I am not a hoarder. I love chucking things out, re-using or re-cycling where I can and keeping the clutter to a minimum. The one thing I do hoard however is yarn. I have boxes and boxes of the stuff. Some of it is beautiful, the kind of thing I’ve fallen love with at a wooly event of some sort and just had to buy, even though no immediate purpose sprang to mind. Some of it has been given to me by friends, either especially chosen for me as a gift or something they found when doing a clear out of their attic and thought I could put to good use. Some if it is left over from previously completed projects, lots of sock yarn, ends of cones, single balls. It’s hard to throw out wool. I just can’t do it.
I say wool. It’s not all wool. There’s some lovely cashmere a friend gave me because she said she was never going to use it, my beautiful impulse buys are all made of something divine, but I also have a fair amount of acrylic too. There, I said it. I have acrylic in my stash! I hasten to point out that I haven’t bought it myself. Do I like it? No at all, it has no redeeming features. It is mostly that old, 1980’s slightly shiny, squeaky stuff that puts your teeth on edge, not the modern kind which (dare I say it?) can look quite attractive. Acrylic yarn has improved quite a lot in recent years. I confess that from time to time when yarn shopping these days, I have inadvertently lifted a ball of acrylic to my nose to see if I can tell what natural fibre it’s made from by sniffing it before checking the label (a random little game I like to play with myself!), before realising that it was manmade. But whilst the appearance of manmade fibres might have improved, I wouldn’t buy any.
But here in my stash, the acrylic sits with other half used balls of sock wool and jumper yarn, waiting to be used in some way or another, perhaps secretly fearing that it will never have a purpose, that throughout its entire existence, it will never fulfil its destiny of being created into a thing…
One day I decided to tackle my yarn stash. I looked at all these balls of “wool” and decided they just couldn’t hang around here any longer doing nothing other than taking up space. And since I couldn’t bring myself to chuck even the smallest quantity out, I needed to find a purpose for it all. And given the speed at which I like to tidy up, I needed an immediate, instant, fast solution.
I bought myself a pair of 25mm circular needles and made myself some big balls of chunky yarn by stranding together all these oddments I had collected. I combined six or seven strands of lace weight, 4ply, double knitting and aran, adding in new strands as others ran out.
I cast on 72 stitches and worked 100 rows in garter stitch. This resulted in a huge, cosy, stretchy, blanket measuring about 240cm wide and 200cm long. It immediately became the family favourite for tv-watching and sofa-snoozing and was perfect to fit everyone underneath to watch Dr. Who on a Saturday evening.
Giant knitted blankets made on huge needles (or on arms) are very fashionable these days, the thick knitted texture is right on trend. But buying the yarn to make something on such an epic scale is quite an investment, especially if you want to make it out of some gorgeous soft merino or alpaca. So I’m delighted that I have made mine for free. And even more delighted to have cleared an entire stash box. (I wonder how long it will stay empty….?).
If you would like to have a go at making your own epic blanket, try a little experiment before embarking on a colossal project. Strand together six or seven yarns and cast on 12-16 stitches. Knit for a while until you get a feel for the density of your knitting. Add or subtract strands until you’re happy with the drape and weight. And then use this tension swatch to calculate how many stitches to cast on to make the size of blanket that you want.