maybe you love to knit hats and lots of little bits of worsted weight yarn lying around. If so, you might consider the following stashbusting projects:

There are many, many projects on Ravelry that can be knit with leftovers of various types. Scrappy sock blankets are a popular project now. Try the Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang, Memory Blanket by Georgie Nicholson, or Barn Raising Quilt by Shelley Mackie & Larissa Brown, all of which can be knit with sock scraps, or adapted for any other weight yarn. Another pattern to keep in mind is Stephen Wests' Garter Squish pattern, which is available for free and could be adapted for a variety of yarn weights and yardages. If you’re a crocheter, you might check out patterns by Lucy of Attic24 which incorporate a variety of stripes and colors into fun afghan patterns.

Colorwork Projects
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might check out patterns featuring colorwork to use up your odds and ends of leftovers. This works best if your leftovers are solid, but we have seen some beautiful projects out of variegated colorways as well. For this you can use the search parameters we discussed above and select what you might like from the Colorwork folder under Attributes. Then you can add what weight yarns you’re looking to use up, and determine what might be your perfect project.

Reclaiming Your Stash
We all have those unfinished projects, you know the ones that we were so excited to cast on but are now languishing in project bags out of sight and out of mind. You might try rediscovering those yarns and repurposing them for other projects: Frog that sweater you started 2 years ago that is now too small for the recipient (here's a great tutorial on the Knitted Bliss blog)! Don’t like knitting with lace weight as much as you thought? Use the tools above to find a project where you can combine it with another yarn or hold it doubled and select a fingering weight project that shows that beautiful yarn off. Or just use the pattern search to help you find different patterns that catch your fancy. Don’t let those beautiful yarns go to waste!

We hope the stash busting ideas and tools we discussed above will help you make the most of your stash. Please share your stashbusting projects with us on Instagram by using the tag #knitterspride. We look forward to seeing what you create!

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*Cold Sheeping: Trying not to buy any new yarn!

How To Knit The Perfect Gauge Swatch for a Sweater (& Why You Should)

Swatches are a vital and crucial part of knitting - anyone who has ever ripped out an entire sweater will tell you that. Swatches are necessary tools to ensure proper gauge, and the way you treat them will inform how well your garment fits—even after several wears and washes. This also holds true for other projects, of course, but extra precision is required for garments to achieve the desired fit!

There are a few things you will need when making your swatch.

  • Gauge. A multipurpose gauge like our Knitter’s Pride Needle Gauge covers all your bases—it measures clearly, you can check needle/crochet sizes if you need to adjust, and it includes a yarn cutter. 
  • Yarn.
  • Needles. For the purposes of swatch-making, it is a good idea to have at least 3 needles on hand. The recommended needle, plus one size larger and one size smaller. 
  • A bowl.
  • Water.
  • Your chosen knitwear detergent (here, we're using a no-rinse wash called Allure).
  • Small towel.
Starting Your Swatch:

1. Check the pattern gauge, then cast on approximately 1.5 times the recommended stitches for 4 inches. For example, if the pattern calls for 20 stitches in 4 inches, cast on at least 30 stitches. This will give you enough surface area to obtain a proper, realistic measurement of your gauge. The first and last stitches of most swatches can be a little wonky, so you won’t include those when you measure. 
We strongly recommend casting on more than 4 inches because it will give you the most accurate measurement (the bigger the swatch, the better - especially when it comes to sweater knitting). Everyone adopts a unique, natural flow when knitting that simply doesn’t develop in a smaller swatch. Also, since no one’s gauge is totally perfect, your stitch count per inch will vary ever so slightly between inches. The more inches you give your swatch, the more accurate your measurement will be. If you can stomach casting on double the recommended stitches, even better.

2. Check your pattern for how the garment is made. It’s important to work your swatch in the same way you will be knitting. Flat knitting in stockinette stitch involves knitting on one side and purling on the other, while round knitting in stockinette simply involves knitting. That alternating purl row helps determine the size of your stitches and will affect your gauge swatch.

Pro Tip: If your sweater is worked in the round, try casting on one of the sleeves first. Your sleeve can act as a gauge measurement. If after 6+ inches your gauge is correct, you can continue with the following steps and pick up the sleeve again when you’re done measuring. If not, it’s much less hassle to rip out a sleeve. Elizabeth Zimmerman famously recommended knitting a hat to match your sweater, but a sleeve is even more useful as it speeds you along on your sweater journey.

3. This might be the most important step. Are you stressed? Watching a thriller/action adventure/horror movie? In a rush? All of these factors will affect your gauge. Try to knit your swatch under similar circumstances in which you’ll be making your project. 

4. Knit for at least 1.5 times the recommended gauge, as in step 1. As with your stitch gauge, your row gauge needs to be large to ensure accuracy. Bind off.

Preparing Your Swatch:

1. Mix a small amount of detergent with cool water in the bowl. Place the swatch in the bowl and wash it the way you would your finished sweater. 

2. Remove the swatch from the bowl and use the towel to roll out any excess water. 

3. Lay your swatch flat on the blocking mats and let it dry. Important: Do not block or pin the swatch.  

Measuring Your Swatch: 

1. Once dry, take your gauge and lay it flat against your swatch. Don’t stretch or manipulate the swatch at all. Measure both the number of stitches and number of rows inside 4 inches. Move the gauge around the middle of the swatch and measure in different places, but try to avoid the cast on and bind off rows. Like edge stitches, they will not provide the most accurate reading. This is why having more than 4 inches is essential—it gives you ample room to take several measurements. Measure to see how many stitches and rows fit within 5 inches as well. Record these different numbers.

2. For the 4-inch measurement, divide the number of stitches and rows by 4. Do the same for the 5-inch measurement, dividing by 5. This will give you the number of stitches and rows per inch. The larger stitch and row measurement will be the most accurate measurement you have. If your gauge matches the pattern gauge, you’re all set!

Troubleshooting Gauge Issues:

1. If your gauge is too small (ie, the pattern calls for 4 stitches to the inch and you are getting more than 4), try going up a needle size. If your gauge is too large (pattern calls for 4 stitches, but you are getting less than 4), try going down a needle size. 

Pro Tip: If changing needle sizes doesn’t work, try changing the kinds of needles you are using. Metal needles tend to be slippery, plastic slightly less so, and wood and bamboo tend to be sticky. Sometimes a large gauge on metal needles will shrink using the same sized bamboo needles. Play around with types of needles to see how your gauge differs between materials. Every knitter is different!

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Winner + Crafting Resolutions for 2018

Happy New Year! We're excited to dive into another year of sharing tips, tricks and techniques with our readers. In our last post, we asked to hear everyone's crafting resolutions, and we got some fabulous responses!

Here are some of the most frequently-mentioned resolutions from our informal reader poll:

We're planning to share lots of blog posts in 2018 which focus on these goals to help you keep your crafty resolutions!

Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to acerani, who won our Leafy Yarn Bowl giveaway with this response:

A sweater! I'm timid about knitting clothes - it's long and challenging, so I hope it turns out wearable!

We will contact our winner via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of the prize.

Thanks for joining us!

What Are Your Crafting Resolutions for 2018?

As 2017 winds down, it's a great time to take stock of your accomplishments for the past 12 months while also making plans for the year ahead. Perhaps you made some resolutions at the start of 2017; were you successful in all of them, or did a few escape your to-do list? Sometimes your priorities change as the year progresses, but you may decide to revisit those forgotten resolutions, or perhaps make new ones, as the calendar begins anew. We know that many knitters and crocheters embark on yearly challenges related to the craft - for instance, by pledging to knit a pair of socks each month, or going "cold sheep" and only knitting or crocheting from one's stash for an entire year.
Even if you don't make an official pledge for 2018, that there is always something new to learn about knitting, crocheting and crafting in general! We look forward to sharing lots of inspiration and tutorials with you in 2018, and we'd love to hear your suggestions for tutorials and other features you'd like to see.

Do you have any special challenges, techniques or projects you hope to tackle in 2018? Tell us about them in the comments for your chance to win a Leafy Yarn Holder from our 2017-18 Collection! Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We will randomly select one lucky blog reader to announce as our winner on our first blog post of 2018.

From all of us a Knitter's Pride, have a safe and happy holiday season. See you in 2018!

Free Patterns: Recipe for Relaxation Knit & Crochet Mason Jar Cozy + Free Printable Gift Tags

The holiday season is in full swing! Today, we have two free patterns for a quick gift you can whip up in just a few hours. These mason jar cozies are a fun and festive way to package a thoughtful gift, and mason jars can hold so many things: colorful candies, hot chocolate or baking ingredients, or relaxing bath salts (we share our favorite recipe below!). Whether you knit or crochet, we've got you covered with this simple pattern using a bulky weight yarn. Enjoy!

Recipe for Relaxation: Relaxing Bath Salts
Depending on the size of your jar, you will need to double, triple, or quadruple this base recipe. You'll need 1/2 c. Epsom salts (found at most grocery or drug stores), 1/2 c. baking soda, and 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Some popular choices include lavender (relaxing), rose absolute (relieves anxiety), bergamot (uplifting), eucalyptus (great for cold & flu season), or tangerine (calming). Mix everything together in a clean bowl and transfer to your mason jar.

Crochet Mason Jar Cozy


Gauge: 11 stitches and 16 rounds = 4" in single crochet

Finished Dimensions: To fit 3" circumference jar (see pattern notes for how to adjust for other sizes); 3.5" height

sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
rnd(s) - round(s)

To Make Cozy:

Begin with a magic ring - sc 6 stitches. Use removable stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round as you work; you will be working in a continuous spiral unless otherwise noted. 

Increase Rnd 1: sc twice in each stitch. 12 stitches. 
Increase Rnd 2: *sc 1 stitch, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 18 stitches.
Increase Rnd 3: *sc 2 stitches, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Increase Rnd 4: *sc 3 stitches, sc twice in next stitch, repeat from * to end of round. 30 stitches.

Note: You can adjust final circumference by working fewer increase rounds (for a smaller jar) or working additional increase rounds (for a larger jar). For a larger cozy, simply add 1 more sc stitch between increases. 

Work turning rnd: sc all stitches through the back loop only. When you reach the end of the round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Chain 1 stitch.

For next 2 rnds, sc all stitches. When you reach the end of the second round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Chain 3 stitches.

Next rnd: Skip first stitch of rnd, *DC in next stitch, skip next stitch and chain 1, repeat from * to end of rnd. When you reach the end of the round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round to close. Chain 1 stitch.

Single crochet all stitches until you reach desired height (sample shown measures 3.5 inches from turning rnd). When you reach the end of the final round, slip stitch in the first stitch at the beginning of that round. Break yarn and pull through loop to secure. Weave in ends. 

Knit Mason Jar Cozy


Gauge: 16 stitches and 18 rounds = 4" in stockinette stitch

Finished Dimensions: To fit 3" circumference jar (see pattern notes for how to adjust for other sizes); 4" height

k - knit
kf&b - knit into front and back on 1 stitch (1 stitch increased)
k2tog - knit 2 stitches together (1 stitch decreased)
p - purl
yo - yarn over

To Make Cozy:

Cast on 6 stitches. Use removable stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round as you work; you will be working in a continuous spiral. 

Increase Rnd 1: kf&b 12 stitches. 
Increase Rnd 2: *k1, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 18 stitches.
Increase Rnd 3: *k2, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Increase Rnd 4: *k3, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 30 stitches.
Increase Rnd 5: *k4, kf&b, repeat from * to end of round. 36 stitches.

Note: You can adjust final circumference by working fewer increase rounds (for a smaller jar) or working additional increase rounds (for a larger jar). For a larger cozy, simply add 1 more knit stitch between increases. 

Work turning rnd: p all stitches. 

Work 3 rnds in stockinette stitch (k all stitches).

Eyelet rnd: *yo, k2tog, repeat from * to end of round.

Work in stockinette stitch (k all stitches) until you are approximately 1/2" from desired height from turning rnd (sample shown measures 3.5 inches from turning rnd).

P 1 rnd.
K 1 rnd.
P 1 rnd. 

Bind off all stitches knitwise. Break yarn and pull through loop to secure. Weave in ends.

Since it's the season of giving, we have two more bonuses for you this month!

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Crochet Provisional Cast-On 2 Ways

First, congratulations to caffeine72,  our winner for this month's blog giveaway. We will contact you to arrange for the delivery of your prize!

From time to time, you'll come across a knitting pattern requiring a provisional cast on. This is very common for infinity cowls which are worked flat and then seamed together, for example. By grafting the live stitches from both ends together, the knitter is able to create a nearly invisible join rather than seaming the cast-on and bound-off edges, which often produces a bulky or visible seam. This technique can also be used in other projects, such as sideways-knit hats, toe-up socks, or unique sweater constructions. Today, we'll show you two ways to create an easy-to-remove provisional cast on using the crochet cast-on method.

You'll need your working yarn and knitting needles, some scrap yarn (enough for your provisional cast-on), and a crochet hook that is similar in size or slightly larger than the knitting needles you'll be using.

Method #1: Picking Up Stitches from a Chain

Step 1: With waste yarn, make a slip knot and slide onto your crochet hook.

Step 2: Wrap the working end of your yarn around the hook from front to back (as shown below) and pull this loop through the slip knot to create your first chain stitch.

Step 3: Continue wrapping the yarn around the hook from front to back and pulling the loop through the stitch on the hook to create chain stitches. You will need to chain the number of stitches needed for your cast on PLUS a few extras (about 5-10 additional chain stitches will work). Cut yarn and pull through the final loop to secure.

Step 4: You will now be using your working yarn to pick up stitches from the chain you've created. The top of your chain will look similar to a bound off edge; you will need to flip the chain over - the bumps on the bottom of the chain (where the yellow arrows are pointing in the image below) are where you will inserting your needle to pick up each stitch.

With your working yarn and needle and beginning at the slip knot that started the chain, insert needle from front to back, wrap the yarn around the needle as you would do when picking up stitches from a knit fabric, and pull the loop through the chain stitch bump to create a stitch on your knitting needle. Leave this stitch on the needle and repeat the process until you have picked up the required number of stitches.

Step 5: You can now begin knitting with your working yarn (either in the round or flat) to follow your pattern instructions. When it is time to unzip the provisional cast-on, you will begin at the extra stitches at the end of the chain (if you were wondering, the extra stitches make it easier for you to find later on!). Simply take the yarn end and pull it the opposite way through the final loop - you should now be able to quickly and easily "unzip" the provisional yarn, allowing you to move these live stitches onto a knitting needle to be worked according the pattern instructions.

Method #2: On-Needle Method

Step 1: With waste yarn, make a slip knot and slide onto your crochet hook (see image for Step 1 above).

Step 2: Arrange your knitting needle and crochet hook in your left hand as pictured below (they should be parallel).

Step 3: Secure the stitch on the crochet hook while you wrap the working yarn around the back of the knitting needle, bringing it over the needle and to the front of the crochet hook.

Step 4: Pull the working yarn through the stitch on the crochet hook.

Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 & 4 until you have 1 stitch less than the total number of desired stitches on your needle.

Step 6: Transfer the stitch that is on your crochet hook to the knitting needle.

Step 7: You can now begin knitting with your working yarn (either in the round or flat) to follow your pattern instructions. When it is time to unzip the provisional cast-on, you will need to begin at the end with the slip knot to begin unraveling your provisional cast-on. This is sometimes a little tricky to get started, but if you think of it as though you were trying to untangle a knot, that can be helpful!

Bonus: This method can also be used as a regular cast-on method, using only your working yarn. Although it is not as stretchy as some cast-on methods, it requires less yarn than some methods, and it also more closely resembles the bound-off edge.

We hope you found this tutorial helpful for your next project - and if you like this post, be sure to share it on Pinterest!

Free Holiday Planning Printables from Knitter's Pride

The holidays will be here before you know it, and now is the perfect time to get all of your plans in place, allowing you to celebrate the season stress-free! We've created two free printables to help you keep track of your handmade gifts and other essential holiday tasks, from wrapping gifts to making cookies (and there's plenty of space to add in your own to-do's, too).

Make your list and check it twice, then relax and enjoy the season knowing that everything is taken care of!

Click here to sign up for our newsletter and you'll receive both of these PDF's as our free gift to you! If you already subscribe, we've already sent them your way - simply check your inbox for a download link.

Giveaway Time!

If you're knitting or crocheting holiday gifts this year (or even if you aren't!), what's keeping you entertained as you work? Do you listen to podcasts, "Netflix and knit," or keep up with your favorite YouTube channels? Let us know in the comments for your chance to win a set of Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers. One lucky person will be randomly selected as our winner to announce here on our blog on Friday, November 24.

If you haven't yet watched The Knit Show with Vickie Howell, we highly recommend checking it out! Knitter's Pride is proud to sponsor 9 of the 10 episodes, each of which has an interesting theme (such as big knits, color, or amigurumi), lots of fun guests, and free patterns, too! Click here to check it out.

Last but not least, congratulations to Valerie A, who won last month's giveaway - we will contact you to arrange for the delivery of your prize!

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