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Can someone explain wool and yarn to me please?

(4 Posts)
ConfuciousSayWhat Tue 07-Jun-16 16:24:28

I tend to just go into the shop or online decide i like some colours and how the wool feels and buy it, but I've noticed wool comes in different varieties, can someone explain it to me please?

TheWoollybacksWife Tue 07-Jun-16 17:28:34

In the uk yarn comes in different thicknesses such as 2ply (very thin), 3ply, 4ply, double knitting (DK), Aran, chunky, super chunky (very thick). In other countries they use terms such as sport weight, fingering and worsted. There are also textured yarns such as eyelash (knits with a fringed effect), fleece (eg Sirdar Snowflake) and chenille (feels like velvet).

Yarns bought from a wool shop will have a wrapper that gives a recommendation for the needles/hook to use and will also give a number of stitches and rows that will be in a 10cm square if you use the yarn and the suggested needles.

If you are "free-styling" eg making blankets and throws without using a pattern then the yarn thickness is not too important - you would just cast on or chain enough stitches until it was wide enough and then knit or crochet until it was long enough.

If you are working from a pattern then you need to use yarn of the recommended weight in order for the sizing to remain accurate. For example if you knitted an Aran pattern in DK it would work out narrower than the pattern measurements. It would be "safe" to use a different yarn brand from the one recommended by the pattern as long as it was the same weight.

ConfuciousSayWhat Tue 07-Jun-16 18:04:32

Thank you!

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 22-Jun-16 11:50:46

Yarns have different fibre contents (eg: lambswool, alpaca, synthetic) and sometimes are blended (eg. wool/silk).

They also come in different 'grists' (thicknesses) so you can find the right yarn for the right pattern.

When you buy a commercial knitting pattern, it will specify a certain yarn. But that is only because the patterns are published to sell yarn. You can easily check the weight (thickness, eg: whether 4 ply, DK, Aran, Chunky) of the yarn, and the length of the yarn in that ball or skein, then substitute something similar, that you prefer. So long as you then knit a tension square and change your needle size, if needed, to get the right tension for your pattern.

I sometimes design and write knitting patterns and like other independent designers, will simply use the yarn I like best for the job so I am not tied to any one manufacturer. Even so, people knitting my stuff could easily substitute so long as they are well informed (That's where the 'Yarns' tab on comes in handy).

Generally the fatter a wool (eg; Aran, chunky) the faster it is to knit something from it, but the less yardage you will get from a ball of the same weight. So a 50g ball of laceweight yarn would be a lot longer than a 50g ball of Aran.

So you can choose your yarns for alll kinds of reasons - according to the pattern you're knitting, whether it's for summer or winter, what qualities you want the finished item to have, how fast it is to knit, how great the colour range is... and a million other reasons.

If I'm not sure about a yarn, I go to Ravelry and check it out as people leave honest reviews and comments, and there are links to blogs etc as wlel as people's projects, where they may forewarn you about problems (ie: this skein had loads of knots in it) and also the positives (eg: how well it washes).

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