We Know: All About How To Buy Knitting Yarn

First Choose Your Project

Whether you're knitting a scarf or a king-sized afghan, yarn choice is crucial. Keep in mind the intention of your project while you're choosing yarn; don't buy a delicate silk yarn if you're going to make a baby afghan, and don't use standard-weight nylon yarn for a contemporary shawl.


If you just use the yarn type recommended by the pattern, you're probably fine. But if you want to use something different, you need to know what you're getting into.

Terms You Need To Know

  1. Worsted - heavy, smooth yarn made of straightened wool
  2. Plies - individual strands of yarn twisted together. This sort of yarn is generally found in three and four plies.
  3. Blend - Yarn that is made of different fibers (wool, mohair, silk, acrylic, etc.)
  4. Sports Weight - Inexpensive regular-weight yarn
  5. Bulky - thick yarn thread, sometimes in plies and often not

Choosing the right yarn is as much an art as it is knowing the terms. With experience, you'll be able to gauge roughly how well one yarn will substitute for another in a pattern. But you should always knit a couple of rows and check your gauge.

Yarn Gauge

The standard gauge measure for yarn is how many stocking stitches knit to four inches using the recommended needles. Sports weight yarn is 24 stitches/4 inches. Very fine yarns are those that are 32/4, while bulky yarns range from 16/4 to 12 or less. Swapping gauge for gauge, though, does not guarantee an exact match. Different fibers have a different stretch, so if you switch fibers be ready to check gauge after you start.

Use Your Head

You'll learn quickly how to choose yarn, but some suggestions for project types are:

  • For a delicate art craft, lace curtains, or anything using a fine thread, use cotton thread or yarn finer than 32 gauge.
  • For afghans, use 28 gauge yarn or above.
  • For baby projects, use 28 gauge yarn and below.
  • For fashions like vests or scarfs, choose specialty yarns and luxury fibers. There are some very nice wool-silk blends that work well, wear warm, and feel great.

Buy Enough At One Time To Finish Your Project

This is the most crucial part of buying knitting yarn. Each batch of yarn will turn out slightly different, so match your batch on the package. If you're buying online, the vendor should do this for you. But you must be certain that it all came from the same dye lot.



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