Stash Busting Journey – 2019 #3

Welcome to my journey to reduce the amount of yarn in my stash this year. Check out my previous posts for background information on how I accumulated so much yarn and how I currently have my stash organized.

And welcome to those of you who are joining me on this journey and want to reduce your stash as well.

Today’s post is the start of my actually using up some of my yarn. As you may have gathered from my previous post, I am GREAT at buying yarn, but NOT SO GREAT at using it up in a timely manner.

Now, a search on GOOGLE can provide lots of suggestions from other fiber artists on how they keep their stashes in check. Some are even so disciplined that they don’t have a stash – they only buy what they need, when they need it. Well, great for them, but not helpful to the rest of us!

My brain has thought of many strategies (yay, shower time!), but my procrastination has prevented me from acting on them.


I have decided on 2 strategies, and am happy to say, I have implemented them both! (Ok, it’s only been 2 weeks, but, hey, that’s a good start, right???  Better than nothing!!)

Strategy #1

Pick one of my bags of sorted yarn (see previous post on how I sorted it) and pick a pattern or 2 and use up most of that bag.

So, the first bag of yarn I picked is this pompom yarn from Bernat called ZAPP (got it at the tent sale in Listowel in 2015).  I had made a couple of kids hats with it years ago. I have 48 balls of it and am going to use it all up making 3 sizes of hats (infant, toddler and child sizes). Any partial balls left over will be used to make striped hats. As of today, I have finished 8 toddler and 4 baby hats, and have used 12 balls up. Not a bad start, right??

Once this bag of yarn is done, I will move on to another.  I’m not necessarily going to use all the yarn up from a particular bag, but at least make a sizable dent in it. However the ZAPP yarn will get all used up – I really never want to work with it again – lol!!  I can see why this yarn was discontinued.

Strategy #2

I call this one – Ball a Day. I have made a goal of using up, on average, at least 1 ball of yarn a day. Size of ball doesn’t matter, so if I am tight on time, using up a ball of Bernat Handicrafter cotton to make a dishcloth counts!!!

Progress so far – I started Ball a Day on my most recent trip to my Northern Studio, aka, the cottage, on July 18. I used 3 balls to finish an afghan, and have used 12 balls of the Zapp yarn, for a grand total of…15 balls in 10 days!!

Now that I am back home, with many more distractions (Facebook, I’m looking at you – lol!), I’m going to have to try to keep focused on these strategies. Feel free to write a comment every so often asking how it’s going.

Do you have stash busting strategies that work for you? Leave a comment below – I would love to read what works for you!

Coming up, I will be publishing the kids hat pattern I designed to use up the Zapp yarn. It can be used for any yarn. Subscribe to my newsletter, so you will be notified as soon as I release it. It will be free and published here on my website.

Until next time,

May all your yarn be knot-free.


Stash Busting Journey – 2019 #2

Welcome to my journey to reduce the amount of yarn in my stash this year. Check out my previous post for background information on how I accumulated so much yarn.

And welcome to those of you who are joining me on this journey and want to reduce your stash as well.

So now that I have committed to reducing the stash, the first step is to see how much you really have and to organize it. Fortunately, my daughter is away at college, so I was able to use her bedroom for a couple of days while I sorted out things. I did have a lot of my stash already organized, so this job did just take a couple of days. If you have the space, clear out an area that is not used too often and would be ok to spread out all your balls. Don’t have the space, or not able to spread everything out?  Take detailed pictures of all that you have or write it down. Include the location, so when you need it, you can easily find it.

Organize?   This chaos?    How can I ever do this?

One thing I am really good at is organizing things and tasks. I may not get them done, but they are organized!

Here is what I did.

1. My first stab at organizing happened with my cone yarn a number of years ago. My husband put up a great big pegboard, and found nice long hooks that are perfect for hanging cones. It has room for over 100 cones of yarn. Once up, I decided to organize by colour.  When I was done, it looked so pretty!!  However, over time, I realized how impractical it was for me. I would want yarn for a project of different colours. I would have to look through all the cones of that colour to find one of the same thickness, or weight. Time to rethink this.

2. Organize by weight . So, since by colour didn’t work out for me, my next thought was by weight. That way, all similar weights are in the same area, making it so easy to find a yarn.

So my yarn stash currently is organized by:

– Weight

– Brand

– Colour

Some yarn, I have a lot of it (Michaels great sale price and a staff discount- hahaha) – I’m looking at you, Charisma! These yarns, I have put all together in their own separate CLEAR large bag.

PLEASE NOTE: only use CLEAR garbage bags for storing yarn, not the black or green ones. You don’t want to risk any of your stash being mistaken for garbage and thrown out. Plus, you can see what you have.


Now once you have organized your stash however you like, you need a storage system. There are unlimited possibilities for this, and is totally dependent on your preferences, the space you have to work with and your budget. So I am just going to describe the way I have it right now. This is still a work in progress- once I get to a very manageable amount, I hope to do a more elegant system.

My craft area: Our master bedroom is the width of our house, so years ago, we turned one end into my craft area. It has an “L” shaped counter, 4 3-drawer units supporting the counter, and three upper cupboards on one wall. It was designed more for when I was sewing. It’s not in my budget to renovate this area at this time, so I needed to maximize the efficiency of my space utilization.

  1. First step was to clear out as much as I could in the upper cabinets. I’m sure I can do more, but it did give me one full cabinet and one shelf in the second just for yarn.
  2. I started collecting printer/photocopier paper boxes from work. I worked in a clinic at a hospital and we went through a lot of paper! These boxes are quite sturdy, come with a lid, and do have handles punched out of the sides. It took awhile, but I brought home the empties when I could. A very economical solution for yarn storage cubbies! I have enough room to have them two deep on the counter. They sit upright, short end on the counter, to maximize how many boxes I can fit.
  3. Plastic totes- a great way to keep similar yarn together. Label, label, label anything that you can’t see in to.
  4. Closet: Finding more room to put my yarn was a great motivator to clean out my half of our walk in closet. I set myself a goal of getting rid of 25% of what was in there. So I had a weekend when my husband was away, and I went to it! It did take some time, but I was able to free up some shelf space, and the local thrift store benefited from a large donation bag.

So here is how I have done it:

Cone yarn is on the peg board, divided by thickness. (now not all of my cones fit on there, so, confession time, yes there is some in the garage and under the stairs in the basement)

#1 and #2 balls of yarn are in the cupboards. I don’t have a lot of those.

#3 balls of yarn. Some are in the cupboard, and the rest are in the corrugated boxes on the counter.

#4 yarn -Acrylics, are in the boxes. The yarn in the boxes is further divided by brand and then colour. For example, all my Vanna’s Choice is in one box. Not all my #4 weight yarn fits in the boxes.  The rest of my #4 yarn is stored in clear bags.

#5 balls – some in boxes, some in bags

#6 and bigger yarn, all in bags

Now I have a lot that didn’t fit in the boxes, so they are grouped in clear bags based on weight. One bag is Charisma, one bag is cake yarn.

Cotton yarn: I wanted to keep my cottons together, so I have them in the closet shelves and in one plastic tote. Again, grouped by weight, then by brand.

So, yes, I still have yarn under the bed, in the garage, under the stairs, and some taking over my little crochet corner in the living room, but a good chunk of it is better organized so that when I need something, I am more likely to be able to find it.

Ok, so now that you have thought about how to organize and store your stash, now comes the Stash busting!!!

Stay tuned!!

Until next time,

May all your yarn be knot-free. Sally


Have you ever said to yourself, I have too much yarn? Do you have bags or bins of yarn in every nook and cranny in your house (and garage, under the stairs, in the closet, under the bed, in a storage locker, hanging out at a friend’s house)?

Well, me too.  And this year, I am committed to doing something about taming the stash, so I am putting it in writing, with you all as witnesses, to help me be accountable – lol!!

So come join me on my Stash Busting Journey – 2019. I will be posting regular updates on methods that I will be using (hopefully successfully, but I’ll be honest and post any that don’t work as well). I know I won’t get through all my stash this year – and, frankly, I love having yarn to look at around me, but I have got to tame this beast!!

Ok, let the journey begin!!

Stash Busting Journey – 2019 #1

Ok, some background information for those of you who don’t know me. I started my crochet journey back in the early 1980’s while at university. Up until about 1997, I purchased yarn when I had a project in mind, made the item, and usually used up most of what I purchased. I was also machine knitting (from 1992) and had a few cones of yarn, but not a great stash. I was doing a lot more sewing in the 80’s and 90’s, so I had a larger fabric stash. In 1997, my aunt was ill, and my cousin was helping her sort out her craft supplies. They knew I crocheted, and very generously gifted me with 2 large (garbage sized) bags of yarn. And so the stash began….

Fast forward a few years. Early 2000’s, my focus started to switch from sewing (kids were getting older), to machine knitting. Machine knitters tend to like to use yarn on cones (usually 1-2 lbs each). I joined a club (Burlington Machine Knitters Guild – great group ) and started hearing about sales of cone yarn. So went to one close by, and came home with about 250 cones of yarn!  Then heard about another one, a bit further away. Came home with about 5 large bags of cones.  And so the stash was quickly built. 

This was all new to me – having yarn and not a project planned to make it. And I think this is one of my creative weaknesses – seeing some yarn and not knowing exactly what I will make using it. So the yarn sits and waits for me to be inspired.

So now we are at January 2012, when I decided that I would like to share my knowledge of crochet with others. I became a certified crochet instructor and starting teaching privately and at a local Michaels store. I also started being more active on social media sites, which is great for the wealth of information available.

However, the downfall is that you also get information about great yarn sales! And one of the biggest that is less than a 2 hour drive from me, is the Spinrite sales in Listowel, ON.  So, in August of 2015, I went….and I shopped….and 5 extra large bags later, over 400 balls of yarn later, my stash was now huge.  Also around this time, Coats and Clark were closing their outlet in Mississauga – had some great deals that I couldn’t pass up.

When I taught at Michael’s, frequently it was at a table in the yarn department. I used to joke with my students that I had more yarn by weight than the store did. I may not have been joking-lol!

Yarn also has a way of finding me – I have been gifted yarn from someone moving out of the country, and by a neighbour, whose wife passed away the year before and he was having difficulty finding homes for all her supplies.  Now, I have shared the wealth of a lot of the donated yarn. Members of the Milton Sit and Stitch group had fun in the fall of 2018 selecting yarns they liked. I also donated a couple of large bags to a recent refugee in Canada, as crocheting is helping her with all the stress she is facing in her life as her family is currently in separate countries.

Which now leads us to 2019. I have never denied I have a lot of yarn, but, I think, seeing the difficulty of my neighbour dealing with his wife’s stash, has been a wake-up call for me that it really is too much. So my goal is to use up as much as I realistically can this year. I have lots of ideas – now just to implement some of them.

Need to reduce your stash? Come join me on my journey. Make sure you have signed up to my newsletter list to receive notification of new posts.

Until next time,

May all your yarn be knot-free.


Shimmering Shells Easy Crochet Baby Blanket – Free Pattern

Shimmering Shells Easy Crochet Baby Blanket

Today is an exciting day for me – I am publishing my first crochet pattern!!! I originally designed this in the 1980s, for a co-worker of my husband, and I have made dozens since. There are numerous shell stitch designs available, this is just one that I particularly like. I love the versatility of this design. It lends itself to working with yarn of almost any weight, as well as colour. Looks great striped too! I’ve used mostly #3 and #4 weight yarns for mine, acrylic, cotton and blends. I’ve used both solids and soft, pastel variegated colours. I would not recommend a dark variegated yarn, nor one that is highly textured as you may not see the shell design as clearly. Do a test swatch first to make sure the yarn you have chosen is giving the look you want.

For this blanket, I chose Bernat Baby Coordinates (from my stash, part of my stash busting journey). This yarn has a very pretty shimmering thread through it. It looks lovely, but may present a challenge for more beginner crocheters, as it is easy to catch and pull this thread. If you have not worked with similar yarn, try a small sample to get the feel of it. I also used my Clover Amour hook as I found it was the smoothest and snagged the least for me.

Here is a close-up to show the stitch in more detail.

Shimmering Shell Stitch Baby Blanket Close Up.

And here is how much yarn I had left from the 3 balls when I was finished – about 2m !!! Wow!!!!! So now my stash is down another 3 balls – of course I still have many to go ;).

Remember to sign up for my newsletter, to receive notification of new patterns, new posts and other neat stuff! Your support will help me to keep writing new patterns.

Head over to my Free Pattern Page to download your pattern copy

How I Grew Blanket

A few years ago, temperature blankets started trending on crochet social media. I loved the idea of using crochet to track something, however, I just didn’t see myself tracking temperatures.

Well, one day, inspiration hit as it tends to do at the most unlikely of times. After searching on the internet and not seeing anything similar, I started planning my idea out. And TA-DA!!!

Introducing the HOW I GREW BLANKET

The concept of this blanket is to track the growth of a child from birth to adulthood (or as many years as you choose). In my former life as a Registered Dietitian, I used hundreds of charts to track  the growth of my paediatric clients, and of course, tracked the growth of both of my children. I needed to make a blanket for my son (since everyone else had a handmade one by me). So creativity struck and I merged them together!

Each stripe of the blanket represents a year of growth, starting with his birth length. Once I had all his measurements, then I just decided on the stitch and size of blanket I wanted to make. My son had already picked out the colours that he wanted.

My finished size is 65″ wide x 75″ long, and generously covers his queen sized bed.

How I made it:

1. Gathered all his growth measurements from charts, and markings on the back of the bathroom door.

2. Yarn: I used a combination of Red Heart Super Saver, Bernat Super Value, and Phentax Worsted. I purchased 2 balls of each of the 4 colours and just had partial balls left.

3. Stitch: I used a waffle stitch. There are many variations of waffle stitches, I chose one with a wider square.

4. I started off with a chainless foundation double crochet. This allowed me to get the width I wanted. I placed it on his bed when I thought it was wide enough and added more stitches until it gave me the drape I wanted. As I was working with a multiple of 4 for my stitch repeat, I did have to just fine tune the first row by a couple of stitches. This is so easy to do when using the chainless foundation. This is my go to method for starting projects whenever I can.

5. Start your stripes!  The first section is the longest as typical birth lengths range from 18-22″. Get out that measuring tape and keep it handy as you go. I would suggest measuring from at least 3 evenly spaced spots and averaging them out. I put in stitch markers so I consistently measured from the same places.

6. Changing colours: Decide, based on your chosen stitch, which row you are going to change colours on. My pattern was a 2 row repeat, so I always changed colours on the same row.

This idea is very adaptable to many stitch patterns – anything that can be worked up in stripes.

Of course, now my daughter wants one for herself. Her’s is being based on a ripple design. More specifics will come in a future post.

May all your yarn be knot-free,


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What size hook should I use?

Do you ever struggle with deciding what size hook you should use? Have you ever used the hook size stated in the pattern and your piece has ended up too big or too small?

Many crocheters struggle with finding the right hook to use. I did too, when I was starting out. My trusty 6.5 mm hook was used for almost all my projects! And not always successfully, I might add.

Can I tell you about my epic failure, all because I didn’t understand how hook sizing mattered? It was many years ago. I found a pattern for a sweater I wanted to make. I fell in love with a soft, fuzzy yarn and thought it would be perfect for this sweater. So using my trusty hook, I started to make the back of the sweater. Well, I got about 8 inches of it done and realized that this would not be cuddly. It felt as stiff as cardboard. I felt like a failure. This was my first attempt at a piece of clothing and there was no way that it was going to work. I could crochet beautiful blankets, why couldn’t I make a sweater? My sister was crocheting tops that were perfect – why was mine so awful? So I ended up packing it all up in a bag, and throwing it in the back of a drawer. Years later, I did end up frogging my work, but I still have the yarn, waiting for the perfect idea for it.

Now with much more experience and knowledge about how yarn and hooks interact, this situation would not have happened. Over the next few months, I want to share with you how you can avoid these pitfalls, and crochet perfectly fitting garments.

Let’s start our journey today talking about hooks.

So let me take you through the decision process I use to get the right hook size for a successful project. Now, remember, as with all things crochet, this is what works for me. If you have a different method – GREAT! Use whatever works for you.

1.         Are you a tight or loose crocheter? Do you end up with items smaller than they should be? Have you ever made something that seems quite stiffer than the ones others have made?

JOIN THE CLUB! You may be a tighter crocheter – I am one too. So how do we loosen up? We need to go up in size (ie., use a bigger hook) than stated in the pattern.

            Are your items bigger than you wnat? Do you find your stitches loose, with bigger holes, than others? No worries! You may be a looser crocheter, so you most likely will need to use a smaller hook than stated in the pattern.

            Neither tight or loose? Then the stated hook size might be a good starting point for you,

            Now comes the dreaded swatching! YES, you have to do this! If you are going to invest hours into creating a beautiful project, you owe it to yourself to spend a few minutes swatching to make sure the yarn and hook you have selected will give you the desired effect.

2.         Which hook to start with? Look at the label of the yarn – Is there a suggested hook size? YES – great. Now you may not want to start with that one. Tight crocheters -> go bigger, 1-2 sizes to start. Loose -> go smaller 1-2 sizes. Neither, then start with the suggested size.

            Now stitch up a small piece, just a few inches wide, with the most common basic stitch used in your pattern. For example, shells of double crochet, I will use double crochet for my sample. I like to do a piece about 5 inches square.

3.A.     Evaluate the square you made. How do you like the look? Stitches too close together? too loose? just right?

   B.     How does the piece you made feel? Too stiff? too drapey or limp? just right?

These evaluations are very subjective and do depend on what you are making. For example, if I know the yarn will shrink (eg., some cottons), then I may want a slightly looser stitch to compensate.  Another example – compare a shawl with a placemat – you would definitely want the shawl to have more drape than the placemat.

4.         If you want tighter stitches and/or a stiffer body to your work, use a smaller hook.

            If you want looser stitches and/or a fabric with more drape, use a larger hook.

5.         Make another swatch with your new hook and adjust again if needed. I may swatch a few times before I am satisfied that I have the right hook. Is swatching a waste of time? DEFINITELY NOT! – as it can prevent you from ending up with an unsatisfactory item. Have fun experimenting with different stitches, yarns and hook sizes.

Gone are the days when I only use a 6.5 mm hook!

Stay tuned for my upcoming post – Gauge – Why size matters (and read about another of my epic failures!)

May your yarn be knot-free


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Welcome to Yours In Yarn!

I am so excited to introduce you to my new website. I have been involved with fiber arts since a young child, now specializing in crocheting for over 35 years, machine knitting for over 25 years and teaching for greater than 7 years. I am a Certified Crochet Instructor with the Craft Yarn Council of America. I offer private lessons.

I hope to share tips, tricks and techniques with working with fibers, to help you advance in your fiber arts journey. The majority of my posts will be crochet related, but as most of us are interested in more than one craft, occasionally I will be posted about my other fiber interests as well.

To join me on this journey, please sign up for my newsletter so that you will receive email notification of new postings.

Need a crocheted or knit item in a hurry and don’t have time to make it? Check out my sales pages for items in inventory, or to order something custom made.

May all your yarn be knot-free,