How Thick?

When looking on a yarn or ball band you will notice a number.  This tells you how thick the yarn is and what kind of needles you might need and even the type of project you might use it to make.  This is because the weight, or thickness, will affect the appearance of what you make.  It will also make a difference to the amount of stitches and rows you will need to knit a sample swatch of 4cm square.

0 Lace – also called 2-ply or fingering weight.  This yarn is most commonly used with 2mm or 2.5mm needles.  It will produce a very delicate fabric.

lace

1 Superfine – also called 3-ply or baby.  Mostly used with 2.75mm, 3mm or 3.25mm needles.  It produces a very fine material and is great for detailed shawls or socks.

3ply

2 Fine – also called 4-ply, sport or baby.  Mostly used with 3.5mm, 3.75mm or 4mm needles.  Great for making baby clothes, sock and very lightweight jumpers.  It produces very delicate textures and detailed colour work.

4ply

3 Light – also called DK (Double Knit) or worsted.  Mostly used with 4mm or 4.5mm needles.  This is a great all-purpose yarn used for anything from baby clothes to jumpers and scarves.

dk

4 Medium – also called aran or medium worsted.  Mostly used with 5mm or 5.5mm needles.  This is great for slightly thicker jumpers, scarves, baby blankets and is very popular for making cabled jumpers.  It is slightly quicker to knit up than a DK yarn.

aran

5 Bulky – also called chunky.  Mostly used with 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm or 8mm needles.  Perfect for knitting winter gifts such as hats, leg warmers, thick scarves and shawls.  Very quick to knit with due to its thickness and the size of needles.

chunky

6 Super Bulky – also called super chunky or roving.  Mostly used with 9mm or 10mm needles.  This is the thickest type of yarn you are likely to come across in most shops.  It is really thick and warm so perfect for those winter knits of scarves and blankets.  Perfect for beginners!

super chunky

You can also find yarns on-line that are so thick you can use your arms to knit with them!

armknitting

My favourite thickness of yarn to knit with is aran weight.  It is slightly quicker to knit up than DK but it isn’t too thick and chunky for accessories.  You can find some of my patterns to use aran weight in my Ravelry or Etsy stores.

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Ball Bands!

All yarn come with a band on them giving you invaluable information.  But do you know what it all means?

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Yarn weight and thickness – all yarn is categorised by how thick it is.  They vary from 0 to 6 and are shown on the band by an image of a ball of yarn with a number on it.  I will go into more detail about this scale in a later blog.

Yarnweight

Recommended needle size – this is by no means set in stone.  You do not have to use the needle size stated on the ball band.  This is just a guide to help you get the correct tension.

Tension – the tension is usually given as a square.  It will state how many stitches and how many rows will create a 4inch or 10cm square.  It is usually better to knit a swatch much bigger than this and to measure the tension in the middle.  I have written an earlier blog about tension squares.

tension square

Washing instructions – these will tell you if you have to hand wash garments made from this yarn or if they can be machine washed.  If they can go in the machine it will give you a guide temperature.

handwash wash temp

Drying instructions – some yarns will tell you if they can be tumble dried.  The symbol with a cross through it means it cannot go in the dryer.  The other symbols will tell you which setting.  One dot for low, two for medium and three for high.

tumble dry

Ironing instructions – you may be able to iron items made from some yarns.  A picture of an iron with a cross through it means you can’t, one dot means iron on low, two for medium and three for high.  Sometimes you will see a picture of an iron with steam at the bottom which may or may not be crossed out.  This will tell you whether or not to use steam when ironing finished items.

ironing

How do you like yours?

Recently a friend started to learn how to knit and was more than a little confused by the vast array of yarns and needles available.  It reminded me of how I felt when I was a beginner.  Which yarn went with which sized needles?  Does it make any difference if I use a bigger/smaller needle than the one recommended on the yarn band?  Why are they made in all kinds of different materials?

So I started to search through my books and realised I have some pretty good info just sitting on my living room bookshelf.  Pages and pages about types of yarn, variations of needle size and type.  Measuring tension, notions and embellishments.

Lets start with needles.  Everyone who has been a knitter or crocheter for a while has a favourite type of needles or hooks.  I would recommend all beginners to try out as many different kinds as they can.  The material they are made from can make a dramatic difference to the fabric that you produce.

Metal, plastic, bamboo or ebony/rosewood are all common materials used in the manufacture of knitting needles and crochet hooks.

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metalcrochet

Metal needles – these are usually very slippy and not recommended for beginners.  It is easy to lose a stitch when working on metal.  They are great for fibres like mohair and wool that tends to stick.  They are also great if you tend to knit too tightly.  You will find you naturally loosen your tension when working with metal.

bambooneedles

bamboocrochet

Bamboo needles – these are very lightweight and flexible.  If you have a lot of stitches or a heavy fabric you may find your needles bending.  They are great for more slippery yarns such as silk, cotton and bamboo.  They are often recommended for beginners as they will slow the flow of your knitting down.  Also recommended if you suffer with arthritis in your hands.

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plasticcrochet

Plastic needles – these have a surface which falls somewhere between metal and bamboo.  They keep a steady temperature as you use them and are not too slippery or sticky so are great with most types of yarn.  Great for beginners and arthritis suffers.  But beware needles smaller than 4mm have a tendency to snap!

symphonie

Ebony/rosewood needles – these feel luxurious in your hands but are usually the most expensive on the market.  They have a smooth surface, almost waxy and will become smoother with use.  They keep a nice temperature too.  They will help you keep an even tension and don’t bend like bamboo.

I started off using bamboo.  As a beginner I liked the way the stitches flowed off the needles at a nice steady pace.  I had used metal when I was much younger and my nan was teaching me.  I had a tendency to lose a lot of stitches as when I slipped one off the needle, the stitch behind would follow, often without me noticing for a while!

A couple of years ago my husband bought me a set of KnitPro symphonie needles.  I have never looked at another needle since.  They are quite costly, but I think they are well worth the money. I have since received gifts of their double pointed and interchangeable needles.  I even have a few of their crochet hooks too!

Knitpro crochet knitprointerchangeable

Which kind of needles and hooks do you prefer?

A Beginner’s Guide to Crochet

I started to learn to crochet about 2 years ago.  Was never as good at it as I was knitting so found it a real struggle.  Recently something just seemed to click and in the last few weeks I have really been ‘hooked’.  I have been flying with my crochet skills and making all sorts of things from my own patterns and designs – a point I never thought I would get to.

This week I have written down and released for sale my first crochet pattern and it is ideal for beginners.  So if you have always wanted to learn to crochet but didn’t know where to start I have the ideal project for you!

I designed this crochet scarf for my Etsy shop.  I started with a very dark green, then changed to a mid-green and a light green.  Finally I finished off with white as a contrast.  The thickness of the stripe changes to give it more interest than your average stripy scarf.

My crochet scarf available in my Etsy shop

Click to visit the scarf listing in my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely loved making it and the finished item and so immediately started making one in pink.

Variegated scarf in pink

Variegated scarf in pink can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently working on a brown version and have ordered yarn to make it in blue and black/grey.  But I enjoyed it so much I decided to write down the pattern and offer it for sale in my Etsy shop.

I started by writing the pattern itself which was little more difficult than I had anticipated.  I had it all in my head but getting it down in words that real humans will understand was another matter entirely.  Eventually I was happy and decided that because the pattern is ideal for beginners I would add a guide on how to crochet with it.  When you purchase the pattern via download in my Etsy shop you will also receive the crochet guide with it.

The variegated scarf pattern is for sale here.

The variegated scarf pattern is for sale here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I set about taking some photos first.  This was a little tricky being in the house on my own, needing two hands to crochet and another to hold the camera.  Some of the photos turned out interesting to say the least, but eventually I had what I needed.

I started with how to hold the hook, making a slip knot and a foundation chain.

The Pencil Method of holding a crochet hook.

The Pencil Method of holding a crochet hook

A foundation chain.

A foundation chain.

 

How to make a slip knot.

How to make a slip knot.

 

I then moved on to the two stitches which are used in the scarf pattern, double crochet and treble crochet.

Working a double crochet (dc).

Working a double crochet (dc).

A finished sample of dc.

A finished sample of dc.

 

Working a treble crochet (tr)

Working a treble crochet (tr)

A finished sample of tr.

A finished sample of tr.

 

 

Hopefully it will be of use to someone who has never tried to crochet before and a good supplement to my pattern.  Of course there are some people who prefer to learn by watching and You Tube has lots of fantastic videos which are ideal for the beginner.   This video is good, taking you right from the beginning holding the yarn and hook.

If you would like a free copy of my beginners guide to crochet then you can download it here for free! Beginner Crochet Guide