Yarn Shopping Tips

Written on January 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm
Filed under: Article with tags:

I love shopping for yarn. My yarn weight of choice is generally sport weight or worsted weight. I’ve been known to buy sock-weight and bulky though, on a whim. I have been guilty of buying yarn mostly because it happened to be on sale. Bad, I know. I’ve gotten better now! I only buy yarn now if I see a project in mind for it, or if I have a project in mind already prior to purchasing the yarn. So here are some things that I suggest that you do (or don’t!) while shopping for yarn:

  • DO pick up the balls/skeins of yarn to feel how the yarn feels against your skin. A great place to test is the back of your hand or wrist.
  • DON’T pick up the balls/skeins of yarn and rub it against your cheek. Especially if you’re wearing cosmetics and get your makeup all over the yarn.
  • DO look at those pads of free patterns hanging by the yarn – take one!
  • DON’T look at those pads of free patterns and then rip several off for yourself, or rip them in half and leave the other half on the pad or on the floor.
  • DO put the yarn back in the correct bin/box/shelf when you’ve decided that you don’t want to purchase it.
  • DON’T leave the yarn on the ground or on a random shelf.
  • DO choose enough yarn for your project – you never know if it’s going to be available the next time you go. Make sure you pick all from the same dye lot!
  • DON’T buy yarn just because it is on sale/heavily discounted. Buy yarn that is in colours that you like, buy types of yarn that you will actually use and can see yourself using. If you hate working with anything thinner than worsted weight, why would you buy it just because it’s 50% off?
  • DO substitute yarns for the ones that are called for in patterns. Could that brand of yarn be discontinued? Or maybe the pattern calls for something with 50% cashmere and the cost is too high? Look for appropriate substitutions. You’ll want something with the same weight and similar content (substituting cashmere-merino with acrylic fun fur will not get the same results as in the photos).
  • DON’T juggle yarn balls in the middle of the store. I’ve seen this happen before and it ended badly as the yarn ended up on the store floor.
  • DO go shopping with a budget in mind. Don’t spend more than you want to spend. Only want to spend $50 on yarn? Only spend $50 on yarn!
  • DON’T go shopping with an open-budget or a credit card with plenty of space for a huge yarn purchase. I’ve witnessed my sister do this. Half an hour later, she dropped $80+ on yarn (beautiful yarn, but yarn that has stayed untouched for over a year).

Happy smart yarn shopping!

Ruse – A Cloche-Inspired Crochet Hat

Written on January 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm
Filed under: Crafting,Free Pattern with tags: ,

The Cloche originates from the 1920s and was made of felt for a form-fitting bell-shaped hat. While I was looking for a new hat pattern to try out, I couldn’t find one for a cloche that I particularly liked. They were either too bell-shaped or not bell-shaped enough, so I decided to try my hand at making a cloche-inspired hat with just a subtle bell-shape that I wouldn’t mind wearing.

I tried out, for the first time, Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Superwash (50% merino, 50% wool). The yarn felt a little stiff when it was in the ball, but once it was crocheted up into the hat, it felt nice and soft. My only complaint about the yarn is that it splits easily when crocheting – this is a common issue with superwash yarns.

The pattern for this hat has been written up and has three different sizes available (21.25″, 22″ and 24″ for head circumference). The name of the pattern is Ruse, there’s no real story about where the name of the hat came from.

Want to make your own hat? The pattern is free! Click to download a PDF copy of the Ruse hat pattern.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Update August 21 2010: Due to some questions regarding how to proceed with Round 1 of the Ruse hat pattern, I’ve updated the pdf file with the second revision and it is now available for download.

Fibre Talk: Getting it wet and going at it hard

Written on January 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm
Filed under: Article with tags:

100% alpaca yarn, like the yarn shown above, has washing instructions on the yarn label. For this yarn, it is handwashing only in cold water. Gentle handwashing versus the washing machine can mean the difference between a sweater that fits and one that is suddenly several sizes too small.

What happens when you toss a knitted or crocheted item into the washing machine?

It can be fulled (not felted) or it doesn’t – what makes this difference? The type of fibre makes a huge difference in what happens to the final product.

What is fulling?
If you take animal fibres (i.e. wool, which comes from sheep) and make it up into a fabric (i.e. crochet, knit or weave with it) and subject it to water, agitation and (sometimes) heat, you get a dense fabric.

For example, say you knit a pair of mittens for someone out of wool and then they toss those mittens into the washing machine. And then they come out roughly the size of an infant’s finger. The mittens will have shrank, the stitches are no longer visible and the fabric is dense.

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