It’s estimated that in the United States, 30 to 40% of all food is wasted.

My maternal grandmother, Violet Benjamin never wasted food. In fact, I never saw her waste anything.


Not food, not paper, and certainly not time. She was a one woman testament to a life lived efficiently.

In the summer between my junior and senior year of high school Nana — as she was known to her grandchildren — was undergoing treatment for cancer and came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. Despite the challenges of the both the treatment and the cancer, she did not let either interfere with her cleaning.

She continued to wash clothes by hand, and she enlisted my aid so she could clean all of the light fixtures in the house, but she did cede one duty and allowed me to make her some mashed potatoes.

I did my best to be a good granddaughter and dutifully washed the potatoes, cut them into pieces, brought them to a boil, cooked them, then — inexplicably — after they were done cooking, I turned off the water and let them sit.

No doubt something else caught my attention, but I eventually get got back to the pot of potatoes and drained the water.

Next, I added butter, salt, pepper, and milk and began mashing the potatoes.

At first, nothing seemed off, but at some point, I could not ignore the fact that the potatoes had a peculiar consistency I had not encountered before.

The extended soak in hot water had made them like glue, but even though it was to be the last summer of her life, my grandmother insisted that the dreadful potatoes I had made were fine. In fact, they were better than fine; they were delicious.

I knew better, but even as my grandmother faced death she could not bring herself to waste food, not even mashed potatoes that could double as wallpaper glue.

So I while working to develop habits that result in less food waste, I decided to apply what I am learning to my yarn scraps.

My long-time readers may recall a scrap granny blanket that I began many years ago, and which has grown into this:

scrap crochet granny square
My great-granny square scrap crochet afghan

I have not yet figured out how I want to finish this project, but it is near the end.

My yarn scraps are another story.

In the intervening years, more scraps have accumulated and as I don’t want to waste the pounds and pounds of small bits of yarn that have accumulated, after I finished work on the granny rectangle blanket:

granny rectangle blanket
Putting a granny rectangle blanket to bed

I decided that it was time to try out my scrap technique on another granny square purse.

Working from several balls of longer yarn scraps that I have organized by color, I got this far before doubts crept in:

scrap granny square
Eleven rounds in on a scrap granny square

After consulting with several people, I decided to work through my doubts, and by late this afternoon, I was four rounds from finishing the crochet part of the project:

scrap granny square
The same scrap granny square three rounds later

and at least an hour away from having dealt wth the resulting ends:

scrap granny square
The back of the scrap granny square at 14 rounds

It could be argued that I am wasting my time working with scraps of this size, but I am in no particular hurry.

It is not as if I have any chance of ever completing all of the projects my mind can think of, and a genuine scrap project such as this has both a sense of urgency and harmony that you can’t get in a project that has no boundaries.

So I will continue with this square as I always do: one stitch at a time.

3 thoughts on “Scraptastic

  1. I also save and use my scraps of yarn. If it’s longer than 5 inches, it goes in a bag for crocheting “cat mats”, which I donate to my local animal shelter. If it’s shorter than 5 inches, it goes into a bag that I use as “stuffing”. Having parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, we learned that we don’t waste anything!

  2. One tip I can give when working on a project with a lot of ends: weave in your ends as you go and/or crochet over them as you go. The weaving as you go will save you a lot of work towards the end of the project.

  3. I read somewhere on the internet about a joining technique, I believe, although I could be wrong, it’s called the “Russian Join”. For this, you take two lengths of yarn, thread each on a smallish, sharper needle. Starting maybe two inches from the end of one piece, work the second piece of the yarn through the first one. do the same with the second piece. Now you have an almost invisible, indestructible join. You then wind this new piece of joined yarn into a ball, and then attach a new piece to the end, and wind this. Eventually you will have a huge ball of yarn, and when you crochet or knit with it, voila, no ends to weave in! Plus you get to use MORE of the yarn that is wasted in the pic above. I haven’t tried it, because I don’t have any scraps I haven’t made into something else, but I plan to use it when I do accumulate some yarn scraps. And I found a tute! Although this one looks a bit messy, another one I saw was nearly invisible. So, here is Lion Brand’s take on it:
    and here’s a youtube video I think they are concentrating on joining a new color to a regular project, but it would work for what you need as well. Sorry I couldn’t find the tute about making the yarn ball, but you get the picture! Let me know if you try this and if this helps! (PS I’m really enjoying your blog!)

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