For popular yarn brands, yarn weights are standardized to make crafters lives easier. Never again guess if that unlabeled yarn at the bottom of your stash is right for your gauge sensitive pattern!!!
CYC (Craft Yarn Council) Yarn Weight Categories
WPI stands for Wraps Per Inch. This is a method to determine yarn weight. This means that if you take something like a ruler, and wrap the yarn with the strand wraps side by side, the number of wraps will tell you the weight of the yarn.
Yarns with 6 wraps or less are considered super bulky, like roving.
Yarns with 7 or 8 wraps are considered bulky, like chunky.
Yarns between 9 and 11 wraps are considered medium, like worsted.
Yarns between 12 and 14 wraps are considered light, like DK.
Yarns between 15 and 18 wraps are considered fine, like sport.
Yarns with 19 or more wraps are considered super fine like sock yarn.
More about the CYC can be found at http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/ .
It’s gorgeous, but what do I do with it? …OR… Tips for using those fabulous handspun novelty yarns
We have all drooled over the simply stunning, handspun, novelty yarns available by all kinds of talented spinners these days. Coilspun, Beehives, Boucle, Tailspun, yarns with added sequins, ornaments, doodads and ribbons. They capture your attention and light up your creativity! But, what exactly, do you DO with these fabulous work of art? Why you use them, of course!!
So many of us are in love with these yarns and absolutely at a loss when it comes time to decide what to make with them. I’m here to tell you that not only are these yarns fun to work with, but they are meant to be made into treasured objects! Here are some tips to get you started down the road to crafting with handspun art yarns.
The first thing to do is Keep It Simple. Any project you decide to make out of these yarns will be best if you are showcasing the beauty of the yarn and not the tricks you are doing with your stitches.
This is the time to pull out those fun and easy patterns that feature garter stitch, stockinette, simple rows of single or double crochet and simple elegant lines and shapes. We want our eyes to be drawn to the intricacies of the yarn itself.
The next important thing in working with these yarns is Keep It Loose. This is not the time to bear down on your handwork and make those stitches tight. Take a deep breath, relax and let the yarn lead you in the work. If there is a cool doodad hanging from your yarn, take a moment to push it to the front of your work so that you can enjoy it.
Make sure you aren’t pulling the yarn so tight that your beehives and coils are being pulled out of shape. Give the yarn an opportunity to go the direction it wants and you will find some exciting things happen in your finished fabric.
Take It Slow. This is not the time for speed stitching! You will need to slow down your needles and hooks so that you can use the yarns to their best advantage. This is not to say that your knitting or crocheting will become painfully slow and boring.
Quite the contrary. You will find that you are enjoying the journey all the more because the yarn will entertain you in ways you never imagined along the way.
By slowing down, you will have opportunities to manipulate the yarn and show off the special areas within your finished piece.
Here’s your chance to Make It Bold! Most of these yarns are bulky and super bulky weights. Here is your chance to pull out the really big needles and hooks and make a bold statement in rough, oversized stitches. You will find these projects go faster than you think and that working in a large gauge gives you a new perspective on the actual creation of the stitches. I am delighted by the process of the stitches forming and by the raw, almost industrial, feel you get in a project created with super large needles and hooks. (Yes, I do giggle like a school girl while working on these types of projects!)
In case you needed a little push, I’m here to tell you to Take the Plunge! Grab hold of one of those eye popping yarns and just jump right in. Stop waiting for the perfect time, project or person. This is one of those ‘just do it’ moments!
Above all else, Keep It Fun! Once you get started working with these yarns, you will likely find that your crafting becomes something of a party. Go along with it and have a great time. If you loosen up and have fun with the process, it will show in your finished garment and everyone who sees it will be infected with the spirit!
My favorite is our ‘flagship’ lash yarn. I tailspin a lot of it and have used the same spinning wheel forever. It is a Bulky Babe electric spinner. I cannot recommend the wheel highly enough and I adore Nels (owner/inventor of Babe’s Fiber Garden).
The BB gives my crooked back a break from treadling, allows charms, beads, locks and more to be spun into the yarn with out having to hand wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The wheel is also wonderful for plying, especially if you are working through a large order. Personally, plying day is a long one for me since I really like designing the single ply more.
I replaced my trusty BB a few weeks ago after it decided so many years had earned it a permanent vacation. The new wheel is basically the same, with a few changes to improve the ability to spin majorly bulky yarn.
This is completely a ‘me’ issue, I miss my familiar wheel. The need to immediately spin a custom lash yarn order forced me to try something new. You heard correctly. I, Sandyrella, got the push to try spinning the lash yarn on my Rio Grande wheel.
The Rio wheel came to me via a good friend in Taos, New Mexico. She already had one so I was lucky enough to buy this barely used wheel. It is huge, beautiful-and fast. I rarely allow myself time to do any serious spinning with the Rio, so good in another way too.
It was really good. Once I remembered to relax, treadle slooowly and sit up straight- we were off. It is actually easy to tailspin with this wheel too. No threading the yarn through hooks or loops since it is very much like a Great Wheel, with a spindle that allows you to spin off the point and a treadle.
My stable includes antique wheels, a Kromski Symphony, the BB and the Rio. It would be impossible for me to name a favorite but if you have a chance to try the BB or Rio- give it a whorl.
The BB will always be my bulky yarn spinning pal but the Rio is going to see more time with me now. Stretching boundaries and spinning outside the box- it does a spinner good!
Michele demonstrates the art of coloring yarn using Kool-Aid. She provides a step-by-step tutorial on dyeing yarn using this favorite childeren’s drink. Kool-Aid provides an inexpensive, environmentally friendly means of coloring your favorite animal fiber or yarn.
Start by tying a slip knot in the end of a skein of yarn and secure it to the corner nail on the left side of the top rail. Then carry the yarn under the nails to the right corner of the frame. This horizontal line of yarn is the first or top warp.
At the corner nail on the right, make one counter clockwise turn around the nail, carry the yarn down and under the first nail on the right side rail and head back over to the left side. This is the second horizontal line of yarn and the second warp.
Back at the left side of the loom the yarn is brought up and around the second nail on the left side rail and brought up and over the first warp. The line of yarn going straight up leads back to the skein.
The loom is now primed for weaving.
Simple or plain triangular loom weaving consists of snaking a crochet needle over and under the horizontal warps, snagging the loose line of yarn going back to the skein, pulling it down to create a loop of yarn, dragging this loop through the warps, hooking one side of the loop on the next nail down the side on which you are working, widening the loop by dragging ti to the other side letting yarn pull from the skein as you do so, and hooking the second side of the loop on the next nail down on the far side of the loom.
Reaching up through the warps to snag the loose yarn
Hooking the right side of the loop on the next nail down on the right side of the loom.
Pulling the loop forward to the other side, drawing yarn from the skein to widen the loop.
Hooking the left side of the loop on the next nail down on the left side.
Notice in the last picture that the loose end of the yarn is again going up and out of the picture. For the next weaving, the same process is repeated except this time the loop is started on the right side. Weaving is simply a matter of repeating the process of dragging loops down from one side, hooking them on a nail, widening the loop as it is dragged sideways across the warps, and hooking it on the next nail down on the opposite side.
Instead of plucking at the warps one at a time to weave the wefts through several of them at once, hook the loop , than draw it down. Make sure the weaving hook went over the warps that the previous weft pushed up and under the warps it pushed down.
Once your triangle of woven cloth is complete, remove it from the triangle loom. The ends that remain can be woven back into the edge or converted into fringe.
To create a project, simply create several triangles of woven cloth and stitch them together into various shapes as desired.
A basic shawl pattern might include triangles arranged like this.
• 100% vinyl
• Fine Jelly Yarn 85 yds , Bulky Jelly Yarn 65 yds, Super Fine Jelly Yarn 50 yds
• Glow in the Dark, Black Light Reactive neon colors
New Super Fine (thread weight)
Knit Gauge: (ktbl) 28 sts and 64 rows = 4″ – US 6 (4mm)
Crochet Gauge: (sc) 22 sts and 10 rows = 4″ – F (3.75mm)
Fine Jelly Yarn (sport weight)
Knit Gauge: (k) 24 sts and 40 rows = 4″ – US 6 (4mm) needles
Knit Gauge Double Strand: (k) 14 sts and 33 rows = 4″ – US10.5 (6.5mm) needles
Crochet Gauge: (sc) 16 sts and 10 rows = 4″ – US H (5mm) hook
Bulky Jelly Yarn (worsted weight)
Knit Gauge: (k) 14 sts and 32 rows = 4″ – US 10 (6mm) needles
Knit Gauge Double Strand: (k) 10 sts and 8 rows = 4″ – US 13 (9mm) needles
Crochet Gauge: (sc) 12 sts and 14 rows = 4″ – US J (6mm) hook
Jelly Yarn was developed by Kathleen Greco while writing her first knitting book titled, Yummy Yarns (Watson Guptill). She had an idea for a purse that when knit, resembled glossy black patent leather. Using her background in plastics, she was able to develop and produce the yarn she envisioned, and Black Licorice Jelly Yarn was born.
Bright colors named after candies and ices soon followed: Hot Pink Candy, Blue Taffy, Lemon-Lime Ice, Raspberry Sorbet, and Pink Peppermint Glow, just to name a few. There now are 13 neon, opaque, metallic, and glow-in-the-dark colorways.
Jelly Yarn is a 100% vinyl, solid round strand. It’s very flexible, waterproof and is formulated for knitting and crochet. This contemporary glossy yarn is ideal for fashion-fun knitting or crocheting for adults and kids. Patterns are available for accessories including: purses, handbags, beach bags, belts, bracelets, ornaments, hair accessories, toys, and coral reef projects.
Tips For Knitting or Crocheting with Jelly Yarn
• The best knit stitch for creating a flat texture in Jelly Yarn is the Knit Through the Back Loop stitch.
• Metal needles or hooks are recommended when working with Jelly Yarn. Susan Bates® Silvalume® metal needles or hooks are preferred well because of the smooth satin surface, but any metal will work.
• To make your knit or crochet fabric more durable, carry along a strand of Fine Jelly Yarn with your fiber yarn.
• If your tension is too tight, your stitches may not slide on the metal needle easily. To help make the stitches glide easily, we recommend using a little hand lotion, Burt’s Bees Hand Salve, or Vinylex, vinyl protectant applied along the stitches on the needle or hook.
• Knitting or crocheting with Jelly Yarn is a little different then fiber yarn. Instead of weaving ends, make a double knot (square knot) to prevent the stitches from unraveling after the 1st cast on stitch, when joining yarns and, after binding off.
• Blocking Jelly Yarn is easy. Heat the piece, with a hair dryer on low, for a few seconds. Place the piece on a flat hard surface and make the sides even. Tape the edges of the piece to the surface (optional). Place a weight such as a dictionary or phone book on top overnight. Assemble as instructed in the pattern.
Jelly Yarn 20 Cool Projects for Girls to Knit & Crochet (Krause Publishers) features an amazing array of purses, jewelry, belts, pet collar, and other fun projects crafted with Jelly Yarns. http://www.jellyyarns.com/books.html
Bonus: The bright neon and glow colors are idea for kids to learn how to knit or crochet!
Before our sheep grow up to be the wonderful sheep they are today, many arrive as orphans or bottle lambs. There is truly nothing sweeter than a baby lamb. Our lives are filled with endless entertainment, love- and silliness- as they run through our lives. We highly recommend them!
The sound of little feet galloping all around the house is my favorite melody. Changing diapers involves a routine chase around tables and chairs. A spirited game to out wiggle my efforts immediately ensues but I eventually win out, turning them loose in a cute diaper decorated with farm animals- of course.
The wild scampering makes it easy to keep track of them, when it is quiet mischief is afoot. OR a good old lamb pile nap snuggled up on their baby blankets in a sunny window that always makes me want to join them.
Gracie ran through, gleefully hopping about until her diapers fell off. Gracie knew when bottles were served, showing up in the kitchen every time the microwave beeped. Even if she found people lunch was the only disappointing choice on the menu.
Piper decided I was ‘his’ and followed me everywhere from day one. He sorted fleeces with me and slept under my loom. Keebler slept under my spinning wheel and loved to sleep on my lap-no matter what I was trying to accomplish. Sonny insisted on napping on the living room recliner.
We have many, many stories and our happy memories will continue to grow with future lambs needing shelter from cold weather, lots of good food and love. They eventually learn how easily they can outrun me on our walks outside. They learn that life in warmer weather is more fun outside making friends. Speeding around with the other sheep and playing endless games of tag.
The day comes when they are convinced they don’t ‘need’ me anymore and stay outside, just out of my reach for a few days. They come back looking for bottles when they need reassurance and as they grow, look to me for hugs. And Fruit Loops. Treasure, Baker and Rudy still think anything I bring out (even medicine) is a bottle even though they are now grown up elegant sheep.
I always cry when my babies move out to the barn. I miss their sweet selves barreling around the house, following my every move. Stealing my knitting or yarn I am trying to knit. Most of all I miss rocking them to sleep in front of the fireplace, snuggling them up to read a bedtime story.
A wise friend consoles me each time the lambs out grow me, reminding me “you’ve done your job, you did a good job and they are now good sheep.”
It is my opinion that every yarn crafter should have what I call the Fiber Files. Whether its stored on a computer, in a recipe box, binder, or even address book, the Fiber Files are a necessary part of crafting for others. The Fiber Files contain vital information necessary to successfully complete a project.
Without this information, severe FO crises may occur, with symptoms including short sleeves, too small head-hole, or the dreaded socks that were made to have a 6 inch cuff that, well, doesn’t.
What should be in the Fiber Files?
- Color Preferences
Name and age are the first steps to creating a proper Fiber File. Normally, I would suggest that date of birth would be better than age, but this is one place where I find it necessary to keep the number. This step will help to remind you to update your file at least yearly.
The gender listing in the file is strictly a formality. When it comes to crafting and gender, I don’t like getting into the messiness that comes along with it. Yarn crafting is such a feminine sport as it is, we really don’t need to muddy it up by trying TOO hard to find “manly” yarn. All that results is a brown sweater and some black socks.
Sure, gender is a fantastic way to search for a pattern, particularly when it comes to fitted garments. But, being a big girl, I know how hard it can be a to find a “girlie” pattern that doesn’t look like a knitted trash bag.
(Be sure to check out my upcoming article on how to get more girlie bang for a drab pattern buck.) So in simpler terms, be sure to mark gender, but don’t be afraid to cross lines. Its fun to be edgy.
Measurements are probably the most important aspect of the Fiber Files. As I say in my article, “Size Matters”, there are so many measurements that need to be taken in consideration. These are:
- Arm Length (shoulder to elbow, shoulder to wrist, shoulder to middle finger tip, elbow to wrist, and elbow to middle finger tip, as well as upper and lower arm circumferences, all in SUM*
- Standard Shirt Size
- Standard Pants Size
- Standard Shoe Size
- Hips, Waist, in SUM
- Leg Length, in SUM
- Bust (where applicable) in SUM
- Head & Neck Circumference in SUM
- Wrist to tip of middle finger in SUM
*SUM: Standard Unit of Measurement
To accurately record color preferences, be sure to list both love AND hate colors. For me, I love my purple, but I hate hate hate that horrible brown color that seems to infest men’s sweater patterns in knitting books from the 90′s. By listing color preferences, it simply helps to assure you that your gift is a win.
Style is a similar aspect. Just by remembering that your niece is fashionista, or your son is a punk rocker and crafting accordingly, you can win major brownie points.
Finally, we come to allergies. This subject has arisen a lot in my articles. Personally, I am allergic to sulfates and metals containing nickel. While sulfates don’t usually pop up in knitting, nickel does A LOT. Buttons, zippers, pins, accents- if its not stated as being hypo-allergenic, then it should definitely be expected that it has nickel as at least one of the primary metals.
Wool allergies are also very common. Be sure to check on the allergies of the recipients, as we wouldn’t want to be responsible for health problems, nor would we want our beautiful creations to be discarded.
When it comes to storing your Fiber Files, be sure to keep them organized in a manner you will recognize, as well as a manner that can be updated easily. Some ideas could be:
- Each person on an individual index card in a recipe-type box
- Each person on their own page in a binder
- A separate computer file for each person, in a folder specific to relationship to you, first letter of last name, or any other organization method you can think of.
- A scrapbook page including a picture of each person with detachable pieces for the changing information.
- The possibilities are endless!
The hardest part will always be getting the information from the people themselves. My advice to you: Get it yourself. What woman doesn’t lie about her weight? What man will admit to having small hands? The best way to ensure honesty is to get it yourself.
Hold a party and invite everyone you need measurements from. Bait them with food, booze, movies, whatever it is that gets them to your house and get those measurements!
Measure happy, knit happy!
100% Superwash Merino
This yarn has been called the “perfect sock yarn” by ShiBui, and quite frankly, I am inclined to agree! A fine wool, it comes in a wide variety of colors, both solids and multicolored – personal favorite is ‘Spectrum – 51301’, and isn’t crazy expensive – about $10.
It has a slight texture to it, and while the texture helps it stay on the needles, I think it still has a great slide to it, keeping your fingers and hands from getting tired.
This particular yarn holds up well in the machine, with little color bleed, and keeps its shape when dry… I just love that I can actually put it in the machine… it is for socks after all! It has a recommended gauge of 30sts/40rows = 4in on size 2 (US)/2.75mm needles.
I have used it for everything from socks to arm warmers to hats, as it also has a pretty good stretch to it.
If you can’t tell, I REALLY enjoy working with this particular yarn. If your LYS doesn’t carry it, you can always visit the manufacturer’s website (www.shibuiknits.com) for a listing of retailers who do!
What is the first thing to look for when choosing yarn? Is it color, weight, feel? Or is it the location that you purchase it from?
There are basically three options if you want instant gratification and want to start your project immediately. You can head to a local farmer’s market, a “big box” craft store – think JoAnn, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, etc., or a local yarn shop (LYS). What is the difference, really? They all have yarn and a good variety of yarn at that!
So, let’s start with the largest of the options: the craft store. This is a fantastic option if you are trying to a project on a small budget. A ball/skein of yarn can cost anywhere from $2.99 to $10.00 – and that’s the maximum of the range. There are always sales, and usually coupons.
There is a wide variety of acrylics, wools, cottons, sequins, blends, eco-friendly, baby yarns, and sock yarns to choose from. When I started knitting about ten years ago, you could basically get either acrylic or cotton yarns from the craft stores. The stock (and quality of that stock) has improved drastically in the last decade. Some of the latest additions that I’ve noticed have been the “Bamboo Ewe” and “Full o’ Sheep” from Debbie Stoller’s new line of yarns.
The craft stores are a great, economical option – especially if you are trying a new skill, like knitting in the round, or attempting to learn to crochet. The downside of the craft stores is that chances are, there might be one or two employees there that knit or crochet, and they probably won’t be working when you are there. It’s an “on your own” type of experience, and if you’re a novice, should the yarn your pattern calls for isn’t there; substitution might not be a possibility. There is also the environmental factor – these goods are shipped cross country in most cases, made in other countries, and the stores do little to support your local economy.
Next up is the LYS option… awesome choice! I’m a huge proponent of these, even though they are slightly pricier – anywhere from $7.00 all the way to $50. The stores are usually staffed with the owner and a small, select group of employees – who have experience with the product. They are on hand to make recommendations, substitutions, and help with pattern selection.
Often, patterns that your LYS carries won’t be available anywhere else. The variety of yarns might be smaller than at a big box store, but orders are usually possible and only take a few days… most also have websites or email where you can arrange an order a few days in advance.
Many LYS also have knitting space, serve tea or coffee, and are a great place to meet and chat with other knitters and crocheters. These shops are usually arranged by weight as opposed to by brand or type like in a craft store.
Smaller, more intimate, and based in your community, your local LYS usually participates in things like school fundraisers or “First Friday” events, and offers special discounts on classes and yarns depending on the month or season. These stores also tend to stock local products, and occasionally spun yarn from the employees themselves!
Finally, there is the option of the Farmer’s Market. Talk about choosing to support directly from the source! Many markets have farmers that also have sheep, and they will bring the wool (from sheep, alpacas, llamas!) as a side product – this is usually already spun, but you can find bags of straight wool. One of the farmers I’ve seen even puts the name of the sheep it came from on the label.
So when you name your sweater ‘The Maybelle Sweater’ on Ravelry, it actually came from Maybelle! A quick word about online shopping – yes, this is a great way to go if you already know the product or are prepared to make a large purchase so that your dye lot is consistent. Shopping via the internet – or trading too, is perfect if you are in the planning stages of a project and have time to wait.
No matter which store you choose, as craft stores are improving their selections, the LYS becomes more endangered. Support them! Go to a knitting night, escape from the house and go chat and sip tea and make new, knitty (or crochet-y) friends!