Yarn hacks saved my crochet habit. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme, but the more you know, the more you know. Or something like that, right? The longer I crochet, the more I hack it. I’ve conferred with fellow yarn addicts and we’ve come up with a list of yarn hacks that will change how you work with yarn.
Whether you crochet or knit, you are bound to run across a few things in your endeavors that are frustrating, annoying, are too time consuming and just make you question everything, including your sanity. Read on, friend, and let us know your favorite of these yarn hacks!
Yarn Hacks Every Crochet and Knitter Needs to Know
1. Buy stock in knee-highs
What do knee-highs have to do with crochet you ask? Amigurumi, that’s what! If you crochet many stuffed items (like our free Joker pattern) you may occasionally notice a tuft of fiberfill sneaking its way out of a stitch. To combat this, when you are creating your masterpiece stuff the fiberfill into knee-highs (or old pantyhose) and place that into your crocheted work.
The fiberfill won’t be able to find its way out now! If you are working with dark yarn, you could always buy darker hose or tights to further mask the appearance of the fiberfill.
2. Ditch the stitch markers
Ditch the stitch markers, and use bobby pins instead! I don’t know about you, but my stitch markers are constantly being misplaced, lost or they break when opened or closed. I picture them singing Under Pressure right along with David Bowie and Queen as they lay crumbling to bits. lol! Bobby pins work far better than stitch markers for me, and at a fraction of the cost. My favorite of the yarn hacks; simply insert the bobby pin into the required stitch, and remove them when you’re finished with that row.
3. Paper clip for reading patterns
I’ll be the first to admit: I’m a little (or a lot) OCD when it comes to my crochet patterns. Of course I’ve got my Ravelry library where I keep the majority of my favorite patterns (let’s be friends!), and when I am actually working on a pattern I like to have the printed version in front of me. And then my OCD kicks in and I can’t have the printed version in front of me without having laminating it. As some patterns require more attention to detail than others, I like to use a paper clip to keep my place as I work. P.S. love that pattern? Here it is!
4. Laminate your patterns.
I tend to print off a few patterns at a time and fire up the laminator before going to town. I’ll laminate front to back, and if the pattern has multiple pages, I’ll hole-punch the top and stick a piece of yarn through to tie it off, keeping all sheets together. You could also put them together in a binder. Laminating helps my paper clip (from #3) slide easily up and down the pattern as I work (and to stay organized!).
5. Food storage/Bedding bags
I know I can’t be the only person that goes to the craft store just to touch the yarn and gain inspiration. If one skein (or twelve) just so happens to land in my cart begging to be taken home I can’t be held accountable (especially if there was a coupon involved)! This inevitably leads to my yarn closet bursting at the seams and me forgetting which pattern I bought the yarn for (if I had any in mind in the first place). Instead of letting my yarn closet get utterly out of hand, I have found that I stay much more organized when I use large food storage bags or bedding bags. Simply print the intended pattern (or at least write down on a note card the exact name of it and where to locate it) and place in the bag along with the intended yarn and a note including for whom the project is intended. Voila! Easy peasy and this also helps when I’ve lost my cro-jo and need inspiration. I simply walk to my yarn stash, find a ready-made project bag, my hook and I’m golden.
6. Colander for yarn bowl
Yarn bowls are beautiful, useful and can be expensive. My husband bought me a handmade yarn bowl for Christmas a few years back, but I would have a hard time justifying the expense to myself if he hadn’t purchased one for me. If you’re frugal like myself, why not use a colander as a yarn bowl instead? Just stick your yarn through a random hole, place your yarn ball inside and BOOM! Free yarn bowl comin’ at ya.
7. Binder clips for yarn guides
If you don’t want to use your colander for a yarn bowl, or spaghetti is on the menu, binder clips work great as yarn guides when clipped to the side of any plain ol’ bowl. Just feed the yarn through and whip up your next project! But what happens if you’re in the middle and need to use your bowl? Just pull the metal prongs out of the binder clip, they’ll pop out with enough pressure. (someone queue David Bowie!)
8. Shoe box with dowel rod for easy pulling
Grab an old shoe box and cut a slit on each short end. Then, wind your yarn around the dowel rod (or better yet shove the entire rod through the center of the skein) and lower the dowel rod into the pre-made slits. Cut a square out of the front of the shoe box lid and close it feeding the yarn through the top. This helps to keep your yarn safe from pet hair and from flopping all around on the floor (or getting stolen by a cat) which only helps to keeps your project cleaner.
9. Toilet paper holder
Similar effect to that of the shoe box outlined in number 7, but instead wind your yarn around a toilet paper tube and get to work.
10. Organize your yarn with color coordinated gift bags
If your yarn stash looks *ahem* anything like mine, this hack will help to keep you organized. Hit up the dollar store (or after Christmas clearance?) and buy inexpensive gift bags in varying colors. Throw your red yarn in the red bag, green yarn in the green bag etc. Hang them on the rod in the closet and next time you’re looking for the perfect shade of blue, pull that bag down and get lots in all your pretty colors.
11. Wine corks for knitting needles
Instead of buying stoppers for your knitting needles, use wine corks! Just chug a bottle or two of wine and use them as stoppers to keep your work on the needles. Genius, and a great excuse to have a glass of wine while you work. 😉
12. Use industrial clips for bobbins
Graphghans are both beautiful and time consuming, but one way to cut down on the time it takes for color changes? Industrial clips! These work great as bobbins, and I love them so much I did an entire article on how to use them.
13. Keep your yarn scraps
I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to home decor. Take my friend Maximus for example, a plaster bust of a man whom I have never met, yet have carried with me over the last twenty years. He’s my oldest bestie, and the fact that he creeps some people out only makes me love him more. When it comes to yarn scraps, I find it super chic to keep the scraps as I finish weaving in ends to stuff into a vase for display in my crochet corner. If you’re super thrifty (I knew I like you) you could use them as stuffing in your next amigurumi project as well. Is it art or is it filling? Up to you, really!
14. Use light-up needles
I loathe working with black yarn. Detest it actually, although at times it is a necessary evil. I also enjoy crocheting before bed as a wind down and relaxation technique. Enter: Light up crochet hooks! These are the best when it comes to dark yarn and/or when crocheting at night next to your sleeping partner.
15. Use a fork to make a pom-pom
Sure, pom pom makers are handy, but did you know that a fork works just as well? Wind the yarn around and around until you get as much of a thickness as desired, then slip another piece of yarn through the middle tine and tie around the fork. Cut both sides (on each side of the outside of the fork) and BOOM! You’ve got a pom pom. Need a larger one? Use a toilet paper tube for the same effect.
16. Curly circular knitting needles? Use hot water to unkink them.
If you knit in the round, you may have a pair of kinky circular knitting needles. As in: they have kinked, they are not kinky. 😉 Submerge them in hot water for a short while to help them relax and unkink themselves.
17. Pencil grips for hooks (if you can’t justify the expense of ergonomic)
If you can’t justify the expense of ergonomic crochet hooks, use a pencil grip instead! I must admit, that once I started earning a decent amount from selling my handmade wares I splurged and bought a set of Clover Soft Touch hooks. Love, love LOVE them and I could never go back to plain ol’ hooks again. The thought alone make my hand cramp, so if you can afford them, do yourself a favor and buy a set (or ask for it for Christmas!). I also find that I crochet much faster with these hooks as my hand does not slip as it used to. Don’t want to commit to an entire set? Start with your favorite hook size and test it out for a while. You’ll thank me later.
18. Make your own crochet key chain
Do you have an emergency crochet kit in your car? If not, you totally should. Stuck waiting on a train? Crochet a row. Waiting in the school pickup lane for the kiddos? Crochet a row. Make yourself an emergency crochet kit including a crochet key chain. You never know when it’ll come in handy. You can even take a smaller aluminum crochet hook, snip it with wire cutters about half-way down, then curl it in on itself, attach a clasp (like this) and throw it on your key ring. Love! Stay tuned for a tutorial, with plenty of photos!
19. Rings for holding granny squares together
Making a bunch of granny squares for a project? Perhaps an afghan or a bag or a pair of sexy shorts? Elaine (a member of Heart Hook Home Crochet Community) had the brilliant idea of bundling 20 – 25 granny squares together using one of these rings! That way if you’re making large amounts (150 for a blanket etc) you can count them in multiples of 25 instead of individually over and over again, and they stick together this way too! Love it!
What other yarn hacks do you have? Any I missed? Leave a comment so we can all get in on the yarn hacks that make crochet and knitting so much fun.
More crochet tips and free patterns before you go:
Join Heart Hook Home Crochet Group for Tips, Tricks and Crochet Friends!
How to Read a Crochet Pattern
Why Size Matters in Crocheting and Knitting
How to Make a Magic Circle for Crocheting in the Round
Use Industrial Clips for Yarn Bobbins in Crochet and Knitting
9 Tips for Traveling with Crochet