Stash Busting. If you’re new to yarn, then this term might sound weird to you. (Not to be confused with Stache Busting, where a bunch of guys get together and groom each other for Movember.)

The knitter’s (or hooker’s or weaver’s) stash is their yarn that isn’t in use. The stash might contain some yarn collections that are large enough for a whole project (like enough of one colour for a sweater), but typically it’s full of partially used balls of yarn, one or two skeins of a colour. It can be a bit of a hodgepodge of colours, weights and fibres. But because yarn is so nice and lovely (and let’s be honest, expensive), it’s hard to get rid of. I have little tiny balls of pretty yarn that wouldn’t be enough for a coaster, and I can’t throw them out.

Busting a stash is finding a project that will use a significant collection of small amounts of yarn.

Stash busting is tricky. Yes, you could make a crazy striped pullover for your husband and force him to wear it, but is that kind?

I recently organized my stash, and I’m on the hunt for the next stash busting knitting (or even crocheting) project. A good stash busting project, I think, should let you use several colours, and not require extensive planning. I love projects that let you switch colours ad hoc.

Blankets

Bear’s Rainbow Blanket from Purl Soho is one of my favourite stash busting patterns out there. There’s something about a colour palette that uses all the colours that draws me in:

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Vivid by tincanknits on Ravelry is a lovely patchwork blanket for knitters:

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The Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence for Knit Picks goes a little beyond stash busting. The shifting colours aren’t random, so you’d have to have a lot of colours in your stash! But it’s gorgeous:

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Granny Square projects

Ah, the humble crocheted granny square. It’s getting quite a lot of action these days. And with good reason. The Granny Square is easy to make (it’s a great beginner pattern). Because you crochet into the spaces between stitches, not the stitches themselves, you can work a granny square without looking at it.

Purl Soho, as usual, has a beautiful modern interpretation of the Granny Square afghan, with their Giant Giant Granny Square Blanket:

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And why not granny circles? Here’s a lovely example of a crocheted circle in many colours by Kate Lore on Ravelry:5806322715_8ce8acfa59_z

And I love how homey crocheted stool covers look; almost kitsch. Here’s a lovely example of a crocheted stool cover from tangledyarns on Ravelry:

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And that stool cover led me to another design by tangledyarns, this crocheted cushion cover on Ravelry. A lot less work than a blanket, but lots of impact:

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Mosaic

I always feel like mosaic stitches are under-appreciated. Mosaic stitch uses two colours, usually with a garter stitch base. Knitting a mosaic stitch is quite easy; if you can garter stitch and count, then you can knit mosaic stitch. But it looks quite complex. The secret sauce of mosaic is in slipping stitches. You knit with one colour at a time, but slip stitches from the previous row in the contrast colour, to form intricate geometric patterns.

The fabric made from mosaic is quite dense and lies flat, great for blankets and wraps.

Purl Soho, once again, shows us how it’s done, with their Mosaic Blanket.

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In 2011, I used mosaic stitch for my Rustic Wrap pattern for Creative Knitting. Sadly, the edition of the magazine is out of print. But you can come up with your own creation! Grab yourself a copy of Barbara Walker’s Knitting Treasuries, and flip to the mosaic section. Find some patterns that look nice together and start swatching. Once you get the hang of it, you can make your own designs easily by charting them on graph paper.

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Shawls & Scarves

The thing that got me interested in crochet was the name Sophie Digard that kept popping up on Pinterest. These whimsical, painterly, crocheted scarves are really something. Sophie Digard designs are inventive and colourful; it reminds me of when Kaffe Fassett got knitters excited for colour.

If I had the skill and patience, this would be an amazing project. An image of a crocheted Sophie Digard design from Scarlet Jones Melbourne.

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Linen stitch

Linen stitch, like mosaic stitch (above), makes a dense flat fabric, and is easy to work. There are many lovely projects on Ravelry using linen stitch (also called fabric stitch) for scarves. The Churchmouse Yarns and Teas linen stitch scarf pattern is the first version of this I remember seeing. The pattern uses Koigu yarns, but of course you could use other makes of yarn.
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Colour blocking

Colour blocking is one of my favourites ways to play with colour. Less busy than stripes, colour blocks are large chunks of colour and they can vary in size.

My Lyric shawl/scarf pattern looks gorgeous in a single colour in lace, but it’s also a lot of fun in a heavier weight with colour blocks. Each block uses less than a skein. (The model, by the way, is the lovely Nicole of The Gentle Knitter podcast and Cocoknits blog):

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And once again, Purl Soho has a gorgeous sense of colour with their seed stitch, colour blocked, Gradient Cowl:

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Stripes

With some creative stripes, you can bust your yarn stash with a scarf or shawl. Outline by Beata Jezek for Hedgehog Fibres is pretty stunning. It reminds me of a Missoni textile design. The eclectic combinations in this let you use those little bits of colour that are hard to fit in elsewhere; what I love about this picture is the bright greenish-yellow mixed with the variegated neutrals. And it’s a free knitting pattern!

Picture: Miki Barlok
Picture: Miki Barlok

Modular knitting

The Aranami Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is so dramatic, what a fun way to play with colour. The construction looks interesting; you build one scallop (or wave) at a time and pick up stitches when you add a new one.

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What are some of your favourite stash busters?

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