Posted by: GourmetGirl | February 4, 2014

Yarn Changes Everything

Yarn Changes Everything.

Yarn Changes Everything – I felt like I needed to repeat myself.

images-2I have a closet full of yarn. Wool, Silk, Linen, Cotton, Bamboo Alpaca, and combinations of fibers. Some I purchased simply for how wonderful the pile of skeins looked in the Yarn Shop! Some because it was a great buy as a sale or clearance yarn being discontinued.

Yes, many knitters buy the exact yarn that the pattern recommends. But, many do not have that luxury. It could be that the yarn is discontinued, they want a different fiber content, or their local yarn shop had some other fabulous looking yarn they couldn’t resist! We all know that many times the yarn is not what the original garment was used to knit.

So, how do you know your yarn you have chosen will work?

Truthfully, many times you won’t until after the garment is complete and you have put it on to wear for the day.

Even the best laid plans of choosing a yarn that is similar to the yarn recommended on the pattern can put your garment off track. (Read my Cowl Project post.)

The most secure way is to use yarn that you have worked with before. That means you know how the yarn knits up, blocks, and feels when wearing.

Side Note: Yarn can change completely when it gets wet. I have had yarn grow tremendously when the piece was blocked. Sometimes I have been very happy that it does – You then can shape the piece to more of your liking. Longer sleeves, lower the neck, make it wider, longer, etc. If it is quality yarn.

Which leads me to Yarn Quality. Some yarn companies have more consistent yarn quality than others. Price does not always dictate quality or happiness with your finial project.100_4834

So, how can you tell if you will like your yarn choice? Most do not want to experiment. But experimenting with your yarn is the best option. If you are at a yarn shop, feeling the yarn is a start. Feel it with your hands, rub it on your cheek and on the underside of your forearm. Some yarns do get softer after being washed. Some do not.

Next – of course – is knitting a swatch. Knitting a swatch lets you know how the yarn knits up, the look, the feel and the stretch of the yarn. Don’t go by needle recommendations on the skein. Learn to look at the strand of yarn and make your needle choice. Smaller needles can give you the same gauge as larger needles. (I have many posts on Gauge – Here is my most recent.)

Even after experimenting with the yarn, you may not truly know if the yarn reacts well to the weight of a knitted garment. Even if you have worked a small project with the yarn, the yarn can react different when there is 1500 yards pulling on the shoulders.

It all doesn’t sound promising, does it? After all, I have countless knitted garments and I still have items that I love and items that sit in my closet. But here are the things I have learned (for me and my well worn pieces).

1. Natural Fibers. 2. Lighter Weight Yarn. 3. Smaller Needle Size. 4. Solid Yarns. 5. Classic Designs, 6. Measure, Measure, Measure. 7. Don’t Be Afraid to Rip and Change the Pattern!

Happy Knitting – it is worth the Journey!

Nancy

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