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08/29/22: Time to improvise.

I’ll start with some lovely finished projects from customers. Here are Lara’s Christmas stockings, which will certainly become treasured family heirlooms. Where does it say stockings must be red and green?

Next, Rebecca’s jolly crocheted Christmas wreath ornament — in traditional holiday colors — and 2 pairs of the most delicate earrings. I don’t know the size hook used, but it must have been quite, quite small to create such fine lacy stitches.

Rusty had her ZickZack Scarf with her when she visited the shop, knit in 3 different skeins of fingering weight. The pattern is free on Ravelry from designer Christy Kamm.

And Mary Beth brought in two pairs of comfy socks, one knit in Opal 4-Ply and one in Emma’s Yarn Practically Perfect Sock.

Tina’s also been sock knitting this summer. She chose Dream in Color Smooshy 100% Merino from her stash for her Elizabeth Carter socks from Kate Davies Designs, a “vanilla” pattern that lets the yarn steal the show.

More stash yarn (Retrosaria Mondim) went into these pretty Hermione’s Everyday Socks designed by Erica Leuder. “A perfect pattern for variegated or speckled sock yarn,” Tina says.

I finally finished my Creek, begun on the eve of the pandemic. I used Kelbourne Woolens Scout, and as I hope the second photo shows, Scout’s stitch definition is extraordinary. This sweater was worth the wait.

So why is this post titled “Time to improvise”?

Summer, the season voted most likely not to be knit or crocheted in, is on the way out. Autumn is on the way in, and with it come all the alluring, irresistible new yarns for sweater (and scarf and hat and mitten and cowl) weather.

But let’s be honest — we all have yarn on our shelves we’d like to make “disappear” before too many of those new fall/winter yarns win our hearts and jump into our project bags. That’s right — I’m talking stash here.

I’d like to suggest that with a little improvisation, you can give your “extra” yarn the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

To lean on the Casablanca metaphor a bit harder, find 2–4 skeins that just plain look good together — a Rick and a Louis. Maybe add an Ilsa and a Victor. They don’t have to be the same weight, but they shouldn’t be too dissimilar. They shouldn’t be the same kinds of yarn, so don’t round up the usual suspects. The more variety, the better — try for mix of loopy, tweedy, thick, thin, smooth, chained, fuzzy, variegated, or solid. Now take a look back at your stash. Four skeins are gone! And you’re holding a future something that will be beautiful.

All you need now is a pattern — one that will look great with that mélange of different yarns. Even if the sample is shown in a solid color, if the stitch pattern changes, change your yarn. If stripes are called for, change yarns rather than colors. It’s that simple!

There’s a list of over 20 patterns (below) that I hope will inspire you to clear a few skeins from your stash, limber up those stitching muscles if they’ve been on summer vacation, and have fun improvising your knitting. (Apologies crocheters, my pattern suggestions are all for knits. Really — you do not want this crochet know-nothing to be picking out patterns for you!)

This idea of “improvisational knitting” is one I’ve been thinking about since April when I had the great good fortune to have visited the atelier of one of GYI’s most prolific knitters, commercial artist Yael Kahanov. She graciously gave me a tour of her home studio where she has assembled everything she requires to create her amazing sculptures, paintings, prints, and textiles.

In her fiber work, she will often make up her own patterns as she goes along, responding to the colors and textures of her yarns. She loves working with beads and “novelty” yarns. We featured several of her shawls at the end of this post last year.

From a shelves piled high with gorgeous completed shawls, wraps, and stoles, she tossed these casually across a couch for me to photograph saying, “this is just some of what I like to do!”

Sometimes Yael finds a pattern she loves and will work repeat after repeat, changing only her yarns.

Here the pattern is unexpectedly split apart by a section of plain stockinette in a wild, loopy art yarn.

I find Yael’s approach to knitting incredibly inspiring and freeing — as you can see, the sky is the limit for those “fortunate ones” who will be escaping your stash!

Take a look at the following suggestions for patterns that can be used for combinations of different yarns. Even if you don’t love a specific design, perhaps you’ll enjoy exploring the work of a designer new to you.


LaLa’s SImple Shawl by Laura Linneman –

The Age of Brass and Steam by Orange Flower Yarn –

Stitch Sampler Shawl by On This Day Designs –

Reyna by Noora Backlund –

Stormy Sky by Ksenia Naidyon –

Take It All by Lisa Hannes –

Cozy Eve by Sanne Kalmbacher –

Upstate of Mind Shawl by The Lamb & Kid Designs –

Bark by Sue Lazenby –


Light and Up bu Caroline Wiens –

Trillian by Martina Behm –

Silta by Tif Neilan –

Therapy by Laura Aylor

Goldana by Brian Smith –

Coming Together by Lisa K. Ross –

Heart Warmer Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska –

Perfect Blend by Casapinka –

Olive Pink by Casapinka –

Casapinka has many patterns ideal for blending yarns. Check out her Ravelry Shawl Bundle:

Smorgasbord by Stephen West – Stephen West’s designs are also perfect for emptying your stash; view his entire Westknits design portfolio on Ravelry.

Another Cake by Barb Padwicki –

Paris Toujours by Isabell Kraemer –

Geology by verybusymonkey –

Birds of a Feather by Andrea Mowry –

Antarktis by Janina Kallio –

Finally, for anyone lucky enough to have almost no stash at all: the Lone Skein Shawl by Joji Locatelli –

Have fun introducing your stash yarns to each other and creating some beautiful friendships!