The Yarn Chicken
Have You Played Yarn Chicken?
The phrase Yarn Chicken is often used when we run out of yarn just before the end of a project or finish with just a tiny amount to spare. We say we have either lost or won a game of Yarn Chicken.
The trouble with Yarn Chicken is even when you win at the game, you have gone through an unpleasant emotional experience. Your adrenaline levels go up as the end of your yarn approaches. Anxiety, doubt and feelings of scarcity creep in. You start to feel foolish that you didn’t buy the extra ball of yarn, just in case. Even if you make it you probably promise yourself that you won’t do that again.
You would think that would be the end of it but your negative emotional experiences with this game feed the Yarn Chicken monster and enable it to take up permanent residence in your stash!
The Yarn Chicken is an odd beast. She has arrived in your stash to protect you from those uncomfortable feelings that come up when you play her game. She means well. Feeding her seems sensible, a rational choice to never to provoke that nasty feeling of running out of yarn again. You resolve to always buy the extra ball, to never take the risk. Game over!
The trouble is that once established the Yarn Chicken has a large and unhealthy influence on your stash and on your buying habits.
The truth is that you probably only need the extra yarn very occasionally and then you may well only need a tiny amount of it. If your gauge swatch was accurate and you used either the original yarn or one very close to it then the amount called for for your size in the pattern will probably be correct. In fact the amount called for will probably already have a bit of extra built into it, usually at least 10%. This is to allow for swatching and small gauge differences.
Meanwhile the unused ‘just in case’ yarn is building up in your stash. Often it will be a single ball or skien. Usually just 50 grams which is rarely enough to do another pattern, especially if it is DK or Aran weight.
Back in the day your local yarn shop knew about this. They would put aside enough your yarn, plus a bit extra, for a big project and you would pick up and pay for it as you used it. This was great for us but not good for them. Then they were the ones left with extra oddments that often they couldn’t sell at full price.
Three Top Tips to Avoid the Yarn Chicken
Know your yarn: if you are not going to use the yarn specified in the pattern then check that your substitute will behave in much the same way. (Yarnsub.com is a very useful resource for finding suitable substitutes and will usually also tell you how much more yarn you will need for your project)
Become a cannibal! Eat your swatch or swatches, even if they’ve already been blocked! If all you need is a few more rows/rounds then this may work.
Start a ‘scrappy’ project to use up your safety net yarn. Mitred square blankets are often a good choice. (Danger point: never buy extra yarn to feed a scrappy project!)
Now hit reply or leave a comment and tell me what stash problems you are having and I will see if I can help.