I’ve got a bit of a thing for mini skeins. If by “thing”, you mean “hoarding problem”.
Over the years I’ve had various subscriptions, and calendars, and just random purchases. My mini skein collection has grown. And grown. And then grown a bit more, until I looked at it the other day and realised the shelf it’s stored on was starting to overflow, and I had to take action.
Enter: the Ultimate Scrappy Blanket.
What is the Ultimate Scrappy Blanket?
Put simply (and this really is a simple one), it’s a great big blanket that I’m knitting to use up all those lovely mini skeins, and the various scraps and bits of leftover yarn I’ve got from all my projects. It’s a stashbusting marvel. It’s knitted entirely in garter stitch, using three strands of fingering weight/4ply yarn held together. It is perhaps the easiest thing you will ever knit.
How I made my Ultimate Scrappy Blanket
The “pattern” for my blanket is about as easy as you can get:
- Gather together all your fingering weight mini skeins, scraps, and partial skeins
- Decide which 3 yarns you want to hold together first
- Using those yarns, cast on 140 stitches on a long 8mm circular needle (I used the cable cast-on, but you could do whatever)
- Knit every row, introducing a new yarn each time one runs out
- Cast off when you run out of yarn.
Dimension-wise, my blanket is roughly 50in/126cm wide. Length wise, I’m not sure how long it’ll be because I’ve not dared count how many mini skeins I have, but basic calculations tell me 60 mini skeins held triple throughout should make it about 70in/175cm long.
A few marling hints and tips
Depending on what kind of person – and knitter – you are, you may want to think about the order of your yarns. I’ve largely gone with whatever I’ve grabbed next, but there are a couple of things I’m finding work best.
While the obvious thing may be to think about the colours and try to work in some kind of fade, what I’ve focused more on is how the three yarns I’m working with go together. I’m trying to keep one semi-solid, one variegated, and one with a few speckles going at any one time.
And to avoid having a big load of stripes, I’m staggering my yarn changes so I’m not switching them all out at the same time. The easiest way to do this is through adding in some partial balls and scraps of varying lengths.
How to customise your Ultimate Scrappy Blanket
Before I get heavily into some knitting maths, I’m going to caveat everything that follows: the Ultimate Scrappy Blanket is by its very nature a bit haphazard and improvised. Using scraps and different mini skeins from different places means it’s more of a vague art than a precise science.
That said, you can do some maths to get a bit more of an idea of what you’re aiming for, and actually plan out how to get the best blanket out of the yarn you’ve got. So here’s how you can do that:
I’m knitting my blanket with 3 strands of fingering weight/4ply yarn held together for some super-squishy marled garter stitch. Depending on what’s in your stash, you could faff about with this a bit. For example:
- Hold one strand DK with one strand 4ply
- Hold one strand aran with one strand laceweight
- Hold one strand DK with two strands laceweight
The whole point of the blanket is that it’s using up what you’ve got, and even amongst yarns that are the same weight you’re going to find slight variations in thickness and length, so don’t be afraid to muck about a bit.
Gauge and yardage
My blanket is coming out at a rough gauge of 11 stitches and 22 rows to 4in/10cm. That’s pre-blocking, so I could open up the row gauge in particular by giving it a good old stretch; but I want to be super snuggly, so I’ll be doing my best to keep it as squishy as possible. I’d say 11 stitches and 20 rows is a good gauge to aim for.
Now, yardage is a little more tricky. Since I’m using all the little bits and pieces, it’s hard to be super-precise. But what I can tell you is this:
An 80m mini skein lasts around 14 or 15 rows.
Working out how far your yarn will go
It’s time for a little bit of knitting maths, I’m afraid. Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.
The best way to match blanket dimensions to yarn stash is to get into the nitty gritty and work out how many stitches you can afford to work.
There are 3 stages to this:
- Working out how many stitches worth of yarn you have
- Dividing that by 3 (because you’re holding your yarn triple)
- Using that to figure out the best number of stitches to cast on.
So. Let’s walk through this, shall we?
Matching the dimensions of your blanket to your stash
I said before that an 80m mini skein will do around 14/15 rows of my 140 stitch blanket. To work out how many stitches that is, just multiply the number of stitches per row by the number of rows.
For simple maths, I’m going to say it’s 2000 stitches, which falls handily somewhere between the 14 and 15 rows.
Next, look at how many skeins you’ve got. Say you’ve got two advent calendars’ worth: a mere 48 skeins. Times that by the number of stitches per skein, and you’ve got a whopping great 96,000 stitches.
BUT. You’ll be holding those skeins triple, so to account for that you need to divide by 3. That gives you 32,000 stitches. Still not bad.
Now’s where you get the faff about a bit until you hit on something that feels right. Say I want my blanket to be 60in/150cm long. To work out how many rows that is, I want to:
- Work out how many times bigger my desired length is than the gauge measurement – so divide desired length by gauge measurement: 150/10 = 15
- Times this number by the number of rows in my original gauge measurement: 15 x 20 = 300
So that means I’m aiming for 300 rows.
What you want to do now is take your 32,000 stitches, and divide it by those 300 rows. This will tell you how many stitches wide your blanket should be. In this case it comes out at 106.667, so let’s just call that 106 stitches.
If you then want to really go for it and work out how wide that makes your blanket, divide that 106 by the 11 stitches of the original gauge, and then multiply it by 10. This blanket would be 96cm wide, which seems not bad at all to me.
OR, if you can’t be bothered with all that maths you can just wing it and hope for the best. Always a great excuse to buy more yarn if it turns out too short, hey?