What Do You Do With Yarn Cakes?

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Once upon a time, I was at a craft store and bought one of those yarn cakes.  They are so popular I wanted to give one a try.  And the colors were pretty.  I’m a sucker for blues.

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I brought the yarn cake home and it sat in a prominent place in my yarn closet.

What are you supposed to make with these things, anyway?

The weeks turned into months before I picked it up, determined to use it.

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I have to say, I was disappointed.

I wanted to make a little baby blanket to donate (it’s my get-rid-of-yarn project,) but I kept having to pull out my work.  I didn’t like the abrupt color changes.  Everything I tried looked sloppy.  The whole point of the yarn cake is that the color changes are built in, but on my fourth or fifth attempt I decided to just cut the colors apart.

I was out of ideas.  I just made a granny square blanket.  I had a handful of yarn scraps left over, so knit a little matching hat.  The last few odds and ends became a pompom.

Finally.  I had use it up.  Every last inch.

IMG_2903The blanket is a bit small at only 17 inches square

In the end, I enjoyed the project, and it turned out nicely.

A short time later I was at a craft store with my 3-year-old and he fell in love with the yarn cakes.  They were 50% off, so I let him choose half a dozen.

IMG_8269.JPGI tried to direct him towards baby-friendly colors

I started working with roll #6 (mint and blue) before I thought to take a picture.

Recently, I have been hooked on zigzags, so I did zigzags.  Again, I used the scraps for a hat and pompom.  I’ll put the patterns at the end, after my rambling musings.

IMG_9573This (folded) blanket is closer to 19 inches square

I’m pretty hopelessly hooked at this point.  Yes, it would be cheaper, per blanket, to buy single colors of yarn and mix and match.  And I could have more color combinations from which to choose.  But this is so easy.  And there are so many fun stripe patterns!

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It’s going to be great project for our vacation.  I just need to pack some yarn cakes, a hook, and a set of double pointed needles.  And maybe my 1 inch pompom maker.  And scissors.  I can sew in the ends later.  It is going to be vacation, after all.

I get absolutely no reward for buying, or blogging about, any brand of yarn (darn.)  I used the Premier brand cakes because that’s what I found at my local craft stores.  I have tried Sweet Rolls (above,) and a few of the Candy Shop cakes (below.)  The Sweet Rolls are predictable, so I have been choosing a stripe pattern (cutting the colors apart) and making a hat from the leftover scraps.

The Candy Shop cakes are different.

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From what I can tell, the Candy Shop cakes have two strands of yarn, which are dyed independently and then twisted.  There is no pattern to the stripes.  I would never order one of these online.  Some of the ones I saw in the store had colors patterns which weren’t very appealing at all.  I chose my cakes carefully, looking for relatively short color changes with a lot of variation.

Working with the Candy Shop cakes, I pretty much just used the yarn as it came off the cake.  For the dark blue set I stopped the blanket when I got to the light blue stripe and knit a hat, reattached the yarn, and finished the blanket.  For the blue and tan set I knit the hat first, using one end of the cake for the main color and the other for the stripe.  I’m also using that method for the peach cake at the very top.  You could use a Sweet Roll the same way, if you don’t mind the abrupt color changes.

The Very Exciting Patterns!

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I have been using an I hook (5.25 mm) for the blankets and size 10.5 (6.5 mm) double pointed needles for the hats.

The Zig Zag Blanket

The blankets are worked with the same stitch pattern as my Soothing Waves Lapghan, just with 5 repeats instead of 6.

  1. Ch 63
  2. Turn, dc in 4th ch from hook (with starting ch, counts as 2dc in first st), dc in next 3 sts, dc2tog twice, dc in next 3 sts, 2dc in next st, [2dc, dc3, dc2tog twice, dc3, 2dc] four more times
  3. Repeat row 2, switching colors on the appropriate rows, until the blanket is completed.  The last 2dc of the row will be worked into the top of the previous row’s starting ch3.

For the visual learners, here’s a quick diagram I drew.

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My blankets are 25 or 26 rows long.  For stripe planning, because every cake is different: I am able to get about 5 1/2 crocheted rows out of each of the color sections of the Sweet Rolls.

The Cute Little Hat (newborn size)

  • Cast on 36 sts* (I use long-tail and a size 13 needle then divide the sts evenly on 3 DPNs)
  • Rows 1-4: k1p1 all, 36 sts
  • K all, begin stripe pattern on first k all round, 36 sts
  • continue k all each round until height of hat is approximately 3.5 inches (width of hat in stockinette st is 5.5 inches), 36 sts
  • (k4, k2tog) six times, 30 sts
  • (k3, k2tog) six times, 24 sts
  • (k2, k2tog) six times, 18 sts
  • (k, k2tog) six times, 12 sts
  • k2tog six times, 6 sts
  • cut yarn, leaving a few inches, and pull tail through open sts, tighten

*You can make a smaller/larger hat by casting on fewer/more sts.  I like to use multiples of 3.  See below for pictures of various sizes.  Obviously, a larger hat would use more yarn.

For multiples of 6 (30, 42, etc,) work just like in the pattern, beginning your decreases when the height of the hat is about 2/3 the width.  You will have fewer/more decreases at the end.

For a multiple of 3, but not 2, (33, 39, etc,) I recommend a k2,p1 ribbing (see pink hat below.)  Then work the body of the hat in k all until the height is 2/3 the width.  Decrease 3 sts evenly (one at the end of each needle) on the first decrease round.  That will leave you with a number of stitches divisible by 6, and you can decrease by 6 sts a round, as in the pattern.

This doll is about the size of a 9 lb baby.  Her head is 14.5″ in circumference, which is 95th percentile for a newborn.  My kids had heads that size.  Most babies are a little smaller.  Here she is modeling some hats.

IMG_9633 (2)Candy Shop Yarn, 36 sts around.  Good newborn size 

IMG_9643 (2)Sweet Roll Yarn, 36 sts around.  Good newborn size.

IMG_9617 (2) Sweet Roll Yarn, 39 sts around.  Fits well, might be big on an average size baby

IMG_9619 (2) Sweet Roll Yarn, 42 sts around.  Lots of room to grow

 

 

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