Knitting is a versatile and creative skill, producing everything from household to wearable items. Whatever the project, knitters have a lot of room for individual expression in terms of pattern, texture and color. Choosing the right type of knitting yarn for each project is essential to success. However, the main point to consider is the weight of the yarn, followed by the fibre content.
Each yarn weight is suited for certain project types and also yields a specific range of stitches-per-inch; the more stitches, the finer the resulting fabric. The majority of simple projects can be completed with yarn weight numbers of three or four. However, some projects have more specific requirements. Yarn labels contain individual information.
|US Weight||Equivalent UK and Australian terms|
|Cobweb||Cobweb / 1 Ply|
|Lace||Lace / 2 Ply|
|Light Fingering||3 Ply|
|Fingering / Sock||Fingering / Sock / 4 Ply|
|Sport||Sport / 5 Ply|
|DK / Light Worsted||DK / 8 Ply|
|Worsted||Aran / Worsted / 10 Ply|
|Bulky||Chunky / 12 Ply|
|Super Bulky||Super Chunky / 14 Ply|
After determining what weight of yarn to use for a project, it is time to move on to selecting the yarn’s fibre. Some types of yarn materials are better for experienced knitters or for certain projects. Use the following table to choose an optimal material.
|Acrylic||This synthetic fibre is readily available, comes in many colors and weights, and is machine washable and dryable. It’s also inexpensive and provides great warmth, adding to its popularity. Some acrylics may be very soft and may be preferable over wool for those with sensitive skin or allergies. On the downside, acrylic may wear out relatively quickly; it’s less breathable than wool, and it may not be flame retardant.|
|Nylon||Since nylon snags easily and becomes frayed, it is not a good choice for beginners. This material is better to use after gaining some experience. It is commonly used for creating bags and other durable items.|
|Rayon||Most yarns made of rayon are usually on the lower side of the weight scale. This silky material is not optimal for most beginners. While it is not as difficult as nylon to work with, it is still better to use after gaining some experience.|
|Wool||Sheep's wool is most common, but other animal wools provide a range of choices. Alpaca is also very popular. It's silkier than sheep's wool but still strong. Knitters may also want to try finer fibres, such as cashmere, mohair, camel, llama, Angora rabbit, or even yak or musk ox. These exotic yarns are all very soft, but they're not always durable on their own. Such yarns may be blended with sheep's wool for strength and affordability. Wool yarn insulates well, is durable, and it typically holds its shape. Some wool yarns are machine washable, but exotic fibres usually require hand washing.|
|Cashmere||This is one of the most desired yarn materials for sweaters. It is also used for some baby items, blankets, scarves, and other projects. Cashmere is easy enough to work with that beginners can use it.|
|Cotton||Cotton can be used for almost any type of garment. It is often used for baby clothing, blankets, shirts, socks, and even bags. It is somewhat easy to work with for various projects. However, some items may lose their shape if they are not created with uniform stitches; this is due to the material’s elasticity.|
|Hemp||This may be used for a variety of bags or accessories. Since the texture is generally rough, it is not optimal for shirts, pants, or socks. Hemp is easy to work with but can be abrasive on the hands when working with it.|
|Bamboo||This fibre is highly popular as an easily renewable resource. Bamboo yarn is light, silky, breathable, and also very strong. It's well suited for scarves or accessories. However, the silkiness can make it hard to work with, and the fibres sometimes split, making careful stitching a necessity. When blended with wool or other fibres, it adds silkiness and becomes easier to work with and suitable for more projects, including socks or sweaters.|
Every person has different budget needs, so this topic is simply one to consider. Certain types of yarn are more expensive than others. For example, a person on a very limited budget would benefit more from purchasing acrylic rather than cashmere to make a scarf. As a rule, acrylic yarns are some of the most affordable options. Hemp, bamboo, and some natural animal-based yarn blends may be more expensive.
The key to staying within the budget is to determine how many skeins of yarn are needed for the desired project. If the pattern calls for multiple colors of yarn, keep in mind that it is necessary to purchase enough skeins of each color to complete the project. Next, spend some time comparing the costs of different types of materials. If the project is small enough, it may be possible to splurge on a more luxurious yarn without spending more than intended.
Yarn and Needle Size Considerations
It is better to base a project on a specific weight and type of yarn than what needles are available. However, beginners should also consider what sizes of knitting needles or crochet hooks they are comfortable using. This often determines what type and weight of yarn is chosen. Most beginners are comfortable with midsize needles or hooks. Very small or very large needles are better to use after a few simpler projects have been completed.
Taking the time to choose the right type of yarn will pay off when the project is finished. Scarves, hats, gloves, sweaters, blankets, and other items can last for many years if they are stitched correctly from the right type of yarn.
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