What Do I Do With These Samples?

Whether you have small samples of yarn spun in a class, or small swatches knitted, crocheted or woven in a workshop, the question is always: What can I possibly do with them?
When we take a workshop that inspires us, we often spend the time on the way home thinking that we will put what we learned to work immediately and create these wonderful projects. Once we get home, we are sometimes slapped with the reality of our lives and find that the projects get set aside and often the project bag does not get unpacked for weeks.
So... when we return to the bag, box or notebook, we might find the inspiration has faded and we don’t really know what to do with what we have learned, much less those little samples that were so exciting during the workshop.
I guess I have tried lots of ways to use up samples and swatches. Here are a few things that can (and sometimes do) happen:

– We can throw everything into a shoebox or other box just as it came home from the workshop, thinking, “I will go through it and sort it out, later.” (I have found several of those in the past few years and wondered where the inspiration went)
– We can get a notebook, or work to finish the notebook, if we started one in class. We can mount or attach the samples to the notebook with the notes and explanations so that we can share them with people when they ask about the workshop. (I have lots of notebooks, I enjoy looking through them and often carry some of them with me when I teach, but if you don’t plan to share them or look back to them, they just may take up valuable bookshelf-space.)
– Yarn samples can be worked into something. I seem to remember that the yarns from my “Variations on a Draw”-class were crocheted into a mop cap by Jeanie Reagan after the class to show off all the different yarns she spun in the class. I have made scarves, hats, vests and shawls from such yarns from spinning classes and dye classes. I even made several doll sweaters for grand-daughters and great-nieces. You may have to add more yarn, but hey, there are no rules.
– Swatches may be the easier of the samples to figure out. Additional swatches can made to match and they can be assembled into everything from blankets to accents on other projects. I have had some swatches become coasters, some of my woven rag samples became hotpads on my table and some other swatches became rugs or blankets for dolls of all sizes. Often my children and grandchildren have seen uses for my samples that I did not see, so that the textiles in their play area are examples of my learning experiences.
A swatch or skein of yarn can sit comfortably in a bowl by your chair or become the cover for your water bottle, and sometimes you might want to say that the learning was the goal, so that the using of the samples are not that important to you. Whichever way you look at it, don’t let the guilt of not using your swatches drive you crazy, just, Spin On, make a swatch and admire it.