Saturday, January 31, 2015

Magic Balls and the Russian Join

I just finished a couple of knitting projects (slippers and a beautiful shoulder wrap of my own design) and I have a small ball of yarn left over from each project.  I hate having leftover yarn, and I love it.  

I love it because it means I didn't run out in the middle of a project, without being able to match the dye lot.  One sweater with mixed dye lots was truly enough for me. It's a little jarring to look at.  It also means that I have a little bit of yarn to experiment with on a new idea.

And that leads to the hate it part.  My leftover amounts of yarn inevitably unroll and tangle everywhere in the house if I don't corral them.  I've learned to put them into Ziploc giant storage bags, but I don't have adequate space to store the bags.  The more yarn, the higher the tangle potential.  The more tangles, the more likely there's an inevitable cutting and trashing session, which means wasted yarn.

I must have lived through the Depression in a previous life, because wasting resources bothers me.  Even a piece of yarn as short as a foot.  Sometimes a massive tangle results in some painful cutting with leftover pieces that it hurts to throw away.  ...but those pieces really do get in the way and trash up the place.  

A few years ago a friend gave me a big garbage bag of a loved one's yarn stash after they died.  I immediately organized it and made three totally different afghans from the yarn.  And now I still have a considerable amount of leftover that I can't really coordinate with anything, yet I still want to make it useful. :D

I'd much rather have a pile of scrappy afghans to consider gifting than a room full of balls of yarn too small for any one project.  

I was researching (yay Pinterest!) an attractive way to store those leftover balls attractively (because out of sight is out of mind with me, leading to redundant collections of yarn) when I came across the Magic Ball.  A magic ball is a ball of yarn created by melding all those short lengths of yarn into one crazy-quilt colored length, then rolled into a ball.  People actually sell magic balls on Etsy.  Wow.  

Now, you're supposed to weave in all of your ends securely. If you don't, it makes your work look like it is falling apart, as one of my nephews complained of the blanket I made him.  After that complaint I learned to fabric-glue all my woven-in ends, to make sure they stay put.  I hate weaving in.  I did do it on all those blankets, but they popped out into view after several washings.  Argh.  

Some people simply knot those ends together and have a million stray ends showing deliberately.  I don't care for that look much. It makes me feel that I did some raggedy work.  I would rather have a classy look than a funky one.  (Magic Balls, knotted - their pic, not mine)
I love the insane mixture of bright colors, buuuuut.... The thought of all the ends showing, shagging out, potentially becoming untied.... Well, I had yellow shag carpet in my bedroom as a little girl in the 70s. It looked pretty awful after a few years.  Because, acrylic, you know? 

I buy acrylic yarn. Wool isn't practical where I live. I can't afford to be a yarn snob, anyway.

Enter the Russion Join.  It's a way of splicing together two yarn ends so that the ends are plied back into the original yarn, with NO ENDS left to weave, as they are worked into the stitches, rather than stitching over the loose ends.  Not a spit-join -- this will work with other yarns than wools.  I'm going to have to try this. (Magic Ball, Russian Joined - their pic, not mine)
Can you see why I love this version? It's already tidy, and when you finish, you have two ends to hide, not thousands. :)

Then I need to attach a note to my Magic Balls (LOL) explaining what I plan to do with them when I have enough viable scraps.  :). I've got a bad habit of starting scrappy projects that I can't finish nearly instantly, then losing interest and letting them become a total mess.  

My point in my crafting life is this: use all of my materials appropriately.  Don't waste stuff. I love the challenge of recycling, upcycling, and repurposing leftovers (though not food), rather than throwing them out.  I suppose I have a bit of pioneer spirit.

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