You may have been lucky enough to have been gifted a load of advent calendar minis in a scrummy yarny advent calendar this year. Or maybe you treated yourself. Either way, December is full of blissful moments as you open up each package and see the colourway revealed. But after all the squishing and sniffing and admiring, what next?
When I started to look into this I realised that its not each to find patterns or projects that are designed for advent calendar minis, or indeed mini skeins generally. So I’ve put my thinking cap on and come up with a few ideas.
Before we get going I do have to say that you will need to be prepared to think outside the box a bit when you are either starting any of these projects, or looking for patterns yourself. Your minis are unique to you and you might want to combine new minis with ones you have already, or with entire skeins. Just be brave! Combining colours together can be tricky but if you are at all unsure, use a neutral such as a plain cream or a light grey to separate your mini skein colours.
Scrappy/cosy memory projects for advent calendar minis
The traditional method of using up mini skeins is the cosy memory blanket but there are many different variations and you can use a basic method for either knitting or crochet to make your own.
The knitted Coziest memory blanket
If you want to start with a pattern, the most popular knitted version is the Coziest memory blanket by Kemper Wray, which is a free pattern on Ravelry. This is available as a downloadable pdf in either English or French. It shows you how to knit a mitred square and join the squares together as you go, creating a colourful patchwork effect. For a large blanket you will need scraps and minis way beyond your advent calendar minis!
You can vary your blanket by alternating the direction of your mitred seams – either lining them up, or alternating the direction by row or even by square. Whatever your own design, be prepared for the blanket to take a LONG time. The idea is to use up scraps as well as minis – each square takes about 5g of fingering weight yarn – and to keep this as a project to pick up and put down over a few months or even a year.
A crochet version of the mitred square blanket
The lovely Sam of Betsy Makes (podcast and blog) posted her own free pattern for a mitred scrappy crochet blanket nearly three years ago now but its a superb and free guide. It provides the pattern for the individual squares and lots of photographs to show you how to make them and then how to join them together as you go.
As you can see from the photograph below (courtesy of Sam), the effect is very similar but I think the crochet version will have a thicker texture compared to the knitted one.
A crochet square blanket
Sandra of Cherry Heart (blog and podcast) has worked up two such blankets. The first was a few years ago when she used minis to make different crochet squares worked in rows and then joined them together to form a patchwork. You can find all the details on how to make the Happy Scrappy squares blanket on her blog.
More recently, she has made her gorgeous Battenburg blanket. This again uses minis to form granny squares but these are smaller and are joined together alternately with plain cream squares.
The scrappy crochet granny blanket
This has been a big think amongst the knitting community as its one of the easiest crochet blanket patterns to make. The original comes from Lucy of Attic 24 and the idea is to use your advent calendar minis and scraps to work a granny blanket as large or small as you like. You simply work to the end of one colour then start the next and the result is determined by which minis you choose. You don’t work your minis in rows – you start and finish at whatever point the mini runs out.
This lovely example was made by Andre Sue of Andre Sue Knits who gave me permission to use her photo a while ago when I wrote a post on granny stripe designs for Craftsy.
I used my Blandala circular blanket pattern to make a small scrappy version that I love using as a small table covering. You can adapt any granny style pattern if you are prepared to made tweaks as you are going. This is definitely necessary if you are doing a circular pattern and using a different weight of yarn.
Franken projects – after Frankenstein
The other way to use advent calendar minis is to make Franken projects – most commonly Franken socks. The most decorative pattern I can find was published by Jo Price Designs as a mystery knit-along in December 2016 and was designed for using up your advent mini skeins in sock yarn. If you go to the link above to the Ravelry pattern page you can see loads of examples – the pattern is still available and is in 24 chunks and costs only £1.
You can also go to Ravelry and find a pattern by Xenia Baxter for striped socks specifically for mini skeins – its free but it is written for sock making using double pointed needles (DPNs). The sample shown also uses a mixture of plain rather than variegated minis.
You can also take a look at the Fading Rainbow socks by Schibot Garne, which uses mini skeins that are blended into each other. You don’t have to use specifically rainbow shades and this could be a really fun way to use up minis.
You can also make stripy socks, mittens, gloves or fingerless mitts, knitted or crocheted, with your advent calendar minis. Just remember to divide your mini skein balls equally into two smaller balls before you start if you want to make both items the same.
The Soul Soothing mitts is a lovely pattern in crochet by Sandra Cherry Heart again – easy to see how the stripes would work and you could even work two minis together, double stranded, or work a neutral yarn WITH the mini to give it a chunkier look.
Mini skeins work well in shawl designs that are shallow and that have quite an even width. You can use them in triangular or deep crescent shawls too but the changing yarn requirements as you go deeper down the shawl can cause a problem. If you just want to use each mini by starting it when the last runs out, even in the middle of a row, there is no issue. But if you want complete rows done in one colour, long shawl rows just aren’t going to work.
One thing you could do is do the first part of the shawl using your advent calendar minis and then plan to do the lower portion using an entire skein in a coordinating plain colour – that could look really stunning.
The following crocheteed shawls are ones that I think would work really well for a collection of mini skeins.
Skimming Stones (crochet)
The first is the Skimming Stones shawl by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project. I made this shawl earlier in the year and its designed for one entire skein and four minis. Read more about my shawl here.
But there is nothing at all to stop you making the stripes using more minis. It will work because the shawl is long and shallow and the rows only increase to the point where you can easily achieve several rows using one mini skein. Whenever the pattern talks about the main colour A, substitute that for mini A, mini B, mini C, mini D… and so on depending on the amount of yarn in each of your minis.
Siren Song (crochet)
The Siren Song shawl by 10 Hours or Less on Ravelry would also work. The designer has listed the amount of yarn of each colour required on the Ravelry pattern page and colour A could be replaced by two or three mini skeins that go well together, forming the first part of the shawl. The next colours are all used in quantities less than 50 metres. This is a paid pattern but its so beautiful, its definitely worth it.
Scrappy shrug (knitted)
This knitted shrug is designed for minis and scraps and is by the lovely Andre Sue – she was obviously inspired by her scrappy granny stripe to design this lovely shrug using up scraps and minis.
Scarves, wraps and cowls
Making a wide scarf as a wrap is one option if you want something large like a shawl but that doesn’t change its width too much. You can adapt any wrap, scarf or cowl pattern to be used with mini skeins, particularly one that is already designed to have stripes.
The following patterns are mostly not designed specifically for advent calendar minis but I think they could work well. Be prepared though because these projects will require a certain amount of bravery and planning and colour coordination from you. But you can do it!!!
The Mini Mania Scarf (knitted)
Thirteen: Doctor Who scarf (crochet)
The Thirteen Doctor Who scarf by Mel Harrison is probably supposed to be made in a specific sequence of colours BUT this is a free pattern for a crochet scarf in linen stitch and would be ideal for a set of 20g or even 10g mini skeins.
The Linen scarf by Heidi Beukelman is another possibility if you like crochet linen stitch and is a free pattern on Ravelry.
The Zig Zag wrap (crochet)
The Zig Zag wrap by Annelies Baes, who is Vicarno on Ravelry is designed for Stylecraft Batik, which is a DK weight yarn. However, the thin stripes within the design means it would be easily modified to suit fingering weight mini skeins.
The Diamond Lace Infinity Scarf (crochet)
The Diamond Lace Infinity Scarf by Deja Joy is a paid pattern on Ravelry that was originally designed for a skein of self striping yarn but you could easily use it and make your own stripes with minis.
The Magic Monday scarf (crochet)
This free Ravelry pattern by Brenda Grobler was meant for scraps but could easily become an advent calendar minis project. Its basically a striped scarf but will keep you interested with different stitch patterns.
Granny stripe wearables (crochet)
As well as scrappy granny square blankets you could also use minis in two other granny stripe patterns that produce lovely squishy garments to keep you warm. Bear in mind you would have to adjust the number of granny stitches for the cowl and mitts if you are using a fingering weight yarn.
The Mango Sorbet Stole (crochet)
The Mango Sorbet Stole by Veronika Cromwell has a gentle ripple design that would look fantastic in mini skein stripes. This is another paid pattern but it could work well with so many different yarns so it would be an excellent investment.
The Pinwheel Scarf (crochet)
The Pinwheel Scarf by Mrs Moon is a great striped cowl that uses an unusual crochet stitch that you might not have tried before.
Tunisian crochet entrelac scarf (Tunisian crochet)
This is a simple Tunisian crochet project by Beatrix Syman that would look fabulous made in mini skeins, maybe with neutral cream squares in there too.
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