If you’re a frequent knitter or crocheter, no doubt you suffer from an abundance of leftover yarn. These yarn scrap odds and ends no doubt have found their way into drawers, cubbies, and totes because you hate yarn waste. Likely, they’re overflowing because you’re saving them for small yarn projects.
I’m here to tell you that, even if you only have a little bit of yarn left, you’re not limited to small knit projects or small crochet projects. Believe it or not, there’s an easy way to upcycle yarn scraps.
Today, I’m going to tell you all about making a magic ball of yarn from your odds and ends. Whether you knit or crochet, by the end of this post, you’ll feel confident to make your own unique yarn ball.
Ready? Let’s begin by talking about yarn ball magic.
What is a Magic Yarn Ball?
A Magic Ball of yarn is when you take your leftover yarn scraps and join the yarn ends together to create one yarn ball. You can make a small yarn ball or a giant yarn ball. As for the yarn scraps, they can be of any yarn fiber, yarn texture, weight class, and any color. You can use leftover yarn of varied lengths or of equal lengths.
What makes this yarn ball so magical? The magic comes from making your own unique yarn colorway. I like to think of it as the mood ring for knitters with all your favorite mood ring colors. Learn more about colors and moods here.
The more colorful yarns used, the greater the magic your yarn ball has. Every row or round is a surprise in the making. It’ll be so much fun anticipating what your finished knit will look like.
Now let's talk about the supplies you'll need.
What You Need to Make Yarn Ball Magic
To make your own Magic Yarn Ball, these are the things you’ll need:
- Scrap yarn.
- Sharp scissors.
- Tapestry Needles (assorted sizes).
- A small scale to weigh your yarn.
- Yarn Ball Winder for tidying your leftover yarns.
That's it! More than likely, you have most of these in your knitting toolkit or just have them at home. Gather them up and let's get started.
Now, let’s talk about some useful tips before making your Magic Ball of Yarn.
Tips for Making Magic Balls of Yarn
Here are some useful tips to make the most out of your magic yarn ball:
- Start off by organizing your odds and ends of the same yarn weight. If you’re uncertain of a yarn’s weight, you can use the Wraps per Inch technique to find out. This will also keep knitting gauge more consistent, if that’s a concern. Or you can just play free and loose with your yarn ball. Again, you bring the magic!
- I recommend that you make yarn cakes from your yarn scraps. You can wind yarn by hand if it’s a small amount. Or you could use a yarn ball winder if it’s a larger amount. I prefer to make center pull yarn balls, or yarn cakes, first. This sorts out any tangles and gives me an idea of just how much yarn I have in that color.
- If the yarn scrap is shorter than a ruler’s length (12”), I recommend you keep it out of the mix.
- Before you start joining yarn, organize your yarn colors into color palettes, or at least the order you want to use them.
- If you have a knitting project in mind, then it helps to use a scale to weigh out the yarn to meet the project’s needs. For example, if you want to knit a worsted weight hat pattern, read your instructions first to see how much yarn you’ll need. Use your scale to weigh your yarn ball.
- As you’re joining your yarn colors, you can continue balling yarn by hand if you like. I prefer to use a yarn winder. As I join a new ball of yarn, I simply connect the yarn tails together, then continue to wind the yarn cake.
- Finally, if you’re mixing different yarns, just take note of the yarn label so you know how to care for your finished knit.
Now let’s talk about actually making a Magic Yarn Ball.
Making Magic with Your Yarn Ball
In my particular yarn stash, I have a ton of Medium (4) yarns. As the image above shows, my leftover yarn are mainly solid colored yarns, heathered yarns, and some pastel yarns. These are entirely Cascade Yarn in 100% wool and what I’ll be using for my Magic Ball.
How you add your magic to your yarn ball is entirely up to you. Look at your yarn scraps and choose your yarn colors. Remember, this is your yarn ball mood ring. You can make it random or keep it organized.
Then, decide if you want to use the remainder of a yarn ball up completely before joining another yarn. You could also measure out the yarn so you can create a self-striping yarn.
For my magic yarn ball, I chose random yarn colors that I really liked and opted to use random lengths of yarn. As you can see in the image above, I tried to alternate my yarn colors between light and dark but ultimately made changes as the mood suited.
Once I decided on the order of colors, I weighed each row in grams and tallied the totals. The initial total was 120 grams, which is about 1 & 1/5th yarn skein, which would yield me about 264 yards.
This is based on an individual yarn hank of Cascade 220 Worsted weight yarn (220 yards/100 grams), which is the base for these yarn scraps. Of course, I measured again once I finished winding the yarn cake as shown below. The final total was 116 grams.
How to Make a Magic Yarn Ball
As I already mentioned, I’m using worsted weight yarns for my Magic Yarn Ball. This yarn’s thickness works best with the Russian Yarn Join (tutorial here). Plus, it creates a perfect invisible yarn join.
I’ve found that fine yarns (2) and thicker yarn weights work best using Russian Join method because the tapestry needle has more yarn fiber to run through.
Anything smaller than a Fine weight yarn (sport), is difficult to Russian join using a tapestry needle because the yarn is thin. In these cases, try the Magic Knot technique instead.
First, lay out the order of your yarn scraps in the order you want. Separate the first two yarn balls. Then, this is how to set them up to join the new ball of yarn.
As shown in the image above, the yarn ball on the left is the first yarn and I want to work from the center pull when I knit. Next, find the outer yarn tail of this first ball and the center strand of your next yarn color. Russian Join these together.
The last yarn you joined will become the first yarn so you’ll need to continue working in this order. I found this method makes it super easy and efficient to wind yarn into a cake as I work.
And here's the final result of my Magic Yarn Ball.
Magic Ball FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about Magic Yarn Balls.
What Can I Knit or Crochet with a Magic Yarn Ball?
Anything you want. The one thing you will have to consider is the stitch texture you want to use for your magic yarn project. If you’re making a really busy yarn with lots of small scraps, the pattern might get lost in the movement.
In knitting, your best bet is stockinette stitch or garter stitch, either of which will really show off your yarn color choices. Try this knitted cowl, or this chevron baby blanket, or this knit shawl.
Do I Have to Use Leftover Yarn from My Yarn Stash?
Absolutely not! You can use entire yarn skeins to make your own unique colorway, like a fun rainbow yarn for example. Make whatever you need with whatever you have in your yarn stash!
Can I Join My Mini Skeins Together?
Definitely! Joining your mini skeins of yarn together before you start your project can save you time and frustration. The same goes for micro skeins of yarn.
That’s a wrap on making a Magic Yarn Ball. I hope you’re excited to dive into your yarn stash, gather all your odds and ends together, and make your own yarn ball magic!
Like this content? Have questions? Please drop me a line and tell me all about it!