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All That Yarn - Using Little Yarn Leftovers and Scraps

Updated on July 27, 2017

Crochet Critter - a finished one

Isn't it cute?
Isn't it cute?

Crochet Critters with just a few yards of scrap yarn.

I used to teach a beginning knit/crochet class at CasperCollege for the Continuing Education sessions. One of my students there brought me a cute little crocheted item and wanted to know if I could figure out the pattern. She had purchased it at a craft fair and since she was new to crocheting she could recognize that it was crocheted, but just not how to make one and did not know if she could find that person again to ask for a pattern. She figured that I would have access to a pattern like it. This was in the days before the internet, so it wasn’t as if we could search for it online. With out a paper pattern or a book, it would remain a mystery to be solved.

She let me take it home and I examined it carefully. I figured out the pattern, or at least how to reproduce one that looked very much like the original, and went back to class with both her original and my crocheted copy as well as the written pattern to make some. She didn’t have a name for the item, and most of the class decided it kind of looked like Kermit the Frog or a Muppet. So we called them “Star Muppets” which I later changed to Crocheted Critters (since Muppets is a trademarked name) and I handed out copies of the pattern to future classes as well. The “star” part of the name is because it has 5 “points” like a star with a head, two arms and two legs.

Simple, Easy Pattern - and you can use up a few yards of scrap yarn

The pattern is quite simple, and is very good for using up leftover yards of yarn. It only uses about three to five yards of worsted weight yarn to make one. The pattern uses either an F or a G crochet hook, depending on how tightly a person crochets (use the F is you are a loose crocheter and the G if you crochet tighter). I have even used several shorter scraps of yarn tied together, but that means a lot of little tails to hide which bulks up the critter. Still, it uses up yarn and makes something cute.

I think the instructions are fairly straightforward, but sometimes crocheters interpret things a little differently. For example, my sister tried to make some of these but instead of working through the center of the ring she worked around the chains that made up the ring. This sort of distorted the pattern and it came out looking completely different. It wasn’t bad, just didn’t have the “muppety” look to it that the original one had and the pattern I made from it. Another time, I taught a co-worker during a break and she forgot to count the head, arms and legs so that when she fastened off it was short an arm. Counting is important to remember before cutting off the yarn.

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Easy and Quick to do!
Easy and Quick to do!
Easy and Quick to do!

Better Than Candy at Halloween

I give these out at Halloween instead of candy. I buy lots of Halloween pencils after the holiday so I can start on the next year’s batch. I “impale” them on a pencil – right through the middle hole – and the kids seem to really enjoy getting them. I even had one little girl that came to the door, got one and then yelled to her parents that “THIS is the place!” and thanked me for handing them out. Another set of kids with moms received them, and one of the moms said “see, she made this by hand so they are very special and one-of-a-kind made just for you.” Some kids say “cool!” and some say nothing. I think the older ones are really out for candy instead.

I have made red ones that people say remind them of the Muppet Elmo, and I’ve done green ones that people think need a shell as it looks like a turtle missing its shell. Then I just do a darker green circle to attach and it becomes a turtle. White ones look like either a ghost or a star. The majority of ones I do from leftovers of ombre (variegated) yarns all turn out so very different.

How To - with step by step pictures

I have done the pattern step-by-step so you can see how it progresses from start to finish. They are too small to photograph well, so I used the scanning function of my multi-function inkjet printer to get “pictures” of them. Here are the instructions for the Crochet Critter. I also have it saved as a free pattern on the Craftsy website.

Crocheted Critter Pattern re-designed by Nancy Pawlowski

Materials: Size G or F crochet hook and a few yards of worsted weight yarn (I use 2-3 yards per critter).

Chain 4 or 5 (depends on how tight you crochet, and what will fit snuggly over a pencil eraser) and slip stitch to beginning chain to form a ring.

Head: Chain 6 from the slip stitch join on the ring.

In this chain of 6 you will skip the first chain, single crochet in the 2nd chain, put one double crochet in each of the next 4 chains (back to the ring). This forms the head/neck.

Put 1 single crochet into the ring then chain 5.

Right Arm: Skip the 1st chain, single crochet into the 2nd chain and each of the next 3 chains (4 single crochet stitches total).

Put 1 single crochet into the ring then chain 5.

Right Leg: Skip the 1st chain, single crochet into the 2nd chain and each of the next 3 chains (4 single crochet stitches total).

Put 1 single crochet into the ring then chain 5.

Left Leg: Skip the 1st chain, single crochet into the 2nd chain and each of the next 3 chains (4 single crochet stitches total).

Put 1 single crochet into the ring then chain 5.

Left Arm: Skip the 1st chain, single crochet into the 2nd chain and each of the next 3 chains (4 single crochet stitches total).

Put 1 single crochet into the ring then slip stitch to the bottom of the double crochet made last on the head (closest to the ring).

[Be sure to count the parts sticking out of the ring so that you have 1 head, 2 arms and 2 legs.]

Fasten off and weave in loose ends.

Glue 4mm or 5mm wiggle eyes to the “head” with craft or school glue (one that is stiff and not runny when you squeeze it out of the bottle). Or you can use the white paper from paper punches (hole punch some stiff white paper and keep the punched circle) and then draw on black pupils for eyes.

The “head” curves down slightly while the arms and legs curl in slightly.

The critter can be put over a pencil (or a stick pen) by inserting the pencil eraser through the hole in the middle of the critter

Step 1

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Here I've made Chain 5. It's about 1" long.
Here I've made Chain 5. It's about 1" long.
Here I've made Chain 5. It's about 1" long.

Slip Stitch

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Join with a Slip Stitch.
Join with a Slip Stitch.
Join with a Slip Stitch.

Make the Head part first

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Shows Single Crochet made, then Double Crochet next to it - first of the 4 DC to make head part.
Shows Single Crochet made, then Double Crochet next to it - first of the 4 DC to make head part.
Shows Single Crochet made, then Double Crochet next to it - first of the 4 DC to make head part.

Head is Done, on to the next step

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The head part is done, then the Single Crochet into the Ring is made (the first of the arms).
The head part is done, then the Single Crochet into the Ring is made (the first of the arms).
The head part is done, then the Single Crochet into the Ring is made (the first of the arms).

Making the Arm

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Chain 5 for the base of the Arm.The 5 chains for the Arm are worked in Single Crochet back to the center Ring. (The Head is pointing downward.)
Chain 5 for the base of the Arm.
Chain 5 for the base of the Arm.
The 5 chains for the Arm are worked in Single Crochet back to the center Ring. (The Head is pointing downward.)
The 5 chains for the Arm are worked in Single Crochet back to the center Ring. (The Head is pointing downward.)

Making the Legs

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Chain 5 for the first Leg, just like you did for the Arm. Single Crochet back to the Ring.Repeat for the next Leg. Chain 5 out from the Ring and Single Crochet back to the Ring.
Chain 5 for the first Leg, just like you did for the Arm. Single Crochet back to the Ring.
Chain 5 for the first Leg, just like you did for the Arm. Single Crochet back to the Ring.
Repeat for the next Leg. Chain 5 out from the Ring and Single Crochet back to the Ring.
Repeat for the next Leg. Chain 5 out from the Ring and Single Crochet back to the Ring.

Finishing the Last Arm, Slip Stitch to Head

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Chain 5 for the base of the 2nd Arm and Single Crochet back to the Ring.After the final Single Crochet into the Ring, do a Slip Stitch into the base of the stitch on the Head next to the end. This completes the circle.Pull up a short loop and cut it in the middle. No need for long tails as this project won't be washed or stretched.
Chain 5 for the base of the 2nd Arm and Single Crochet back to the Ring.
Chain 5 for the base of the 2nd Arm and Single Crochet back to the Ring.
After the final Single Crochet into the Ring, do a Slip Stitch into the base of the stitch on the Head next to the end. This completes the circle.
After the final Single Crochet into the Ring, do a Slip Stitch into the base of the stitch on the Head next to the end. This completes the circle.
Pull up a short loop and cut it in the middle. No need for long tails as this project won't be washed or stretched.
Pull up a short loop and cut it in the middle. No need for long tails as this project won't be washed or stretched.

Tuck in the Ends, Finish it up, Add Eyes

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Use a Yarn Needle to tuck in the yarn ends from the beginning and end of the piece. Tuck them under the back of the Circle stitches.Here's the finished one except for Eyes to be added on.These are plain paper circles (from a hole punch) that need a marker to draw on the pupils.
Use a Yarn Needle to tuck in the yarn ends from the beginning and end of the piece. Tuck them under the back of the Circle stitches.
Use a Yarn Needle to tuck in the yarn ends from the beginning and end of the piece. Tuck them under the back of the Circle stitches.
Here's the finished one except for Eyes to be added on.
Here's the finished one except for Eyes to be added on.
These are plain paper circles (from a hole punch) that need a marker to draw on the pupils.
These are plain paper circles (from a hole punch) that need a marker to draw on the pupils.

All Done!

Let the critter naturally curl on the head, arms, and legs. That is what gives it a unique personality! Try your hand at different colors with either solids or variegated yarns. Eyes can be small or large, and any colors. You can make your own with paper punches or buy the “googly” eyes at a craft store. No less than 4mm and probably no bigger than 6mm, with 5mm being the best size for these. Also, you can glue a magnet on the back and have the critter sit on your refrigerator. There are lots of possibilities with this cute little Crocheted Critters and using up your leftover yards of yarn.

All Done! and only 2 1/2 inches tall.

Finished Critter (with yellow google eyes glued on top) about 2-3" tall. Not a bad use of leftover yarn!
Finished Critter (with yellow google eyes glued on top) about 2-3" tall. Not a bad use of leftover yarn!

Tiny Yarn Scraps

I have read about people who put out the 2" to 4" pieces of leftover yarn on a bush in the Spring for birds to use in their nests. I have not personally tried this, as the weather around here does not allow for yarn to stay put on a bush. It is often windy where I live.

I have also used 3" pieces of yarn as stitch markers. I either tie the ends together, after putting it where I need it in the knit or crochet piece, or just insert the different color of yarn with loose ends.

Those are a couple of other ideas for using up little leftover pieces of yarn from your projects.

Answer this:

What do you do with Leftover Yarn?

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  • crochetkid24 profile image
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    Nancy Pawlowski 2 years ago from Casper WY

    I have found this is a great "purse project" as you can put the scrap yarn in a small make up bag, along with the F or G size hook and some folding scissors. I take mine to appointments where I have to wait a bit, and I can do one "critter" in about 5-7 minutes from slipknot to final slip stitch. I also tie together scraps that are less than a yard long and just work over the loose ends as I go. A great way to use up those not quite small enough to toss yarn scraps.