What kind of yarn does one choose?

I [color=green][size=6]just wrote a whole post with some very important questions…(;~}} and I turned around (something on TV caught my attention, and needless to say, the whole post is gone.

so, now that my creative juices are sapped, I’ll make a quick synopsis…
How does one choose a yarn, and can someone tell me what to look for to make a decision? what yarns are breathable? Are some much more likely to seperate while I knit? What textures are easier to work with? should I limit myself to the specifics in the written directions. (I would probably not be happy with that). I have been reading the posts and hear the emotions that others express about the materials they use…it is amazing to me.

I learned to knit from my mother about 100 years ago. the choices she gave me were worsted or not worsted, real wool or synthetic, baby yarn, or maybe a “bulky” type. so now, when I began to knit again after very many years, I’m at a loss.

See the problem?

Vivian, the knittian[/size][/color]
:happydance: :rofl:

Ah, that is the question of the century!

Seriously, it all depends on what you want. What are you making, what yarn does the pattern call for, are you on a budget…I find all of these things are important to me.

Right now I’m a strictly acrylic knitter. The projects I’m working on are for everyday use, so I want something easily washed and dried. I also have a BIG problem with wool and breaking out, so I don’t like to use it. People that don’t have that problem see things differently. Also, I’m still at the beginner/novice stage, so I tend to stick with less expensive yarns as it’s easier for me to mess up a $3 skein of yarn as opposed to an $8 skein of yarn.

So, now that I’ve made that clear as mud, the simple fact is that nobody else can tell you what to like and not like - just go with what you want. If you do make substitutions from what the pattern calls for, just make sure you have something that is pretty much the same bulk so you stay true to gauge.


Welcome to the amazing world of knitting! :cheering: Here’s a basic run-down, using examples from Lion Brand (lionbrand.com):

Weight - This has to do with the diameter of the yarn. Different yarns are labeled differently, but mostly it’s laceweight, fingering, sport, worsted, chunky, and bulky, from smallest to largest.

Types - There are lots of types of yarn available, to say the very least! There’s your average plied yarn (like WoolEase), what most sweaters, etc. are made of, which has two or more plies (strands) of fiber wound together. Boucle is yarn that has nubs or bumps in it (like Lion Boucle or Homespun). Novelty yarns can be all sorts of things, from Fun Fur to ribbon yarn (like Incredible) to ladder yarns.

Fibers - Every knitter has his or her favorite fibers to knit with.

Acrylic is generally cheapest and is machine washable, but doesn’t breathe well. These days, there are all sorts of acrylics available, some good ones and some not-so-good ones.

Wool is a little more expensive, but it breathes better. You can get superwash wool if you want to be able to machine wash your finished object. If you wash non-superwash wool, it will felt. (You’ve probably done this without knowing it - like when your dad sticks your 100% wool sweater in the dryer and it comes out Barbie-sized.) Wool is a little more elastic than acrylic or cotton, so a garment made from wool will retain its shape well.

Cotton is lightweight and washable, but it doesn’t stretch well. If you’re a brand-new knitter, it’s probably best not to start with cotton, since it’s harder to manipulate until you get used to it. Making large fitted garments from 100% cotton isn’t always a good idea, because the weight of the cotton will make it sag. Blending cotton with a synthetic fiber like acrylic or with wool will help with this problem.

As to what type of yarn you’ll need, that depends on your project. Don’t start out making a duster-length sweater with laceweight yarn unless you really enjoy knitting…and knitting…and knitting…FOREVER. Likewise, I’d recommend not making socks in chunky weight yarn if you want to be able to wear them with shoes.

For a new knitter, I would recommend making a scarf with light-colored worsted or chunky weight wool or wool-blend yarn and size 8 or larger needles. (Whatever you do, spare yourself the frustration of making a furry or novelty scarf as your first project!) Just use the scarf as a sampler as you learn stitches.

Once you get started, try a simple pattern. Always make a gauge swatch (so you don’t wind up making a tank top that will fit you, your sister, and her boyfriend) and read through the pattern a time or two before you start.

You can do it! Just keep practicing, and you’ll be flying along before you know it!

Hi psammeadred

Little did I know that mine was the question of the century! :doh:

Your answers were very helpful. My 1st project, since the last century, was a sweater for a important friend. I chose cotton (guess who loves cotton?). I was having some problems as it kept separating, but I thought it was just my skill level.

the problem I also found was that the gauge as indicated, and what I actually did was off by one inch. I increased the needle size to three above what the pattern called for. Will that mean I just have keep knitting until I have the right number of inchs (like for the back)? or have I screwed up really badly? the sales lady told me that the yarn I purchased would be OK for the pattern. Did she sell me more than the yarn? (like the Brooklyn Bridge?)

thanks so much for you most informed response, so now I am asking you even more. what a compliment. It carries responsibility too. :happydance: :teehee: :teehee:

As long as the fabric that you are knitting looks good to you and the gauge is right on now you will be fine. No extra knitting really.

needle size in the pattern is really a suggestion. That is the size that the creator got gauge with. Some knitters tend to knit really loosly while other knit very tightly. So you start with a gauge swatch using the suggested needles and the switch needle sizes as needed.

Good Luck! :hug: