As you’ve probably guessed by now, I love scarves – the ultimate accessory to add a little finesse to your outfit. This one by Churchmouse is knit in Rowan’s light and airy Kidsilk Haze. The dots aren’t made with colored yarn, but knit in a large eyelet pattern stitch – simple yet creates a luxurious lace. I would love to try this piece.
I’m fond of linen, and this beautiful brioche rib wrap from Purl Soho takes full advantage of their new yarn, Field Linen, 100% linen. Check out my post “The Ultimate Summer Yarn” for the scoop on linen. The Husk Wrap pattern is free, and brioche rib is a great choice for this yarn. Linen gets more beautiful with age and drapes elegantly.
Yarns are packaged with paper ball bands containing information to help you choose the most appropriate yarn for your projects. I outline this information in my e-book “It’s All About The Yarn”. The following are “confusing terms” you may find on yarn labels.
- Yarn Weight – Typically you won’t see the weight category (thickness of yarn strand) printed on the ball band, but some manufacturers will denote the yarn’s weight category by its number (0 – 7), term (lace – jumbo), or both.
- Yarn Length – This is the yardage and meterage (amount in yards and metres) for one ball, skein, or hank. This is the actual length, not to be confused with weight in ounces and grams. Two different 50g balls of yarn will have different lengths. For example, a 50g ball of lace weight yarn may be 420m in length, whereas a 50g ball of sock yarn may only have 175m in length. Yardage and meterage is what is used to calculate the amount of substitute yarn.
- The meaning of the following yarn types is unclear: fingering, sock, sport, baby, and 4 ply yarn. Historically, these yarn types were used as “names” of the yarn. Plies were often used to describe weight, because they were fairly uniform. Today, a single ply yarn can be a very fine lace or a bulky Icelandic wool. Regardless of the weight, all types can be a single or consist of many plies. The following chart is helpful, and notice that in UK, Australia, and New Zealand (not all yarn manufacturers) plies have remained as yarn weights, even though the meaning is no longer clear. Note: The differences between Fingering, Sock, Baby and Sport are small – it’s most important to rely on your gauge when choosing the appropriate yarn for your project.
- DK, Worsted, Aran – These terms are also yarn weights, commonly found on labels, particularly DK, which stands for “double knitting”. DK is a “light (3) weight” yarn and is popular. Worsted and aran are classified as “medium (4) weight”. “Aran” is slightly thicker than worsted.
- Color Codes/Dye Lots – Color codes are the manufacturer’s number for a particular color. Dye lots refer to the dye batch number, or the batch the yarn was dyed in. Because yarn is dyed in batches, it’s not uncommon for the same color to vary from one dye lot to another. For this reason, it is important to buy yarn in one dye lot for your project.
- Some labels, particularly yarns manufactured in Europe may show a rough guide as to how much yarn is required for different garments in average sizes for men, women, and children.
- You may also find a crochet gauge in single crochet (sc) and hook size for a 4 inch square, along with the stockinette stitch gauge.
- Care instructions will be in text, symbols, or both. For symbol reference, check out this chart.
- Flax/Linen – Flax is a food and fiber crop cultivated in cooler regions of the world. Textiles made from flax are known as “linen”. You will often see the term “linen” used on a yarn label, rather than “flax”. The collective term “linens” is generically used to describe bed and kitchen textiles, even those not made from flax.
- Mercerized Cotton – Mercerization is a chemical finish used on cotton that adds luster, and improves its dyeing properties. Mercerized cotton is stronger than regular cotton, and less prone to shrinkage.
- Superwash Wool – Superwash is a finishing process that alters the scale structure of wool, so that wool doesn’t shrink when machine washed. For felting projects, do not use superwash wool. Since the “felting” process shrinks wool to make a dense fabric, superwash wool won’t felt.
- Bamboo Sourced Viscose – Bamboo fibers come from the pulp of bamboo grass. Bamboo yarn is manufactured by two different methods. In one of these methods, bamboo is processed in the same manner as rayon (viscose) fiber, with chemicals and equipment used to make synthetic fibers. Manufacturers are now required to label these “rayon like” yarns with terminology such as “bamboo sourced viscose”.
I hope in defining these “confusing terms”, that this information will help you shop for the best yarn for your projects.
I’m always looking for a classic cardigan, and I came across this one by Regina Moessmer on Fringe Association. When it comes to a simple design, it’s all about details and having an even tension; I like the exposed seams and rib borders of this cardigan. When making a garment in garter stitch, you have to remember that it can stretch in length, so the best fiber to use is a firm wool, and not a heavy cotton or bamboo, or the garment will lose its shape and drape too much. I once made the mistake of making a structured cardigan with pleats in bamboo, and it draped so much that I couldn’t wear it. This is a perfect pattern for the simplest of knit patterns – garter stitch.
The Moroccan Slippers from Churchmouse Yarns are the crochet version of their popular Turkish Bed Socks. I have made many pairs of the Turkish Socks (a couple of pairs are shown above), which I wear mainly as loafer socks in the summer. I can’t wait to try a crochet version…probably quicker to make than the knitted socks.
The other day I was pondering about why I knit, and at what point I decided to move beyond being a beginner. As I gained more experience, my reasons to knit changed depending on the project. So what follows are my thoughts on the philosophical question – Why I (You) Knit?
- Designing – Initially, as with most beginners I relied on purchased pattern instructions for my projects. As I became comfortable with knitting, and understanding pattern instructions, I needed a challenge. For me, this came in the form of wanting to make garments for myself, designed by me, including how-to write instructions. I leapt into designing by copying knits I saw in stores. So tape measure in hand, I would take measurements in the dressing room, drew a quick sketch and schematic, to begin the design process. This is not to say that this should be every knitter’s goal. However, copying designs and knitting from measurements is a skill that comes in handy when you can’t find the right pattern that meets all your expectations.
- Rest and Relaxation – I often knit to rest and relax. Give me its repetitive, sometimes hypnotic motion, and I’m in the zone – focused, but not overwhelmed by the task at hand. Knitting for relaxation is probably not for the absolute beginner, but give it some time to get comfortable knitting. I think most knitters can’t wait for long stretches of knitting time.
- Project vs. Process Knitters – Some knitters focus more on the destination – the project, whereas others focus on the journey – the process. No knitter has total focus in one camp or the other, but I think that we place more emphasis on either the project or process. The process of knitting is where I gain the most pleasure. However, when a project meets both needs, that’s the most fulfilling.
- Challenges – Sometimes I just want to do “mindless” knitting, because I don’t want the challenge of writing the instructions for a design. But a knitter can’t stay in their comfort zone forever; you need to try something new including pattern stitches, pattern writing, different cast on methods, swatching new ideas, or other techniques. The challenges are endless, but can certainly spice up your knitting.
- Gift Giving – I’ve known knitters who only knit gifts for Christmas or other special holidays. Experiencing the appreciation in a recipient’s eyes is the best gift of all.
- Seasonal Knitting – I’ve also met knitters who only knit in the fall or winter. I’ve been asked “why do you knit in the summer…don’t you get hot”. If you’re a die-hard knitter, the time of year doesn’t matter. What is more fun than a cool drink in hand lounging on the deck, knitting.
- Socializing – Although my blog is a social media tool, and I love sharing my skills with an audience, I must admit that social knitting is not one of my top reasons to knit. Knitting is my private time; time for working out designs or simply relaxing. Distraction from other knitters would cause me to lose focus. I can’t deny the enjoyment others have by socializing and knitting. It certainly helps in meeting the knitting community, and learning new skills.
- Wardrobe Additions – I cringe at the thought of purchasing an expensive sweater made out of synthetic yarn. For me, knits must be a quality purchase – longevity, wears well, and is made of the best yarn. Depending on your skill level, budget, and time, most knitters could make a high quality knit rather than a purchased one. With the best yarn, I try to knit something new and fashionable for my wardrobe each season.
The art of knitting is to experience joy in the beauty of color, texture, and in its accomplishment. There are many more reasons to knit than what’s listed above. Depending on the project and its purpose, my focus will be skewed towards one or two reasons. But I would say my private time is where my journey starts and ends for every project. What are your reasons for knitting or does it really matter?
This stunning blanket is a free pattern from Purl Soho. It looks complicated, but isn’t. The colorwork technique is Mosaic Knitting; you don’t have to carry any colors, simply slip stitches, knit and purl. I know it’s a little crazy to knit blankets when summer has just begun, but it could be knit up and ready for a cool fall evening!