Estimating yarn weight plus more uses for leftover yarn scraps

Last time I wrote about uses I had for my leftover yarn tails, all the uses were related in some way to crochet. The uses I have this week are yarn related but not crochet related. Most of these are activities for kids to do. For the most part, these are all activities that I did with my children during the last school holidays. As you will see from some of the photos, some of the projects will need to be finished during the next holidays (if not sooner).

Before I begin with the ideas, I thought I'd share what I do to figure out approximately what the yarn weight of the scraps is. Because the yarn isn't necessarily my own scraps (as I said, my friends collect scraps for me), I don't always know exactly what type of yarn it is or the yarn weight. The following photo shows the latest batch of scraps of yarn from one friend:

 As you can see, there are lots of different colours, yarn weights and amounts (in some cases even a small ball or two of what looks to be sock yarn). I pulled out just 4 of the longer bits to use for estimating yarn weight in this blog post:

To figure out an approximate yarn weight I wrapped the yarn around a pencil, put it next to a ruler and measured how many wraps were in an inch.

That gave me an approximate weight for the yarn based on a method and chart I found on Craftsy. The two pink yarn scraps above gave about 25 WPI (wraps per inch) which equates to nothing on the chart: it comes somewhere between a yarn weight 0 and 1 (lace weight and fingering weight, respectively). The other two both had 15 WPI which equates to Sport weight yarn (weight 2), although I suspect both of those are probably closer to DK weight yarn (weight 3).

I also was given another lot of yarn tails from another friend weaving in her ends (she appears to be a bit more generous with her ends than me - most of these are about 25 cm in length, my leftover ends are usually about 10 cm): 

These were all from the same project (I think from memory she'd been making something with granny squares) and the WPI was also 15 but I'm pretty sure it was also about DK weight rather than Sport weight (I may have to work on my yarn wrapping technique since I'm not doing a great job here of getting my yarn weights accurate).

Anyway, here are some more things you can do with those leftover bits and pieces:

1 Making pompoms

If you are making these from small amounts of yarn (1-2 m) then you will end up with a small pompom. I made some of these during the last school holidays with my oldest child. I made 2 pompoms using 2 different weight yarns. The first was made with one of the scraps of pink fine yarn (weight 0-1). The scrap was about 1.35 m long. The second pompom I made with the blue yarn scrap which was also about 1.35 m long (about DK weight 3).

 

To make the pompoms all you need is your scrap of yarn, a fork and some scissors. 

Cut a small length of yarn from your scrap (about 4 cm long) and put it in the middle of the prongs. 

Wind the rest of the yarn around the outside prongs of the fork, then tie the shorter scrap around the middle of the longer scrap.

You can then either take the yarn off the fork before cutting the sides or you can trim it while it is on the fork (the former is a little easier to do).

 

2 Making Matariki stars

Matariki is the Māori name for the Pleiades cluster of stars. It is also the name of the brightest of the stars in that cluster that is visible to the naked eye and associated with Māori new year (which occurs about mid-winter here in Aotearoa - typically around mid-June). In recent years an effort has been made to celebrate Matariki in various ways, especially at preschools and schools. This year my younger children used scrap yarn to make Matariki stars using circles of cardboard with slits cut into them and lengths of scrap yarn. 

The kids made theirs whatever way they liked using the slits to anchor the yarn. I tried to make mine in a little more ordered fashion. I discovered that if you wrap the yarn between slits that are 3 apart, then go back to the next unworked slit, round another 3 and so on, you can end up with a nice star shape. I used the last little bit of yarn from each star to make a little loop at the top to hand it up as a decoration. As you can see from the examples below, you don't have to stick with just one colour of yarn but can use lots of different scraps (the last version looks more like what my children produced for their stars).

 

3 As a decoration on a sewing project

This may only work with the thicker ribbon yarn, however, I thought I'd share it anyway. My oldest often wants to do sewing in the school holidays. I have an extra sewing machine (my grandmother's old one) and he's now pretty good at using it. So, last school holidays, he decided to make "Santa hats". I had been given some longer scraps of colourful ribbon yarn so we cut out some hat shapes with felt and then glued on some ribbon yarn to the bottom of each as a decoration (and added a homemade pompom to the top) and then he sewed the fabric together to make a hat. The photos below show the had before all the sewing had been completed.

4 Making a plaited rope (Kumihimo)

I can't remember where I saw the idea of making a plaited rope using scrap yarn. A friend tells me that this is a Japanese technique called "Kumihimo". I tried it at first with little balls of scrap yarn. However, I think it works better if you have shorter lengths of yarn (up to 1-2 m long) as then you don't get everything tangled up as much. Like the Matariki stars, you begin with a circle of cardboard with 8 slits cut into it evenly around the circle. This time you also have a hole in the centre of the circle. The hole needs to be just big enough to thread through 7 pieces of yarn which you then anchor with a knot. You then put the other ends of your yarn into 7 of the slits around the edge of your cardboard circle. The idea is that you then look at the gap and count 3 slits from the gap and move the yarn from that slot to the empty slot. You then repeat with the next empty slot and so on and as you go you end up with a plait of yarn coming out the bottom where your knot is. There are a couple of tricks I learned when I tried this. The first I've already mentioned: make sure your strands of yarn are not too long or you will end up with lots of tangles. The other trick is not to pull the knot down at the centre but to let the slits keep the tension while you are plaiting. I learned the hard way that instead of getting a nice tight plait, there were some places where things went a bit wrong the first time I attempted to do this.


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