When you’re ready to knit or crochet anything, the most important decision you can make for your project is selecting the right yarn. The yarn you use isn’t overly important if you plan to create a blanket or a basic scarf, but it becomes extremely important when you want to hand knit a clothing item such as a sweater.
The reason selecting the right yarn becomes so critical with clothing, is because yarn comes in various sizes and weights. If you use a size of yarn that is different than what a pattern calls for, you will find your finished project is either much larger or much smaller than you’d intended.
Size and weight of your yarn
Size and weight of your yarn are what determines the gauge of your stitches. When you look at a crochet or knitting pattern, you’ll often find basic information that states how many crochet or knitting stitches you should have per inch of work. So if you ‘re using a thick, heavy yarn, you will have just a few stitches in one inch of working, while a very thin yarn will have many more.
If you tried to make a man’s sweater with very light, thin yarn, you might find that following the number of stitches in the pattern produces a child-sized sweater instead, because 100 stitches of fine yarn make a shorter row than 100 stitches of bulkier yarn.
Texture of your yarn
Selecting the right yarn is dependent on texture as well, and this also is determined by the project you intend to create. When you crochet a baby blanket, you generally want an extremely soft, delicate textured yarn so that the blanket is comfortable when it’s completed. If you’re knitting winter leg warmers, however, a coarse-textured yarn might not be a problem because the warmers are usually worn on top of denim pants.
Color of your yarn
Color is an extremely important consideration that may not be readily obvious at first. This is because the colors and color combinations you choose for your knitting or crochet project may look different than you’d expected when you change the pattern you’re using. A variegated yarn may look gorgeous as a simple single-crocheted scarf, but the colors may look too merged if you were to use them in a knitted cable pattern.
Your yarn’s fiber content
The yarn’s fiber content – what it’s made of – plays another important role in selecting the right yarn for your project. Natural fibers such as cotton and wool are best used for knitting clothing that will be worn by someone who has allergies or skin sensitivities. Using a natural, soft wool is also an excellent choice when making winter-weight blankets.
Some types of fiber will stretch easily, and some will lose its color over time and with multiple washings. Other fiber will wear well even if used to knit a rug that is used in heavily trafficked areas of your home. Some fiber is so delicate that it’s best used for display and decorative purposes only.
Your personal preferences
Lastly, selecting yarn is dependent upon your personal preferences. Does it feel good to you? Does it make you happy? Does it seem easy to work with given the project you’re making? The answer to these questions, combined with the basic selection criteria above, will help guide you to select the right yarn for you.