We all have them lying around in various knitting baskets and yarn tubs. Those gauge swatches and squares we create when practicing a new stitch or method. Practice squares are far from perfect, so they cannot be combined into a finished project. Gauge swatches are not large enough to unravel and transform into something else, so what do you do with them?
Practice squares and blocks make great coasters. No one really looks at coasters carefully and the finished product is always sitting under a glass or mug. It makes more sense to use them as coasters instead of trying to unravel them and find a way to use the yarn.
I started doing this with quilting, but it makes sense to do it for knitting and crochet. Use your gauge swatch, a copy of the pattern, a photo of the finished project and a copy of the yarn label to keep a record of the projects you have completed. Put these items into a sleeve protector and keep it in a notebook. If you use a different size needle than mentioned in the pattern, note that as well. This way, when you want to make another one, you have all the information handy. If you gave the item as a gift, note that too. This way you will not duplicate your gift giving.
If your practice blocks look pretty good, use them to create a sampler piece. This can be a lap blanket or wall hanging or a pillow top. If you are fortunate enough to have a studio or office in your home, why not use these to yarn bomb the office.
Cats and dogs are not picky about what their toys look like. Take a couple of swatches, stuff them with fiberfill and add a pet safe squeaker. For cats, add a bit of catnip. You pet will be thrilled with a new toy, and you just got rid of some of the yarn clutter.
Wash cloths and makeup removers
If your squares are large enough and are made from natural fibers, use them for washcloths or makeup removers. It is a very green to reuse. By using your swatches for washable makeup removers, you can eliminate purchasing those little cotton rounds that get thrown out after each use. Larger squares or blocks can be used a wash cloths.
This works really well with 100 percent cotton yarn. You can use wool but it will felt. Acrylic will not absorb the fabric softener well and the fibers don’t hold up well to multiple times through the dryer. Purchase a small bottle – sample size if you can find it—of your favorite fabric softener. If you are not brand loyal, buy whatever is the least expensive. Take your swatches and squares and soak them in the fabric softener. Hang to dry. Instead if using dryer sheets, drop one of these fabric softener soaked squares into the dryer. They work better than dryer sheets and they last for dozens of laundry loads. When they no longer work, just repeat the soaking process. This keeps dryer sheets out of the landfills, and it is a lot easier on the budget. 10 squares will keep you set for about a year.
Lynda Altman is a professional crafter and writer. She started crocheting as a young child. She crochets, quilts, sews, and creates beaded jewelry. Lynda loves vintage stitching samplers and enjoys counted cross stitch. You can find her work for sale on Etsy. She writes a crochet blog called The Granny Squared. You can contact her at the above link or on Twitter @fusgeyer.