There is a huge selection of knitting yarn available, and as long as your gauge matches the one on your pattern, you could use any one of them. When choosing a yarn for a particular garment, however; it is important to look not just at the color but also at the different qualities of the various yarns. It is also worth remembering that the thickness of yarn in differing brands may vary, and this is why knitting a gauge swatch is vitally important (see page 30-31).
You should have no difficulty finding a yarn that you like. Numerous companies make knitting yarn, although department stores tend to stock their own brands and a small selection of the most popular makes.Try to find a local specialist supplier, which will carry a much larger selection and will have the expertise to help you if you have queries.
Alternatively, can buy your yarns online.The Internet is now an amazing resource for a huge selection of unusual, quality yarns, from silk and angora to mohair or rayon and, of course, wool and cotton.Through the Internet you can gain access to individual dyers and spinners, who will generally be prepared to dispatch to anywhere in the world. If you have access to the Internet, this is certainly a great way of ensuring an individual garment by finding an unusual yarn in both texture and color
Hardwearing yarns are good for outdoor clothes or some children's wear. Cotton is hardwearing, and, being smooth, is good for children who often do not like the "scratchy" feel of wool. A downside to cotton yarns, however, is that they can stretch. For very young children and babies, soft and fine yarns would be good for clothes or shawls, and are also good for scarves using lace stitches.
Whatever type of yarn you choose, it is best to work with good-quality yarns. After all, the time that you spend on your work deserves the best materials, and it would be very disappointing if after one wash your garment looked old and tired.
Experimenting and getting used to the appearance of different yarns adds an exciting dimension to your work To make up a pattern in a completely different yarn to the one suggested will greatly change the appearance of the garment to create something unique, and this is an inspiring aspect of any creative work For example, a fingering cotton garment will have a very different look to a fingering mohair one, even though the gauge may be the same.
There are numerous mixes of yarn fibers available other than wool and cotton. Mixes of wool and silk cotton and linen, and synthetic fibers with both cotton and wool are just a small selection of what is available. As with all creative work researching and trying things out is the way to find the yarns you like to work with.
Different yarns also give hugely differing results: smooth or rough, silky or hairy, short filaments or long. Certain yarns are also more elastic than others: Wool generally tends to have more flexibility than cotton, and a linen yarn will be very durable (although unless mixed with cotton, it can be rough). However, all yarns have a purpose, and the strength of a linen thread makes it perfect for a bag that will take lots of strain.
Rayon yarns and ribbon type yarns can have a sheen that really cannot be found in other yarns, and these glittering qualities are very effective in the finished garment. However; a beginner may find it difficult to work with such a slippery yarn.
Some of the yarns available today ane: wool, cotton, silk (matte or shiny), linen, ribbon, slub, bouclé, and chenille. All may be bought in stores or by mail order, and once you have become confident in your knitting, it is worth experimenting with and learning about the various qualities of the many different fibers. Yarn usually comes in 2 oz. balls, although 4 oz. balls are also available in many
lightweight brands. It is unusual to find I oz. balls these days, except among some specialist producers of cashmere and angora.
Skeins of yarn are still produced by small dye companies, but buying these will necessitate winding the skein into balls. You can buy equipment for doing this, but unless you are planning a lot of knitting, the old-fashioned method of two hands and a chair back is still the best (see below for instructions).
All knitting yarns will have a number on the ball band or inside the cone; this relates to the batch in which it was dyed. It is essential to check this number when purchasing yarn, making sure that all your balls are from the same batch. Although it may not be obvious at this stage, any yarn from a different dye vat will definitely show when the garment is finished.
Winding on a bobbin
When working in intarsia or fair-isle you will need small amounts of the contrast colours.To avoid the yarn tangling it is a good idea to make small wrappings of yarn. Using the thumb and little finger wrap the yarn in a figure of eight to the required amount Break off from the main ball, and then secure the end around the centre of the bundle. This method should keep the wrap in shape and avoid tangling. Use the yarn from the center of the bobbin first If using lots of colours in a row it can be useful to have each separate colour in its own small bag or even a jam jar, this will enable you to control the yarn. Plastic bobbins are also available, or you can make your own from card— these are good for use with very fine fibers.
Occasionally yarn still comes on skeins, especially from small specialist dyers.There is a tool available called a knitter's umbrella that unfolds allowing you to place the skein onto it, this will then turn as you wind off your yarn into a ball. However they seem to be harder to come by these days so you may have to resort to the age-old method of using another pair of hands or a chair back to hold the skein whilst you wind a ball.
A ball winder is also available in some specialist shops, which enables you to wind a ball in the shape of a squat cylinder When removed from the winder you can take the yarn from the centre to avoid tangles.
INSTANT EXPERT: KNITTING
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