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. 🙂

Hand-knit newborn baby hat.

Why You Should Learn to Knit (or Crochet)

Why should you learn to knit or crochet when you can just buy a hat or blanket already made, and likely cheaper than the cost of yarn and supplies?  There are actually numerous benefits, both physical and emotional.

I stumbled into the hobby of knitting when I was in grad school.  I was studying English Literature, and I had a lot of work to do, especially while writing my thesis.  I am also prone to stress and anxiety, and I needed an outlet, a way to relieve stress while still feeling productive.  I’ve always liked art and making things, so I decided to try knitting.

At first, I found it overwhelming, and the results were less than fabulous on my first few attempts, but I quickly found it to be a rewarding, ever-evolving source of peace and fulfillment.  Naturally, I had to learn to crochet, as well, which has produced many of the same results.

Without further ado, here are my top reasons to learn knitting or crochet:

1.  It relieves stress.  They have actually done studies on this, like the one found here.  The process of knitting or crochet keeps your hands and your mind busy while producing a tangible result for your efforts.  It is very soothing in that respect.

2.  You can do it (almost) anywhere.  If you’re like me, and you don’t enjoy idle time, knitting and crochet are great hobbies.  They are portable, so you can do them while riding in a car, on a plane (if regulations are followed, of course), or while watching TV.  Unlike other arts, such as painting or quilting, for instance, you can get your creative outlet on the go.

3.  You can make pretty, unique things.  If you get the hang of knitting or crochet, you can make beautiful things with even basic stitches.  You can make yourself a new hat and scarf set, or you can create matching cable-knit sweaters for your children.  Soon, friends and family will be requesting all sorts of items for birthdays and holiday gifts.

4.  It keeps your mind sharpResearch has shown that knitting can actually keep your mind sharp.  Once you have a handle on the knit and purl of it all, you can start creating your own patterns, which only ups the brainpower used during the stitching.

5.  It’s fun.  Last, but certainly not least, knitting is fun.  It is really cool to see something come to be from yarn and two sticks.  You can express your personality in what you make, and it is enjoyable to see what you can create.

So, there is really no reason to hold back.  Pick up a set of needles, a skein of yarn, and get knitting.  If you’re looking for a great place to get started, check out the Lion Brand website‘s tutorials.  They are very helpful.Knit unique items for special occasions.