Knitting Detritus

A while back – I mean, four or five years ago – I remember reading about how if you save all of your yarn labels you could do super fun things with them like collages or decoupaged dress forms or various paper crafts. And I like stuff, and I like saving things that could potentially be useful (hello, yarn stash, nice to see you), so I just started shoving my yarn labels into a bag whenever I started a new project.

Some times, this comes in darned useful. If you are ever unsure of exactly how many yards were in the skein, or which dye-lot you used, or if that was the Cascade 220 blueish heather or somebody else’s blueish heather, or if you’ve got 34g leftover, how many grams did you use up from the original ball of how many grams did that weigh again?

But years later, I can see that what I have ended up with is, quite simply, a pile of yarn labels.


I can’t help thinking as though this is the moment when a Yarn Archivist should spring out from the next room and say “Aha! This is what it all means.” I can tell the yarns I have used most often, and also which yarns I only used once or twice and then never went back to.

Also, just looking at some of the labels themselves is sort of interesting. Let me tell you, yarn dyers – if you’ve got a label that can stand out in a pile like this, then you’re probably doing something right. Colours, shapes, images, logos, paper quality…they’re not all the same. Sort of neat to look at, in a really geeky way.


I don’t think I want to do any decoupage any time soon. But still…NOW what do I do with them?


  1. That is an impressive amount of labels.

  2. Val Champ · ·

    I see that we both have good taste in yarn..LOL If I am gifting an item I usually send the label with the item. If I have a 2nd label I tie a bit of the yarn through it so that I know what went with what.

    Some I put with the pattern in a page protector and then write down if it was a successful yarn or not.

    But I have only been back to knitting for about 8 months after 25 years “off”…I don’t have that many lables …yet

  3. If you are keeping good notes on Ravelry, then it’s okay to throw them away. It will feel good, don’t worry, it really will feel good.

  4. Lovely collection!

    I used to mark mine and keep them together by project but was not consistent enough with it, then the big move made me throw them all out, oy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. ladyoctavia · ·

    Sonny and Shear have a stash busting rewards thing… you can send in labels that equal a certain weight (where ever you got the yarn from) and they give you gift-certificate/store credit…

  6. That certainly is A LOT of labels! If I were you, I would scoop them all up and put them right back in the bag they came from, you’ve done too much collecting to throw it all away now! Maybe you’ll come up with a good use for them someday…

    *I love that there are so many TFA labels in that pile! Thanks!*

  7. Wow! That’s an impressive pile. I have no suggestions except, of course, to photograph it and show it off (but you’ve already done that!)

  8. I save one label from every project. I paste it in a scrapbook alongside a strand of the yarn. It comes in super handy! Mostly I refer to it to remind myself of the fibre content on garments when it’s time to wash them. Oddly enough, I find it useful when deciding what yarns NOT to use. I can often remeber that I didn’t enjoy knitting a certain project but can’t remember the name of the yarn.

  9. Hmm, that’s a lot of labels. I keep1-2 labels from each project. One I staple to the back of the pattern (I keep a paper copy of all patterns I knit) for future reference. The second I enclose with my FO if it’s a gift since it contains the washing instructions. As for the rest, do you have a recycle bin? I think they want to live there.

  10. You could make little envelopes from them. Then you could send them out if you ever have swaps with other knitters. I think it would be great to decoupage them and cover like an old trunk or table with them. Make a mural on your wall with them.

  11. Sonny & Shear. For ball bands that total 2 lbs they’ll give you a 10% off coupon good for your next purchase. You should at least get one of those coupons for your ball band stashing efforts!

  12. Do you have a source for Force-Flex trash bags?

  13. I see an art project to hang in the knitting space happening there.

  14. I staple one label from each project to the photocopy of the pattern I work from – ‘saves having to note relevant information on the pattern by hand and ensures I can always look back if I need to.

    For yarns I use frequently I make my own shade cards by threading a short piece of each colour of yarn I’ve used of a particular type through two lables stuck together – this stiffens the “card” and again, has the information I may need to refer to later.

    When I knit a gift, I trim the care instructions from the label and enclose it as a tag on the gift with a short piece of yarn.

    I’ve just re read this – do I sound obnoxiously compulsive or what? I’m not – I just like reusing the lables – I promise!

  15. I used to save mine too, hoping to put together a scrap book or something. But they take up so much space! So, one day, I just tossed them into the recycle bin. ALL of them. It was quite liberating!!

  16. Northmoon · ·

    I’m a fellow label saver (I stick mine in a shoe box) don’t have anywhere near the number in your pile yet.

    I like the idea of stapling one to the copy of the pattern though. Perhaps with a sample of the wool too. Or I may just follow Peggy’s example and toss it all in the recycle bin one day!

  17. I have to third the recommendation for Sonny and Shear – they have a nice collection of Indie dyers at good prices, and who doesn’t like to save 10%? I used to save one of mine for every project, but with Rav or one-off projects, like socks, I don’t bother. I do save tags for gifts, so the recipient has the care instructions, but otherwise they go into a box until I have enough to send off.

  18. You could put them in a scrapbook. Years from now you’ll look at them and say, “OMG. Look what (insert label) used to look like!”

  19. Hmmm. When I was little my parents wallpapered a small wall with wine labels…could work with yarn ones, too.

  20. My only useful idea, the glue-it-in-a-scrapbook/file-it-with-your-patterns idea is a) taken and b) hypocritical, since I like nothing more than hiding ball bands in old books or under the couch cushions to ponder at my leisure (or in my dotage, whatever).

    Instead, what if you made them into a giant, yarn-themed paper chain that you could use to decorate your office/festoon your Christmas tree/tie around your ankle as part of your “Ghost of Sweaters Past” Hallowe’en costume? (It’s never to early to start planning corny Hallowe’en costumes, is it?)

    Of course, the 10% off coupon sounds pretty good, too…

    Good luck!

  21. I have no idea what you should do with all of those labels but if you figure it out let me know. I have a large desk drawer full of free bookmarks which is another interesting collection of paper.

  22. I have also saved all my labels. It helps if you have to refer to it for washing instructions, etc. I have a notebook that I started as a yarn journal, pasting in the label and a sample of the yarn in a small bunch or a knit sample. I also write in what project I knit, and any details. Of course, I haven’t kept that up, and most of my labels are in a box or two somewhere.

  23. Well now I don’t know if I’d like to save my labels or not. You have such fascinating analysis of your knitting habits from it, but I collect so many things as it is… I think it’s just easier to throw the labels away right away.

  24. You know, I started doing this a couple of years ago and I didn’t even know about the decoupage options.. I did it for posterity… maybe…*blushes* Ok,I’m just a hoarder, there, I’ve admitted it.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with your labels, might give me an excuse to carry on collecting mine!

  25. I am so glad to see that someone else saves labels too!
    I have pinned them to my studio wall in a abstract way, but you can also attach them to a corkboard or poster board and frame them with little pieces of knitting or momentos. The memories they evoke are worth the effort!
    I have 2 bulletin boards that I decorated with greeting cards that friends and family have sent to me and I have added pieces of this and that that are special to me. You could do that too & use it as kind of a wallpaper to add to.
    You’ve got me excited now – I think I will make one with my labels!!

  26. To be completely honest, I throw mine out once the project is done. If I have a huge amount of yarn leftover – 300 yards +, I might save the label on one skein, but if I only have odds and ends, those get stashed in a miscellaneous bin, and currently get given to my crocheter roommate, who’s making a scrap afghan. It’s been great for my scrap stash!

  27. I suggest you use them as gift wrapping. I earlier used receipts to wrap around my gifts, I just glued them on the box in which I had put the gift. I think it would be very pretty and fun if you wrap your gifts in yarn labels, especially knit gifts ๐Ÿ˜‰ With a nice and matching bow it could all be darn pretty!

  28. You should make a collage(I think that’s how you spell it:-).
    That way you can show people how many skeins of yarn you have used.

  29. Gum wrapper chains come to mind!!!!!

  30. That’s a lot of labels & I don’t think they should be thrown away. I always save 1 yarn label for each project & stick it in my project book with details of the project for future reference.

  31. I have a similar pile. I plan to decoupage a tabletop eventually.

    You could use them to make paper beads and then use the beads to make stitch markers.

  32. When I moved out of the country, I had a box in my house with a pile of labels such as this. My friend that was “helping” me opened the box and said, You don’t need these! and promptly threw them in the trash.

    I don’t miss them.

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