Hi everybody! I’m new here and I am currently teaching myself how to knit. So far, I am handling it ok. The videos on this site help so much! Anyway, the question… I am trying to figure out how you know what yarns are good and which ones are not. Right now, I am making my very first project (a baby blanket) as a test run. I am using yarn I found for cheap at Walmart. It’s really a test run because I want to make the same blanket for a friend of mine’s future baby. Long story short, I was just wondering what a good yarn would be for a baby blanket and any tips on how to know what I should get for projects? Thanks!
Aren’t the videos amazing? I’m using them for almost everything now!
Anyway, most yarns tell you important things on the label, such as whether or not they are machine-washable and/or colourfast (both pretty important for a baby blanket, I think, those things can be pretty messy) and what they are made of. I find it’s best if you can touch the yarn you’re considering, since I’m a pretty tactile person. A baby blanket should be soft, of course! I like most of my knit garments to be soft, or at least not itchy. Of course, if you’re knitting something purely decorative, the texture usually doesn’t matter as much.
I’m also planning on starting a baby blanket (hooded afghan, actually) and I stumbled across Lion Brand’s “Pound of Love”. It’s pretty inexpensive for the amount of yarn you’re getting, and I’ve read many a glowing review of the stuff. It comes in a plastic bag, but one of them had been opened at the store, so I got to feel how nice and soft it was. It also comes with a pattern for the hooded afghan I want to try printed on the inside of the label.
Of course, you could always just browse your LYS looking for yarns with “baby” in the name, since lots of brands have ‘baby’ varieties for just the sort of thing you’re planning to do. They’re also lots of fun to touch!
In general, try to think of the qualities you want in your garment when you’re going out to choose your yarn. For instance, you generally don’t want to use a heavy, thick yarn for knitting a tank top. Unless you’re planning on having it double as a vest later, of course.
I hope that was helpful, but you probably want to wait for advice from a knitter more seasoned than myself.
There is such a wide variety of yarn out there, it can be overwhelming. Some people will only use natural fibers, some want the easy care of acrylics. As in all things, regardless of the type of yarn you want to use, there is a big difference in the quality. Yes, you can buy really inexpensive acrylics that feel soft on the skein but knit up or more often in my experience, wash up, poorly. My mother-in-law used to buy the cheapest garbage she could from her local K-Mart and the sweaters she made for the kids always washed up stiff. It was awful.
For children’s things, I always use a good-quality acrylic or more often, a blend. My favorite by far is Plymouth Encore. It comes in worsted and dk and has a very wide variety of colors. Its soft and washes and machine dries beautifully. And its reasonably priced and is often on sale. Superwash wools are very soft and you can wash them in the machine, but have to lay them flat to dry. For a baby blanket, or any baby clothes, machine for both is best. With a new baby, (or even and ‘old’ baby) who wants special care products?
In the end, though, you really do get what you pay for (on the cheaper end, anyway). The bargain “Pound-o-Wool” that you can find has its uses, I’m sure, but for a gift, or for something that you want to last, its best to go up a notch or two. There’s no need to get crazy, because you can go that way, too. Hope this was helpful, albeit long!
Oh, yeah… Ingrid’s post reminded me about a footnote I forgot. I’m currently working to put myself through university, so my yarn budget isn’t nearly as large as I’d like… neither is my yarn stash or my list of delicious yarns that have been made into useful items. Assuming that you have more available money to spend on yarn than I do, you definitely want to go with quality over low prices. Especially when knitting for others. I bit the bullet and bought ~$70 (Canadian) of yarn for my boyfriend’s sweater last Christmas, and I haven’t regretted it. It’s held up wonderfully through repeated washing and wearing, but I can’t afford such gorgeous yarn for every project I take on. Someday, though…
THank you so much! Your responses have been very helpful!!!