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Uses For Leftover Yarns & Threads

We received an inquiry from a reader of our ezine:

"Do you have any good tips for what to do with left over yarn pieces -  that odd strand; the two inch snipped thread, the left over two or three strands  all too good to toss …. What’s everyone doing with it?"

So we put this out to the rest of our readers and this is what you came back with:

"They could be felted and used in other projects." (BS)

"Collect the snipped pieces in little glass jars/vases--colorful and decorative (they are called "orts")" (JS)

"I put the tiny leftover pieces out on my deck (sometimes in a little basket tacked to the side of a rail) for the birds.  They use it to build  their nests.  It's a giggle to see a nest w/ a touch of color in know you had a hand in their decorating!
"  (CB)

"I have an "Ort Management" container I bought at the EGA Seminar in San Francisco last September I collect my threads ends in.  It looks just like our blue recycling can here at home.  Even the wheels turn - yes I play with it and make garbage truck beeping sounds sometimes.  What can I say?  I use the thread ends to stuff small items like pincushions.  I will say I've been making a lot of items lately with red threads so it is important there is no show through your fabric.  A friend is using them to stuff a clear ball Christmas ornament to make an "ortament.""  (JM)

"Learn to spin. There comes a point when one is good enough to start making those very fancy expensive yarns and during the plying process one can incorporate all the ends. It is an addictive and expensive hobby unless one goes to hand spindles." (CG)

"One thing to do is to collect them, maybe by colors and put them into those clear round ornaments. They make a pretty and inexpensive tree decoration.

Other people have used empty spice jars and collected all the bits each month and displayed them on a shelf.
Keep Stitching,  
Janet Perry - blog

"A lovely elderly woman at a needlepoint gathering advised me to save all my bits and pieces of thread (which I was in the process of snipping and tossing) and put them outside in the spring--the birds will make colorful nests.  Recycling at its finest!! "  (KC)

 "I take all my leftover yarn pieces and put them in an mesh bag , like the ones onions come in. When I have a good supply, I hang the bag outside in a hedge. The birds take them as nesting material. I also put out hair form my dogs. I have founs beautiful nests with yarns woven into them, and lines with dog hair!" (LK)

"Regarding the "leftover threads" question......I saved enough over the years to stuff a cushion with!"  (Ann)

 "I put these outdoors where I see birds searching for nest-making materials.  The birds love these small snippets and when you get a bird with good decorating skills, the nest is really a winner!" (PW)

"Tossing used to be my answer too until I realized that I was often buying a full skein of a color for a particular project when in fact I only needed a tiny bit of it.  (And I started trying to be more frugal, times being what they are…), so I began tossing ONLY stray pieces of fiber that were at least 6-8” long into a zip-lock bag.  I’m a pretty disorganized stitcher, so I didn’t sort the contents out at all—just stuck everything in and zipped it up.  I have found that when I’m working on a project and need a small amount of a color, rather than looking through my sizeable stash of fibers, the first thing I do is pull out the messy remainder bag, and eyeball the contents.  Most of the time, I actually can find a perfectly good color in the remainder bag to use for the small area.  This doesn’t really reduce my fiber stash but I do feel smug using up, for example, a stray 10” strand of purple metallic thread instead of depleting my full-size skein stash or buying a new fiber.
"  (Susan)

"Many stitchers I know collect them in an “ort” jar and when the jar is full, put them outside in an area where the birds will find them.  They are great for lining nests!  I’m sure other animals use them too!  It’s a way of giving back”!"  (KB)

"I put my threads in an empty jar that I've cleaned.  It takes about six months to fill a jar and I think they look so pretty and colorful."

"I let my kids play with random leftover threads. They think they're beautiful treasures and sort them by color or length and put them in little treasure boxes and eventually lose them. :)" (MB)

"I put my little snips on tree branches for the birds to use in building their nests.  I enjoy watching them discover their "treasures!"" (DT)

I keep leftover full strands for future pieces that might need more yarn - and I have saved myself trips to the yarn store several times.  Sometimes I use them to change the pattern of a kit, like coloring outside the lines.
The pieces cut off the end of the strands?   I use them - along with the hair my German Shepherd sheds -  to mulch around my oak trees.
There is something poetic about my blend of shepherds and sheep wool .... mingling in the pasture....