Make your own ball of yarn!

Have you seen those multi-colored, multi-textured novelty yarns where loads of different textures and colors are knotted together into one big magical hank of yarn? They make wonderfully colorful and unique scarves and cowls. You can make your own magic ball of yarn AND use up your leftovers and odd balls in the process (allowing room in your stash to buy more yarn). The concept of the magic ball is not new – Kaffe Fassett made it popular decades ago and it continues to be a great way to gain confidence working with color. 
Finished Scarves
We decided to do a little de-stashing of our own. Here's how.

Step 1: Gather all your odd balls and leftover bits of yarn.
Dive deep into that stash  you probably have more than you think. Throw a magic ball party with some knitting friends like we did at the Classic Elite office. Pool your yarns and wind the balls together. Even your most outlandish yarns will work – fun fur, bright acrylics, scratchy wools and spaced dyed yarns – all will work and add to the beauty of your magic ball. Make a big pile of yarn on the floor or a large table – you can’t have too much yarn!
Magic ball winding party at Classic Elite Yarns. It’s amazing how different each magic ball is – 
all from the same pile of yarn!
Step 2: Start winding your ball.
Choose a random yarn from the pile and cut a random length. *Choose your next yarn, cut a random length and knot it to the previous yarn with a simple overhand knot; rep from * winding as you go.

Shorter lengths will blend colors together more easily but longer lengths will leave you with fewer ends to deal with.  I usually make my lengths around 2 to 3 yards – but I don’t mind weaving in ends (more about dealing with the ends below). You can make each strand the same length or differ the lengths.

About color: You can plan your use of color or choose each length completely at random for a more stripey or patchwork look. Blending colors, to make your magic ball look as if it is one multi-colored yarn, can be achieved by always choosing your next length to have “something” in common with the previous length – either a similar hue (color) or the same value (degree of lightness or darkness) or a similar saturation.

Have fun playing color! Wind a rainbow ball by going around the color wheel. Or wind only analogous colors (2 or 3 colors next to each other on the color wheel) with the occasional pop of a complementary color (the color directly across the color wheel). 

Don’t worry too much about different weight yarns – the occasional heavier yarn won’t disrupt your knitting and lighter weight yarns can be doubled or tripled to become closer to the weight of most of the yarns used.
Susan, Cheryl, Betsy, Andi, Chris, Heather and Tonia working on their winding.
Step 3: Cast on and knit!
Choose a needle size that matches the average of yarns used. Garter, Stockinette stitch or other simple stitches work best – there is so much going on with the yarn, a more complicated stitch will get lost.

As you knit, stop to admire your knitting often. Remember, you created the ball and you can change it too. If a certain length of yarn is not working, take it out and add another or knot the adjoining strands together.
Magic Ball knitting in progress.
Dealing with the ends:  There is no way around it – Magic balls have LOTS of ends to deal with. Here are some options:

1. Weave in your ends. The method I use: Whenever I sit down and pull out my magic ball knitting, I first weave in the ends from the last time I knit, allowing me to admire my work and avoiding having all the ends to weave in at once when the knitting is done.

2. Untie the magic ball knots as you go and spit splice (if you are using wool yarns) or knit in your ends.

3. Let your ends become a “design feature”.  Instead of weaving in ends, tighten and trim knots at yarn changes. You can also adorn your ends by adding beads. If knitting a garment, let the ends flow freely on the inside – No one will know unless you tell them.

4. Trim your ends and line with fabric - cotton flannel of micro fleece work well.

Read further for instructions on making a scarf from the Magic Ball Scarf "recipe." And have fun with your stash!
Magic Ball Scarf

13 comments:

  1. this is a great idea! will have to share with my knittah friends. what fun.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the idea of a magic ball party. Fun!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to make the scarf a bit narrower--do you know what the repeat number would be?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would like to make the scarf a little bit more narrow too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I too would like to make the scarf a little bit narrower. Can you tell us the repeat?

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you make the diagonal scarf it looks like it is easier to make it narrower. Just do less than the 40 stitches indicated before starting the decrease. Live the look of the scarf with the ends showing on one side.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had bags of tapestry yarn given to me and I will join them together with spit splicing and make a shawl by just making the scarf wider. Great. Thank

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have more tapestry yarn than I can ever stitch with and wondered about knitting/crocheting with it. Have you had a chance to give this a try?

      Delete
  8. I've done similar projects, mostly with afghans. I would caution, though, to pick yarns that have similar laundering properties. I made a 'scrap afghan' years ago from yarns given to me by a neighbor. Unfortunately, some of those yarns were wool, and those rows shrunk. We still use the afghan, but it was a disappointment after putting so much time into it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Don't worry about or deal with weaving in ends when you use sythetic fibers. Join them with the "magic knot" (Youtube), and you won't have ends to weave in. It's truly magic!

    ReplyDelete
  10. this is a great idea, I will share with my friends...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Why not use a russian join? easy peasy as you're winding it up and no ends later on to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete