I hate throwing craft supplies away. Take, for example, the two dollar bag of scratchy vintage tapestry wool in the absolute nastiest colors in the universe that I purchased from a garage sale three years ago. Oh, and tapestry wool apparently means “chopped into little pieces for you already.” Useless. Still, have I yet unburdened myself of this fibrous disaster? Of course not. I have an illness.
And eventually every crocheter or knitter ends up with a basket or bag or drawer or whatever filled with little yarny leftovers – and there are multitudes of patterns online for 100 yards or less. Honestly, though, most of them aren’t to my taste. That, and most of my scraps are MUCH less than 100 yards, further limiting my options for them.
ENTER THE RUSSIAN JOIN! (Tutorial here)
As soon as I learned about the Russian join the gears started turning with plans for my little leftover yarn-ball buddies. Scary plans involving Human Centipede style freak surgery, ending in this Frankenball.
Technically speaking, Russian join isn’t really any more time-saving than weaving in the ends on a finished piece, and it certainly isn’t prettier – you end up with small tufts and lumps during the color changes, but I had a specific plan for this Frankenball where that wouldn’t matter much. I needed a stitch that would create a soft transition from color to color, a gentle gradation that would camouflage the disparity in weight between the different yarns. I needed the Linen Stitch.
Linen stitch is a knit stitch with a right side and wrong side (it can be done in the round as well) that alternates between working a new stitch and slipping a stitch purlwise while simultaneously weaving your yarn from back to front. Slipping every other stitch carries color UP from your previous row, “mixing” it in with the current color and creating color blends as well as a firm woven-looking texture (without all that pain-in-the-ass loom warping).
It’s a lot easier than I just made it sound. Click here for a great tutorial on this stitch!
For those of you who just need a quick reminder, the linen stitch goes like this:
(Over an even number of stitches)
Row 1: Knit 1, yarn forward, slip one, yarn back. Repeat.
Row 2: Purl 1, yarn back, slip one, yarn forward. Repeat.
The slip ones in linen stitch are all done purlwise. And so you just repeat that, ad nauseam.
Color strategy is fairly important if you want the palette to come out looking streamlined. I recommend lining up your variegated yarn bits first, and then finding solids that match those tones to fit in between, using the variegated yarns as sort of a bridge between colors. Once you’ve got your tidbits lined up, start splicing! Lightning storm not required.