Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Matching yarns to projects: a clickable list

Today I want to share a tool I put together to help me overhaul and organize my stash yarns.  Ready?

Often we're inspired by knit or crochet projects to pull together yarn and tools.  But when you start accumulating a lot of yarn, sometimes it's necessary to work in the other direction.

Today's clickable list, with links to pattern categories in Ravelry, is meant to help you do that and maximize your Make time.

Matching Yarn to a Project

Each yarn has its own qualities - its own colour, fiber, and weight.  Sometimes two different yarns in the same fiber can have very different itch factors, depending on how they were processed, and sometimes they can have very different fluff factors, too.  All these things make them more or less appropriate for different applications.


You wouldn't make a fingering-weight baby blanket out of super scratchy yarn that works up as stiff as a board.

You probably wouldn't enjoy a coffee cup cuff with fibers so long and floaty they get into your mouth with every sip.

As very busy crafty people, it's good to be able to hit on the best applications quickly, so we can stop starting blankly at a yarn and start knitting with it.   So let's look at the key factors of each yarn, and what you might do with it.  If it makes things easier for you, you could sort out your yarns either by these categories, or by the ones that follow them - ideas for projects you might actually make with them.

Note: remember, what we're covering here is general project categories.  When it comes to specifics, you will probably not want to choose a 100% lace or cabled project for a self-striping yarn, and variegated yarns are best for stitches that break up any blocks of colour.

Itch Factor

Everybody has their own tolerance for itch; some people really love wearing a hardy farm yarn right next to their skin, and others find silk a little too itchy to bear.  Determine for yourself whether a yarn is too itchy for next-to-skin projects: if yes, it's automatically disqualified for that kind of project.  Easy first consideration.


Do you have enough for a sweater or blanket or other large project?  If not, can you pair it with something similar in your stash for such a thing?  If no, you can go straight to looking at smaller projects.  If yes, it might be kind of  a waste not to take advantage of the opportunity - but that's up to you.

Fluff Factor

Some yarns knit flat, some have some halo - little fibers that stand off the fabric and are visible when it's viewed from the sides - and some are so fluffy they could be taken for an angora cat.  Fluff adds bulk, and it can get into your mouth, so you might not want it for a cowl (or the cowl part of a sweater) to pull up over your face in winter storms.  Also, fluff can be kind of a fashion choice.  Some people just won't wear extreme or even moderate fluff levels in spite of loving them wrapped over a hot water bottle.  Is your yarn super fluffy?  Set it aside for projects or people where that's an advantage.


Some yarns are too fragile for hard-wearing items like socks or mittens or slippers.  For example, a snugly-spun merino wool can work very well for socks, or an alpaca spun with nylon or mohair, but a loosely spun alpaca could wear itself into holes before it hits a half-dozen wears.  Other yarns, especially super soft loosely spun ones, are prone to pilling - which can be annoying to discover under the arms of a sweater you spent forever knitting.  You can learn more about how a specific yarn will stand up by reading the comments tabs in Ravelry's yarn database, an amazing resource that has prevented me from making many an expensive mistake.

Project Categorization

1. Is it soft enough to wear next to your skin?  If no, then scroll down to #2.  If yes, then review the following, with fluff factor and durability in mind.

If you've got a lot of this yarn, consider knitting...

Pullover Sweaters

If you've got less of this yarn, consider knitting...

Hand coverings

Hardly any yarn left? consider knitting...

Afghan blocks
Bath mitts
Anything in the previous two groups, but sized for babies

... plus anything on the scratchy list.

2. Anything too scratchy for next-to-skin use would work for these items, if durability and fluff factor suit.

If you've got a lot of this yarn, consider knitting...

Pet Bedding

If you've got less of this yarn, consider knitting...

Hats - if you use a next-to-skin yarn for the ribbing or as brim liner
Outer-Layer Shawls
Outer-Layer Shrugs
Table Runners
Christmas stockings
Slippers to wear over socks

Hardly any yarn left? consider knitting...

Appliques or embellishments
Doll Clothes
Sachet casings
Single Coasters
Cosies for anything from books to teapots
Pot Holders
Pet toys
Hanging ornaments

These links are just a start - Ravelry has lots more categories to choose from, and within each of them, you can filter the results by yarn weight, fiber, and exact yardage.  With luck and enough time, this inspiration list should get your yarn stash cleared up in no time!


Leslie said...

You've given me things to do that aren't work related...this could be bad...

Mary Keenan said...

Oops! Sorry Leslie ;^)