Estimating yardage - or - how to avoid playing yarn chicken

I recently shared a baby blanket project I had been working on using up partial skeins of leftover Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. It is my go-to favourite for easy-care baby knits and so I inevitably am left with lots of partial balls to use up.

The project generated a lot of interest and questions, most notably how I estimate the amount of yarn needed for each colour block. I thought it might be helpful to share my process with you - in the spirit of thriftiness and virtuous stash busting.

If you are happy with truely random stripes then just crack on and knit that blanket however it pleases you. Needless to say that my brain doesn't really do random and  I did need to decide on some kind of structure and uniformity. As I was knitting I decided that solid blocks of colour would work well, interspersed with sections of narrower stripes and so, when I was embarking on a coloured section I needed to make sure I had enough of that chosen colour to complete the block.

I'm sure there are many methods of estimating yardage out there but what I did was to use a paperclip to mark off 100cm of my working yarn. You can clip the paperclip right onto the yarn and it will stay in place. I then knitted as normal with the working yarn, counting my stitches as I did so until I reached the paperclip.

This gave me the number of stitches which were needed to knit 100cm of yarn. In my case this equated to 50 stitches.

So, 50 stitches needs 100cm (meaning that 1 st uses 2cm)

Each colour block required 9 garter ridges (18 rows)

18 x 120 = 2160 stitches

2160 x 2cm yarn = 4320 cm ( 43.2 m) 

Being able to knit on a colour block without the anxiety of playing yarn chicken really helped me to plough through the knitting. There are times when a knitter likes to live dangerously but this project wasn't one of them. And with my trusty paperclip to hand I could relax in the knowledge that my yarn wouldn't run out partway through a row.

Do you have a favourite tip or trick for avoiding the dreaded yarn chicken? Do leave a comment and let me know.

A Stash Dash triumph

Today marks the end of Stash Dash 2015 - an epic challenge hosted by the Knit Girlls to knit 3K, 5K or 10K's worth of yarn from your stash.

Me, being me I had to go for the 10K challenge and I have to admit that there is no way on earth I would have achieved this, were it not for the Mitered Crosses blanket which acounted for over 5K of yarn all by itself.

My Stash Dash 2015
So, clockwise from top left we have:
Hitchhiker 400m
I Heart Stripes shawl 365m
Shetland Trader MKAL 453m
Traveller Tunic - 973m (The shame - I still need to take a modelled picture of this one
Drachenfels  939m
Log cabin-ish blanket 1002m
Watermelon Stripes 268m
Mitered Crosses blanket 5034m
Trickle Shawl 385m

All the links take you to my Ravelry pages in case you want more details of yarns, patterns etc. Also a few lovely members of my Ravelry group - Louise Tilbrook Designs - joined in too and we posted details of all our projects here. Do check them out as there are some fabulous inspirational projects there.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this years challenge and getting some larger projects off the needles was very motivating.

Now all that remains is the question - Is it too early to start planning for next years challenge?

The Ultimate FO: Roundup of the Mitered Crosses Blanket

This project has been a long one, there's no denying it. The truth is there for all to see on my Ravelry page. The Mitered Crosses blanket started way back in 2013:

Date started: 29.03.2013
Date finished: 28.07.2015

In progress: much caffeine required

During the course of the project and latterly, through my participation in Stash Dash 2015 I have received lots of very kind encouragement and also a lot of questions, some of which I'll do my best to answer here.

I found that it helped to knit the squares in batches, working a series of coloured centres (as many as I could get from one skein) and then going along and adding all the neutral borders. This helped to keep the project portable as I didn't have to drag all the yarn along with me. All the squares were joined at the end - I used this tutorial for joining using crochet - which also maintained its 'portability'.

Working outside for a change of scene
My top tips:
  • When picking up stitches for the neutral border I used this tutorial, picking up through 1 'leg' of the stitch only to create as flat a seam as possible.
  • Be careful to pick up the exact number of stitches along each centre square - this makes joining the squares a lot easier and avoids wonky corners (ask me how I know).
  • Weave in the ends after each square is completed. I tried to do this religiously but a surprising number found their way into my project box without this crucial step.
  • When you pick up the project after a length of hibernation - and you will - check the pattern to make sure you are casting on the right amount of stitches for your mitered square. As well as this project I am also doing a mitered sock yarn blanket which calls for a different number of starting stitches. Why, yes. I am easily confused. How did you know?
Some assembly required

Without Stash Dash 2015 I don't think I would never have had the impetus to finish this project, but sharing my progress and receiving all of your feedback and encouragement has been invaluable.

Thank you all so much

In place - and cat free (for the moment)

Yarn used: Shilasdair Luxury dk. Each 100g skein has 340m (372 yds). This yarn has now been discontinued but a very similar one is still available just with a slightly different fibre content

7 = the number of semi-solid colours used
8 = the number of neutral skeins used

6 = the number of squares I got from each colour
2.25hrs = the time taken to knit one full square (42 x 2.25 = 94.5 hrs)
1.25hrs = the time taken to add a neutral border (42 x 1.25 = 52.5 hrs)
15hrs = approximate time for seaming and single crochet border

A grand total of 162 hrs

Lots of finishing

As we head into the weekend and the start of August beckons, my attention this weekend will be turning towards WIPs that I need to finish for Stash Dash.

At the time of couting I have just over 9000m under my belt and just need that final push to get across the 10K finish line by August 14th.

First up are two pairs of socks that just need their afterthought heels and which I think will count for about 600m between them.

Then we have my I Heart Stripes shawl which has been on the needles far too long and just needs that final push along the loooong rows to finish it off. I think that will be about 400m and so these 2 projects combined should be enough to see me gaily over the finish line.

Of course the bulk of the meterage for my Stash Dash 2015 has been the 5000m or so tied up in the Mitered Crosses blanket. I've received lots of questions and comments about the blanket project - thank you to all - and so I'll make this the subject of it's very own #FOFriday post next week.

Why not join in with the #weekendwipalong hosted by Shelley at Little House in the Corner

Spill the beans on what you are working on and drop your link on her page so that we can all cheer each other on.