Marabout – Bouts de ficelle…

creativity, Knitting

I grew up in France, singing a nursery rhyme which is about three little cats. Kind of.

The song is a succession of words that blend with one another (this style is called, I think Dorica Castra) as the last syllable of the last word sounds like the first syllable of the following word…

So it starts with three little cats and then goes on about a straw hat, a door mat, a sleepwalker… and carries on ’round the houses’ until it gets to the pieces of string – “bouts de ficelle”.

Serge Gainsbourg made his own version of this song, tweaking the words here or there, but as he removed “bouts de ficelle” by “bouts d’cigare” – it is not relevant here.

Lost in my thoughts, I found myself following (loosely) the thread of this song.

In French we describe something made with random pieces of scrap as being made with “random pieces of string” – which is what this post is really about.

A few moons ago, the moonstruck pup had a play fight with a few skeins of my yarn…


She truly had a blast, but I was left with a lot of knots and tangles…



I tried to detangle the yarn for hours. One notable time was while sitting on the grass, right in the middle of a tiny funfair in the village, where I spent all afternoon trying to detangle yarn while Boy was playing with his friends.

Towards the end of the afternoon, the owner of the fair came to me with a wheelie bin after watching me for a few hours, saying :”I’m bringing the solution to your problem, just throw it in there!”

Then he asked me how much the yarn cost, I told him and he looked at me baffled, wondering why on earth would someone spend so long trying to save something that doesn’t even cost that much…

I keep the bits of the sock yarn I have managed to rescue in a beautiful glass jar…



Like most knitters, I have a lot of scrap yarn. I have the leftover yarn from my own knitting projects and from the ones my mum handed down to me in an old small paper bag along with her own stash of yarn that she bought in the 70’s.

So I do have a lot of odd bits and pieces of string in different colours…


Sometimes in very small amounts, but that might come in useful to make a small stripe on a sock, for example…


I just finished this sock, which is made out of bits and pieces of yarn

Indeed, all these bits of scrap yarn create an amazing palette when it comes to sock knitting…

In fact, it reminds me of my palette of watercolour half-pans.

I have this weird habit… I can stare at watercolour palettes for hours. I can also stare at yarn for quite a while, especially when the balls are piled up altogether and sorted by shades or any sort of arrangement.

I find colour arrangements fascinating. I find myself trying to understand how different colour combinations can make such a different impression.

I love the way the colour grey supports other colours, like a reliable old friend. I am particularly fond of the natural grey of undyed wool. Put any colour on grey and it will sing beautifully.

It looks classy and slick on its own, like this gorgeous tunic I’m going to knit for myself this year – in between knitting more socks and mittens, using grey as a background for all sorts of colour riots!

I remember hearing many times that we don’t need to buy toys for kids, because they can have a lot of fun playing with odd bits of string –  just like cats. Or just like the Moonstruck Pup. Or like me!




9 thoughts on “Marabout – Bouts de ficelle…

  1. I can relate to this. I have always kept little bits and pieces of things that might come in handy. I had to let pretty much all of that “scrap” go when we emigrated (because I had to let go of pretty much 70)% of our possessions) and must admit it was somewhat liberating, letting go of that pressure to make use of them somehow and justify their presence, but now I am gradually accumulating “stuff” again. I am permitting myself one drawer in my art supply drawers that I can fill with the random stuff. If and when it fills up, I will need to root through it and get rid of something every time I add something. That way I am keeping in control of it. Make sense?

    1. Yes it does! It’s very good on you that you are keeping it all in one place…. I’m like a little bird, I can’t help myself keeping small things in every nook and cranny around the house… And it’s a small house :(

      1. Well….my random tat is all in one place; my art supplies, however, are stashed and stowed all over the house. But, yes, random stuff has a finite space in which to breed and ditto all my papers that I save for collaging. They are in a filing box and that obviously can only expand so far which keeps all my random paper collecting under control. In theory.

      2. On another topic, I have been thinking about your kids, wondering if they have seen those vids? My kid finds it hilarious….

  2. I have piles and piles of random papers… Without talking about all of my kid art work… I have kept every single drawing, scribble, doodle he has ever made :( I’m that bad!

  3. Oh, there’s nothing I like more than an untangling problem! Maybe I should get a Moonstruck Pup of my own 😀 And I also hoard yarn and felt scraps… Sometimes they’re very useful! Although I am aware that for every scrap I use, I stash 6 more 😆

    1. I agree detangling is quite satisfying and addictive in a weird way… Although it can be hard when you spent days doing it and you have gone nowhere with it, because there are so many knots – it makes me feel like I have wasted too many hours of my precious knitting time ;) At first I was trying to do it without cutting at all… That’s probably why I wasnt going anywhere with it. Since I have started cutting through it, it’s much quicker and i see result. I have hence learned that it doesn’t matter, when knitting socks, if you are left with a thousand pieces of short strings and it gave me the idea to knit socks with scrap yarn.. So it’s all good really :)

      1. Yes, I suppose the real skill comes in knowing when to just give up and reach for the scissors! It’s great that you get to use your scraps for something so useful though… Satisfying! 😀

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