View Full Version : Yarn 101
01-12-2007, 04:05 PM
So I'm still relatively new at this whole knitting thing, especially yarn, I've only very recently discovered some specialty yarn shops in my area and I was wondering if there is some kind of scale or way to tell the desirability or quality of a yarn. I know some obvious things like Red Heart super saver buy by the pound scratchy acrylic stuff is el cheapo and generally only used for beginners practice, and then there seems to be a lot of drooling over this Malibrigo type stuff. Is the fact that it comes in a hank instead of a ball any indicator of a yarn's quality or desireability? So far I've only gone to large chain stores that sell yarn and just touch everything until I find something I like but it's usually acrylic or polester or other synthetic fibers but from reading around here it seems wools and angora and other natural fibers are much more coveted. I hadn't met a natural fiber I really liked yet, maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places or maybe I just don't like the extra maintenance a natural fiber needs.
So anyone have any tips to help a beginner guage yarn quality and desireability?
01-12-2007, 04:11 PM
you know it really is all about personal taste. there are LOTS of people who are perfectly content with synthetic fibers and actually prefer them. there are just as many who would never touch the stuff. even the malabrigo isn't the BEST that i have ever felt, and i LOVE malabrigo. go to those yarn shops and do what you have been doing...feel stuff up and see what you think. if you don't like them, there is no shame in it at all. you need to be prepared for sticker shock when you go to those stores though as the prices are generally much more than what you will find at Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other stores like those. I do find that Lion has gotten pretty comparable in pricing to the LYS though in some of their lines.
Just go and look and see what you find.
nadja la claire
01-12-2007, 04:26 PM
Not all high quality yarn comes in a hank. There are some very nice acrylics that you can find in the small mom-and-pop stores and in the big chains. You can also find some nice wool, alpaca, cashmere yarns in the chain stores. Quality can be in the eye of the beholder. A lot of people like the acrylics. Caron's Simply Soft is very soft and nice to work with as is Bliss and Moda Dea's Dream. RH Soft and Bernat's Satin are also very nice. But none of these yarns can come close to Malabrigo.
Jan in CA
01-12-2007, 06:30 PM
Yep, it's personal taste and not all acrylics are created equal. I was recently given an afghan that was made with the new Red Heart Soft...and it IS soft! The super saver stuff is awful though. I can't afford expensive yarns right now so I've been using a lot of Patons and Bernat yarns and smoe of them are great!
01-13-2007, 07:11 PM
holy yarn! I went to that specialty store in my area today and that's all I can say is HOLY YARN! It was all over the place, stacked in bins up the ceiling and in baskets all over the floor. i just wanted to start rolling around in it all. Almost everything they had was some natural fiber hybrid. I can't beleive it, single hanks from $15-95!!! It was out of control. Okay I thought I had myself prepared for the sticker shock but there's no way I was ready for those kind of prices! How in the world does anyone afford to knit a sweater! I would seriously have to be confident in my skills to buy enough yarn like that to make a garment. I touched so many yarns, it was really nice to finally see and touch what everyone's been talking about, even the coveted Malibrigo. I have to say it was soft but I wasn't that impressed. I think my fav natural fiber is Alpaca! I really like that stuff, soft but sturdy. Well at least now I know what I'm getting into and what to look for in the good deals online. I didn't buy anything, I couldn't justify spending that much money when I didn't even have a project in mind. wow. I'm still in shock.
01-13-2007, 09:37 PM
For a beginner, I would HIGHLY recommend trying Red Heart Soft (aka Soft Touch depending on region) It is a nice, cheap acrylic, but is so soft and comfy. A nice wallet friendly yarn to start with, with plenty of yardage for the price.
I started with the regular red heart and was soooo dissappointed. I thought all yarn would be so scratchy and rough, but then I found the "soft touch" line of yarns, that had beautiful colours.
I also recommend Bernat, you get less yarn, but it is a bit cheaper. They have wonderfully soft yarns of different weights. (Red Heart Soft is only worsted) They will never match up to someof the natural fibers. But scarf, hat and mitten wise they are wonderful.
I am also knitting a sweater right now in Red Heart Soft, and it will cost me around $20 in yarn...
Definately explore and try out other yarns, but for first time projects, you can't go wrong with Bernat, or Red Heart soft .
edit: I just saw your last post, and I can relate. I finally found my LYS last week and was blown away by the yarn selection... and the prices... I am not a fan of locally owned stores because I always feel so guilty for not buying anything... Especially if I am the only one in there, and they watch me walking around... I'm sure eventually when my cash situation is better I will be shopping there more often, and without fear... but until then.... :shrug:
01-13-2007, 10:19 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! I think I'll stick to the cheaper stuff for my new projects where I learn new techniques. I do have to say that I just love frilly, lashy, bubbly, interesting, and fun yarns. Sometimes difficult to knit up but I just love the fabric it makes.
The shop I went to was just bumpin with people. They were holding a class with about 6 people and then there were another 3 people just browsing yarns and another two people sitting in the little knitting lounge just knitting away. It was pretty cool. I found out they have lots of classes and a free sit -n- knit group that meets once a month. I actually felt a little intimidated and akward, I dunno why so I just stealthed around the shop feeling up everything and then slinked out. he..he... :oops:
01-13-2007, 11:51 PM
Cattrah, you might try buying one skein of a super-pretty yarn for a special hat or scarf from your LYS. That way, you're supporting the local stores without going into debt!
01-14-2007, 01:59 AM
the hank thing, aside from it being pretty, they say it is the "safest" way to keep the fiber, no pulling, even consistency, etc., so when you're dealing with more delicate fibers, oftentimes you will find them in hanks.
as for the cost, i'm getting ready to learn to quilt and the same thing has popped up again. i could go to Joe Shmoe's Fabric Store and get 100% cotton for 99 cents a yard and hypothetically could probably make a quilt for under $20, batting, backing, and all. I can go to Jane Shmane's Specialty Shop and pay $12 a yard for similar looking fabric and spend hundreds of dollars making that quilt. The choice seems obvious, but if I am going to spend 500 hours crafting something, not only do I want to enjoy it while I'm doing it, I want it to last as close to forever as humanly possible. 99-cent fabric and $12-yard fabric are just not going to wear the same, wash the same, fade the same, etc. however, as a beginner, heck if i'm spending $12 a yard on some stuff i'm going to mess up and not like.
having said that, i still have to go back and support what everyone said about personal preference. that is my personal preference. if i am going to invest the time, etc., but you know what, even with that, there are times when more inexpensive acrylics, acrylic blends, and 40% coupons at Jo-Anns are just right for me and my budget and my project. As a beginner, I definitely wouldn't start spending a fortune on fibers yet, but I do love the idea of buying one special hank for a special little project. When it comes to down to it, though, this is your hobby, your time, your pocketbook, you do what is best for you! With time, you will find your favorites (and you'll also find sales and alternatives! i.e. my first felted project called for cascade 220, around $7 a hank, bringing project total to around $70 but then I discovered KnitPicks and made that same bag for $35) I must also reiterate, have fun fondling! That's one of the BEST parts! :)
01-14-2007, 03:21 AM
also if you get on Joaan's mailing ( go to their store and ask the clerk to do so) list they will send you an early sales ad with coupons.. I like Bernat Softee Chunky (#5)
also $1.87 at my Wally world. and it is nice easy yarn to work with IMHO.
Also if you didn't know this already yarn comes in weights from lightweight fingering yarn(1) to a superbulky(6) Scale runs 1-6. It will be on your package/label when you pick it up.
IMHO. I would strongly suggest using 4-5 wt yarn for a beginner. As a beginner I was taught (precictably ) to try a worsted weight yarn (#4) which I MYSELF strongly dislike. I like the bulkier yarns because as a beginner it was much easier for ME to see the stitches and to practive with larger needles.
Also, When you are picking out a yarn also consider the yarn weight because it will impact what kind of project you could make.
Also consider (already mentioned) knitpicks and I like LittleKnits.com because they always seem to have something on sale~~! :heart: :heart: :heart:
have fun Exploring :happydance: