Knitting Supplies: Yarn

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When choosing yarn for a knitting or crochet project, there are two basic considerations: Fiber & Weight.

Why do these things matter? Well, if you are working with the wrong fiber, it might not drape properly, feel comfortable, or hold up to the wear-and-tear of the finished item’s use.  Also, if you have the wrong weight, your project will not be the right size.  The gauge will be off, and therefore the finished product will not fit properly or be the desired size.  Always check your gauge with a gauge swatch before starting a project.  You may need to adjust the yarn weight, needle size, or both.

Fibers: There are numerous types of yarn fibers, each with variations and blends.  It is important to know the basics of the fiber before using it, especially its texture and care.  Here are a few common types:

Fiber Derivation Description Care Cost
Wool Sheep Warm, breathable, may itch or pill Most hand-wash, some are washable $$
Mohair Goats Long, shiny, warm, may itch Hand-wash $$$
Cashmere Goats Luxurious, soft, warm Hand-wash $$$$
Angora Rabbits Very soft, sheds/pills Hand-wash $$$
Cotton Cotton Structured, no pilling Washable $$
Silk Insect fiber Strong, shiny, smooth Hand-wash $$
Acrylic Synthetic Washable, inexpensive Washable $

Weight: There are eight standard yarn weights.  Most patterns will call for a specific weight in order to achieve the right gauge (number of stitches to a certain length).

Weight # Category Types
0 Lace Fingering 10-count Crochet Thread
1 Superfine Sock, Fingering
2 Fine Sport
3 Light DK, Light Worsted
4 Medium Worsted, Aran
5 Bulky Chunky
6 Super Bulky Super Bulky, Roving
7 Jumbo Jumbo, Roving

My Picks: Bargains & Splurges

Here are some of my favorite yarns to work with:

Weight Bargain Splurge
1 Lion Brand Yarn – Sock Ease Tosh Merino Light by Madelinetosh
2 DROPS Alpaca Arroyo by Malabrigo
3 Berroco Vintage DK Tosh DK by Madelinetosh
4 Vanna’s Choice Yarn Rios by Malabrigo
5 Lion’s Pride Woolspun Mecha by Malabrigo
6 Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Rasta by Malabrigo

More Yarn Tips

  1. Make sure to buy enough yarn for your project.  Check the yardage listed on the pattern and the yardage on the yarn wrapper.
  2. Read the yarn label before purchasing the yarn (and definitely before using it)! The label will tell you so much, including the fiber content, weight, yardage, and care instructions.
  3. If you buy yarn at a local yarn shop, let them wind it for you when you purchase. It is a big mess to wind a hank of yarn if not versed in the art. (Yarn bought at craft stores, such as Michael’s, JoAnn, or Hobby Lobby are typically packaged as a center-pull skein, which won’t require winding.)

What are your favorite bargain and splurge yarns?  Share in the comments. 🙂


Chunky Cup Sleeve Pattern

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Knit a simple, stylish coffee sleeve with this free pattern.

Spring Cleaning and Stash-busting

With Spring on the way, there are a few things that happen in my life.  First, I lose some of the desire to knit and crochet heavy, warm scarves and hats.  Second, I get the itch to “Spring clean” and organize my craft space.  So, what’s a knitter to do?  Efficiently kill two birds with one stone, of course!

While I don’t tend to wear chunky scarves in the spring, I do tend to have plenty of leftover balls of super-bulky yarn in my stash from making cozy hats, mittens, and scarves all winter.  The leftover scrap yarn isn’t enough to make another hat, or even an ear-warmer, so it can be hard to know what to do with it.  And, by March, the pile of scrap yarn is out of control.  So, what can I do with it in the Spring?  If you know me, you know one thing never goes out of season: coffee.  I decided to use up those scraps of super-bulky yarn to make oh-so-quick and every-so-adorable cup sleeves.

Cup Sleeves: A Purse Must-have and a Great Gift

So, what exactly is this cup sleeve and why would you want to knit one?  It is a knit (and therefore reusable!) alternative to the cardboard cup sleeves you would get at Starbucks or most other coffee shops.  I also have a reusable plastic Starbucks cup that needs a sleeve, as well, so I like to keep a knit sleeve in my drawer at home and also one in my purse.  Not only do these cup sleeves keep your drinks warmer longer, they keep your hand from burning, and they save the cardboard.  So, win-win-win.  Oh, and they’re cute.  🙂

I like to have a few for myself, but I also make a few extras throughout the year and give them out at Christmas time as simple teacher gifts or stocking stuffers.  They are so quick and easy, you may find them addicting.  You can also personalize with fun buttons or embellishments, so that can be a fun way to add a little extra something to them for gifts.

Chunky Cup Sleeve Pattern



Approximately 12 stitches (un-stretched) and 11 rows = 4 inches


Cast 20 stitches.  (I like to use the long-tail cast-on method.)

Divide the stitches on three needles, 6 stitches on needle 1, 8 stitches on needle 2, and 6 stitches on needle 3.

Join the stitches to work in the round.  (I like this method.)

Round 1: (Knit 1, Purl 1) around.

Repeat Round 1 10 more times.

Bind off all stitches.  Weave in loose ends.

Attach a button, if desired.

Please feel free to share, pin, comment, etc.  I’d love to see your creations!  Happy knitting!

@SwanJayShop on twitter


Crafty Galentine’s Day Ideas


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If you are a fan of the TV show Parks & Recreation, you know all about Galentine’s Day.  Even if you aren’t familiar with the show, you are likely to have heard of this day of ladies celebrating ladies.  As Leslie Knope herself explains:

“Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

I’ve long thought this was a wonderful holiday, and a great reason to celebrate the awesome women in your life.  It now seems I’m not the only one, as Galentine’s Day celebrations and events are popping up all over the place.  So, what does a crafty gal do to celebrate her besties on Galentine’s Day?  Plan a brunch with waffles, of course, and make some heartfelt gifts!  Here are some of my ideas:

Personalized Cards

First, I love the idea of creating a personal, thoughtful cared for each of your best girls on Galentine’s Day.  There are plenty of options here from spending some time in the Hallmark aisles and crafting a heartfelt message to making a card from scratch.  My favorite option is to make a card on the computer, print it out, and handwrite the message.  That way, I can add photos, quotes, or other details specific to the recipient in a fairly efficient manner.  Then I can add my own message in writing when it’s printed out.

If you are making your own card, I recommend printing it out on nice card stock or a blank, printable card, like this one.

There are also a lot of amazing handmade cards on Etsy, which you can purchase and then customize as you please.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Handmade Gifts for Galentine’s Day

If you are reading this page, you may have an interest in knitting and/or crochet.  If that is the case, you know that people often love and appreciate a hand-stitched gift item.  Here in Minnesota, it is still quite chilly on Galentine’s Day, so light scarves are still very practical.

One that you can make is the Scarf Love scarf, which is the pink scarf pictured above.  It is very easy to crochet and the fringe is so cute!   You can get the free pattern here: Scarf Love Scarf.

For the knitters, I recommend the Shelley Cowl, which can be worn in so many ways and is just a really unique, fun knit.  Get the free pattern here: Shelley Cowl.

Handmade gifts don’t have to be yarn-related, either.  If you like to make DIY beauty products with essential oils, or you enjoy woodworking, repurposing, or something else, I fully believe your girls will love those types of handmade gifts on Galentine’s Day.  One of my favorite gifts ever was a hand-stamped bracelet made by a friend.  The bracelet had a quote from my favorite novel, Frankenstein, and that thoughtfulness really meant a lot to me.

Here are some fun DIY gift ideas:

Additional Rules for Galentine’s Day

Whatever you decide to make (or buy) for Galentine’s Day, just remember to make it personal, thoughtful, and heart-felt.  You cannot go wrong putting effort and love into whatever you give.  🙂

Scarf Love: Valentine’s Day Crochet Pattern

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Love, love, love.  It is what keeps me going in the cold, often bleak months of January and February.  After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can get a little gloomy.  There aren’t as many gifts to make or parties to attend.  I have to psyche myself up to take down the Christmas tree so that I don’t end up woeful and in a listless funk.

So, I turn to Valentine’s Day.  I am not a particularly sappy person, and Valentine’s Day has never been a particularly romantic or important day in my marriage.  We don’t even celebrate it, usually.

That doesn’t stop me from finding ways of getting in the spirit, though.  First, I love the color scheme of pinks and reds.  So, if I have an excuse to add even more pink into our household decor, I will do so.  I also love a good seasonal find at the Target dollar section, so I add a few cute heart-shaped signs and arrows around the house.  I also like to get my boys a few Valentine’s Day treats or do a themed craft with them.

But my favorite way of getting into the spirit of the holiday of love is through knitting and crochet.  Because it is still cold as heck in Minnesota on February 14th, scarves, hats, and other winter wear are still very relevant.  So, I have created a cute, cozy, and whimsical scarf to mark the sweetheart season.

I’ve been wanting to design something that uses Caron Cakes because I love them and I have collected a few without knowing what I would do with them.  They come in a variety of lovely colors, are very soft, and are really nice to work with.  I also wanted something that would work up quickly and be really classic in style to contrast the funky colors.  So, I came up with the Scarf Love scarf.

Finished, it is about 7′ long, if you include the fringe.  I like a long scarf that can be wrapped numerous ways.  Gauge is not important for this project, so I didn’t even bother to measure it.  I started working from the middle of the cake and worked my way out, though it is not necessary to do it that way.

Scarf Love Crochet Pattern


Ch – chain

hdc – half double crochet


Caron Cakes Self Striping Yarn 383 yd 200 g (Cherry Chip)

Size K crochet hook

Yarn needle


Chain 33.

Work hdc in 4th Ch from the hook. *(Ch 1. hdc in next ch.) Repeat from * to the end of the row. (15 hdc)

Ch 2. Turn. Work hdc in each Ch space, chaining 1 between each hdc.

Repeat the last row until the piece measures approximately 6′ in length (or desired length).

Fasten off and weave in loose ends with the yarn needle.


Cut 60 pieces of yarn, each approximately 24″ long.

Holding two pieces of yarn together, pull them half-way through one of the chain spaces along one of the short edges of the scarf.   Knot the strands, creating the fringe.  If you’d like to see a tutorial for adding fringe, here’s a good video tutorial.

Repeat this for each chain space along both of the short edges of the scarf.  Trim the fringe if desired.

Happy Crocheting!

Five Things to Crochet in the Spring: Free Pattern Roundup

What to Crochet in the Spring: Five Free Crochet Patterns

When spring and summer roll around, many yarn-crafters get the blues.  No more Outlander cowls with super-bulky wool.  Bye-bye heavy mittens.  The urgency of making Christmas gifts has long gone, and we’re left wondering: “Now what?”

If you’re like me, you like to knit and crochet what you can use or give in the relatively near future (if not the immediate present).  So, while it is always fine to start a months-long journey into a fair isle cardigan, it might be more fun to work on quick projects that can be used right now, in the spring.

These are five of my favorite milder-weather crochet patterns.  The links to the free patterns are included, along with photos of some of my finished versions.  I am also providing some notes about yarn choice and pattern tips.

Five Free Spring Crochet Patterns:

1.  Crochet Baby Mary Janes

Free Pattern from Whistle & Ivy: Little Dot Mary Janes

Pictured Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Brites in Grape

Baby Mary Janes 1
Crochet Mary Janes Baby Shoes

These little cuties come from the amazing Whistle & Ivy blog.  I opted to make mine without the “dot” detail in the pattern, instead using a vibrant grape color and a basic white button.  Once you get the hang of the teeny tiny shoe pattern, you will be able to whip up pairs of these in no time.  I will say, for me, they ran small.  I went up a hook size to achieve the correct measurement.

Finished product also available in my Etsy shop: Baby Mary Janes

2.  Whale Tissue Box Cover

Free pattern from Moogly: Get Whale Soon Tissue Box Cover

Pictured Yarn: Sensations Everyday Solids in Turquoise (Discontinued)

Alternative Yarn Suggestion: I Love This Yarn in Turquoise

Whale 1
Whale Tissue Box Cover to Crochet

This is such a fun project.  This whale is whimsical and fun for any place in the house, but works especially well in a kids’ bedroom or bathroom.  I thoroughly enjoy many of Moogly’s fabulous patterns, but this is one of my favorites.  I use a tiny bit of black yarn to make the smile, and simple plastic black buttons for the eyes.  The tail was the only slightly challenging aspect of this pattern.  Otherwise, it is simple and fun.

Purchase a finished product here: Whale Tissue Box Cover

3.  Toddler Tutu with Crochet Bodice

Free pattern by Patricia Klonoski available for download on Ravelry: Empire Waist Crochet Tutu Dress

Pictured Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Country Blue

Olivia Tutu 1
Crochet Bodice Toddler Tutu Dress

This tutu dress is great.  I chose not to add the flower, because I opted for wild, multi-colored tulle in the skirt.  It has a tie-back closure, so it can work for a variety of sizes, really.  I thought this would make a perfect first birthday outfit, especially for a photo session.  It would also be really adorable as a flower girl dress, which could be done in all white or the wedding colors.

Purchase a finished tutu here: Crochet and Tulle Tutu Dress

4. Boho Headband

Free pattern from DROPS design: Twined Ivy

Pictured Yarn: Bernat Vickie Howell Cotton-ish in Crimson Twine

Headband 1
Crochet Boho Headband

I didn’t follow the yarn and hook recommendations within the pattern.  I used a light-weight yarn in a cotton blend.  I also used an E or F hook.  Gauge isn’t really important to this headband.  The tie-back closure is cute, and it makes it work for any size.  I think this headband is so fun, especially with the boho trend going on.  It works with an everyday look, and updo, as a festival accessory, or even as a headpiece for a casual boho wedding.

Finished headbands for purchase here: Boho Crochet Headband

5.  Emma Ruffle Washcloth Set

Free Pattern (by yours truly): Emma Washcloth 

Pictured Yarn: Lily Sugar ‘N Cream in Rose Pink, Mod Green, Hot Purple, and Sunshine

Crochet Dishcloths with Ruffles

I like girly, frilly, feminine things.  Pink and purple are my favorite colors, and I am a sucker for a ruffle.  So, I created this pattern to fit those criteria and brighten up my house a bit.  I like to choose three or four colors and make a set that coordinates.  This makes a really nice gift for a bridal shower, hostess, birthday, mother’s day, etc.  They work up larger, but because they are made with cotton, they’ll shrink once they go through the washer and dryer.

Purchase a complete set here: Emma Washcloth Set

I hope you enjoy making some of these things this Spring.  If you do, I’d love to see your work in the comments.  Also, feel free to share any of your favorite go-to patterns for the Spring season.








Charlie Hat – Free Knitting Pattern

Charlie Hat – Free Knitting Pattern in Four Sizes

The Charlie hat came about after my son, Charlie, requested a hat with “lots of colors.”  He wanted blue, green, black, red, pink, and so on.  Well, I didn’t have a yarn that had every color requested in my stash, and I didn’t feel like switching colors a million times on this project, so I decided to use the multi-colored Peruvian variety of Red Heart Super Saver.

Now, I know what some knitters will be thinking.  Red Heart?  Really?  That itchy, stiff, cheap yarn?  I hear you.  I really do.  I love a nice, soft, luxury wool, preferably hand-dyed locally.  However, that is not always the best choice for every project.  I have two small boys, and they are messy.  They outgrow things, drag them through the mud, and grind them under wet boots.  So, sometimes I need a yarn that is washable and inexpensive.  So, Red Heart it is.  What I discovered is that it really isn’t too stiff, and it doesn’t itch.  If you want to soften it up, run it through the wash.  It helps immensely.  Also, the Peruvian print is really striking knit up.

If you don’t want to use Red Heart, that is no problem.  You can substitute your favorite worsted-weight yarn and have at it.  This is a very classic hat, simple ribbing, standard fit (a break from the slouchy hats), and it looks great in so many different yarns.  Personally, I have a skein of gorgeous Malabrigo in a vibrant pink that I plan to use for this little baby.

The pattern is available in four sizes.  I have tested each of them, and they fit great.  Really, the ribbing allows a lot of give.  It is also easy to customize, so if you do want a slouchier style, just add 1-2 inches to the stated length before the decrease.

I really hope you enjoy this hat as much as I do.  It is my new go-to beanie.

Charlie Hat – Free Knitting Pattern


Worsted weight yarn (1 236-yard skein made a toddler, child, and adult hat)

Size 8 Circular Knitting Needles (16″)

Size 8 Double-Pointed Knitting Needles (Set of 4)

Yarn needle


Approximately 17 rows and 19 stitches (un-stretched ribbing)=4″


Baby-0-12 months

Toddler-1-3 years

Child-3-10 years




Using the long-tail cast-on method, cast on 60 sts. with the circular needles.

Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Round 1: Work (K1, P2) around.

Repeat Round 1 until your piece measures 5.5″ from the beginning.

Begin decreasing:

Decrease Round 1: (K1, P2tog) around. (40 sts)

Decrease Round 2: (K1, P1) around. (40 sts)

Switch to double-pointed knitting needles.

Decrease Round 3: (K2, K2tog) around. (30 sts)

Decrease Round 4: Knit around. (30 sts)

Decrease Round 5: (K1, K2 tog) around. (20 sts)

Decrease Round 6: (K2tog) around. (10 sts)

Decrease Round 7: (K2tog) around. (5 sts)


Cut yarn, leaving a long tail.

Using the yarn needle, draw the tail through the remaining stitches, pull tight, and secure.

Weave in the loose ends with the yarn needle.


Using the long-tail cast-on method, cast on 66 sts. with the circular needles.

Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Round 1: Work (K1, P2) around.

Repeat Round 1 until your piece measures 7″ from the beginning.

Begin decreasing:

Decrease Round 1: (K1, P2tog) around. (44 sts)

Decrease Round 2: (K1, P1) around. (44 sts)

Switch to double-pointed knitting needles.

Decrease Round 3: (K2, K2tog) around. (33 sts)

Decrease Round 4: Knit around. (33 sts)

Decrease Round 5: (K1, K2 tog) around. (22 sts)

Decrease Round 6: Knit around. (22 sts)

Decrease Round 7: (K2tog) around. (11 sts)


Cut yarn, leaving a long tail.

Using the yarn needle, draw the tail through the remaining stitches, pull tight, and secure.

Weave in the loose ends with the yarn needle.


Using the long-tail cast-on method, cast on 72 sts. with the circular needles.

Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Round 1: Work (K1, P2) around.

Repeat Round 1 until your piece measures 8″ from the beginning.

Begin decreasing:

Decrease Round 1: (K1, P2tog) around. (48 sts)

Decrease Round 2: (K1, P1) around. (48 sts)

Decrease Round 3: (K2, K2tog) around. (36 sts)

Decrease Round 4: Knit around. (36 sts)

Switch to double-pointed knitting needles.

Decrease Round 5: (K1, K2 tog) around. (24 sts)

Decrease Round 6: Knit around. (24 sts)

Decrease Round 7: (K2tog) around. (12 sts)


Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail.

Using the yarn needle, draw the tail through the remaining stitches, pull tight, and secure.

Weave in the loose ends with the yarn needle.


Using the long-tail cast-on method, cast on 78 sts. with the circular needles.

Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.

Round 1: Work (K1, P2) around.

Repeat Round 1 until your piece measures 9″ from the beginning.

Begin decreasing:

Decrease Round 1: (K1, P2tog) around. (52 sts)

Decrease Round 2: (K1, P1) around. (52 sts)

Decrease Round 3: (K2, K2tog) around. (39 sts)

Decrease Round 4: Knit around. (39 sts)

Switch to double-pointed knitting needles.

Decrease Round 5: (K1, K2 tog) around. (26 sts)

Decrease Round 6: Knit around. (26 sts)

Decrease Round 7: (K2tog) around. (13 sts)


Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail.

Using the yarn needle, draw the tail through the remaining stitches, pull tight, and secure.

Weave in the loose ends with the yarn needle.

If you have any questions about the pattern, please feel free to ask!  Again, I hope you enjoy!




The Writers Collection: A Series of Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite novels.  It is a Gothic masterpiece, and the story of how it came about is equally intriguing.  Mary Shelley, at age 19, wrote the novel during a ghost story writing challenge with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.  The story came to her in a dream one night at Villa Diodati in Switzerland.  The backstory of the novel’s origin and the novel itself have always captivated me, and I thought I’d use them as inspiration to launch my Writers collection of knitting and crochet patterns.

The Writers Collection is a series of designs I’ve created inspired by some of my favorite authors, spanning many genres and time periods.  The collection is not meant to replicate the styles worn by those writers or that of characters from their work.  Instead, they are inspired by those authors.  The colors, stitches, and yarns are selected to capture the essence of that author’s work, as I perceive it.  This collection is important to me because it combines two of my favorite things: Literature and Fiber Arts.

The Writers Collection will include designs inspired by the following seven writers:

1.  Mary Shelley

2.  Louise Erdrich

3.  Walt Whitman

4.  Edgar Allan Poe

5.  Jane Austen

6.  Ernest Hemingway

7.  J.K. Rowling

This list is not, of course, a complete list of all writers that inspire me.  It is a snippet of some that have left a major impact.  I will share a bit about a favorite work from each Writer when I publish the pattern that writer has inspired.  That way, you can choose to read that work before you start knitting or crocheting.  Or, better yet, you can listen to the audiobook while you knit.  I hope you enjoy the patterns.

First up: The Shelley Cowl Knitting Pattern, found here.

Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Free baby knitting pattern.

Newborn Baby Hat to Knit – Free Knitting Pattern


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Looking for a quick, classic handmade baby shower gift?  Want an easy knitting pattern to donate to charity?  Look no further.

The following pattern is one I designed years ago, originally published on another website.  I have decided to add it here, as well, where I can update some of the information and give further suggestions for customization.

This teeny tiny newborn hat is made with soft acrylic yarn and size US 7 knitting needles. It is a great beginner’s baby knitting project because it is relatively easy but also requires the use of a few more complicated techniques that beginners should learn, such as decreasing stitches.

This pattern is written for flat needles, but it can easily be adapted to knitting in the round.



Approximately 18 stitches and 24 st st rows = 4 inches.

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern:

  • R – Row
  • K – Knit
  • P – Purl
  • tog – together
  • sts – stitches


  • Cast on 60 sts
  • R1-R10: (K1, P1) across for brim
  • R11: Knit
  • R12: Purl
  • Repeat rows 11 and 12 6 more times. (24 rows completed)
  • R25: (K4, K2 tog) across
  • R26: Purl
  • R 27: (K3, K2 tog) across
  • R 28: Purl
  • R29: (K2, K2 tog) across
  • R30: Purl
  • R31: (K1, K2 tog) across
  • R32: Purl
  • R33: (K2 tog) across

Instructions for Finishing

  • Cut the yarn, leaving a long tail.
  • Using the yarn needle, draw the yarn through the remaining stitches on the needle.
  • Pull tightly and secure the yarn.
  • Sew the back seam of the hat with the right sides facing.  This is called mattress stitch, which you can learn here.
  • Sew in the loose ends.

Variations on Newborn Baby Hat and Instructions for Larger Sizes

For a neat variation on the newborn hat, consider making the brim in a different color than the rest of the hat. To do so, simply change to a new color of yarn after row 10. Try making the cuff a contrasting color to the rest of the hat for a funky look, or simply make the cuff a neutral color, such as white or grey, and then make the rest of the hat in a more vibrant color.  Another option is to add a pom-pom to the top.

For a larger hat, use size 8 knitting needles. The number of cast on stitches may also be increased to fit a larger baby’s head. Keep in mind, however, that the number of stitches cast on are a multiple of 6. Likewise, if increasing the width of the hat, it may also be necessary to increase the length. If so, simply add a few additional rows of stockinette stitch after row 24 before the decreasing begins.

Donate this Hat to Charity

One of the coolest things about providing free patterns is seeing how they are used by others.  This pattern, in particular, has been adapted in numerous ways.  One Ravelry user, along with her knitting group, knit heaps of these hats to donate to hospitals.  That just makes me so happy!  I have donated finished products, as well, to the organization Bundles of Love here in Minnesota.  So, if you decide to knit some of these for a charity, be sure to let me know how it goes. 🙂

IMG_0436 IMG_0434

Understanding Yarn Weight: Selecting the Correct Yarn for Knitting and Crochet Projects

When I was new to knitting, I was so excited to get started on a project that I just jumped right in.  I didn’t bother to make sure I had the “proper” materials.  I had needles.  I had yarn.  I was good to go.  So, why did my first hat turn out WAY too big?  Why did some of the stitches seem way too tight?  Way too loose?

I began digging a little deeper into the details of the patterns.  First, I saw that I was to use a certain needle size.  Okay.  That is easy enough.  Then, I noticed that there was a specific yarn suggested, along with a number and a weight name (something bizarre, called “worsted weight”).  Then, there was a “gauge” I was supposed to check once I had the right needle size and yarn weight.  My gauge should be roughly the same as the gauge listed on the pattern, and that will ensure the right size and shape of the finished product.

Ah.  Now I knew I needed to slow down and gather all of the right tools in order to successfully create the finished product.  That meant I had to figure out what all of the symbols and numbers on the yarn wrapper meant.  In an effort to make this process easier for any beginning knitters and crocheters, I have provided the following quick “cheat sheet” of sorts.  For now, I am focusing on yarn weight, which is (in my opinion) the first thing to look for on a yarn label.

Yarn Weight

Whenever I begin a project, the first step in selecting the right yarn is looking at the weight.  When working from a pattern, a yarn weight is specified in order for you to obtain the correct gauge, and therefore a correctly-sized project.

There are, as of now, eight yarn weight categories.  They range in number from 0-7, 0 being the smallest, lightest yarn, and 7 being the thickest, bulkiest.  If your pattern indicates a “4” yarn weight, you can almost always choose any yarn, as long as it has a “4” on the yarn wrapper.  The type of yarn will impact that to some degree, as well, but it is important to start with the right weight.

Here are the eight yarn categories, by number and name.  I have also included some of my favorite yarns in some of those weights, just for fun. 🙂

  • 0-Lace
  • 1-Super Fine
  • 2-Fine
  • 3-Light: I like Bernat Softee Baby Ombre
  • 4-Medium: I like Lion Brand Heartland
  • 5-Bulky: I like Lion Brand Homespun
  • 6-Super Bulky: I like Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick
  • 7-Jumbo

Typically, the larger the yarn weight, the larger the knitting needles or crochet hook used.  Larger yarn and needles/hooks work up faster, creating bigger, chunkier stitches.  Smaller needles/hooks and yarn weight create more delicate, tighter stitches.  All the details about each yarn weight, including the yarns that fall into each category type, can be found at the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System page.

Keep in mind that other factors will impact the gauge of your project, including how tightly or loosely you stitch and the material of yarn (such as wool, cotton, etc.).  Once you have a handle on selecting the right yarn weight for your project, you will have more things to consider, including the care instructions and yardage of the yarn, but this will be a good place to start.