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Pattern Round-up: What to Knit with Advent Calendar Mini Skeins?

It's December 1st and Christmas is only a few short weeks away! Yarn advent calendars have become increasingly popular in the past few years. But once you've had your fair share of scrappy socks and waste yarn blankets, what can you knit with 24 different colors of yarn that come in small amounts?


In this blog post I share some ideas for colorful knitting patterns that are either designed specifically for or can be knit with fingering-weight mini skeins. Let's dive in!

 

What Are Yarn Advent Calendars?

Yarn advent calendars have become so ubiquitous you can buy one practically from any indie dyer all over the world. Although there are some commercial options available, by far the most popular calendars are the ones that contain hand-dyed yarn and that's what I'm going to focus on in this blog post.


Typical yarn advent calendars include 12, 24, or 25 individually-wrapped, hand-dyed yarns that come either in 5-gram or 10-gram micro skeins or 20-gram mini skeins, usually in fingering or DK weight in different yarn bases. The most common — and probably best-selling — yarn advent calendar types are ones that contain 20-gram minis of fingering-weight sock yarn.


Examples of yarn advent calendars. Left to right: Felt Fusion (UK), Leo and Roxy Yarn Co. (Canada), SnailYarn (Italy).

Examples of yarn advent calendars. Left to right: Felt Fusion (UK), Leo and Roxy Yarn Co. (Canada), SnailYarn (Italy).


Some calendars may have a larger gift on the last day, such as full-sized (100 g) skein of yarn. In addition to yarn, knitters' advent calendars can also include other small goodies such as stitch markers or other notions, enamel pins, stickers, or similar knitting-related trinkets.


All in all, advent calendars typically contain 12 or 24 x 20 g of fingering-weight yarn. Depending on yarn base, that's 80–85 m (87–93 yd) of yarn per mini skein. The total, even excluding the possible full skein, is nothing to sneeze at:


  • 12-skein calendars: 240 g or 960–1020 m or 1050–1115 yd

  • 24-skein calendars: 480 g or 1920–2040 m or 2100–2230 yd


What to Knit With Advent Calendar Mini Skeins?

Discovering a new mini skein each day leading up to the holidays can certainly bring joy to the darkest time on the Northern hemisphere but you may also encounter issues when searching for patterns specifically designed for them. The total yardage is pretty whopping but it comes chopped up in little quantities. Do you want to use the whole calendar on one big project? Or on a coordinating set of smaller items?


Balancing colors can be another challenge, especially if you're new to colorwork or mixing multiple shades in a single project. How do you pick a pattern that's enhanced rather than overwhelmed by the use of up to 24 colors in one project? Does your calendar come in coordinating or contrasting colors? Do you use them randomly or in a predetermined order?


Below I've gathered some pattern ideas and ordered them by project size: going from the smallest and quickest to knit to ones that take longest, consume the most yarn, and result in the largest of objects.


Ornaments and Holiday Decor

The first category of patterns to knit with mini skein is Christmas tree baubles and other ornaments to decorate the house with around advent time. You can whip up these pretty quickly and make them all in different colors. Small ornaments are best suited for micro skeins or 12-skein advent calendars.


Left to right: Stacey Lewis' 12 MORE Days of Baubles, Kathy Lewinski's Wee Winter Woolens, Berroco's Minutia '21.
Left to right: Stacey Lewis' 12 MORE Days of Baubles, Kathy Lewinski's Wee Winter Woolens, Berroco's Minutia '21.

Stacey Lewis has several e-books' worth of fingering-weight bauble cozies, including 12 Days of Baubles, 12 MORE Days of Baubles, 12 Dazzling Days of Baubles, 12 Sparkly Days of Baubles, and 12 Cozy Days of Baubles. Each year she hosts a Bauble Along — this year's along is the fifth one!


Kathy Lewinski of Just Crafty Enough is the designer behind Wee Winter Woolens, a set of adorable mini sweaters, hats, socks, and mittens. Make them as gift toppers, Christmas card decorations, or gather them up in a garland.


Minutia is Berroco's holiday tradition that's been going on for over 15 years! Each they publish a collection of knitted decorations that can be used as gift wrap tags or adorn the tree with. This year's collection, Minutia '23, has just been released, and you can find all the previous years' entries, too.


Hats, Mitts, and Other Small Accessories

Under this category you'll find a few sets of matching accessories. With some planning, you could knit these with your advent calendar mini skeins, divvying the colors among each item in the set.


Left to right: Lisa K. Ross' Short Stack set, Corrine Walcher's 12 Pains of Christmas set, Rachel Roden's Modicum set.
Left to right: Lisa K. Ross' Short Stack set, Corrine Walcher's 12 Pains of Christmas set, Rachel Roden's Modicum set.

Short Stack Mitts and Short Stack Hat, by Lisa K. Ross of Paper Daisy Creations, is a set of coordinating mitts and hat with bold color blocks separated by strips of twisted ribbing. Each item in the set (left mitt, right mitt, hat) requires four contrasting colors and one main color so a 12-skein mini set that comes with one full skein would be ideal for this. The mitts are available in four adult sizes; the hat in three.


12 Pains Mitts, Hat, and Scarf were designed by Corrine Walcher. A 12-skein mini set plus one full-sized skein of sock yarn can be used to knit all three accessories in the set. All items are one size only.


Modicum Mitts and the matching Modicum Hat were designed by Rachel Roden of Unraveled Designs and Yarn. This accessory set is knit with small amounts of fingering-weight yarn in lots of colors, designed for a 8-skein set 20-gram mini of sock yarn. Both patterns come in two sizes.


Cowls and Infinity Scarves

Cowls are a popular choice for advent calendar minis. They're often made with various stitch patterns, sampler style, so adding in a few – or twenty! – colors more only adds to the appeal. Here are few patterns that'll make a great choice if you have a smaller micro-skein advent calendar.


Left to right: Samantha Troia's Hygge and Hearth Scarf Advent KAL and Pinceaux de Monet Scarf, Helen Stewart's Land of Sweets, Allison Stuefer's Sleigh All Day Advent Cowl.
Left to right: Samantha Troia's Hygge and Hearth Scarf Advent KAL and Pinceaux de Monet Scarf, Helen Stewart's Land of Sweets, Allison Stuefer's Sleigh All Day Advent Cowl.

Hygge and Hearth Scarf Advent KAL (Ravelry link) and Pinceaux de Monet Scarf (Ravelry link), both designed by Samantha Troia, are infinity scarves designed for 25 colors of 10-gram micro skeins.


Helen Stewart's Land of Sweets (Ravelry link) is knit from the bottom up in the round. You'll need approximately 8 grams of fingering-weight yarn for each of the 24 stripes so this cowl pattern is ideal for advent calendars with 10-gram micro skeins.


Sleigh All Day Advent Cowl by Allison Stuefer of Lofty Loops Yarns is written either for a 24-skein advent calendar of 20-gram minis or a full-sized skein paired with 10-gram minis. The cowl is knit in the round.


Left to right: Lauren Rose's Counting the Days, Marna Gilligan's The Catvent Cowl, Madeleine Windsor's Evighet Cowl, Anna Friberg's Bohem's Advent Cowl.
Left to right: Lauren Rose's Counting the Days, Marna Gilligan's The Catvent Cowl, Madeleine Windsor's Evighet Cowl, Anna Friberg's Bohem's Advent Cowl.

Counting the Days by Lauren Rose is knit horizontally in stripes and uses 24 colors of 5-gram micro skeins.


The Catvent Cowl by Marna Gilligan is worked in the round and features snippets of catty colourwork as well as some cat-inspired texture. The pattern is written for 24 colors of 10-gram minis.


Evighet Cowl (Ravelry link) by Madeleine Windsor uses 24 colors of fingering-weight yarn, 7–8 grams of each color. The cowl is knit in the round and can be joined into a double-layer infinity scarf by grafting the ends together.


Bohem's Advent Cowl (Ravelry link) by Anna Friberg is knit in the round with alternating stripes of garter stitch and a textured pattern. The cowl comes in three sizes and uses 7–11 colors of either 10 or 15-gram minis.


Scarves, Shawls, and Wraps

Shawls are the sweet spot when it comes to advent calendar projects. They are large enough so that you can use most, if not all, of your advent calendar minis in one project. And they're also so versatile in shape, construction, and color use that you can throw practically anything into your shawl and still have it come out fabulous.


There are so many shawl patterns designed for yarn advent calendars I could dedicate this whole blog post in just listing them. Instead I'm going to highlight a few designers who specialize in multi-color shawl patterns intended for advent calendars or other mini-skein sets.


Left to right: Ambah O'Brien's Supernova Shawl, Woollsia Shawl, Grevillea Shawl.
Left to right: Ambah O'Brien's Supernova Shawl, Woollsia Shawl, Grevillea Shawl.

Ambah O'Brien has tonnes of shawl patterns designed for both smaller and larger mini sets. If you have a 12-skein mini set you could, for instance, knit the Supernova Shawl (12 minis + 1 full skein), Woollsia Shawl (12 minis), or Grevillea Shawl (10 minis + 1 full skein). Caution: all links lead to Ravelry.


Left to right: Ambah O'Brien's Lamina Wrap, Radvent Wrap, ADVENTurous Wrap, Solstice Wrap.
Left to right: Ambah O'Brien's Lamina Wrap, Radvent Wrap, ADVENTurous Wrap, Solstice Wrap.

If you have a 24- or 25-skein advent calendar there's even more options to choose from: the super popular Lamina Cowl and Wrap (25 minis + 1 full skein), Radvent Wrap (24 minis), ADVENTurous Wrap (12 or 24 minis), or Solstice Wrap (21 fingering-weight minis or 24 DK-weight minis), just to scratch the surface. Caution: all links lead to Ravelry.


Left to right: Casapinka's The Crown Wools, Perfect Blend, Koi Pond, Wool and Waves.
Left to right: Casapinka's The Crown Wools, Perfect Blend, Koi Pond, Wool and Waves.

Casapinka is known for her super colorful, neon popping designs. Of her shawl patterns the ones suitable for yarn advent calendars are The Crown Wools (12 minis) or Perfect Blend (12 minis). Koi Pond and Wool and Waves are both designed for seven colors but with a bit of color planning could be made with more. Caution: all links lead to Ravelry.


Left to right: Melinda Measor's Among the Clouds, The Quest, Science Experiment, Monet.
Left to right: Melinda Measor's Among the Clouds, The Quest, Science Experiment, Monet.

Melinda Measor of rhyFlower Knits has a few shawl patterns designed for advent knitting, such as Among the Clouds (24 minis + 1 full skein), The Quest (24 minis), the pentagon-shaped Science Experiment, or crescent-shaped Monet.


Left to right: Lisa K. Ross' Fade Into Advent, Confectionary, Make Your Own Luck, Ice Cream Social.
Left to right: Lisa K. Ross' Fade Into Advent, Confectionary, Make Your Own Luck, Ice Cream Social.

Lisa K. Ross of Paper Daisy Creations was already featured in the small accessories category. But I wanted to mention her shawls as well because there are lot of mini-skein suitable desings to choose from, such as Fade Into Advent (24 minis), Confectionary (12 minis + 1 full skein), Make Your Own Luck (10 minis + 1 full skein), or Ice Cream Social (6 minis + 1 full skein).


Garments and Clothing

A 24-skein advent calendar contains a sweater's worth of yarn but that doesn't mean it's easy to design garment patterns for so many colors. Still, knitters and knitwear designers are very inventive! Here are a few ideas for garment patterns intended to use 24 minis and one full-sized skein of fingering-weight yarn.


Left: Kerstin Bovensiepen's Verrücktesding. Top row: Dawn Barker's Travelers Poncho and Mount Lindo. Bottom row: CONFECTIONERY cardigan by Margaret of Heidi & Lana, Advent 2020 Sweater by Heleen's Knithouse.
Left: Kerstin Bovensiepen's Verrücktesding. Top row: Dawn Barker's Travelers Poncho and Mount Lindo. Bottom row: CONFECTIONERY cardigan by Margaret of Heidi & Lana, Advent 2020 Sweater by Heleen's Knithouse.

Verrücktesding by Kerstin Bovensiepen of knit.ding is a long color-blocked cardigan knit from the top down. The pattern is available in German and English, and comes in 7 sizes with a finished chest circumference of 121–15 cm; measurements are not given in inches.


Travelers Poncho and Mount Lindo, designed by Dawn Barker of Barker Wool, are rectangle-shaped ponchos. Both patterns make a generously-sized garment in one size only.


CONFECTIONERY cardigan (Ravelry link) by Margaret of Heidi & Lana is a rectangular-ish drop-shoulder cardigan knit sideways. The pattern comes in 3 sizes with a finished chest of 127–190.5 cm or 50–75 inches.


Advent 2020 Sweater (Ravelry link) from Heleen's Knithouse is an elbow-length, dolman-sleeved sweater with a cropped body. The pattern is available in 6 sizes to fit bust circumferences of 71–150 cm or 28–59 inches.


Left: Tanis Lavallee's Lifesavers. Top row: Yelena M. Dasher's Rainbow Cardi and A Mermaid Darkly. Bottom row: Ewelina Murach's Minimalist Rainbow, Pernille Larsen's Dot Sweater.
Left: Tanis Lavallee's Lifesavers. Top row: Yelena M. Dasher's Rainbow Cardi and A Mermaid Darkly. Bottom row: Ewelina Murach's Minimalist Rainbow, Pernille Larsen's Dot Sweater.

Using mini skeins in stripes is probably the easiest way to incorporate them in a garment. Lifesavers by Tanis Lavallee of Tanis Fiber Arts is V-neck cardigan knit from the top down. The pattern was written for one main color and 10 mini skeins as stripes. It comes in 14 sizes with a finished bust of 28–68 inches; metric measurements are not given.


Yelena M. Dasher's Rainbow Cardi (Ravelry link) and A Mermaid Darkly (Ravelry link) also play with stripes. They're both available in the book Mini Skein Knits: 25 Knitting Patterns Using Small Skeins and Leftovers.


Minimalist Rainbow (Ravelry link) by Ewelina Murach is a pullover featuring multicolor stripes, pockets, and a turtleneck. It is designed for 10 minis and one full-sized skein as the main color. The pattern comes in 9 sizes with a finished chest circumference of 86–166 cm or 34½–66½ inches.


Dot Sweater by Pernille Larsen of Knitting for Olive incorporates multiple colors in rows of dotted colorwork onto an otherwise single-color sweater. The sample sweater was knit with 9 contrasting colors but you could easily add a multitude of them! The pattern comes in 8 sizes with a finished chest circumference of 88–150 cm or 34¾–59 inches.


Left to right: Stephanie Lotven's Sock Arms and Bright Axis, La Maison Rililie's Winston.
Left to right: Stephanie Lotven's Sock Arms and Bright Axis, La Maison Rililie's Winston.

If knitting an entire sweater in advent calendar minis feels a bit too much, here are a few options for incorporating multiple colors only in some parts of the garment. Stephanie Lotven's Sock Arms has striped sock-yarn sleeves but otherwise the sweater is knit in one color. The pattern is available in 10 sizes with a finished bust circumference of 75–165 cm or 30–64 inches.


Bright Axis (Ravelry link), also by Stephanie Lotven, has a multicolor yoke worked sideways but the rest of garment is knit in one color. This pattern comes in 11 sizes with a finished chest circumference of 80–180 cm or 32–72 inches. For more multicolor ideas, check out the rest of the patterns in her book Knit Happy with Self-Striping Yarn, many of which can be adapted for mini skeins.


Winston from La Maison Rililie incorporates stripes in a clever dolman-sleeve construction: the garter-stitch yoke and sleeves are knit horizontally from cuff to cuff in two-row stripes. While this open-front cardigan is designed to use one main color and only 4 contrasting colors, you could easily adapt it for more than that. The pattern comes in 8 sizes to fit bust measurements of 78.5–132 cm or 31–52 inches.


Left to right: Sheila Toy Stromberg's Malone Leggins, Tuulia Salmela's Bottoms Up, Stephen West's Marled Mania Leggings and Marled Mania Sweater.
Left to right: Sheila Toy Stromberg's Malone Leggins, Tuulia Salmela's Bottoms Up, Stephen West's Marled Mania Leggings and Marled Mania Sweater.

If you want to swathe yourself in advent calendar knits from the waist down, there's options for that, too. Malone Leggings by Sheila Toy Stromberg are designed for fingering-weight yarn and practically any size and body shape. And lots of colors!


Tuulia Salmela's Bottoms Up (Ravelry link), designed by the dyer extraordinaire behind Knitlob's Lair, are a pair of all-over colorwork pants that were originally released as a mystery advent calendar in 2018. The pants are knit from the top down and are fully modifiable: the pattern is written for 13 sizes in 4 different gauges!


Stephen West's Marled Mania Leggings and the matching Marled Mania Sweater are knit with holding two fingering-weight yarns together to create a marled effect. The leggings come in 12 sizes along with notes on how to customize them to fit your proportions. The sweater pattern is available in six sizes to fit a 81–135 cm or 32–53 inch chest circumference.


Blankets, Shlankets, and Throws

On the largest end of mini-skein projects are blankets in which you can use the entirety of an advent calendar. These also take the longest time so it's probably wise to wait until the holidays are over until you cast on.


Left to right: Laura Nelkin's Da Light, Amban O'Brien's Radvent Throw, I Quilt Too from A Little Knitty, Simone Kereit's End-less Squares.
Left to right: Laura Nelkin's Da Light, Amban O'Brien's Radvent Throw, I Quilt Too from A Little Knitty, Simone Kereit's End-less Squares.

Da Light by Laura Nelkin is either a massive arrow-shaped shawl that also doubles as a blanket. The pattern comes in two sizes, is designed for both fingering- and DK-weight yarn, and uses 25 mini skeins of the chosen yarn type.


Ambah O'Brien designs lots of other advent pattern besides shawls. Her Radvent Throw is made up of 24 squares each knit with one mini skein, then joined together with a full-sized skein.


I Quilt Too (Ravelry link) from A Little Knitty is designed to utilize all the mini skeins of a 24-skein advent calendar along with a 100-gram sized skein as an optional border. The blanket consists of pinwheel-shaped squares that each have eight triangular sections.


End-less Squares Blanket (Ravelry link) by Simone Kereit of OwlCat Designs is made up of garter-stitch squares. The blanket can be made in five different sizes, ranging from a baby blanket consisting of 24 squares all the way up to a full-sized afghan of 252 squares. Each square takes approx. 6–7 grams of fingering-weight yarn.


Left to right: Ellie Jones' Triangulum Blanket, Mindy Abodeely's Brick and Blocks, Helen Stewart's Anthology Throw and Habitation Throw.
Left to right: Ellie Jones' Triangulum Blanket, Mindy Abodeely's Brick and Blocks, Helen Stewart's Anthology Throw and Habitation Throw.

Triangulum Blanket by Ellie Jones of Craft House Magic consists on simple triangular units that can easily be joined as you go. Each triangle takes approximately 3 grams of fingering-weight yarn so you can multiple out of one mini skein.


Bricks and Blocks (Ravelry link) by Mindy Abodeely is a garter-stitch blanket designed to use 10-skein gradient sets along with a full-sized skeins but the pattern could be adapted for advent calendar minis. The pattern comes in three sizes from a baby blanket to twin-sized bed.


Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade has designed a few advent calendar blankets. For instance, the circular Anthology Throw (Ravelry link) from Knitvent 2022 is knit with 24 colors of 10-gram micro skeins. The square-shaped Habitation Throw from Knitvent 2019 is designed for 24-skein advent calendars of 20-gram minis.

 

Two more pattern suggestions: the Fair Isle Sock MKALendar kicks off today in my Mighty Networks community! And don't forget last year's Fair Isle Advent MKALendar hat/cowl either. Both are great options for knitting with advent calendars and other mini skein sets.


Hopefully you'll find some inspiration in the patterns listed above… or perhaps will come up with a completely original creation? The beauty of working with advent calendar mini skeins lies in the freedom to experiment, mix and match colors, and infuse your project with a touch of holiday spirit. Happy Advent!

 

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What can you knit with 24 different colors of yarn that come in small amounts? This blog post contains over 50 knitting pattern ideas that are designed specifically for or can be knit with fingering weight advent calendar mini skeins. The patterns are ordered by project size, and range from holiday ornaments and small accessories to cowls, shawls, sweaters and pants to blankets, shlankets, and throws. #knitting #knit #adventcalendar #advent #yarnadventcalendar #miniskeins #miniskeinknitting

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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