Knitting and sewing garments produces scraps, there is just no getting around it. It is tempting to point at big companies that produce clothing and complain about their cutting room floor scraps, but anyone who makes their own clothes also knows how hard this problem is to avoid.
One of the reasons that I have gravitated towards knitting over sewing is that it feels more flexible and forgiving in certain aspects of sustainable creative practice. One example of this is that if you make a mistake while knitting, you can unravel it and reuse the same yarn. In fact, most yarn that I use is special enough to me that I rarely leave something intact after completion if I am not happy with it. I buy yarn I love, and I value the people and animals who contributed to its existence, not to mention the money spent to obtain it (and the work behind that money), so I continue to reuse it until I am satisfied with my product. In that same vein, it is wonderful that when you knit, there are no cut pieces of fabric leftover in awkward shapes. When you knit, you are essentially making, and shaping, your own fabric as you go. It seems almost like magic to me.
However, in spite of all that, there are still balls of yarn leftover. Bits here and there, too short for a new sweater, but too significant to give to the cat. They are tricky to use because the gauges are different, the fibers are different, often the colors don't play well together.
Last year I spent time using yarn that I already had in my stash, instead of purchasing new yarn. Bound by a tight budget, and also the unsettling feeling of having too much yarn around and not enough to show for it, I worked my way through some projects. While doing this, I was also struck by an idea for a way to use up some yarn scraps. I designed a poncho in a forgiving shape, strategically incorporating as many disparate yarns as I could, while still creating a satisfying final garment.
The yarns in the Save Your Scraps poncho come from a few places and projects...there is yarn from when I lived in Canada and yarn from when I lived in Houston. There are some leftover bits from a Christmas scarf I knit for my dad, and some from a sweater I made two winters ago, using local Minnesota wool.
I also feel affectionate about this poncho because I was knitting it during the sleep training process of my younger son, so it makes me think of him coming into our lives, and the hard work and sweet snuggles of those early months. I find knitting to be a great companion to sleep training little babies. Often they wake up, and then while you are trying to quickly finish your row before you fetch them, those little peanuts find ways to put themselves back to sleep. More magic.
I unraveled the poncho once when I could tell it wasn't working very well, and honestly I could maybe have even unraveled it a second time after I spotted one or two additional imperfections, but I used a workaround instead. As a result, it was not finished in time for the chilly spring weather, but it will make for a cozy new garment when the weather again grows cold this fall.