Use It Up: The Leftover Throw

A good friend from college let me read her novel-in-progress several years ago, which was funny and smart and touching. The first-person protagonist at one point referred to a relative’s home being filled with Scraps of Beauty afghans; it was not meant to be complimentary.

I was puzzled. “What’s a ‘Scrap of Beauty’ afghan?” I asked. I was told it’s an afghan crocheted with all the leftovers from other crochet projects; you crochet with one leftover ball of yarn until it’s gone, and then start on another. Beauty, my friend informed me, was rarely the result.

And yet for crocheters and us knitters, leftovers are part of our world. Pattern books exist that solely cover clever ways to use scraps without making them look like scraps. And hats and striped scarves are always nice standbys.

This year I somewhat disgustedly took a look at my yarn stash — leftovers, projects in process, scraps from finished projects — and finally saw what my husband always sees: Too much yarn. So I’ve been trying to work through it. One day, with a basket of leftover balls handy, I cast on 120 stitches on a size 9 needle, and began garter-stitching my own Scraps of Beauty throw. Since there was no counting, no stitch switching, it was a great project for reading or watching an engaging movie or hanging out with the kids. I’d pull it out when I wanted something mindless, or when I finished a different project whose scraps lent themselves nicely. I initially started out coordinating colors (Seriously? How many green projects must I have knit in the past several years?), but as coordinating yarns got scarce, I got a little bolder with my scraps.

I made it long enough, as a friend suggested, to completely cover us from chin to past our toes. And then I stopped. I’d meant to single-crochet around the whole thing, but didn’t bother.

This throw is now the kids’ (and, unfortunately, the perpetually smelly Dachshund’s) favorite cover up. They’ve suggested more than once that I should make one for every member of the family so that we can reduce the fighting over who gets it on cold weekend mornings.

And I’ve found that even though it isn’t what you’d call “beautiful,” I love remembering the projects that went into it: A scarf I’d made a friend, a knitted jumper I’d made for toddler Sylvia, fingerless gloves I knitted to stave off the cold when my mom started chemo, a special sweater I unfortunately and inadvertently felted in the dryer.

I’m starting a new throw: This one begun with leftovers from a Harry Potter House Sweater I made Tommy over the holidays. Maybe in 15 or so years, I’ll have enough scraps to make five six-foot-long throws; in the meantime, I’m liking the process and the memories.



7 thoughts on “Use It Up: The Leftover Throw

  1. Hi, Cindy!
    So do you try to use pretty much the same weights of yarns throughout? Or do you not worry about it too much? My yarn leftovers are also getting a bit out of control…


    • Hi, Christine: I pretty much tried to keep the weights similar. For the most part, these were all worsted or heavier worsted (but not chunky), but I wasn’t slavish to the weight. Overall, though, that’s mainly what my scraps were.

  2. As the friend in question, when can I expect my complimentary Scraps of Beauty afghan? Lib may have had a bunch in her little Indy apartment by Garfield Park, but I have _none_.

    • Oh, Beth, I was trying to protect your identity, and I appreciate your moxie in coming forth and claiming your anonymous reference. And, as you know, I still owe you your *real* wedding present, which is now more than two years old and still only 50% done, so your guess is as good as mine. 🙂 But if I can wrestle this next one from Sylvia and Tommy, it is all yours, Miss Thing.

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