Thursday, March 14, 2013

Meeting Highlights: Everything About Yarn, Part 2

We need a new bumper sticker:  Start seeing yarn!  Because that’s what we need to do.  Many of us notice the color or feel of yarn in the skein and never see the structure of the yarn itself.  We don’t notice fiber or ply or type of twist.  And that’s what we really need to see if we are to predict how a particular yarn will behave in our projects.  Don’t make an impulsive yarn purchase for your project; matching the yarn characteristics to the yarn the designer used will improve your chance of success when substituting yarns.

Here’s some things to remember about yarn:
  • Z twist yarn works best for right-handed crocheters or knitters using the continental style.
  • S twist works best for left-handed crocheters or knitters using the American style.
  • There’s a great difference in thickness of yarns of the same weight; if possible, compare wraps per inch.
  • The scale is your friend.  Compare the weight of your swatch to the weight of your yarn to better estimate if you have enough.
  • Don’t be afraid of doing the math.  There are ways to estimate yarn requirements by weight and by yardage, but you’ll have to do some math.
  • All size 10 thread is not created equal.  It can be S or Z twist, tightly or loosely plied, mercerized or not, stiff (for good stitch definition) or rather limp (for drape).
  • Read, read, READ the label!  Some manufacturers put a lot of info there and some do not.  The label should tell you the fiber content (even the breed of animal) and might even tell you how the yarn was spun (woolen or worsted—fluffy or smooth).
  • Pay attention to fiber content, as this can give you an idea of whether the yarn will naturally drape or not.
  • Online retailers can be good sources of information about particular yarns.  Ravelry yarn comments can be quite helpful, and the links to how others have used particular yarns can inspire you.

At this meeting, we had a chance to examine various yarns more closely.  We all have stashes of yarn.  Go through yours, pull out some samples and attach them to cards.  You can compare yarns by weight (worsted, DK, fingering, etc.), fiber (wool, cellulose or artificial), and twist (single- or multi-ply, cabled or chained).  As you become more familiar with the yarns you have and how they behave, the easier it will be to choose yarns that will do what you want them to do.

March is a five-Saturday month.  We are planning an “internet café” meeting where we can share Ravelry tips and favorite online resources and will post a blog entry with details soon.

Our next meeting will be Saturday, April 11th at Prospect Park United Methodist Church.  Carla will lead us through a tapestry project—a simple soda can sleeve or a more challenging cat purse design.  Hope to see you there!