Aug 27, 2017

Stashbusting Strategies (Part III)

Beautiful fall and winter yarns are beginning to arrive in yarn stores, so late summer/early fall is the ideal time for some serious stashbusting. Stashes are an important part of our creative life, but to avoid becoming overwhelmed, it's vital to have a full range of use-it-up strategies at our fingertips. Luckily, almost any project can become a stashbuster, but some fulfill that role more readily than others.

Today, I'm focusing on afghans, but the basic concepts can be applied to many projects, especially shawls, scarves and wraps. With that in mind, let's look at a few designs and explore their stashbusting potential, and if a particular design captures your imagination, you can click the bold title to learn more about the pattern.


The possibilities here are endless. You could:
  • Create a Missoni-like effect by using rainbow CCs and changing colors every few rows. 
  • Use a mix of broad, medium and narrow color bands to make the most of yarn on hand.
  • Work the top and bottom triangles in your MC, then work alternating MC and CC stripes. 
  • Work each chevron in a different handspun set against a contrasting MC.
  • Create a tone-on-tone effect by working the MC and chevron bands in closely related colors.

Herlacyn  (WIP: pattern coming soon)

Derived from an Old English phrase that referred to colorful harlequin patterns, Herlacyn by its very nature offers great stashbusting potential. You could:
  • Pair six related CCs with one MC as shown to create an ombre or gradient effect.
  • Reverse the look by working the diamonds in CCs and triangles in an MC.
  • Choose three colors and one MC, then work each strip with the MC and one CC.
  • Choose four colors and one MC, then use the same CC for all the triangles in one row.


This fast and easy design has nearly infinite use-it-up potential. You could:

  • Work every block in a different rainbow color using partials and leftovers.
  • Make a simple grid using one MC for seams and trim, and one CC for blocks.
  • Create a diagonal gradient similar to what's shown by using multiple shades of the same color
  • Produce a checkerboard using just two CCs and working blocks in alternating colors.


Tikkyn, too, has great stashbusting promise. Instead of rainbow colors, you could:
  • Work each block in different neutrals such as shades of cream, sand, tan, taupe and brown.
  • Pair two closely related colors for each strip and work two-tone strips rather than blocks. Go bright and vibrant, subtle and sophisticated, or rich and gem-like.
  • Emphasize texture rather than color to use up stashed afghan or sweater quantities. Simply work the entire blanket in one color such as creamy yellow for a baby or grey for a guy.
  • Adopt one of the color strategies featured in Beyond the Block: 20 Surefire Configurations.


Faced with a growing pile of leftovers and partial skeins from many multicolored projects, I needed a design that offered infinite ways to put these lovely leftovers to good use. Valere was the result and to maximize its potential, you could:

  • Work it in an array of rainbow colors, similar to what's shown.  link to cream version
  • Put leftovers to good use by making striped rather than solid banners. 
  • Focus solely on two colors (one MC, one CC).
  • Produce a gradient effect by working each banner in yarn from the same color family.

Afghans and blankets are easily adaptable and ideally suited to stashbusting efforts. After seven years of diligent stashbusting, my stash is at a comfortable size (not too big, not too small), and it all fits into the designated storage space. It's also been reshaped to more accurately reflect my current fiber, color and project preferences, which is a decided plus.

Because the thought of being entirely stashless makes me twitchy, I can't envision a day without yarn in reserve for midnight forays, quick gifts and experimental swatching. That's why periodically, I buckle down and focus on stashbusting projects. It puts lovely yarns to good use and frees up space for fresh infusions of fiber.

Hopefully, these ideas will provide ideas and inspiration for transforming your stash into unique and useful hand knits worked from the treasure trove hidden in your stash.

What are your favorite stashbusting tips and tricks?




  1. Great use of stash. Love the designs and colors. Great ideas. Keep them coming.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Mary, so glad you've found some ideas and inspiration that might prove useful.


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