Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

How many times have you been stuck wondering what is the best yarn to use for your next project? There is such a wide variety of yarns available now that it can be a bit overwhelming trying to make a choice. My personal preference tends to be for wool, especially for babies, because it is a natural fibre that “breathes” and is very warm. The modern range of yarns, however, contains an ever expanding number of different fibre types, and also blends of different fibres.

What Is The Best Yarn To Use?
Image courtesy of Flickr

One of the first things to look at on your pattern is whether or not it is written for a particular unique yarn, or is suitable for one of the more general types of yarn like 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply etc. If the pattern is very yarn specific then you are best to stick with that yarn for your project.

A lot of patterns are still designed for more standard yarn types. Obviously it is safest to use the yarn(s) recommended in the pattern, but if you want to use something different there are several really important things to consider.

Yarn Ply and Needle Size

Always make sure that you get the same ply/weight yarn as that used in the pattern. It is also essential to do a test square to check that your gauge is correct, and alter your needle size accordingly if it is a bit off.

Yarn Length

The composition of yarn can make a huge difference to how far it goes. A ball of acrylic yarn can be up to 30% longer than a ball of wool of the same weight. Cotton can be similar to, or slightly shorter than wool, and blends of acrylic and natural fibres will be different again. Always check the band on a ball or hank of yarn for the length and for the batch number. Make sure you know what the length of a ball is for the yarn used in your pattern and work out from that what you will need in the yarn you are choosing. If you are in any doubt err on the side of caution and get extra.

Karen's Korner, Knitting

Homeless Knitting

Homeless Knitting

A couple of months ago, in my post “Another Octopus and Some Scarves”, I was interested in trying to get some knitting done to donate to local homeless people. Unfortunately I was a bit late to get myself organised for this winter, but I am working on getting some significant supplies ready for next year. We are officially into spring in New Zealand now, although the weather has been a bit slow to get the memo so far.

Homeless KnittingI have been going through my “stash” and experimenting with different ideas to knit items that might be useful to donate. The first scarf I made was a simple garter stitch one that used up a number of leftover partial balls from previous garments. I had planned to use only double knit (8 ply) yarn, but I think I accidentally included some cream yarn of a heavier gauge. When using this weight of yarn I suggest using 4mm (UK size 8) needles and at least 40 stitches. I like to make scarves at least 140cm long, but this is a matter of personal preference.

Homeless Knitting Homeless KnittingThe stitch I chose for the second scarf was broken double rib. I used 10 ply yarn and 4.5mm (UK size 7) needles for this one. This stitch is most easily knitted using multiples of four stitches plus three stitches at the end. For my scarf I used 51 stitches (48 stitches plus 3 = 51). For 8 ply yarn I would suggest at least 59 stitches and 4mm needles.

Broken double rib pattern using this guide for stitch numbers:

  [knit 2, purl 2] to last 3 stitches; knit 2, purl 1.

Repeat this row until required length is reached. Cast off and sew in the ends.

 

Homeless KnittingAnother experiment I have tried is a double rib hat which I made in 8 ply yarn, using 4mm needles. I have made the pattern I developed for this available as a PDF on my Downloads page. I plan to do more experimenting with different yarns, stitches and patterns, and will share them with you as I go. I hope you will consider joining me by making things to donate to people in your own local area.

See also: “Handcrafting to Support Charities