Six tips for choosing the right yarn for your knitting project
The lovely Allison and Rachel from Yarn in the City have been writing some yarn-focused blog posts for us to help inspire you with your knitting and crochet projects. We get so many question in the shop about what yarn to use for certain projects so the ladies have created this post to answer all those queries…Take it away, ladies!
One of the things that we love about hosting our yarn-y events is introducing makers to the amazing world of yarn! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a knitter or crocheter’s eyes widen at the creative possibilities in front of them. But all that choice can come with a price in that it can be easy to get overwhelmed with too many options.
The biggest pitfall with all that choice can be choosing the wrong yarn for your project. Too often we’ve seen people get swept away by a gorgeous hank of yarn without a plan, hoping that “the yarn will tell me what it wants to be!” That’s all well and good sometimes, but it might be better to have an idea of what to look for in a yarn so that you make the perfect pairing right from the start?
We’ve come up with a list of questions to consider when planning your next project to help things go as smoothly as possible:
Who is my project for?
Just like an advertising executive will want to know who an ad is targeted at, you have to know your audience. Knitting for yourself or your Grandma is different from knitting for your toddler! A couple of things to consider:
What will the item be used for? A blanket for a new baby is a different kettle of fish from a cozy shawl for an ill friend.
Is the recipient going to handwash the item if needed or will they throw it in the machine with the rest of the laundry?
Take into account the personality of the person you’re making for – if they’re not likely to appreciate cashmere in their special holiday gift, do you need to splurge on the yarn?
Why am I making this project?
A lot of us like to show our love for the special people in our lives by making them something. Holidays, birthdays, special anniversaries – they’re all great reasons for starting a new project. The big question to ask yourself here is how much time you have before the big day. Do you want to knit sweaters for your whole family for Christmas? Are you making a shawl for your friend who’s getting married? Think about how long other similar projects have taken you and if you realistically have enough time to make it to the finish line. Don’t forget that you’ll have to be done a few days before your deadline so you have time for finishing and blocking!
What is my project? What is the gauge or tension?
Garment? Accessory? Toy? Other? Just as it’s important to know who you’re knitting for, knowing what you’re making can have a HUGE impact on your choice of yarn. Are you wanting to make a delicate lace shawl? Then maybe that super soft chunky yarn isn’t the best choice. It would be great for a blanket or last-minute accessory gift though! Is the project a sweater? A fluffly single-ply yarn will wear more easily and pill at friction points under the arms where the arm brushes against the body, so maybe it’s better saved for a project that will get less abrasion and wear, like a hat or cowl.
Check the gauge or tension given in the pattern to help figure out which weight of yarn is required.
A note about gauge and weights of yarn:
The weight of a yarn refers to how thick the yarn is and every yarn label generally provides a range of recommended needle or hook sizes. With many different yarn producers around the world, different size yarns can vary in what they’re called depending on where you are. We’ll get into this more in our next guest post!
What is the fibre content of the recommended yarn in the pattern?
The combination of fibres used in a yarn contribute to the characteristics of the fabric created and how it will wear and drape. This is good information to have if you’re not able to find the exact yarn used in the pattern, as choosing a yarn with a similar fibre content can have the same desired look and feel in the finished piece. Knowing the fibre content is also important if you need to make any adjustments for climate or allergies/sensitivities to any fibres.
Does my project need to be machine washable?
Remember our question about who you were knitting for? After all the hard work you’re going to put in it’s important to know how the project will be cared for. Is your recipient not great with the idea of hand washing or a busy mum who just wants to be able to chuck it in the laundry machine with everything else? Whether or not your project needs to be machine washable will be an important factor in your yarn choice. Don’t worry if you fall in love with a yarn that isn’t machine washable though – taking extra care by hand washing can be simple and easy thanks to no-rinse detergents like Soak that will keep your project looking like new for a very long time. And don’t we all want our projects to last as long as possible?
Is budget a consideration?
Of course we all wish that budget were no object! The reality is though, that good quality yarns are not inexpensive. Yarns blended with cashmere, silk and alpaca will also cost more because those fibres are more expensive. A yarn that is commercially produced on a large scale will also cost less than a special skein of yarn that is hand-dyed by someone earning a living wage.
Hopefully by answering even some of these questions you’ll help narrow your choices and find the perfect yarn for your project!