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3 Yarn Know How's

Updated: May 17, 2022

Here are three things to consider when choosing the right yarn for your next hand-made, needlework project.

Erin's handmade, handknit final product. The speckled maroon poncho.

Did you find a cute pattern that you have to make? Do you know how to pick the right yarn for it? There are so many options! How do you choose? What more do you need to know about yarn?

Knitting patterns generally have a section titled “Materials”. This section gives you the amount of yarn, gauge of yarn, size of needles, and notions required to make the project. Notions include items like stitch markers, cable needle, tapestry needle, scissors etc.

Here are three things to consider when choosing the right yarn for your next hand-made, needlework project.

#1 - The Right Gauge of Yarn & The Right Amount

The yarn gauge and needle size determines the tightness, and often times the thickness of your final project. If a designer intends for the final project to drape, the project may need a looser knit. Purpose of the intended fabric use may also be tied to your needle and yarn gauge. For instance, a heavy sweater will require thinner needles and thicker yarn. This is why it is important to follow the materials listed by the designer.

Changing the gauge of yarn and/or needles may result in a change to the amount of yarn needed. Always make sure when selecting a yarn and needles to swatch —sample— a 6x6 inch square to confirm it is the same size the designer intended.

#2 - Know Your Fiber & Blend of Fiber

Some fiber has more drape, meaning it is loose and flowy, like a silken scarf. Some fibers bounce and hold memory —shape— like socks. Blending the two types of fibers can result in beautiful drapey, lofting yarns!

Drapey fibers are great for items that do not need to keep shape: alpaca, llama, mohair; plant fibers: hemp, cotton, linen, silk

Lofty fibers trap more air, and are bouncy: wool, depending on the type.

Erin sampled a new pattern for a designer. The result is this dusty blue, zig zag shawl.
This zig zag shawl was a test knit designed by a Colorado fiber artists, and handmade by Erin.

#3 - Yarn Construction

There are different methods for preparing fiber. Each method results in a different look and feel for the skein of yarn. Yarn will have a variety of qualities that fall under either Worsted or Woolen categories.

Telling the difference between worsted and woolen may take some time at first. Luckily, the fiber community has many resources you can use to understand your fiber more. Check out sites like Modern Daily Knitting to understand more about the construction of yarn.

Choosing the right construction can make your project shine.

Worsted Qualities

  • Smooth

  • Strong

  • Nice Drape

  • Dense Fabric

  • Nice Stitch Definition (cables, patterns, etc.)

Woolen Qualities

  • Airy

  • Fluffy

  • Bloom When Wetted

  • Not Great Stitch Definition

Here is a look at Erin's winter sweater project.

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