This is a post that’s been brewing for a while, and is a follow up to my post 5 Rules For Playing Yarn Chicken which I wrote a few months ago. Running out of yarn does not always have to mean a project needs binning, frogging or resigning to the Unfinished Object heap-there are plenty of ways to deal with it!
I’m going to start with solutions for when you ‘know’ you’re going to run short well in advance, for example if you know that you’re a few yards short but you’re using some very swish hand dyed yarn that you can’t get more of. If it’s variegated yarn you could pick out one of the colours and use another yarn that matches (or contrast well!) to work the ribbing on garments (and heels/toes on socks) or the border etc for blankets. It might be that there is a place you can make a contrasting stripe before continuing in the original yarn-this looks especially effective on blankets. A series of stripes worked in as part of the design can also make it look as if you had planned it all along and definitely weren’t running out of yarn.
I am a serial weigher when it comes to my yarn and estimating whether I have enough-I tend to weight the ball of yarn before and after a row/round and calculate the amount required compared to the amount I have. At least then I’m braced for the impending disaster and can formulate an action plan. (My digital kitchen scales from ASDA, which were really cheap, are surprisingly accurate!)
If you get the end of a project and are literally a few inches of yarn short, there are a couple of things you can do to reach the end of that last row or round.
- Frog the last row/round or two and rework them, perhaps with a slightly tighter tension. This works really well with acrylic yarn as it stretches, so you’ll probably find that you all of a sudden have enough yarn without it affecting the appearance of your project. I haven’t tried it when using other fibres, so feel free to leave a comment below if you have tried it and share whether it worked for you or not.
- Frog the last row and go down a hook/needle size. I’ve used this method on blankets before and if you only make a subtle change you can eke out your remaining yarn without compromising on the pattern or appearance. (I’ve not tried this with knitting, but I know that in my set the sizes increase in 0.25mm increments so that size difference is negligible, but could save a lot of yarn over a few hundred stitches. Again, please share your experiences with this in the comments!)
If you really are short of yarn, combining the above tips might well help you to complete your project without purchasing more yarn (and praying that the dye lots purchased months apart match!)
Another thing worth considering if you are making a blanket in rounds is whether you can just use up what you have of the main colour and make a wider border using a contrast colour, so that you still get the size you want. It’s amazing what combinations of colours you can come up with when you raid your stash. It can be done really subtly-unless of course you are trying to recreate the ’80s, in which case anything goes!
If all else fails, you could just swear, stamp your feet and throw it in a dark corner until you’re ready to try and deal with it (or frog it).
How do you make sure you win at yarn chicken? Do you have any more tips to add?