Crochet Leftovers…

By Veronica Smith – 39 Comments

As a person that crochets, I have plenty of silly little bits and parts of skeins / balls left over. I am assuming you do too. There are only a certain amount of tiny projects you can do to use them up. So let’s investigate the “magic ball”. A magic ball is like a leftover dinner, if you like leftovers it can be as good, if not better than the first helping. For those of you that have no idea what I’m going on about, a magic ball is the consolidation of all your leftovers.

Pink "magic ball" afghan

To make a magic ball…

  1. Gather all your little bits – I would suggest a minimum of about 20 inches / 50cm pieces up to whatever your heart desires (see rules below).
  2. Find a big space – preferably the floor. If you wish you can separate them into similar color ways or you can just be adventurous.
  3. Now the fiddly bit – join them together. Start by winding up the first piece in a ball. Before you reach the end join the next piece on. I use a “Russian Join” so it is neat and I don’t have to fight with ends later. You can of course just tie knots – this is really quick and simple now but a headache later when you have to weave them in. Remember to leave the ends long enough to weave in or your work will unravel. I have seen people leave the ends not sewn in and used the ends as a “feature”. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I would make sure it was washed carefully though.
  4. Continue picking different yarns and different lengths, and adding it to your ball. Don’t think too hard about what piece to use next, just randomly pick one up.

Black / grey "magic ball" afghan

Eventually you’ll have a large ball made up of random combination’s of assorted yarns.

RULES OF THE MAGIC BALL

  • There are no real rules, just suggestions.
  • Any yarn can be used, however take care if you mix natural fibers with man made as it will mean obeying the natural fiber washing instructions.
  • You can use similar weight yarns and the appropriate hook. Alternatively be bold and mix different weights and use a hook to suit the thicker yarn.
  • If you are going to make something small, like a beanie, then I suggest you use pieces no larger than 9 – 12ft / 3 – 4 meters. If not your finished item will be basically be one color. Remember it probably only takes 1 – 1 1/2 “normal” balls to make a beanie so if you use a 1/2 ball somewhere in there it is going to be very plain!
  • Obviously if you are going to be making an afghan or sweater then larger pieces mixed in with the small are appropriate.
  • There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just go with your instinct.
  • Having said there are no real rules – joining the yarns, or sewing them in properly is VERY important.
  • Choose your stitch to suit your ball – just all sc, dc, tr etc. if you have fancy and/or textured yarns as the feature will be the yarn combination. If you have all similar, plain yarns, like all worsted weight acrylics in varying colors then a fancier stitch may be in order.
  • EXPERIMENT

The magic ball may not be for everyone. If you like the sound of it just make a little one and something small, like a scarf. Have fun if you haven’t already.

Both my "magic ball" afghans

As you can see the only things i have to take photos of are in monochromatic colors. They are also well loved and well worn by my daughters.

Have you done any “magic ball” projects with your crochet leftovers?

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39 Comments

  1. Ann Washburn says:

    I have actually been saving the “odds and ends” bits of yarn balls that were left over from projects. the largest is the size of a tennis ball, perhaps, and the smallest are the size of those little rubber balls that you can get in gumball machines. my plan is to someday create a magic ball afghan with all these little bits, but I don’t have near enough to do so yet. I am guessing that I have the equivalent of perhaps a half of an afghan? perhaps in another year, I will have amassed enough spare “bits”!

  2. Jo-anne says:

    I love the sound of this. I’ll have to give it a try.

  3. Squirrely Girly says:

    Okay. So, I have a big overflowing tub full of yarn and patterns, so I need to do this. Was your blanket just one big granny square?

  4. Deborah says:

    How do you do the Russian Join?

  5. Nancy says:

    not yet,but will be soon.I thought of doing like a granny square patchwork doll blanket for my grand daughter.Th real small balls of yarn I do keep in case I need a row marker or I use them to mark rows of where an ear,arm or leg has to go.

    HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! and Happy Crocheting everyone!

  6. Tasha W says:

    What a cute idea! I love it.

  7. Veronica Smith says:

    Deborah – Just click on the words “Russian Join” in the article. It is actually a link to take you to instructions.

  8. Veronica Smith says:

    Squirrely Girly – yes, these are just really big granny squares. I wanted something simple to do given i was using different yarns. With multiple textures and thicknesses i wanted it something simple i could do in front of the television in the evenings. On both the black and the pink afghans have ‘novelty’ fuzzy yarn pieces incorporated and i actually ran along a plain thread with them as they were really fine (crochet with double thread in those spots). The pictures i notice look a bit like i have done even rows in each type of yarn but i assure you i haven’t!

  9. Squirrely Girly says:

    I absolutely LOVE the black one! Happy Mother’s Day! ;)

  10. Lori says:

    Thanks for including a link to the Russian Join. That is new info to me, and I really appreciate it.

  11. heather says:

    Wow, I never thought of doing this! What a great idea and he russian knot is new to me too. Something I would like to try soon.

  12. Meg says:

    Great idea for leftover yarn! Never heard of the Russian Join before, so thank you for sharing that technique!

  13. Peggy says:

    I like this piece, particularly the suggestion of minimum and maximum sizes for yarn lengths to include. I’ve also just been knotting ends but will now check out that “Russian Join” for a better results. What fun.

  14. Merry says:

    Hurray for magic balls! I’ve made a stripey scarf for a teenager using all the odds and ends of my leftover yarn. It’s very satisfying to see the final product which would otherwise not have come into existence, without that specific combination of yarns.

  15. Kay M says:

    Hahaha! This is what I have always done with my “odds&ends/bits&pieces”. I havent made anything out of it recently, but I made potholders out of a ball before.

  16. Eva says:

    This looks fantastic. I hope I’ve understood the russian join properly. I have tons of leftover yarn – gotta try this. TFS!

  17. Sherry says:

    I love this idea and as a “yarn hoarder” I have so much yarn and many, many little leftover balls of thread. I had thought of doing this but haven’t as of yet. I usually use a square knot to join though is that wrong. I need to check out this “russian” form of joining to see the difference.

  18. Jan says:

    Since I have been knitting, crocheting for many years, I often wondered what to do with my leftovers. I received a pattern from a friend of my mothers’ called an Indian Blanket. You can either sc or dc but you only use one color for each row. You leave about a 5 or 6″ inch tail before you begin and also at the end for your fringe. You can start or stop this at any time, but you do have to be careful to use the same type of yarn or it will shrink when you wash it. (Believe me, I know) I started by taking this to softball games, and working on it, because its still cold here in April & May when softball starts. (It got dirty from the game, so I washed it! LOL) It is now at the length where it keeps me warm, but I can still add to it if I want to.

  19. MareV51 says:

    With the really little balls of leftover yarn, I crochet scrunchies. No one seems to like the
    fluffy / bulky ones I used to make, so I just single crochet as muich as I can fit with scrunching it down a lot, around an elastic band (without metal joining – that cuts the yarn over time), Ending can be problematical, but I just knot the two ends a number of times and cut off. They last long that way, and if the knot is strong, the elastic band will wear out long before the crocheted part!!!

  20. Kim says:

    Great Idea! I’ve been wondering what to do with all the leftovers. :-)

  21. Maria says:

    Hi, I really think this is a wonderful idea. Deborah, another nice tutorial for the Russian Join can be found here:

    http://twistyarnshop.blogspot.com/2009/05/russian-join.html

    copy and paste to your browser. It has bigger pictures so you can really see how it’s done. I also believe there are some videos out there that you can searh for. It’s a really nice way to join your thread especially when you’re doing an afghan or basically anything. Hope this helps. Thank you Rachel for all your wonderful tips and patterns.

  22. Nancy says:

    Veronica – I haven’t had time to read all the responses but putting all the yarn on floor and getting a visual of the color combinations is brilliant! I also appreciate the joining technique – while it takes a minute initially (Positive side – you willl get faster by the end of the project) it will save time in the end and more professional finish. Thanks for all the great tips!

  23. Barb says:

    Great idea! I usually make granny squares (for charity) with the left-overs that are long enough, but the women who donate their time and talents for “Helping Hands” offered me a great solution for the very smallest bits-tie them together, leaving a small strand free and wind them into a large ball. This is done after I have completed the granny squares,so it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. When the “shabby chic” ball is large enough, crochet a doggie blanket to donate animal shelters. They cats and dogs love to play with the bits of yarn that have been worked into the blanket.

  24. Wendy says:

    I’ve done magic balls before, just to get rid of the odds and ends…still have one kicking around, waiting for more yarn. Thank you for the russian Join link! put the ends together with knots, but that’s a menace later on.

  25. sherry says:

    This is my second entry here. As I said I love this idea and also the Russian join technique. The page on blogspot that Maria indicates above for this technique show much larger pictures which is good for us that are “visually challenged”.

  26. Andrea says:

    This is brilliant! I have so many small balls of leftover yarns and I didn’t want to have to tie the ends in the amount I would need for a project. I can’t wait to try the magic ball! :o)

  27. Gig says:

    I make scrapgans, with pieces as short as 18 inches. Alternating color with white or creme or black, or whatever I have a lot of. I tie the ends leaving about one inch, and just crochet up with my favorit stitch, leaving the ends loose. It comes out fringed all over and looks great. Once I had a lot of red, so I made a small red scrappy bear.

  28. Heather says:

    I made a full-size afghan with miscellaneous left-over and non-matching colors of yarn. A huge but satisfying project. Happy to share the picture of it – it’s very pretty. Also crocheting a rug out of used t-shirt material (strips) – not all the way complete yet but will be great to step on coming out of the shower.

  29. Veronica Smith says:

    It great to see how many people are already using up their scraps, it makes me want to do some more projects.
    Thanks for all the great feedback.

  30. ghostwtr101 says:

    I have always spliced my yarn. The “russina join” technique seems to add bulk to the yarn or am I missing something? When you splice you might be 1 strand heavier at a point but not 4 as you would be when russina joining a 4 ply worster.
    Right now I have been making motifs with my left over yarn. When I am done, I will join all the motifs together. If I have just a little it is the center if I have a lot of that colour it will be the outside or maybe the middle. I think this is similar to your magic ball theme.

  31. Peggy says:

    My sister keeps filling a bag with granny squares ready to assemble for gifts. That’s another idea for using yarn scraps.

  32. […] recent acquisition of balls of wool. I was thinking of making a “coat of many colors” sort of a magic ball coat only using whole balls each time. What do you think? I’ve always wanted a […]

  33. […] I am still going and I will have many small bits, however I will then employ the good old “magic ball”. […]

  34. GeorgiaAnn Aeverman says:

    I love your Magic Ball!! The afghans are terrific.

  35. Veronica Smith says:

    Thanks!

  36. […] something wonderful. Mixtures of yarn, mediums, textures and stitches are used. Like working with a MAGIC BALL there are no rules. In fact many people use MAGIC BALLS when they start […]

  37. Varsha suraiya says:

    Yes! I have done magic ball and made an evening bag.it looks unusual and I get compliments every time I use it.Can I send a photo of this bag in free form crochet?

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