Jun 12, 2016

Stashbusting Strategies (Part I)

Not all knitters have stashes, but most of us do.

This means stashbusting strategies are an essential part of our lives as makers, and heaven knows, they're a big part of mine. Now, truthfully, almost any project can with planning and care be adapted to serve as a stashbuster, but we all know some fulfill that purpose better than others.

Examples are always helpful, so let's look at a few projects and explore specific ways to leverage the stashbusting potential they offer.

Alaris Shawl

This modular cape-poncho-ruana-shawl offers infinite stashbusting possibilities. You could:
  • Do something comparable to the version above and pair a single solid color with variegated yarns or a smooth yarn with a nubby one. (I did both.) 
  • Use up singletons by working each panel in a different shade, or create tone-on-tone stripes with closely related colors. 
  • Work the top, middle and bottom thirds in different shades of the same color for an appealing ombre effect.
  • Adopt a multi-strand approach to move lots of yardage out of stash. (LOSY shawl, anyone? See this conversion chart for general guidelines.)

Dojeling Shawl
This easy triangular shawl readily adapts to a stash-based strategy. You could:
  • Select two precious skeins with equal yardage and work two-row stripes and solid wings to make the most of every single yard. 
  • Adopt a color block approach and work the center panel in one color and each wing in a different one.
  • Subdue a wayward variegated by pairing it with a closely related solid shade worked in alternating stripes.
  • Pair a single MC with CC leftovers and work an ever-changing series of contrasting stripes.
  • Choose mix-and-match skeins that appeal to your eye, take the plunge and start knitting.

Breidan Afghan

Breidan's simple design and classic stitch accommodate yarns in any weight. To burn through stash:
  • Pick a rainbow array of solids with similar weights and use a different color for each strip.
  • Or choose assorted neutrals and do the same.
  • Take an afghan quantity (AQ) of matching yarn, use it for the strips and seams, or use a contrasting orphan skein for the seams.
  • Compile an afghan quantity (AQ) by selecting yarns in closely related colors (as I've done), then work each strip in a different shade for an ombre effect.

Someday, I'd like to knit this as a classic nine-patch (three strips with three blocks each). Until that day comes, here are options to consider:

  • Scale it up by adding more blocks to a strip or more strips to the layout, or scale it down to suit yarn on hand by working fewer blocks/strips.
  • Opt for a traditional color block strategy, choosing one MC and two CCs to create a checkerboard pattern.
  • Use up tricky variegated skeins by selecting a unifying MC and using a different variegated for each block (or strip).
  • Use a similar strategy if you have lots of yarn in one color family: Pick a unifying MC and work each block/strip in a different CC.

Drumlin Afghan

This fast, easy knit readily lends itself to stashbusting. You could:

  • Do what I did for the Bright version above, and work each strip with two closely related colors for muted stripes.
  • Make solid strips in widths tailored to the amount of yarn you have (a strategy I used for both Gemtones and Almost Neutral).
  • Create high contrast stripes by pairing a very light shade with a very deep one for a striking effect.

Flashpoint Afghan

This pattern is infinitely scalable, so it's very easy to adjust the triangular modules up or down to suit yarn on hand. To put stubborn stash to good use:

  • Try working each triangle in a different color, fiber or a mix of both.
  • Add a touch of whimsy, and work each seam and border in a different shade as well. 
  • If you have a large quantity of one or two colors, use them for the modules and choose a contrasting color for seams and trim.

Twegen Afghan

As the first afghan pattern I released, Twegen holds a special place in my knitterly heart. From the beginning, it was conceived as a stashbusting design, and it's achieved that goal admirably. To accomplish the same:

  • Scale the width and/or length to accommodate yarn on hand.
  • Use a rainbow assortment of singletons to create something pretty and productive.
  • Choose a handful of neutrals and make solid or two-tone strips similar to Twegen Coffee.
  • Pair closely related colors to transform ugly yarns into something lovely.
  • Subdue variegated, confetti or speckled skeins, and prevent pooling and splotches by pairing a closely related solid shade with the multi-colored yarn.

These are easy strategies that work with almost any project, so mix and match them in any way that works for you. My hope is they'll inspire you to examine your stash with fresh eyes and come up with creative ways to tame your own yarny hoard. Not only is it remarkably rewarding to convert stagnant stash into something pretty and purposeful, but once you've pared things down, it seems only reasonable to reward your diligence. 

Perhaps a fresh infusion of new yarn would do the trick?



For more on stashes and stashbusting:

Stashbusting? 3 Reasons to Buy More Yarn
Yarn Logic
Room to Spare


  1. Great suggestions, I see some stashbusting projects in my near future.


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