How to use up yarn leftovers with a magic ball

by Admin on 15/03/2013

in Green Crafting, Guest Editors 2013, knitting+crochet+yarn

During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Abby and Stacey for the month of March. The theme for their month here together is the notion of making something from nothing.

Stacey Trock: blog :: twitter: @freshstitches

Have you heard of a magic ball?

magic ball

It’s a ball of yarn that changes colors and textures as you work. It’s something offered by a number of artisan yarn makers… but it’s also something you can make yourself with your leftover yarn!

pile of scraps


Besides ending up with an awesomely fun end-product… you’ll finally get to use up all of those weird leftover pieces of yarn that are too small (you thought!) to do anything with! How great is that?

Ready to get started?

You’ll need two things. One, gather all of the leftover yarn bits that are lurking in your stash. You know what I mean. They’re too small for their own projects, but too big to toss out. You keep thinking you’ll do something with them…

And a tapestry needle — (mine is a bent-tip needle, but that’s by no means necessary for this. All you need is a needle that’s big enough to fit your yarn through the eye.)

Okay, now we’re ready to start! We’re going to make our magic ball by joining all of these leftover yarns together using a technique called the ‘Russian Join’. The Russian join allows you to fasten yarns together without a knot, and it has the advantage of working with any type of yarn (unlike the ‘spit splice’, which relies on 100% wool yarn.)

In terms of grouping your yarns together, you’ll want to group yarns in a way that is pleasing to you. Some folks prefer the random approach, but I like creating a color theme. For my magic ball, I’m attaching only various shades of purple. I also recommend using yarns of the same weight. My magic ball is composed entirely of worsted weight yarns.

Let’s learn how to do the Russian Join.

Step 1: Thread your tapestry needle with yarn A (to start, yarn A will be an arbitrary choice. As you continue, yarn A will be the yarn that is attached to your ball).


Step 2: About 2 inches from the end of the yarn, insert your tapestry needle through the yarn. Split the plies, and work the needle through the yarn for about an inch, then pull the needle through, bringing the yarn tail through this bit of yarn.



Notice that you have a loop!


Step 3: Okay, now, thread yarn B (the other yarn) through the tapestry needle, and stick the tapestry needle through the loop in yarn A.


Step 4: About 2 inches from the end of yarn B’s tail, insert the tapestry needle through the yarn… just like you did before.


Now you’ve made a second loop, joined onto yarn A!


When you pull the ends, you’ll notice the two yarns are fully joined! Hooray!

step7To make a magic ball, keep attaching yarns, one after another. You’ll probably find it helpful to wind the ball up as you go, particularly if you’re using long leftover lengths of yarn.

Once you’ve run out of leftovers (or have a ball that’s big enough), you can use your magic ball for any project! When knitted or crocheted, it’ll create an awesome striping-effect! And, you don’t need to do anything special at the joins, just keep working!

Isn’t that fun? And doesn’t it make you want to gather up (and use) your leftovers?


We both share a love of making practical things from humble materials, but what brought us together initially was our love of designing patterns for stuffed animals. We are really excited to announce that we’ll be releasing our first collaborative pattern on March 20th: Pepper the Penguin.
Together we’ve designed an adorable penguin softie. Stacey created the crochet pattern and Abby created the sewing pattern. And you’ll get both in one! Pepper comes with patterns for a cute wintry hat and scarf, too, so that you can mix and match. Sew Pepper, then give him a crocheted hat and scarf, or crochet him and then sew up his accessories. It’s so much fun to mix and match! We hope you’ll enjoy sewing and crocheting Pepper. He’s terrific both ways!
Get the pattern beginning on Wednesday, March 20, at freshstitches and whileshenaps Thank you!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Janel @ Creating Tasty Stories March 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I’ve seen Magic Balls before, but never thought of making one myself. I love that joining technique.


2 Liz Hasler March 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I will absolutely try the magic ball of yarn. What a cool idea! Thanks for sharing!


3 Jeffery Baker March 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for this great idea!! I have way too many leftover yarn pieces..


4 Amy April 29, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I’m so happy I discovered your blog via blogsphere ;) Thanks for sharing this tute! I will definitely make my own magic ball using the bits and pieces of my leftover yarns that I have been hoarding for quite some time…

The penguin softie is so lovely!


5 Evalune May 25, 2015 at 11:35 am

Glad I found this sight I do also have a lot of left over and have tried the Russisn join but have to do a lot of practices


6 Frances July 22, 2015 at 11:09 pm

I can use up my yarn this way. It is a very good idea .


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