Choose The Correct Yarn For Your Knitting

by Dorothy on March 18, 2011

Great Fibers for Knitting
When you find a pattern that you’d like to knit, check the yarn requirements of the pattern.  The designer will usually give you a suggestion of not only what kind of yarn to use but also the thickness and the gauge.  If you want something that is soft and not itchy I recommend Merino wool for most of your projects.  It’s very soft.  It can be treated so that it’s machine washable and it usually comes in a lot of bright beautiful colors.  Cotton is not very warm but of course it’s washable so it’s a great choice for a gift for a new mother or for children’s garments that don’t need to be very warm.

Suggested Yarns
The designer will usually tell you what yarn they use for their project but be wary of choosing the exact same yarn.  Because designers are sponsored by magazine and yarn companies usually they use whatever the yarn company gives them for free as opposed to what they would prefer to knit the garment in themselves.  So go to your local yarn store and bring in the pattern and tell them what you’re looking for and they can help you choose exactly the right yarn for your project.

How Much Yarn to Buy
To know how much yarn to buy check the yardage requirements specified on the pattern.  If your pattern comes in more than one size the sizes will be listed in parentheses after the smallest size.  The yarn requirements will also be listed in the same way.  Therefore if your pattern comes in a small, medium and large the designer will also give yardage requirements or how many balls of yarn you need for the small and then, in parentheses, the medium and the large sizes.  It’s always a good idea to buy an extra ball of yarn just in case your yarn store runs out of that color or in case the yarn manufacturer discontinues that color.  Usually if you don’t have that last ball of yarn wound into a ball you can return it at the end of your project or exchange it for another ball of yarn.

Yarn Weights
When choosing a type of yarn the type of fiber is important and so is the thickness or the weight of the yarn.  If you want your pattern to come out the correct size you need to choose a weight of yarn that is similar to what is suggested.  The finest weight of yarn is called lace weight yarn and it usually has a gauge of about eight stitches per inch.  The next thickest yarn is called fingering weight or sock weight yarn and this yarn has a gauge of seven stitches per inch.  The next thickest yarn is called sport weight yarn and it comes in a gauge of about six stitches per inch. Continuing up the scale we then have DK which stands for double knitting yarn.  It has a similar gauge -about 5 1/2 stitches per inch.  The most common weight of yarn is called worsted weight yarn and when you knit with worsted weight yarn on medium sized needles, say, about a size US 7 needle, you’ll get five stitches per inch if you’re an average knitter.  Continuing to move up the scale the aran weight category will give you a gauge of 4 1/2 stitches per inch.  Bulky weight yarns will give a gauge of 4 to 3 1/2 stitches per inch whereas super bulky weight
yarns can give you anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 stitches per inch with 2 1/2 stitches per inch being the most typical thickness. Knitting patterns will usually specify what yarn weights to use for each project.

Durability
The last thing you want to ask about the yarn before you buy it is how do I care for this yarn?  Does this yarn wear well?  Ask if the yarn is going to pill or fuzz at all.  If you’re making a very high wear item that needs a lot of durability you’re going to want to know that, and not use a very fragile or very soft yarn.

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