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.

Crochet, Karen's Korner, Knitting

Working With Hanks Of Yarn

Working With Hanks Of YarnI have previously not had much experience working with hanks of yarn, but was recently asked to knit a jacket for a friend’s little girl. I suggested she check out the range available at The Wool Company. I really love their yarns and the fact that they are high quality and locally made. The wool she chose comes in 200g hanks.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnMy original plan for winding the wool into balls was to use one of the dining room chairs but then I decided to try something else. The back of the chair was not quite the right width and was a bit high for me to work with. It occurred to me that one of the back cushions off my sofa might be more suitable and it was. The cushion was just the right size and it was easy to move around too.

Working With Hanks Of Yarn Working With Hanks Of YarnAs I started winding the wool I started wondering about how I was going to get an idea of how much I was using as I was knitting the garment. I came up with the idea of using the kitchen scales. I wound the wool until I got to 25g then turned the ball 90 degrees and wound on another 25g, making a total of 50g. I repeated this procedure, turning after every 25g, and it has worked really well.

I have a tendency to change patterns a bit as I go (see “Using Patterns as a Guide”) so it has been very useful to know my yarn usage. I have made the garment significantly longer than the pattern and have been able to be confident that I will have enough wool to complete the garment.

I hope these tips can be useful to others of you who are working with hanks. I would love to hear any stories and tips that you might like to share.

Karen's Korner, Knitting

Baby Knitting

Baby KnittingI have been a bit slow getting this post done, but I am happy to report that I got the baby knitting finished just in time. I also remembered to take photos of my “pink knitting” before I sent it. As I said in my post “The End of the Tail”, I was really excited to be able to do some pink baby knitting for a change, so I made the most of it.

Baby KnittingThe recent spate of baby knitting has got me thinking again about what is the best yarn to use when knitting garments for babies. I have always preferred to use wool, but there are a large number of acrylic yarns around these days, and even some yarns made from bamboo fibre.

One of the main drawbacks people have seen in knitting with wool has been the need to hand wash it. It is obviously a lot more convenient to be able to throw all your children’s washing in the machine together, especially baby clothes which require washing so often. Time is often very precious for mothers so anything that can be seen as saving time is considered beneficial.

Today’s woollen yarns, however, are often manufactured to be machine washable. Modern washing machines are also a lot more versatile and most of them have at least one cycle built into their programmes that is wool friendly. These are complemented by a range of laundry products which are also designed to be gentle on wool or other delicate fabrics.

I will look more closely at the comparison of natural and artificial yarns soon, but I thought this article would be a good place to mention a worthy cause associated with baby knitting. The Plunket Society was founded in New Zealand in 1907 by Sir Frederick Truby King. His vision was to help mothers and save babies dying from malnutrition and disease. Today the Plunket Society (now called the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society) runs a programme called “Knit For Plunket”.

This programme encourages people to donate hand knitted bootees and vests for babies in families in need. The page on their website includes a downloadable PDF with patterns for both, including photos of them. It also has details of where you can deliver your donations. This is a really worthwhile cause and I encourage anyone in New Zealand to support it. For those of you in other countries, I am sure you will have similar local organisations which you could donate knitted items to.