I accumulate odd bits and ends of yarn skeins at a rapid pace, so it’s fortunate that I love upcycling and recycling projects that take advantage of “waste” material and turn them into something gorgeous and useful ❤ My favorite way to use very small bits of yarn over the years has been the knit them into garment designs that don’t require weaving in ends; leaving the spare lengths tied off to be incorporated into the fringe later saves you from having to weave in approximately thirty zillion scrap yarn ends 🙂
I’ve provided free tutorials and patterns on how to make these very simple, beginner-level knit garments here on Morale Fiber blog, and today I’m adding to the collection with the Scrappy Knit Shawl – a long triangular knit shawl that follows my method of using very small yarn balls of various sizes, large gauge needles, and incorporating the yarn ends into a fringed edge. Before we get going, here’s the other two pattern tutorials I have available in this style!
Bonus! If you’re not bi-stitch-ual (someone who knits AND crochets) I do have a great pattern for a scrappy crochet shawl in this style called the Scrappy Granny Shawl (IT’S FREE TOO!), pictured below 🙂
The simply named Scrappy Knit Shawl gets its shape by working a yarn over increase 1 stitch from the edge on both sides of every row. It’s got a pretty dang LONG wingspan, reaching around 95″ on the longest side! You can modify this shawl to be wider (from edge to triangle tip) by doing the YO increases only every other row until you get the size you like 🙂 If you like this project, be sure to favorite it on the Ravelry project page!
Materials: Size 10 or 10.5 (6.5 mm) knitting needles (I started with straight needles then moved to cabled circular needles once my piece got longer) A big ol’ pile of scrap yarn balls, various weights (some of them can be very small – start with those first!) Accent yarn for the fringe Scissors, tapestry needle
Finished Measurements: About 95″ in length About 20″ from edge to center point of triangle
Gauge: Not critical for this piece but mine was 5.5 sts & 12 rows = 2″ in garter stitch
Terms: Knit (K) Yarn Over increase (YO) Stitch (st)
Instructions: With 10 or 10.5 knitting needles, Cast On 3 stitches with a very small scrap yarn. Row 1: K1, YO, K1, YO, K1 Row 2:K1, YO, K until reaching the last st, YO, K1
From here, try to change yarns at the end of the row only. Leave your yarn tails loose (except to tie on the next yarn), changing yarns if you think you won’t have enough for the next row. I use up very small balls at the start for the shortest rows, then gradually use bigger balls as the rows get longer.
We’ll be repeating Row 2 using this yarn changing method for the rest of the garment. If you started on straight needles, switch to cabled circular needles when the piece becomes too large.
Rows 3-120 (or until you have the length you like): Repeat Row 2
If you have very thin yarns you’d like to use, try doubling them up with other yarns so the weights are more even!
Now, go over all the yarn ends left at the ends of the rows and make sure they are tightly knotted together. If you absolutely had to change yarns in the middle of any of the rows, weave in those ends but not the ends at the edges, which will be incorporated into the fringe.
I used my trusty notebook to wrap my yarn into 12″, then cut the looped yarn to make a bundle. Double up each strand and hook the loop of the strand through the edge of the shawl, taking advantage of those YO openings left in the fabric to apply the fringe.
Once you’ve fringed and woven in any mid-row ends, you’re done! I was so pleased with the result of this scrappy shawl design, I managed to make quite a pretty accessory from a relatively small amount of scraps. It’s so warm too- good thing, it was cold out that day!
If you like this project and love scrappy projects in general, you should check out my pattern collection of Scrappy Projects – all the links to all the scrappiest patterns I’ve published (both free and paid) plus notes on each one! ❤ Happy upcycling! -MF
P.S – BONUS GALLERY
Pssst… writing this post I was reminded of one of my first big knit projects I ever made up, which was knitted with 50% upcycled yarn (the beige yarn) that I had pulled out of an old sweater. That post is no longer available on this blog but I thought I’d pull a few from the vaults, for fun 😉
Sometimes for fun I’ll go back and see what I’ve been writing on this blog at the same time in previous years – it’s a nice perk of having years worth of posts, to see what kind of progress I’ve made. Apparently December and January is a common point in the year for me to be interested in working with spinning wool and working with handspun yarn. No surprise! It’s cold here during these months and the low light of the dead of winter keeps me inside focused on the coziest materials.
It all started with the Pounds of ‘Paca, a spinning venture in September of 2016 where I ordered waaaaaay too much alpaca fiber (on sale) and spun it all over the course of a couple of years – see Alpacalypse Now for the final yarns I came up with.
Not totally final though, because some of it went into my experimental Avocado Dye batch, coming out in shades of muted pinks and hazels, a really pretty and soft color to add to my giant pile of alpaca yarn. Some of THAT went into this bitchin’ avocado dreamcatcher 😉
The avocado dye batch was a year ago now, and I still have some dyestuffs left over sitting in the back of my fridge. I’m contemplating another natural dye run, but first I’m going to make some more progress on what I decided to do with all this excess camelid fluff.
It’s another large knit, similar in style to some of the loosely knit wraps I’ve made in the past:
But this one is made entirely from handspun yarn, in the pretty neutral and muted tones. I am not sure exactly how I will style this wrap, but I’m enjoying the mindless knitting for now. It’s worked in stockinette (the other large knits above are garter stitch) and I’m using continental style to speed up my purling (getting almost as fast as my continental knit stitch!)
There’s much to be said for instant gratification projects, but as I build my repertoire of skills, materials, and experiences, I grow more and more attached to the projects that follow me through my history as an artist. I’ve been finishing up a lot of long-term projects lately, causing me to reflect on one of the most valuable skills I’ve picked up through working my art:
Patience. Because nothing makes a piece more personal than having it grow with you over time. There have been many projects I have stuffed in a corner in frustration, or stowed away never knowing if it would be finished (and a few that actually did go into the trash forever). I always find that when those projects re-emerge, I’m armed with a new perspective or a fresh skill to bring to the table, as if the project was only waiting for that development all along and I didn’t know it ❤
Fur yarn seems to be something I always have a lot of. In addition to using it to trim Trickster Hoods, wacky coats, and Pixie Belts, I also occasionally use it to make costume ears and tails. My first foray into tail making was using crochet, as it was certainly easier for me at the time to deal with the nuisance of all that funky hair using a technique with which I was very confident.
The resulting little fox tail (I call it the chibi tail) was clever, IMHO, made with super soft Lion Brand Romance and ending in a little clip so it could be attached to a belt. But it was a bit stiff, and I decided knitting was really the way to go for these fun and cruelty-free costume elements.
I made a couple more – the tail on the left is made with Lion Brand Fun Fur, knitted to look like a raccoon, the tail on the right is Lion Brand Romance again, in sweet fantastical pastels. Both are stuffed with lightweight polyester fiber stuffing and clippable, like the first, onto belt or pants.
The pastel tail is pretty long, and very slinky and soft. After that one, I went down the rabbit hole. Er, possibly the fox hole.
I had A LOT of Lion Brand Pelt in similar colors. What if I made a really BIG tail, so it would look proportionate to the human body?
So, as you can see, I did that. And this year’s Halloween costume was born. To be specific, I finished the humongous tail less than 24 hours before the costume party! 😀
I dubbed my costume “Forest Witch” but mostly I was referred to as the Squirrel Lady which I am also 100% satisfied with 😉 . This is one of the most handmade of all costumes I’ve ever done, so I’m going to feature some of the elements involved before writing out my notes on making the Tail toward the end of the post – keep reading for the free pattern! You can also favorite this project on Ravelry for reference later.
It was cold and rainy enough the day of the party to wear my super woodsy version of the Boho Fringe Poncho, made with different scrap bulky and super bulky yarns, then trimmed with plain fringe and woven with a super textured handspun art yarn. I also added a leafy drawstring tie to the top of this piece, similar to the one made for the Rhiannon Cowl. I’m so glad to have added this poncho to the ensemble, because it hasn’t really seen the light of day since I made it.
Underneath I wore the dress I had refashioned from a few thrift store pieces – I cut the green top and the brown and purple paisley skirt up joined them using hairpin lace, then added doily accents – all crocheted in gray, upcycled sweater yarn. You can read more about this refashion project here. Layered under the dress is a thrifted skirt that I tie-dyed in browns.
The belt sports several accessories beside the tail – one of them is a crocheted woolen pouch, mounted on loops so that it can slide onto a belt. This pattern is a piece of Lilla Bjorn’s Dandelion Mandala Overlay. The knife is an antique piece made with a real fawn’s hoof found for me by a friend. It’s not handmade by me, it’s just totally wicked so I wanted to mention it 😉
It was terribly overcast all day, so my indoors photoshoot is very dark (and consequently grainy.. just pretend it’s a spooky filter effect, okay?) and you probably can’t see the faux dreads underneath my hair very well, but they are there and I made those too! From Jacob wool, dyed brown and boiled in hot water to felt them making long woolen cords, then attached to and elastic headband and decorated with beads and feathers. The hat on top sports a pair of crocheted fur yarn ears, mounted on an elastic band around the crown of the hat.
The witch hat, unfortunately is not handmade. I attempted to finish the black Hedge Witch Hat for this ensemble in time for the party, but was too busy knitting this big chunky baby…
Speaking of which, how about that tutorial? I’m afraid all I can offer is my notes, since this was not intended to be a full-scale pattern, but it’s pretty straightforward knitting if you can stand trying to see your way around all that fur.
Costume Mega Tail Tutorial
Materials: US Size 9 double pointed knitting needles (1 set) US size 9 circular needles, 24″ Lion Brand Pelt (#5, 50 g / 47 yds) 4 skeins “Sable”, 4 skeins “Fisher” Lion Brand Fun Fur, (#5 bulky, 40 g / 57 yards) 1 skein “Ginger” Lion Brand Romance (#6 super bulky, 50 g / 27 yards) 1 skein “Truffle”, 1 skein “Champagne” (Or, in substitute, around 550 yards total of any fur yarn) Metal clasp ~10-15 oz Polyester Fiberfill batting Scissors and Tapestry needle
With fur yarn and DPNs, Cast On 18 sts. Knitting in the round: Row 1: *K, M1 increase* Rpt around – 27 sts Row 2; *K2, M1 increase* Rpt around – 36 sts Row 3: *K3, M1 increase* Rpt around – 45 sts Row 4: *K4, M1 increase* Rpt around – 54 sts Row 5: *K5, M1 increase* Rpt around – 63 sts Row 6: *K6, M1 increase* Rpt around – 72 sts
Switch to circular needles. Rows 7 – Infinity: Knit around. Change colors when necessary or desired.
I knit this piece to a length of about 55″. When ready to finish off:
Switch back to the Double Pointed needles
3rd to last Row: *K2, K2together decrease* Rpt around. 2nd to last Row: *K1, K2together decrease* Rpt around. Last Row: *K2tog decrease* around. Cut yarn leaving a long piece for sewing. Thread the yarn into a tapestry needle and pass the yarn through each loop on the needles, catching the live stitches on the yarn tail. Once all stitches are threaded, pull the DPNS out and use the thread to cinch the stitches shut. Make some firm weavings across this circle to secure shut, then weave in ends and cut.
To finish the piece, Weave in all yarn ends. I used a wig brush at this stage to brush all the fur loose that had gotten trapped in between stitches to make it thicker and fluffier. Then, take the polyester fiberfill and stuff through the open end. Be careful not to overstuff – it really needs less than you think, and overdoing it will cause the piece to be too stiff and therefore less realistic looking.
Once the piece is stuffed, thread a long piece of fur yarn onto a tapestry needle and sew the open end shut, then sew onto the clasp. I used a pretty small metal lobster style clasp, available with the metal findings in most hobby stores. This allows you to attach the tail to a belt (recommended – it’s heavy) or to pants (works better with smaller ones, but if you’re brave enough…)
One last very necessary addition to this monstrosity is left! Using a crochet hook, I loosely threaded a length of bronze ribbon yarn through the knit stitches toward the end of the tail, weaving in and out all around the circumference, then tying the ends in a knot. After all, I had to have some way to keep this thing from getting super wet and mucky by dragging on the ground!
I used the tied length of ribbon as a handle to maneuver the thing all night (and dance with it – SO MUCH FUN.) Also occasionally to bop people in the face with the fluffyness. When I needed both hands free, I wrapped the ribbon into my belt in the front to secure it.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I had too much fun with it 😉 And I hope you will too, if you decide to make one for yourself ❤ If you have any questions on how I did anything in this semi-slap-dash tutorial thingy, leave me a comment 🙂
P.S – as a big and unintended bonus, post-costume-party this thing turned out to be an excellent body pillow as well, lol!
A few years ago I espied some beautiful images of knit ruana-style shawls and ponchos that used striking color striping in a simple stitch pattern. The knit stitches were loosely made, giving the garment a pretty drape, and the simple tie-offs from color changing formed a natural fringe with a western look. The artist using this beautiful style, I found out later, was the Kristen Hoke of Posh By Gosh on Etsy.
I was enamored, for many reasons: its beauty came from its simplicity and versatility. It featured only knit stitches, so I could easily wrap my head around it. Plus, ample opportunity to play with color and use up spare bits of yarn! I rushed to gather all of my spare skeins and yarn bits, and started a massive upcycling project inspired by her knits – that was my first try, which became a blanket because as it turns out I was not very good at estimating knit sizes at the time.
No worries, though – I tried again, this time turning my inspiration into a project with a crochet twist! The knit ruana, featuring crocheted granny square edges, became the Wayfarer Ruana tutorial, available for free here on my blog!
By then, I was pretty satisfied but I also found myself addicted. These projects were so easy to pick up and put down (because of the endless mindless knitting, it was definitely stitch therapy) and they were so perfect for using up very small bits of yarn. I wanted to design another garment in this style! This time, with even less weaving in of ends. And how about wearable anywhere?
And more SASSY FRINGE?
So I got to work knitting up this Scrap Knit Duster, and put together a little tutorial for it along the way. The two front panels are great for using up very small balls of leftover yarn, especially singe there isn’t any weaving in ends (or at least, very little)!
Since the garment is just made of rectangles folded and seamed, adventurous souls could easily translate this into a crochet piece (just keep your gauge loose so that the fabric drapes well).
Hope you love making it as much as I do ❤ If you do, why not give this project a fave on Ravelry?
US Size 11 (8.00 mm) Knitting Needles, 1 set 24” circular (long straight needles are fine in substitute for this), 1 set 40” circular (necessary)
A lot of random scrap yarn ❤ I chose one neutral toned yarn to kind of become the “background” for the colored yarns, as well as a trim color.
6” book, cardboard, or fringe making tool
Gauge: About 6 sts & 8 rows = 2” in garter stitch Stitches Required: Cast On, Knit, Purl, Bind Off
Finished measurements: 38” long, bust and waist measurements variable
Begin by taking your measurements. You want the total circumference of the garment to be about as wide as the widest part of your frame (whether that’s your bust, your hips, or your belly) so that it will just be able to wrap you up. I used 34” as my circumference. It’s a little under my actual measurements, but I wanted my duster to be fitted to me, and I know this knit fabric stretches accommodatingly.
The main part of the duster is made with three panels. The two front panels, which are made to equal almost 1/4th the circumference each, so half my measurement when added together. The one back panel is made to equal the other half, and is added after the first two panels are finished (this part is the same basic process as the Wayfarer Ruana, just not as wide).
However, I know I’m going to be adding a trim to the front, so my two front panels will be made a little shorter. 1/4th of 34” is 8.5”, but I’ll plan on adding almost 2” in border, so 6.5” or so. I decide that my front panels are going to be 20 stitches long each, which when plugged into my gauge, will land me at about 6.5” for each front panel width.
If you want a less fitted piece, just stick with the simple math – Each Front Panel is ¼ your circumference, and don’t worry about the trim length for now.
Cast On 20 (or whatever number you land on)
Rows 1-150: Knit each stitch. Change color at the end of the row when necessary or desired….
ONLY change colors on one side of the piece. Either side is fine, but stick with one side. This is the side that will face “out” later, and form the fringe hem at the sides, saving you from having to weave in a bunch of ends.
Make 150 rows of garter stitch for the first front panel, DO NOT BIND OFF.
Stick your first panel on a holding needle and repeat this process for the second panel.
Once both of your panels are complete, arrange your panels so that the tie-off fringe sides are facing away from each other. Using yarn and your long needles (circular or otherwise), begin to knit across the top of the first panel, starting on the fringe side. Once you knit across the first panel, CO 10 stitches for the collar of the garment. Then, continue knitting across the second panel, ending on the second fringed side.
These 50 stitches (20 for the first panel + 10 for the collar + 20 for the second panel) come out to about 16.5”. 16.5 + (6.5 + 6.5) = 29.5”. Add the (2” + 2”) on either side for the front color trim, and I will have my 34” circumference achieved.
Knit 150 rows for the back panel. Change colors at the end of the row whenever necessary or desired. Colors can be tied off on either side of the back panel.
Once you’ve finished the front and back panels, Cast off your piece. I like to use Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (JSSBO), a video tutorial for which can be found here.
Fold your piece in half. Using your tape measure, measure from the top of your shoulder to the lowest part of your armpit. Double this number is how wide you need your sleeve to be – I got about 9”.
We will form the sleeve by picking up one flat row, centered on the same row as the collar is made. Picking up knit stitches from the side of garter stitch is tricky because we are only picking up ONE stitch per each TWO rows. So to get a 9” measurement, I need 28 stitches. (28 sts / 6 stitches per 2 inches = 4.6, or 9.3” inches.)
So beginning from the bottom of each panel, I count up from the hem 122 rows and place a stitch marker. This leaves 28 rows left on the front panel. Repeat count up 122 rows on the back panel (same side) and place a stitch marker. Pick up 28 knit stitches in the side of these 56 rows that land in between your marked stitches, using your needles.
Knit 70 rows, changing color at the end of the row when necessary or desired.
Using your preferred border color, switch to working a 4 x 4 rib. Knit 4, Purl 4 and in in subsequent round, knit the knits and purl the purls. Work 5 rounds.
You can change your rib width based on what number your sleeve stitch count is divisible by – for instance, 28 is divisible by 4 so my ribs will be even. If you have 35, you can work a 5 x 5 rib instead, etc.
BO, preferably with a stretchy bind-off method as mentioned above.
Repeat same sleeve process on the opposite side.
Fold the entire garment along the middle line that runs through the center of the sleeves and the collar. It helps to lay it flat on the floor, so you can brush the fringe out flat. In this next part, we will use a tapestry needle and a length of yarn to seam the duster.
Grab a long-ish length of yarn and thread through the tapestry needle. A simple whip stitch through both layers of edges is all that is needed to seam the garment up the side. Keep seaming from the bottom all the way to the sleeve end, starting a new seam if you run out of yarn. Repeat for the opposite side.
To keep your tension even, pull the seam thread tight by stretching the garment out as you sew. Be careful to keep the tie-off fringe out of your seam.
Once you have seamed up the side of the duster and through to the end of the sleeves on both sides, clip your thread and tie the ends off to blend them into the fringe (some you may want to weave in, such as the ends at the hem of the sleeves). Now it’s time to create the ribbed border around the front opening and collar.
Using your 40” circular needles and your border colored yarn, Pick up 1 knit stitch from every 2 garter stitch rows along the inside border of the garment. If your panels are 150 rows long, you’ll work 75 stitches up one side, 10 into the collar, and 75 down the other side.
K 4, P 4 to create a 4×4 rib. Work 9 rows of rib by knitting the knits and purling the purls. BO using the JSSBO.
Almost there! Are you excited yet?
Now we’ve got a really rockin’ fringey thing going on, but the tie-offs look a little scraggly in my opinion, so I use my 6” book to create some fringe lengths by wrapping the yarn around then cutting through the bundle. You’ll have to lay out your piece flat again, and comb all the tie-off fringe out flat to prepare for the next step.
Using a crochet hook, loop one strand of fringe in the side of every fringe-less row up the side of the body and sleeves. Repeat for the other side.
Finally, weave in any stray ends that aren’t part of the fringe. Odds are you will have a few across the shoulders where the sleeve attaches – I wove those down into the seam for the most part.
Once you have all the extra fringe attached, arrange your duster so that the sleeve and the side of the body are laying long the same line, parallel. Comb all the fringe, including the tie off, so that it is laying mostly flat. Using a sharp scissors, give your baby a haircut – I went down to about 4″ for the fringe.
If you have any stray yarn ends that need woven in (such as scraps that ran out in the middle of a row, or border yarns from adding the trim), take care of those. Once you have, you are done!
Voila! Now you have a scrappy bohemian rock’n’roll knit duster that is warm and wearable, looks great with anything, and that you MADE YOURSELF 😀 !!!
Thanks for visiting my blog and making art with me – I think this may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made! I say that a lot though 😛
It was certainly fun to photograph. I hiked up a VERY steep hill, camera gear in tow, in order to prance around in heels on the edge of a cliff. Who says knitting isn’t extreme??