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Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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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!

Genius Yarn Hacks

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

1. Knee-high yarn hack

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.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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.

bobby-pin

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.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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!

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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!).

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

5. Use food storage/bedding bags for projects

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.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

6. Use a colander for a 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.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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 8, 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 lost 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. 😉

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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 bobbins in crochet.

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!

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

14. Use light-up hooks

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.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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. See a whole slew of ways to make pom poms from household items.

16. Curly circular knitting needles? Use hot water to unkink them.

If you knit in the round, or if you use cabled Tunisian crochet hooks, you may have some kinky cords. As in: they have kinks, they are not kinky. 😉 Submerge them in hot water for a short while to help them relax and unkink themselves.

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

17. Pencil grips for hooks 

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!

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

19. Use 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!

Yarn Hacks Every Crocheter and Knitter Needs to Know

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

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57 Comments

  1. The knee-high hack is sheer genius!! I'm having so much fun messing around with you guys!!! So glad I foound you
  2. I HAVE BEEN USING EMPTY PLASTIC COFFEE CONTAINERS FOR MY YARN...I PUT A SMALL X IN THE TOP AND CUT OUT ONE PIECE OF THE X SHAPE FOR THE YARN CAN COME OUT AND MAKE ONE OR 2 OF THE X CUTS A LITTLE LONGER SO I CAN HOLD THE YARN IN THE SLIT SO IT WILL NOT FALL BACK DOWN INTO THE CAN..I HOPE THAT ALL MAKES SENCE....
  3. I love all the great ideas! I use disposable wipe cans with the labels removed to store my skein of yarn . I toss it into my bag and the yarn stays clean. If you want to use the lid be sure to thread through it before you start your project. You would think I would remember this...
  4. Great ideas. Some I have used, several I am going to try, especially the bobby pins or paper clips. And since my yarn stash is legendary, I love the cube organizers with the light weight baskets. Separated by weight color and use. No I won't tell you how many. My latest yarn hack is the travel storage bags. Since I have several projects going at once, and I am not sure which one I want to do next, I can put the extra yarn in them, remove the air and carry three projects in the space of one project. This works so well, I have used the vacuum bags for blanket yarn, or the large balls. Favorite ergonomic hook is addi swing. If you are used to a pencil grip, you will have to change your grip, but It is worth it. However, the neck is not a uniform size and on some projects they just aren't smooth enough. My second favorite is a set I got from Amazon for $12.00. Look for the one that has a thumb rest on both sides. I got this set and went to town. For yarn once you have the ball, slip on one of those old socks you can't find a mate for, the no show or short ones work great.. It keeps them clean and contained. Thanks for the colander idea. I have a couple that some how just aren't a favorite, they will be perfect for yarn.
  5. Loved these ideas! I have definitely used a Bobby pin as a stitch marker, but I realized if its not on the stitch all the way, or the pin is a bit sprung, it slips off easily in my bag. So I solved the problem: I like to use paper clips to mark stitches, in knitting and crocheting =) A friend told me about your website, and I have loved looking around on here! I am anxious to start some of these projects, as well =]
  6. I knit many hats for charity. Since I generally use the same pattern in multiple sizes, I weighed the hats & wrote these notes on my pattern. When I have leftover yarn, I weigh the ball on a postage scale. I write the oz. onto a 3" x 2" card with a hole punched in one end. Then I thread the yarn end through this hole & tie a loose knot. To keep the yarn ball from unraveling, I loop the yarn through a large safety pin & secure it into several layers of yarn. When I want to knit a striped hat, I select my leftover colors (weighed & marked) & add up the total oz. I rarely run out of yarn before the hat is finished. I use a lot of circular & double-pointed needles. Since these are not marked by size, I store each size in a flat zippered pencil case (with a large vinyl window) & place a 2" card inside with the size clearly marked. All of these cases are stored in a 14" long plastic storage box. Stitch markers? I use the round plastic rings from my worn-out bra straps. When using circular needles, one color marks the beginning of a row & other colors mark each change in stitches across the row. I crochet baby blankets. When I'm finished, I weigh the leftover yarn skeins, instead of the blanket & make notes about the colors on my favorite pattern. For gifts, I hang a care tag (label) on the hat or blanket. This states the type of yarn & washing instructions.
  7. I used just a epeice if Yarn but it frayed and fuzzed. So just 5e other day I was I. family dollar and decided to used bobby-pins. Looking the selection over I found mini Bobby-pins, they are just 1 q/4 in. long..there 54 in box for $1.00. So far they are working just great.
  8. I liked how you mention to use bobby pins as stitch markers to save money. My wife has been thinking about taking up knitting as a hobby and it would be great if she knew how to keep track of all of her materials. She has plenty of bobby pins in the house, so there would never be a shortage.
  9. Some of these hacks I have been using, some I have not tried before and I was thinking, "Ooh, what a great idea!" My thoughts on pencil protectors: they are very useful for the larger sizes of crochet hooks, but they often do not fit the smaller sizes right and just end up slipping up and down as you work or coming right off. It is so annoying that it is more convenient just to cough up the money for an ergonomic set. Sometimes you can repurpose an old pen and use it as a handle for a small hook by experimenting, using glue and enlarging the opening a bit if needed. There are directions on how to do this on the web.
  10. I take panty hose and cut them into pieces about 5 inches long from both legs. They work awesome to keep balls of yarn neat so they won't unravel until you use them. It keeps them from attracting dust too and is a great way to recycle used pantyhose.
  11. Here are my yarn hacks: 1) I use newborn size baby socks to hold small balls of yarn that I am working with. It keeps the yarn clean and contained. Very easy to use when you make pull from the center balls. 2) I bought a cloth shoe organizer that is about 4 ft long by 3 ft tall and put my yarn stash in it. I can see all the skeins and know how much I have at a glance and what colors I have available. The unit can be added to just by stacking another unit on top of the first one.
    1. I LOVE the shoe organizer storage method!! I'm so excited, I just got the circular "shoe holder"...... that bad boy holds SIXTY full skiens of yarn!!! SCORE!! Also- when I go to the dollar store, i always pick up a few of those little mesh bags you put your undies in to wash....$1 for two & they make awesome yarn 'holders' (idk exactly what they're called- but to separate yarn while using multiple skiens for one project).....ONE more... I recently started cutting cardboard strips & winding my extra(left over) yarn around them. Holds fantastically(cut a small slit in each end to attach yarn to cardboard)&makes organizing a breeze, while saving tons of time by avoiding those dreaded 'unravle/untie' situations!
  12. On the topic of skein control...I make "yarn socks" from shower scrubbies (net-like poufs). By cutting the string/cord that's holding the netting into a scrubbie, I can straighten it out...they are actually TUBES o/netting! I'll tie a knot @ 1 end, add a touch o/glue to make sure it doesn't magically untie itself, then cut the tube 1-2 feet from the knot (then repeat the process until whole thing's used up). I then put my skeins o/yarn (or yarn cakes or balls o/yarn) inside the net tube "socks" & then work straight from them! This allows me to have multiple skeins o/yarn together in a bag/container w/o concerns o/tangles, or rolling out o/control, etc (eliminating need for yarn bowls too!). They're easy to make & cheap to find (dollar store!).
  13. You are stinkin' hilarious! I'm a newbie and have been trying to pick up tips from my mom, who of course just makes things, beautifully, without all the things I had thought necessary (similarly can't really learn her food recipes because she doesn't really have measurements). I'm OCD crazy and cracked up at the laminating part - totally something I'm going to do! I do have ergonomic issues and have been considering whether the ergo hooks are worth it. As a start, my mom sent me some of her non-ergo extras, but you've convinced me ergo is the way to go. Thanks for all the great ideas!! Helpful to a newbie who does a lot of research before delving in lol :)
    1. As I get older I have found it getting harder and harder to hold on to things, crochet hooks included. Enter my first ergonomic crochet hook and I am totally SOLD on them. I think they are well worth the money and have already invested in a set of the hooks I use the most often. I highly recommend them.
    2. As a person who has crocheted for 20+ years and I’m only in my 40’s now so planning on many more years of crocheting.... TREAT YOURSELF for ergo hooks if you already have issues with your hands. I recently got the Boye set from Walmart and am very happy with them. I have found that the sizes are just a tad different from most standard hooks though so keep that in mind. They are a great set of 12 hooks for under $30 though and if you are not sure if you will like them Walmart sells them by the single hook as well.
    3. If you are like me and pull way to tight no matter what and then your hands hurt after just a short time of crochet then I encourage you to flip you needles. I crochet 10 times faster and with little or no pain. I also am crocheting much looser which if great for my gauge. I hold it like a pencil instead of with hook up. Was weird the first day or so but man after that......so much better. Then ergo needles aren't as important. (I learned exclusively from books and they only show with hook up). Ran into a crocheter and she was crocheting with hook pointed down and I asked here about it.
  14. Thanks for all the helpful tips. I use a colander too instead of a yarn bowl. I love the idea for bags and hanging in a closet but I don't have a closet big enough. I have one room with nothing but big Rubbermaid containers. Sorted by colors and labeled and different types of yarn as the fur, lace, baby etc. it takes away crochet time having to hunt a certain yarn, I label boxes on fronts and sides of them for ease in finding . They are stacked 3 and 4 boxes high. I even took the pool table table down!
  15. Empty kitchen canisters with a hole drilled in the top is a great way to keep your yarn clean while crocheting (or knitting).
  16. When I first started crochet, I took some blank lever-back earring hooks & fancied them up with old, matchless, or unwanted beads from my jewelry-making stash for stitch markers. They work GREAT- they don't slip off like bobby pins will on thinner yarns. I still use bobby pins just as much though; cheap & easy to find & no biggie if they wander away somehow, lol. I've GOT to get me some pencil grips, till I can get the extra $$ for Clover hooks. Thanks for the great ideas!
  17. I've (foolishly but so far it's working out) decided that an Amigurumi kit would be an awesome first project. Between your tutorial videos and these hacks I feel so much more inspired. Thank you!
  18. Love all these great ideas.. I'm new at crocheting and love it, my favorite hobby now. So ideas, tips, and easy short cuts are always helpful.
  19. Carabiners may be very useful. They can be used instead of the rings to keep squares (and may be a more useful shape than the rings for this, since they have a long side) and they open easily to add or remove squares. You can also use them to mark stitches or keep pattern pages together or even hang a needle wallet or needle bag inside your knitting bag so they are easy to find among the yarn. You can get a pack of 20 2" carabiners on Amazon for $9.99 as I write this. They are useful for many things.
  20. I repurpose ice cream buckets for yarn projects. When working on small projects, such as crochet Christmas ornaments, I can carry several colors yarn (ball scraps, really), hooks, scissors, patterns, etc in one bucket. Keeps them clean and ready to pull out to crochet anywhere. Great for traveling: easy to spot my crochet. Soo many ways to reuse those plastic ice cream buckets!
  21. I don't laminate patterns I knit, there's only a few I have done which I knit more than once, therefore cannot justify the cost of the plastic and just creating an unnecessary horde box of laminated patterns I will more than likely not use again. What I have done often is stick the pattern into a reusable sheet protector and I use a dry erase marker to check off rows on a chart or written instruction. It works better than a paper clip or magnet on a board as those can get bumped and moved inadvertently. need to do a chart repeat several times over? Lightly dampen a paper towel and wipe your dry erase marks off the chart and check them off as you knit the repeat again. I tend to take my knitting with me and knit at stop lights, store lines, places I go, so I carry my work in a ziplock bag (not advised if your project is rather large!) and if I am using the protector sheet with a pattern while on the go, I really have no worries something like a paperclip might slip off or over to a different row. Also, one sheet protector page can be reused over and over and over for different patterns! Eco-friendly and no pile of boxes of patterns from projects past. =)
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      1. The old fashioned shower curtain hooks would work, too. You might be able to get more squares on one. Another version for the colander is if you go to the movie theater some of the larger plastic take home buckets have a handle molded in them. I put my yarn in the bucket and thread through the handle. Thanks for the hacks! Definitely going to try the binder clips and pencil grips.
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  24. I use gallon ziplock bags to hold a skein of yarn and then snip a corner off and thread the end of the yarn through it - same as your box method of keeping the yarn clean. I love it because I can take 4 or 5 skeins of yarn in a bag and they don't get tangled up when I need to switch colors.
  25. Saving yarn scraps! I have tons by Spring. I use the metal cages that you put blocks of suet in for the birds in winter and recycle them. I fill 2 or 3 full of colorful yarn scraps. We live in the boonies, but we have some lovely bird nests around our house, come Spring time.
    1. They say not to put yarn out for the birds to use because the baby birds get their wings caught in them and break their wings.
  26. Use an empty hot glue gun to make holes in lids of plastic bottles or even a five gallon bucket if you're using many difficult colors to put yarn in. The hole will be so smooth and your yarn comes out so easy.
    1. OK, I feel really dense here. Can you explain exactly how you are using the glue gun to make your holes? I am working on a baby blanket that has 8 colors of yarn and uses those colors multiple times in each row. I think your ice cream bucket would be just what I am looking for to hold the full skeins of yarn.
      1. You turn on the glue gun and it gets hot, but there is no glue, so you just put the hot glue gun on the lid for a sec and bam! Instant smooth holes. :)
    2. That is pure genius! I love to repurpose empty containers, but I've balked at using them for yarn because I couldn't think of a way to make a truly smooth-edged hole in the lid. Your idea is perfect!!
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      1. Cute and innovative ideas! Thanks! I'd be a bit concerned about the colander idea, though. Not sure that its wise to pull the yarn through the holes of a colander because it might cause the yarn to fray. Just my opinion, of course. I like the binder clip idea - the hole is large enough, and there are no rough edges to cause fraying.
        1. I hadn't heard of the bobby pin idea, but I have been using those small binder rings (they sell them individually) to hold pattern pages together, as stitch markers, and to hold stitches in place if I have to put down my project (that's been a lifesaver for this two color spiral baby blanket I've been working on. If I had lost any stitches, I might have frogged the whole project!) The binder clip idea is one I will be trying. I tried the colander idea before. If you're careful about the colander you use, there are no problems and it works well. Unfortunately, most of my crocheting is done in 'stolen moments' while in the car, or sitting and waiting. I quickly learned that colanders are not travel friendly and, once your project is 'in' one, you aren't getting that yarn out until you finish! So, I'll stick to plastic bags, and various scrounged containers. It doesn't all match, but it keeps everything clean(ish) and ready to pop into a bag for on the road crafting.