Remains of the day

When I was finished Jen’s socks, I had two little balls of “beige” leftover.  (I’d weighed the yarn and divided it in two, to make sure I had enough, which was ridiculous, since Jen’s feet are petite.) Now, when it comes to yarn leftovers, I am without virtue. For years and years I dutifully stored and hung onto all of the scraps and partial balls that were the remains of whatever projects generated them, and I thought good thoughts about what I was going to do with them.

I dreamed of a BeeKeepers Quilt,  or a Sock Yarn Blanket, or a Scrappy Scarf… I had bags and bags, and I just knew that I was going to use them and turn them into all sorts of awesome, or at least have them to hand for darning and repairs, and I really, really didn’t think of myself as the sort of person who would throw away yarn, you know what I mean? I love yarn.

The absolute truth is that I never did any of those things, and so quite some time ago, I took to abandoning the leftovers.  If it was sweater yarn, I handed it over to someone who cared, and If it was socks, I left the remainders where I finished. (I’ve left at least 20 partial balls of sock yarn on planes, tucked into the seat pocket. In my mind I think the person who finds them has to spend a minute thinking about knitting, and that can’t hurt the world.) This time though, when I finished Jen’s socks, I couldn’t bear to part with the leftovers, and with news that there may be a baby on the horizon in my circle, I knew just what to do.

bootiesedge 2014-08-13

A little pair of Cutest Booties. Yarn: Indigodragonfly Cariboubaa in Beige. Needles: 2.25mm. Finished in a single evening, except for the fun of trimming pom-poms. I actually had to make five pom-poms instead of just four, since in an effort to to get one of them perfect, I trimmed it into oblivion.

bootiesstraight 2014-08-13

They’re still the cutest booties I know how to make, and now? No leftovers. At least this once.

132 thoughts on “Remains of the day

  1. Widdle Teeny Tiny Baby Booties!!!!

    I need someone I know to get pregnant, so I can make some. (NOT me. 4 kids is my limit!!).

    • I recommend knitting them up even when you don’t have a specific baby in mind – they seem to “know” and then you have a baby to give them to! Or maybe one of those kids has a teacher who’s having a baby and those are a darling little something to tuck into a card, etc.

    • i love making baby booties, but all my friends are in between babies… so i’m knitting a bunch to donate to a local NICU for the babies who can’t go home right away to have something soft and wonderful… maybe that’s a way to get the bootie fix you need 🙂

  2. Just lovely!

    I’ve finally overcome my need to save every little bit of yarn as well. I do, however, save those few inch bits to put out for the nesting birds. But only teeny pieces to make sure they don’t get caught up.

    • I do this too! I’ve been taking a recycled onion or clementine bag and stuffing it with small yarn scraps (like the ends you cut off when finished weaving in ends) and I hang the bag outside. I have noticed that it takes a while for the birds to find it but I was so pleased the other day to witness two different types of birds making flights back and forth to my yarn scrap bag and taking yarn for nest building. My husband thinks I’m crazy and he thinks my yarn scap/onion bag is ugly but I love it!

  3. Pingback: Remains of the day | Yarn Buyer

  4. I make Cranfords – there’s usually enough left from a pair of socks for that, even if I need to do contrast ribbing. Even stripey Cranfords! Or I use the remains as contrast on another pair of socks; and my older sister has asked for a pair of rainbow socks for Christmas, so I’ve looked out a) the Mixalot pattern, and b) enough remnants of sock yarn in the colours of the rainbow.

    • Thank you for refreshing my memory on Cranfords, and MSF. Dear YH: the MSF amount has been the same for a very long time. Have knitters not supported those good guys?

    • I give–what’s a Cranford? Google was no help and Ravelry shows a few things but none seem to be what you’ve described.

  5. Those booties are *beige*? Does beige mean” bright colorful stripes” in Canada? (Looks at yarn length…apparently, yes, it does. I had no idea….) The booties are adorable, of course.

    I use my leftover sock yarn to make striped “shorty” socks. Except I like thick cushy socks, so they’re all in worsted-weight. The pairs have names like Rainy Day Roses and Canyon Sunset and Fiesta.

  6. Sock yarn ends are perfect for knitting cozies for glass canning jars with Cuppows on top. And it was you who introduced me to Cuppows!

    • Love it!! What a brilliant idea! I would love to see little pieces of my yarn in birds’ nests. Our dog ate our couch, and in all of our eagerness to save said couch, my husband and I kept restuffing the stuffing back in and covering w/ a blanket. Then one morning after a particularly aggressive storm, I went outside to find two downed birds’ nests. One whole nest was our couch! I hadn’t noticed our stuffing escaping the house until that moment! We got a new couch that day.

      • OMG, this is hysterical!! Was the dog taking it out to the birds? I have a young cat trying to move all the lizards in my yard into the house…

    • I’ve done this for years with less than perfect unspun wool, and my thrums from weaving. The wool seems to go first (can’t blame the birds). I’ve yet to see a nest with this stuff in it though. I have the feeling I need to take a walk into the woods behind my corn/bean field next spring.

  7. Itsy bitsy little booties! Oh my gosh. So cute.
    I have a nephew on the way I would make all the knitted things for but his parents do not fully appreciate the knit. I made him a bitty blanket anyways. I know he will grow up appreciative. 🙂

  8. Left overs are excelling for scrappy little toys. Like ‘Gripping’, ‘Micro Turtle’, and ‘Tiny Baby Bunnies’. Don’t forget the book ’50 Yards of Fun’.

  9. Will this be the start of a new itty bitty bootie knitting binge?

    I donate a lot of my leftover yarn to my Mom’s nursing home for craft projects. You also might want to inquire at a local school or daycare. Leftover yarn can be a craft supply or used to “bind” a project book.

  10. Baby socks are so fun and easy to make and I love handing them over to the parent-to-be. It always just about kills them. Kills them dead with the cute and the fact that you made the cute.

    I’ve made elaborate lace baby blankets that got less response than the wee wittle baby socks.

  11. Had the best time on the Indigodragonfly site. What great yarn names (and gorgeous yarn)! Beige is just the tip of the iceberg!!

  12. If my leftover sock yarn is colorful or unusual, I wind it into a little ball and put it in a tall glass jar that lives on my living room end table. It has a cork to keep out winged critters and looks lovely!

  13. I give all my leftovers to an elderly lady who turns them into doll clothes. She enjoys the extra income while I know my yarn isn’t being wasted.

  14. Tiny booties are the best!! I’ve been saving my leftovers to make newborn hats for our local midwives clinic … every baby needs a handknit hat on their very first birthday

  15. Speaking of “doing something with amassed stuff”…what ever happened to the growing collection of dish/washcloths you’ve collected over the years? 🙂

  16. Thank you for the sweet booties you featured today. The fact that you had to make an extra pom-pom because you “trimmed it into oblivion” makes me smile every time I think about it. I can so relate!

  17. My yearning for order, symmetry and all the pieces falling into place has been fulfilled. 🙂 Adorable use of leftovers…

  18. I join lengths of leftovers into random balls and use them held together with rug yarn I found when cleaning out my Mother’s house to make dog and cat rugs for the local animal shelter. Large needles (10.5 or 11) and the “grandmother’s favorite” concept makes these go quickly. I use a kfb increase rather than a yo. As I use up a ball, I just add another similar one.The mixed colors are usually great together, and they say that animals are color blind anyway, so it is all good.

  19. Okay! Now I have this sweet bootie pattern to use with leftovers. And a new baby girl coming soon to a friend. 🙂 Thank you!

  20. I put my leftover sock yarn into a “remainder ball”, and when it gets about as big as a soccer ball I have begun making colorwork sweaters with it. I used the “Ithilien” chart from Ravelry for the last one, and some cable patterns from Barbara Walker.

  21. I met a lady several years ago at a yard sale who took peoples yarn leftovers and (gasp) unwanted skeins and made booties and blankets for dogs and cats in shelters. Maybe someone near you does that?? It would be a good way to make sure the yarn has a good home.

  22. The booties are excellent. I, too, was so into the whole Indigo Dragonfly post that I immediately went to their site to investigate. My next purchase is “20,000 Lawyers Under the Sea.” A person MUST make those socks.

  23. What else would one possibly do with left over sock yarn? I have a shallow drawer that houses several pair so when I hear of a new baby there is an appropriate pair all ready to go. (People who find out they are going to be a grandmother for the first time LOVE to receive them!)

  24. I was pretty pleased to find this site. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this
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  25. If I have a significant amount, like a skein, I chuck it in the guild’s charity knitter bin. If it’s a ball of less than 3g, I put it in quart sized canning jars that go festively along my desk. I call them my roach jars.

  26. I bet there a whole bunch of knitters out there who would climb over each other to own the Harlot’s leftovers. Why not put your yarny leftovers up for auction? I bet you’d make a good lump of cash for charity.

  27. REFUSE! to do away with sock yarn extras as that represents A LOT of money for me. As it is I can’t buy much of anything except food for a few months to stash is all I will have to work from. Job is going away little by little by little and soon there will be no job so I have to save.
    I may just do that beekeeper quilt and sell it for extra funds. If I do that I will have to get crackin’. It takes time to make all those hexipuffs!

  28. I really love that that colourway is called beige. It appeals to my sense of goofiness.

    I too cannot bear to throw away more than a few inches of leftover yarn, and in fact I just started a Beekeeper’s Quilt. I now have four hufflepuffs, I mean hexipuffs, and I”m very proud of myself. I haven’t managed to use up an entire chunk of leftover yarn yet, but I have hope….

  29. It is great to support animal shelters with gifts of blankets etc, BUT would these knitted things survive the washing and drying methods used on other bedding ? It may be better to give them a knitted item to raffle or sell to raise funds.
    The ittle bitty booties are so warm and toasty just looking at them, georgeous !

  30. You could probably auction your sock scraps and donate the money. I imagine it might run into more than pocket change.

    I just keep a scrap circular crochet blanket tucked into the side of a Martha Washington sewing table. I started the thing to soak up a significant accumulation of sock yarn leftovers, which was accomplished, so now when I finish a pair of socks, I immediately absorb the leftovers into the blanket. Goes fairly quickly. I told myself that I’ll finish when I have 100 rounds, which will make the thing a decent size. Then, a few rounds of a nice, non-curl edging, and there you have it.

    (One could do the same with a knitted spiral blanket, but the advantage of crochet is that it doesn’t occupy the hook for good and all.)

  31. Those are really cute! I went and purchased your pattern so that I can take advantage of the leftover sock yarn I’ve been stashing in a spare project bag. For some of the shorter lengths that won’t make booties, I plan on make the cords and pompoms and storing them in a little plastic bag so that I can have them ready for new booties.

  32. So cute! I love your bootie pattern – I have knit is several times and the gifts were always well received. 🙂 I am making a sock yarn blanket using black, grey, red and purple. Any other colours of sock yarns I now ship off to other people I know who are making sock yarn (or “Cozy Memories” blankets – love to see the yarn make it’s way to new projects!

  33. First time commenting here… could you save the sock yarn leftovers, make them into grab bags and sell them/use them as gifts for ride fundraising next year? Maybe a Toronto LYS would sell them for you if you didn’t want the bother of posting them out?
    Otherwise ask round at knitting group, I’m sure you’ll find takers

  34. I agree with the poster above about using leftover yarn for fundraising.

    Also, LOVE the booties! Absolutely, fun and whimsical. You brightened my day.

  35. ARGH! Yet another item I MUST add to my queue!

    On a side note, how do you choose projects? Is it easy for you to pick something? Personally I spend way too much time looking through Ravelry for the perfect pattern to go with the perfect yarn for the perfect person. This can go on for days until I find the right combination. Meanwhile, my fingers are itching to knit!

    Just curious to know if I’m the only obsessor.

  36. I am currently making a sock blanket right this very minute…as in I am typing between stitches! But those booties are adorable and an admirable way to use the ends of such glorious yarn.

  37. Funny enough, in today’s Knitmore Girls podcast, they refer to the Every Last Yard cardigan by Amy Swenson (, which is intended to be designed such that there will be no leftovers!

    After I began trashing mine after years of moving and finally giving up caring, I now live with my mom and we share a craft room. She has laid down the law: all scraps are to be prized and kept in recycled plastic grocery bags that hang around. They find new lives as eyes, ears, polka-dots, smiles, noses, and hair on all kinds of crochet dolls and creatures. She spreads out the threads and takes joy in sorting through them, kind of like we do with the two giant button jars that have been in the family for three generations or more!

  38. I’ve been saving sock yarn leftovers for years, finally got to use up a bunch this summer for the afghans for Afghans summer drive – they were asking for socks and hats for newborns for a maternity hospital. Turns out there’s enough yarn leftover from the average pair of socks to make a nice pair of baby socks. Very satisfying. Made a dozen pairs of socks and a dozen hats and mailed them off after which I was itching to knit anything else, but it’s good to know… I’ve still got lots of leftovers.

  39. I take all leftovers when I can get them. I knit infant socks for Afghans for Afghans for the maternity hospital in the Relief Camps – must have heels so they stay on!! All newbornes go home with at least one pair of socks & one cap to keep them warm in the unheated tents. I try to sent a dozen at a time to make it worthwhile. Leftovers can also make wonderful scrappy socks for big kids in in Relief Camps or orphanages. Those little unwanted scraps are part of someone else’s warm toes this winter, pass them on.

  40. Stranded colorwork. That’s how I use up my leftovers. Leftovers from other stranded colorwork projects… But maybe it will work for you too? Or some cloisonné mittens, with that little bit of color in the cuff.
    I hate the idea of throwing away yarn. Not quite as bad as throwing out books, but it’s up there.

  41. Can I just say I would LOVE to find some sock leftovers somewhere, the Harlot’s or someone else’s? It would be like getting a glimpse into fairy land…

  42. Adorable! I have finished one pair of baby booties in my life–when my first grandson was a newborn. My son gave them to his three-year-old niece and said they fit her. Well, hey, she was happy.

  43. Re: The booties. Awwwww! And they look like they’ll keep some tiny toes comfortably warm this fall.

    As for the sock yarn leftovers: If they are long enough, you could always use them for something made of mitered squares. Think a riotously-colored afghan or a multi-hued baby cardigan.

    If they aren’t long enough (the little snips and odd inches), save them up and put them out in the early spring for the nesting birds. Or see if they’ll appease your yarn-thieving squirrels!

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  45. I love that now the booties, the scarf, the sock blanket and the bee keepers quilt are all ‘hot right now’ on Ravelry. Goodness knows what we will do if you use your power for evil!

  46. Sock yarn leftovers make little socks, mitts and hats. “Woolly Thoughts” is a great resource book for anyone wanting to knit squares. Teddies for Tragedies takes care of DK scraps. I even love other people’s leftover yarn! It’s somehow more of a challenge working out what to do with colours I don’t normally buy.

  47. Oooo these are so adorable, thank-you for posting this! I am 6 weeks from meeting baby #3 and have knit a nice little pile of cardigans, longies, and toques but have been having trouble finding cute little gender-neutral booties. Your pattern is perfect, I can’t wait to cast on!

  48. Inspired by these comments, I checked my stash of leftovers when I found a moth hole in a sweater I’d bought at a garage sale. Found just the right shade of gray, pulled out a single ply and fixed it up. Thanks for the reminder to use the remainders!

  49. When my daughter started knitting tons of people gave us the leftovers from their basements to add to my own leftovers in my basement. Most of it was not pretty. I used up tons of it by knitting striped blankets for the Humane Society. They always need blankets and size or colour does not matter. The animals are happy with any hand knit blanket!

  50. Oh please, someone tell me how to remedy the hole between the gusset and instep. Or whatever. You all know what I’m talking about…

    • Work as usual till you get to the place where the hole will appear. Pick up a thread from the base of the hole and knit in the back of it (make 1). Slip this stitch back onto your left needle and knit two together (or P2tog if the pattern dictates). It works for me.

  51. Sorry to be so late to comment on this, but I was thinking about you not keeping small bits of yarn. Well, I happened to be looking through Ravelry patterns, and came across one for a puzzle pieces afghan by Melissa Ellinger. It is cute and would take relatively small pieces of yarn. As a jigsaw puzzle fanatic, I am obsessed. So, you may not be saving small pieces of yarn, but I am!!

    Just a suggestion.

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