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Today's Knitting Questions (hello tamum!)

(10 Posts)
NotQuiteCockney Tue 19-Jul-05 21:41:16

Ok, today's questions:

1. If you're doing lacework type knitting (patterns with holes) do you need to be working in a yarn with not much "give", e.g. cotton? Or can you do these sorts of things in wool?

2. Am I right in assuming there's no way for yarn manufacturers to quantify how much "give" yarn has? It would be nice if they did ...

3. Is the cost of yarn generally proportionate to weight, rather than length? So you can get a longer piece of yarn if you stick to something thinner, IYSWIM?

Thanks ...

NotQuiteCockney Wed 20-Jul-05 14:17:46


throckenholt Wed 20-Jul-05 14:19:48

um - I have knitted a lacy type thing in wool (a babies blanket) - not sure it was a total success though.

Other than that - um - no idea - have never thought about it

merglemergle Thu 21-Jul-05 17:14:39

Good question, will watch with interest, in meantime-bump.

franke Thu 21-Jul-05 17:38:06

1) You can do lacey stuff in wool or cotton. But one of the nicest lacey baby blankets I was given was made from a wool/cotton mix so it had all the advantages of the elasticity of wool (which meant it kept its shape) and the definition of design you get with cotton yarns. But then dh put it on a boil wash (well it was white, wasn't it) so it got ruined .

2) No. You just learn from experience how different yarns work depending on the content

3) Yes - yarn is sold by weight. 50g of wool will be longer than 50g of cotton (because cotton is denser I suppose). But yes, generally you'll get a longer piece if you go thinner. I know Rowan yarns used to put the approx. length as well as weight on their ball bands; don't know about other makes.


NotQuiteCockney Thu 21-Jul-05 17:45:49

Oh, thanks franke.

If there's no official way to tell yarns apart, what can people tell me about different yarns?

I know cotton has very little "give", and feels squeaky. It's annoying to knit with if you tend to have your tension too high.

Wool seems the default. It seems to split more (I only use merino, regular wool makes me itch). It has a lot of "give". Do harder-wearing wools itch more but split less? Or is there no relationship?

Synthetics seem to split even more from what I remember, from when I briefly tried them.

I have bamboo, but haven't tried it. I gather it splits lots. Seems soft.

I also have hemp, which feels like linen I think, but haven't tried it. What is linen like to knit with?

I keep seeing cones of lightweight cashmere on ebay and thinking "hmm". What is cashmere like to knit with? Can you make socks? Does it machine-wash?

franke Thu 21-Jul-05 19:48:21

Harder wearing wools will be the heavier ones like aran and chunky. A small amount of nylon or other synthetic added in isn't a bad thing as it will give it a bit more strength. You can also get oiled aran (I had some from Scotland) which is even more weather proof. The chunkier wools tend to be itchier - it is expensive to produce a very soft chunky wool, although you can find them if you look. But you can also get fine wools which are itchy (tweedy types). Merino is a lovely soft lambswool, cashmere is even softer, a cheaper version would be cashmere and silk. These all tend to be 4 ply or finer and although they do make lovely socks, they get worn through quite quickly. Not sure about splitting - in my experience thicker wools tend to split more simply 'cos there's more of them iykwim.

Hemp is indeed linen and will knit in a similar way to cotton I should imagine. I'm afraid I have little experience of synthetics and have never even heard of bamboo. But you've got it really - plant-based yarns have little give (cotton, linen) whereas woollens are much more elastic and silk is somewhere in between depending on the finish. And within these groups are a variety of textures.

I'm on a roll. Next question

NotQuiteCockney Thu 21-Jul-05 20:32:08

So if the yarn is thinner (DK or lighter) then the garment won't be as hard-wearing? That makes sense. But cashmere is always not-hard-wearing?

I notice merino tends to fray or something as I'm knitting (particularly if I have to undo and reknit), is this part of it being a soft lambswool?

I really must knit my way through my enormous stash so I can try some wool/synthetic blends.

franke Thu 21-Jul-05 22:12:52

Pretty much - but it does depend on the content of the yarn - synthetics will give a bit of strength to natural fibres. And that's not to say that a garment made out of Dk or lighter will fall apart after a couple of weeks! Pure cashmere isn't hardwearing, no, but if you don't use it for socks or garments with elbows, it should last.

When you say the merino frays, do you mean it splits and breaks? What make are you using? This shouldn't really happen unless you are really yanking it about or repeatedly unravelling and re-knitting. But you can also get some really loosely spun yarns (of any thickness) that just pull apart. A good quality merino (I used to use Jaegar) should be fit for the purpose of knitting a garment that will last.

NotQuiteCockney Fri 22-Jul-05 09:47:36

It doesn't split and break, it just frays a bit - bits of fiber stick out. It's not breaking, though. It just looks fluffy.

It is Jaeger I'm using, anyway. It may be because my tension is a bit too tight, generally. I do think it will last, it's a scarf, not socks.

I should probably just ignore DH's muttering about wanting socks.

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