Looking for a new way to use leftover yarn that’s super-speedy? Try knitting jewelry–they make marvelous gifts!
I don’t know a single knitter on earth that wants to throw away yarn left over from a project.
The question is always: what to do with it?
I’ve put together many collections of free knitting patterns that offer ways to use leftover (or scrap) yarn. But perhaps you’re in a quandary like this:
- You want to use up some leftover yarn–fast.
- You want to make a gift for someone–fast.
- You want to use leftover yarn and create a fabulous gift for someone–fast.
In a situation like this, the solution is simpler than you might imagine: knitted jewelry!
One great thing about knitting jewelry is that you don’t need much yarn with which to do it. Unlike many knitting patterns for scrap yarn that uses a considerable amount of yarn, when you knit jewelry, you usually need only the tiniest amounts–we’re talking 15 yards or less. (And most of the time, it’s far, far less.)
A Simple Way to Start with Knitting Jewelry: I-Cord Chains
Knitting jewelry was actually one of my earliest forays into using leftover yarn, although at the time I didn’t really think of it as “knitting jewelry.
When my daughters were much younger, they owned several necklaces. Of course, young, active girls frequently break the very thin chains their pendants and charms swing from. In lieu of purchasing new chains (that would probably also break quickly), I often knitted I-cords to replace those thin broken chains.
It’s almost too easy!
Just knit a thin (no wider than 3 stitches unless you’re using fingering or lace weight yarn; then you should use 4 stitches) I-cord until it’s long enough to fit comfortably over a person’s head when the ends are together. Then bind off the cord, place the charm or pendant on the I-cord, and sew the ends together.
It’s a great way to use leftover sock yarn!
Knitting I-cords is a great starter project to the world of knitted jewelry. When you’re ready to get even more adventurous, you can try one of the patterns below. You can knit yourself (or friends, family, or even for charity!) an entire collection of jewelry!
Knitted Love for a Lovely Neck
- What you’ll need to make it: Leftover stash yarn (don’t worry too much about the amount or the weight, though you’ll want all the yarn you use to be the same weight); DPNs in a size appropriate to the yarn (US Size 7 if you’re using worsted weight, for instance); a large button with a large hole or holes
- Why you’ll want to: If you can knit I-cord (just like my early I-cord-necklace experiments!), you can easily create this necklace. Rather than a single I-cord, you’ll join together a series of I-cords in different lengths. A pretty button makes the necklace even more stylish!
- What you’ll need to make it: Thin copper wire or fingering/lace-weight yarn (less than 15 yards are needed to make it!); US Size 2 or 3 needles; a ring to hang the pendant (though you could just tie the ends together and hang it as I did here); a cord or chain to hang the pendant from; (optional) a bead
- Why you’ll want to: I just love the simple beauty of this lovely pendant. The pattern calls for extremely thin copper wire and a bead. I used fingering weight yarn in place of the copper wire (because I wanted to use what I had!), and it worked quite well.
The toughest part about using yarn rather than wire was threading the bead onto the yarn. I happened to have a container of soft wax used to thread needles, and I coated the end of the yarn with it to thread the bead. The nice thing about using yarn instead of wire is that you can block the cross if your finished product is at all wonky!
The very best thing about this design is that it’s fast. I finished it in less than half an hour!
- What you’ll need to make it: Less than 25 yards of fingering-weight yarn; US Size 2 or 3 DPNs; tapestry needle; (optional) contrasting yarn
- Why you’ll want to: I love this pattern because it looks like a real chain necklace, only in yarn. It’s another I-cord-based design, but the way the designer uses it to create the “chain” effect is ingenious!
The contrasting yarn is optional in case you’d rather not use Kitchener stitch to seam the ends of each I-cord together. To access, be sure to click on the “free Ravelry download” link, rather than the link at the bottom of the page.
- What you’ll need to make it: 7 skeins of embroidery floss (in multiple colors), or the equivalent in fingering or lace-weight yarn; US Size 0 or 1 needles; 4 floss bobbins (to keep from tangling); a variety of large beads–the pattern calls for wooden and glass beads, but you can use whatever you can find or have on hand; a yard (or longer for a longer necklace) of .375-inch ribbon (you could also create an I-cord instead); toggle clasp and 2 large jump rings; sewing needle and thread to match the ribbon/I-cord; needle-nose pliers
- Why you’ll want to: This design will get you into the nitty-gritty of jewelry design, but it will make you feel so accomplished when you’ve finished it. The designer based this gorgeous necklace pattern on an expensive piece in a high fashion magazine. The finished look is surprisingly professional — don’t be surprised if people ask where you bought it!
Brace Yourself–with Patterns for Bracelets
- What you’ll need to make it: Less than 15 yards fingering-weight yarn; US Size 2 or 3 DPNs; (optional) pretty button, charm, or bead
- Why you’ll want to: This pattern is also much like my I-cord necklace, except (of course) much shorter, thus far quicker. I recommend knitting these with pretty scraps of sock yarn, as the wool/nylon blend gives them natural stretch. You can add to their flair by adding buttons, charms, beads, and so on. This took me less than half an hour, possibly only 20 minutes total!
- What you’ll need to make it: Less than 50 yards of the worsted weight yarn in the appropriate colors for the various Hogwards houses (red and gold for Gryffindor, green and white for Slytherin, blue and bronze for Ravenclaw, yellow and black for Hufflepuff); US Size 4 needles; 2 buttons or snaps (optional)
- Why you’ll want to: If you’ve seen the Harry Potter house scarves, these are basically the same sort of project sized way down to make bracelets. A great project to gift to a Harry Potter fan–and much faster than knitting scarves!
- What you’ll need to make it: A very soft fingering or lace-weight yarn, less than 25 yards needed for a main color and another yard for a contrasting color; US Size 1 or 2 needle
- Why you’ll want to: Many patterns exist for this type of cuff-like bracelet. I chose this one for this collection because it was designed as encouragement for a person suffering from depression and recovering from self-injury. It’s also a great way to practice either charted colorwork or duplicate stitch. (You can find a refresher tutorial for duplicate stitch below.)
Clip It, Pin It, Enjoy Knitted Brooches
- What you’ll need to make it: Less than 25 yards of DK-weight yarn (same color or multiple colors, it’s your choice!); US Size 5 or 6 needles; brooch back/pin/clip barrette/bobby pin; button
- Why you’ll want to: When my younger daughter had birthday parties to attend, I loved making flower clips like this one. They are magnificent as gifts for young girls, but they make lovely gifts for women as well! Attach it to a pin to create a brooch; attach it to a clip barrette or bobby pin to make a hair accessory.
- What you’ll need to make it: Less than 15 yards fingering weight yarn; US Size 1 or 2 needles; toothpicks; two beads; craft glue or hot glue gun; brooch back/pin
How about a brooch that makes the perfect gift for a fellow knitter? This adorable brooch couldn’t be easier to make; I tried my hand at it literally just now, and you see the result here! (It took me maybe 20 minutes.)
Now ‘Ear This…
- What you’ll need to make it: Perl cotton (a very small amount) in Hogwarts house scarf colors (see the Pride Bracelet entry above for colors); US Size 0 needles; 2 pieces of lightweight interfacing; needle and thread; 2 split rings or jump rings; 2 earring hooks or studs with attached rings; needle-nose pliers ; clear nail polish; tapestry needle
- Why you’ll want to: Here’s an even tinier way to enjoy Harry Potter house scarves! I love the idea of creating a set for each Hogwarts house and wearing the pair that matches your mood. (Imagine hearing friends or family saying “Look out, she’s wearing her Slytherin earrings!” 😆 )
A word of warning: because you’re working with very thread and very tiny needles, these earrings will require steady hands and patience. You might even want to work at a table. The results, however, will certainly be worth it!
- What you’ll need to make it: About 5 yards fingering or lace-weight yarn per “heart”; US Size 2 or 3 DPNs; craft wire; earring hooks/brooch back/pin/clip barrette; tool for wire cutting, clamping and bending; hot glue gun; sewing needle and thread
- Why you’ll want to: First, this is another I-cord-based jewelry design, so the knitting part is a piece of cake. Second, these charming hearts can be used in a multitude of ways–you can attach them to earring hooks as shown, or you can turn them into brooches or hair clips.
After creating several of these designs, I can tell you that knitting jewelry is positively addictive. Why not jump in and give it a try? It’s an amazing way to create gifts for friends and family in mere minutes!