What Yarn to Get? Beginner!

Hello! I posted a question a little while ago asking whether or not this would be a good sweat pattern for a beginner. http://www.berroco.com/patterns/peter-easy

I got the ‘ok’ and am excited to start it soon! The only problem is that I am really unsure as to what yarn to buy. The yarn they recommended for this pattern is apparently ‘discontinued’. So I am looking for another type of merino yarn that isn’t going to cost me a fortune.

Do any of you have good recommendations as to where to find good yarns?

And there also seem to be a lot of ‘merino’ yarns, and I am not sure which one to get for this pattern?


Merino wool is a very soft yarn–lovely to work with and hand-washable, usually.

You don’t need merino specifically for the sweater, any worsted-weight yarn will do. Then you work with your needle size to match your gauge to the pattern’s gauge.

www.knitpicks.com and www.yarn.com both have some lovely yarns at reasonable prices.

You can also go with a soft acrylic or acrylic blend like Plymouth Encore for a machine-washable sweater. Stay away from the cheap buck-a-pound acrylics, though. They don’t make a soft sweater; and for the time you’re investing in a sweater, it’s soooo worth it to get a decent yarn.

Where are you located? I’m not sure that it’s discontinued, click onthis map and see if there’s a shop near you that carries it. You can find it online at Jimmy Bean’s, Little Knits, and various other places.

It’s a worsted or aran weight, doesn’t have to be a merino. Knit Picks has a couple that could work (their Merino style is listed as dk, but it’s as heavy as a worsted). There is only one merino, the wool that comes from merino sheep. There are superwash merinos, but that just means the item will be machine washable and possibly can be dried in a dryer.

It is discontinued. Huh.

Look for a gauge of about 18 st over 4 inches. Plymouth Encore would be perfect. I use it for hats all the time.

Whatever you get, I’d recommend a superwash yarn (one that’s machine washable) – especially if this is for a guy. I know if it has to be hand washed/dry cleaned it isn’t going to get a lot of wear out of me unless it’s a hat or a scarf or something that doesn’t have to be washed every time it’s worn.

Cascade 220 has a superwash variant that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s not merino (at least I don’t THINK they have that as an option). Plymouth Select Superwash Merino is one of my favorites to work with and works up beautifully. I’ve used both of these to good effect. Plymouth Encore is less expensive, machine washable, durable and makes a good choice as well. It’s not one of my personal favorites, but it’s a perfectly good yarn. Just looking at the photo of the Berroco, it LOOKS a lot like the Plymouth Select, but the Berroco might be a tiny bit thicker.

Cascade 220 superwash is Peruvian highland wool. I’ve only knit with the sport weight superwash and it was really nice.

I found links to the ones I mentioned earlier if you want to peruse them. You can probably find them at other outlets online and in the 3-dimensional world, but this will give you an idea what’s available.

Plymouth Select Superwash Merino

Plymouth Select Superwash Merino Kettle Dyed

Cascade 220 Superwash

Cascade 220 Superwash Paints*

*A note on this one, it’s superwash, but I’d recommend washing it either by hand or at least by itself the first time around. I’ve only used it once, but it turned my fingers and (bamboo) needles green as I was knitting it and turned the water green when I washed it to block it. Could be that I just got some extra dye for free in the 2 skeins I got. I’ve only used it once, and I haven’t noticed having the same kind of bleeding in any of the others I’ve listed. But it won’t hurt to wash it solo the first time anyway.

The Cascade 220 Sport is a lighter (DK/Sport) weight (that technically should be called Cascade 292 if they followed their usual convention). You could still use it, but you’d have to adjust for the lighter weight somehow. By my calculations, it’s about 25% thinner than Cascade 220.

My nieces (10 & 12) want to learn to knit.
I want to get them “practice yarn” not very expensive, but fun for a first project, what do you folks recommend?

Something from a craft store like Joann’s or Michaels would be fine. Red Heart, Caron, or the store brand lines.

For beginners a worsted weight, smooth, light colored solid is best. No novelty yarns.

Where? Craft stores like Sue suggested are good for beginners. Yarn stores also have yarn, but it’s more expensive which you may not want for learning since there’s no guarantee they’ll stick with it.

As a relative beginner (who picked exactly the WRONG yarns to learn on) I’d add a couple of things.

  1. Stick to the middle of the color range. Very light or very dark colors are hard to see stitches in. That’s obvious with black or very dark brown because the shadows created by the strands get lost in the background. But very light colors “overpower” the shadows too. If you can hold the skein sideways on at arm’s length and clearly make out the individual strands, you’re probably okay.

  2. Take a piece of a strand and roll it between your fingers. If the plies (the strands that make up the strand) aren’t coming unwound, that’s a good sign that the yarn will avoid splitting when you’re trying to knit it. This was a KILLER for me when I started out (and still gives me trouble sometimes).

2(a). Avoid the “pink puffy heart” yarns that are fuzzy on the outside. Those cute, cuddly soft loose fibers that give it that poofy look get hung on needle tips and cause no end of frustration.

  1. As someone else already said, get a worsted weight. Anything much bigger or smaller than that is hard to keep under control.

Red Heart has something they call “Super Saver”, which is an acrylic that stays together pretty well and as the name implies is pretty cheap. It’s available practically everywhere – craft stores, department stores, any place that has a craft department. The trouble is that it’s most commonly sold in HUGE skeins (though you can find smaller ones if you look) so you wind up with a TON of it.

Caron makes a little bit “nicer” bargain yarn, but in my experience most of then tend to be a little more “splitty”. Especially if your knitting is on the tight side. And I’d just guess that Lion Brand has a bargain yarn that would be suitable, but I haven’t used any of their stuff so I can’t confirm or deny.

If you want to get real wool, Jojoland Baritone makes a pretty good choice. It stands up to the clumsy ones like me pretty well, and it’s pretty manageable. Plus it comes in 50 yard balls that cost about $2, so you can get the whole basic Crayola box for under $20. The disadvantage to it is that it’s harder to find. And the balls are small enough that you don’t wind up with 800 yards of something you’d never use again. But it’s wool, with all that entails. Most importantly it’s hand-wash only, which may not matter if you’re only making practice swatches and might be cool if they want to try out felting (on purpose, I mean). You might have to order it online though, I don’t remember ever seeing it in stores. I THINK yarns.com carries it, and they deliver pretty fast. If you’re looking for something for Christmas, you MIGHT still get it in time – if you order today.

And you didn’t ask about them, but since I’m running off at the fingers anyway I’ll throw it in (at no extra charge!). I’d suggest that whatever needle size is shown on the color band on the ball/skein, you go up 2 sizes from that if they’re first-timers. the stitches will be bigger than they’re supposed to be, but it’ll be a lot easier to make the yarn behave. At least, that’s what I found.

Good luck to 'em!