Jan 8, 2017

Stashbusting Strategies (Part II)

For many of us, the start of a new year brings a renewed focus on stashbusting.

We tidy our yarn bins and flash our stashes. We analyze how much yarn we processed last year, and compare it to the number of new skeins that sneaked in the door. We log new yarn into our stash database, create spreadsheets and swear on our favorite fiber bible to knit first from stash. We begin scouring the internet and sites like Ravelry, searching for stashbusting designs and useful strategies to help us transform stash yarn into something pretty and purposeful.

For some, that's where the whole thing begins to unravel. They're sincere and committed, but have difficulty translating that commitment into action. If that statement resonates, this post is for you.

Color is a very powerful stashbusting tool, so that's where we'll focus today. And because examples are always helpful, let's use the Lucben Reversible Afghan to illustrate some basic approaches. The stitch is easy, the concept is classic, and the blanket is worked in strips rather than blocks so it comes together quickly. The smallest size takes about 530 yards, and as an added plus, the pattern adapts to any yarn weight and includes detailed yardage breakouts for each block, strip and finished afghan to make adaptations easier.

Whether you're devoted to knitting from stash, buying new yarn, or doing a mix of both, here are seven color strategies to try:

1.  Gradient/Ombre 1  (Lucben Rose and Lucben Tidepool shown above)
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins.
Approach: Create a diagonal gradient using five shades from the same color family.
Yarn: 1 MC, 5 CCs

2. Gradient/Ombre 2
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins.
Approach: Create a diagonal gradient using three shades from related color families.
Yarn: 1 MC, 3 CCs

3. Gradient/Ombre 3
Strategy: Use orphan and singleton skeins.
Approach: Create a vertical gradient using three shades from one color family.
Yarn: 1 MC, 3 CCs

4. Tone on Tone
Strategy: Use multiple skeins of the same yarn.
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in closely related colors.
Yarn: 1 MC, 1 CC

5. Checkerboard
Strategy: Use multiple skeins of compatible yarns.
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in contrasting colors.
Yarn: 1 MC, 2 CCs

6. Monochromatic
Strategy: Use SQ (sweater quantity) or AQ (afghan quantity) skeins.
Approach: Work blocks, seams and trim in a single shade.
Yarn: 1 MC (for illustration purposes, seams and borders are shown in a lighter shade)

7. Rainbow
Strategy: Use leftovers, partials and mini-skeins.
Approach: Combine a rainbow of colors with a unifying MC.
Yarn: 1 MC, 9 CCs

Lucben serves as a practical way to illustrate these concepts, but you can apply them to Tikkyn, Color Check or any block-based afghan design. The goal is to inspire you to see your stash with fresh eyes and help you discover new possibilities.

Make the most of yarn on hand by working rectangles instead of squares, adding more blocks, making additional strips, or doing a combination of all three. Be brave and experiment. Mix and match different yarns to achieve the look you envision, just make sure they play well together and have similar care requirements.

Try multi-stranding to use up lighter weight yarns and quickly burn through lots of yardage. (LOSY blanket, anyone?) If you can't find everything you need in your stash, do what I do, and buy the yarn you need to leverage the skeins you have.

If stashbusting is a priority, consider joining the Stash Knit Down group on Ravelry. The folks are fun, supportive and helpful, and it's motivating to see the creative ways they put stash yarn to great use.

Meanwhile, feel free to share your favorite stashbusting strategies, goals for the year and whatever else is on your mind.


PS: If you're seeking more ideas and inspiration, you may find these posts helpful:
Stashbusting? 3 Reasons to Buy More Yarn
Ombres & Gradients (series)
Color Talk
Yarn Logic
Best of Both Worlds


  1. Useful ideas, thanks for sharing. And perfect timing, since stashbusting is at the top of my list for 2017 ;)

    1. You're welcome, hope some of these ideas prove useful!

  2. Oh, I need some stashbusting strategies! This is a great one!

    1. Good to know, Emily, thanks! Let us know which ideas work best for you.

  3. Ooh, what a great idea! Thanks for the inspiration - I'm taken by those blues. You gotta keep looking at your stash in different ways, that's for sure.

    1. You're so right, we all need to keep finding ways to see our stash with fresh eyes and fresh ideas :)


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