How to win at 'Yarn Chicken

"Yarn Chicken" - when you're almost at the end of your yarn AND your row/repeat/project, and you're not sure which will come first. (Applies equally to knitting and crochet or any other yarn-related craft.)


After speeding through my Contour Shawl, I found myself with seven stitches left of the final repeat when the yarn ran out. This isn't the first time it's happened and I'm sure it won't be the last, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. To be fair, it can go either way, and whenever I win at Yarn Chicken it's really quite a thrill, but I found myself with no yarn and facing the decision about what to do next (and breaking my own rule about posting photos taken in low light). 

When faced with this cruel fate, there are a few different options and contrary to instinct, none of them involve working faster to finish before the yarn runs out. My preferred methods are:

1. Rip it back and finish at the end of the previous pattern repeat. 
2. Rip it back and use an alternative method for finishing/binding off, one which doesn't require as much yarn. There are various ways of doing this (including using a tighter bind-off with a smaller needle or hook, or a different stitch/bind off entirely) but it may affect the overall look of the item, as well as the amount of 'ease' or stretch in that all-important bottom row, and should therefore be carefully considered. 
3. Finish the last few stitches with another yarn - if it's the right weight and not too different in colour, it may not be noticeable. 
4. Rip the last row back, and use a contrasting 'accent' yarn in it's place. 

In this instance, I decided it would have be the third option - I didn't want to make it any shorter (I was already using a different yarn with less meterage and wanted it as big as possible) and wanted to block it out which also meant leaving a stretchy final row. There wasn't a suitable contrast yarn in my stash, and as I wanted to stash-bust this project (using 2 x 100g balls of Berocco Boboli) buying more for one row wasn't an option. So I picked up  a plain green yarn (not ideal) and crocheted the last few stitches, before abandoning it for the night. 

And that's when something magical happened, because I woke up the next morning and remembered a crucial fact - something I'd completely forgotten about! After rifling in the bin (I'm not proud) I found a small knotted piece of yarn from the end of the first ball. It was so tangled, I'd snipped it off before adding the second ball, but now I had the motive to spend time untangling it.


Oh the relief! So I finished my shawl and even though it's not blocked yet (half term!) I love it. I've just started another crochet shawl (of my own design) but will be coming back to 'Contour' again over the summer - it's a perfect pattern for travelling (quick and easy). If you'd like to get a copy, or to add it to your queue, you can find it here.


If you have some other ideas on how to win at Yarn Chicken, or if you just want to say hello, please feel free to leave a comment on this post!

15 comments

  1. You've inspired me to post about how to take the surprise out of it all. Post coming next week...

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    1. Now that's just boring Joanne! No one likes a smarty-pants!!! :D

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  2. There's NOTHING more satisfying than beating your yarn to the finish. Literally nothing! I'm so glad you managed to sort this out. If you're anything like me, those 7 tiny stitches would be the only thing you'd see when you looked at your shawl, am I right? 😁

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  3. There's NOTHING more satisfying than beating your yarn to the finish. Literally nothing! I'm so glad you managed to sort this out. If you're anything like me, those 7 tiny stitches would be the only thing you'd see when you looked at your shawl, am I right? 😁

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    1. I always get your comments twice, good job they are nice!!!!!!! 😂

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  4. Beautiful shawl! I won at yarn chicken once on the border to a crocheted blanket by unraveling the sample hexagon I'd made to test out the colour combinations. It was only the second row of the hexagon so quite a short length but it gave me enough to finish those last 10 or so stitches. I had to sew all the ends in by inserting the empty needle in the blanket first and then threading it - the ends were not even as long as the needle!

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    1. Oh that's a win, for sure!!!! :D Thank goodness for swatching!

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  5. There are people who don't throw away anything because they know they can use it someday! :-) The shawl is beautiful!

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    1. I tried this but ended up unable to move in my tiny Cwtch. I'm glad I hadn't emptied the bin, that's all I can say :D x

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  6. So glad you found that small piece to finish your beautiful shawl what a lovely colour I usually do the knit faster method sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't

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  7. "After rifling in the bin (I'm not proud)..." Laughed out loud when I read that and just reinforced how much I love your blog. Perhaps you need a confessions page on your blog where we can all talk proudly about the steps we've taken to finish a project that were definitely NOT in the pattern. We've all been there. I would label yours "Creative Binning."

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  8. I've been known to use the piece on the other end (the cast on) in desperation. Helen

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