One of the most important decisions you must make when you knit is what yarn to use for your project. The yarn you choose has everything to do with how your finished project looks and stands up to time and wear. The last thing you want to do is spend hours making something only to have it fall apart in the wash, or look worn out after the second wearing. Taking the time to choose just the right yarn will help make your knitting projects a success.
Here are the answers to your top seven knitting yarn questions:
- How do I learn about all of the different yarns? The easiest place to learn about yarn is by simply reading and comparing labels. Yarn labels include such information as the brand name, the fiber content of the yarn, the color name and number, the dye lot number, the number of piles or strands, the weight classification of the yarn, the knitting and crochet gauge, cleaning instructions, and the length of the yarn itself. By reading the labels and comparing them to each other, you can easily learn all you need to know about yarn.
- Why do I care about yarn weight classification? The term “yarn weight classification” does not refer to the actual physical weight of the yarn, as you might have guessed it would. Rather, the yarn weight classification refers to the diameter of the yarn strand. The smaller the strand, the smaller the weight, and vice versa…
- Can I use a different yarn brand than my pattern calls for? Generally the answer is yes. You will want to knit a test swatch and make sure your gauge is correct before knitting your entire project though.
- What is yarn gauge? Gauge is the number of stitches and rows in every inch of knitting. Gauge is specified on patterns to assure that the end project is true to size. Because everyone knits differently, it is very important to make a test swatch with your project needles and yarn to check to make sure your gauge matches that of the pattern you are working with. Gauge is especially important when working with clothing.
- Can I substitute one yarn weight for another one? Generally the answer is no. Because your yarn weight has a lot to do with the finished size and look of a project, by using a yarn of a different weight you risk your project coming out the wrong size. Generally you cannot substitute yarn weights unless you are making something like a blanket or scarf where it will not matter as much and you can easily adjust your project for the change in size.
- What is a dye lot and why do some yarns have one and others do not? Dye lot numbers refer to the batch a skein of yarn was in when it was dyed at the factory. Because dying is not an exact science, the same color yarn, from different dye lots, can appear to be two different colors. This is why you should always purchase enough yarn to complete your project all from the same dye lot if at all possible.
Some yarns and fibers do not list a dye lot number because the fibers are colored first and then the yarns are made. This means there are no dye lots available for the yarn.
- How do I care for my knitted fabrics? The easiest way to know how to care for a knitted fabric is to check on the laundering instructions on the yarn label. Generally you will want to hand wash all of your hand knitted items in a mild detergent and then dry them flat. If you do not have a yarn label, you can sometimes find similar yarn at your local craft store and read that yarn’s label for care directions.