Left over yarn

Hi! I’ve recently returned to my knitting hobby and have made a few beginner projects. I’m quickly realizing that at the end of my projects there’s a generally leftover yarn. My questions for you long-time knitters is:

  1. How much leftover yarn is ok to save and when isn’t it enough to be worth keeping?
  2. What are your recommendations for keeping/storing left yarn?

Thank you!

Well I generally use my leftovers to knit a sample swatch. That way if someone wants me to knit then something (hat, scarf, sweater etc) I can show them the different colours. It works for me and saves me having little bits and ends pieces.

I would use less than half a skein however, as I have seen some projects online that use leftovers for projects. I’ll see if I can find the link to that.

Welcome Kmmcall!

The only time I don’t keep left-over yarn is: if I decide it’s ugly and I’ll never use it (then I donate it), or if it’s a complete skein of really expensive leftover yarn and I can return it to the LYS.

It doesn’t matter how little the left-over ball is. If I like it, I’ll keep it! I have a couple of zip lock bags of all my teeny-tiny balls; one day I’ll make some wild project with them! I like to sort them by similar type, yarns that work well together.

I’ve just been sorting through my yarn today, and getting more organized. I’ve recently decided to use zip-lock bags galore. All of my works-in-progress are now in their own bag, with their associated balls of yarn. All of my left-over skeins are in their own bag, with same-color or otherwise matching skeins.

The nice things about keeping my yarn in zip-lock bags, besides keeping it well sorted, is 1) it never gets tangled, 2) it keeps the skeins in like-new condition, even when they’re carried in my knitting bag for weeks. This is especially good if you think you’ll want to return extra skeins to the store–they’ll still look great. And 3) if the yarn labels fall off, you can keep them in the bag, so they don’t get lost or mixed up with other labels. (Until I get organized enough to write down all the yarn types I’ve used with something I’m working on, I save the labels.)

I’ve got a big basket with all of my acrylic yarn in it. I don’t use acrylic very often, but I have a huge stash of it from my younger crochet-afghan days. But since I don’t like mixing it with my wools, in projects, I’ve got it seperated into it’s own basket.

I’ve also got my “Stash Trunk,” an old-fashioned trunk which I lined with a nice, mellow wrapping paper, and have organized with a few cardboard dividers (covered with matching paper). I’ve got three sections: my favorite wool stash, waiting to inspire me; my works-in-progress; and my finished objects that I haven’t given away yet.

The best organizing decision I ever made as far as my yarn and spinning-wool goes, was to put up a couple of high shelves in my office/studio. They’re about 16" from the ceiling, on opposite sides of the room. They are perfect for keeping baskets of yarn and wool-ready-to-spin. As well as a couple of boxes of things. I stained the shelves, and hung them up with nice brackets. They weren’t that expensive, and they look great. And I don’t know what I would do with all that stuff, if it weren’t up and out of my way! It would probably be in the basement (tragic!). It’s so nice to have it all within reach, and it actually adds to the atmosphere. Nothing like baskets with yarn peeking out, and nice wood, to look at!


Hi Amy,
You’ve given me a lot of great ideas to get organized! I guess it’s not a bad idea to be a pack rat…someday our little bits of yarn might come in handy…now it’s a matter of convincing my husband of that! :slight_smile:
Thanks for sharing…

I’m thrifty by nature, and also an environmentalist. I would never dream of actually throwing yarn into the trash, if it was longer than a few feet! (I even compost my itty-bitty scraps of wool! LOL) I can’t imagine donating such little balls, because who would want them? So I save them, and determine to use them somehow. It’s also great to have one of those balls in your knitting bag, along with an innexpensive pair of needles, to give away to someone you’ve just taught to knit! :slight_smile:

It’s always nice to have a wide color selection, even if it’s small balls, because if you’re ever making a motif, like of an animal, and need pink for the nose, brown for the eyes, or whatever, you’ll be glad you didn’t throw out that bit of brown! :slight_smile:

I’ve decided to start making charity hats, so that I always have an easy, mindless project on hand. I was thinking it would be neat to do an inch or two of fair isle, in a hat. It would be a great way to use up such yarn. I figure I could do lots of different-colored fair isle areas, against the same background, if I wanted to use lots of scrap yarn. The possibilities are endless. One could even just go with solid bands of color, and make a very colorful striped hat. I like a creative challenge, and the possibilites are endless!

In all those left overs I was hoping someone had Red Heart Pink 371
I had an afghan started a while back and rediscovered it but am short the yarn. I can’t seem to find it in any of the stores. Is Wal-Mart getting rid of Red Heart? It’s the very pale pink.

Thanks so much!

The first afghan I made was from my mother’s scrap yarn. I was 12 and I used the shell pattern. My kids still use it today. It’s so full of memories. I see everything my mother ever made in that afghan. Sweaters for my nephews & nieces. My first mini dress. My favorite hat. The list goes on. My afghan of many colors & memories. When my scrap ball ran out that’s where I picked up the next color. It’s crude but I love it!

Welcome Lisa Perry!

I love your afghan story. :slight_smile:

I don’t have that pink color, sorry. But I bet someone does! You might try posting the request to the “Buy/Sell/Swap” forum section.


Here’s a few pictures I took today, to show you all my yarn organizing system (outlined above).

Oh Amy, I love your room, it is so cozy looking. I also use ziplock bags to organize my stuff. I sure wish I had a spare room I could use for all my crafts.

Thanks Amy. I’ll give that a try.

I had red hart 373. Sorry. I do have a lighter pink ball about 5" in diameter that may be it if you want to try it, but it has lost its label. I had many many little yarn balls (1 1/2" to 2") stuck in my bag. I finally put like colors together in ziplocks. Now if I need a cuff for a mitten or a border I have it. I also made a baby blanket out of them alternating them with strips of white. It came out very cute. I am going to do another one with bright colors and black for a lap robe. My granny (85) used to use them to make lap robes for the “old people” (her words). She just linked them one after the other. Picking another color when that one ran out. They were very cute.

I was just thinking, after reading everyones storage ideas, what about using one of those clear ornament boxes with all the sections? Those seem to be readily available this time of year. I bet that would be a cool place to put all of your balls of yarn, since you could see through it. Some of the boxes even have snapping sections, so you don’t have to take all the stuff out to get to something at the bottom.

What do you guys think?


One of my plans for extra bits of yarn is to knit squares with them and eventually sew the squares together to make charity quilts. I also like the charity hat idea, perhaps even charity chemo caps with ultra soft stuff. I once shaved my head and know how nice a soft cap can be!

We need an organizing thread! These are some great ideas!

I put together a pattern organizer that is working out well for me. I got a vinyl expandable organizer at Wally-World and separated the sections into Afghans and blankets, Babies, Children, Ladies’ Sweaters, Mens’ Sweaters, etc. I’m going to pull the patterns out and also keep an index organized by guage, I think. I read about that somewhere and it sounds like a great idea!


Goodness what a wonderful thread this became!
Amy, what you’ve done with your trunk has definitely inspired me! I’ve two antique trunks that are basically used for decoration. I need to find a way to get rid of the musty odor first and then I’ll work from your inspiration and line them. Plus, it’s the perfect way to keep my stash and needles well out harms way…harms way being our 9 month old Vizsla puppy, Gracie!
Also DH has a home office that we’ve been talking about moving upstairs and taking over one of the empty bedrooms. He’ll have much more space and I will get my very own room…complete with shelving for baskets’o yarn’n stuff! :lol:
Today I did go through my stash…sorting yarn by type, full skeins, partial skeins etc. and put them all in ziploc bags. It’s going to be great to pick up a bag and see at a glance what it contains! Hopefully it will keep out any critters too.

Hi Peg,

I had the same “musty” problem with the antique sewing machine that I bought a couple years ago. It has wooden drawers, and they were horribly musty. …I’m trying to remember what I did to get the odor out…

Oh yes. I somehow got the notion to use boric acid on it. It was a horrible mess! LOL. I’m not sure how much it helped to tell the truth. If I were to do it again, I’d probably wash the thing down with a baking soda in water solution, or a light bleach solution.

What definitely did help, was that I followed up by oiling it with high quality furniture oil. I used tung oil, and I wonder if it may have had an anti-fungal quality, because there’s not a trace of mildewy smell now. Tung oil has a strong smell, but not a bad one, and it fades. In any case, the wood looks great, and loved the oil…and no more smell!


Filling the drawers with kitty litter or charcoal is supposed to help. You can actually get the charcoal refills that are used in fish tank filters. Put one or two in each drawer, close the drawer, and it’s supposed to clear out the smell in a few days.

I got my husband this charcoal oder-absorbing bag/pillow thing to throw in his gym bag, and it worked great! Mayeb you could get one of those and knit a fancy cover for it!

incentive #25 for using zip-lock bags to store wool yarn in = moths! who wants their beautiful yarn to smell like moth balls, or worse, to be full of moth holes!

yeah, this is a great thread. i’d love to see more of where people store their yarn/knitting/crafting supplies and/or where they create. maybe i’ll start that thread… NOW!!