Tag: yarn

SUNday FREE PATTERN!

SUNday FREE PATTERN!

FREE crochet pattern

Sunday Collage

SUNday is a cheerful sunny scarf, and just what we all need to hurry Spring on her way. Crocheted lace is one of my favorite springtime indulgences. This stitch pattern, worked on the bias, offers interest during crocheting and produces a naturally scalloped edge. Worked in WeCrochet’s Upcycle Alpaca, a drapey DK weight, the alpaca makes it nice and soft, while the silk and Tencel give it a gorgeous sheen. This one-skein scarf is a quick project, so why not make two and gift the second to a very special person in your life!

You can get a .pdf version of this pattern for just $1.99 on Ravelry. This makes it easily printable so you can take it with you, and it helps support me in the writing of even more patterns. Even if you don’t purchase the .pdf, please go rate it for me!

If you love this pattern, check out some of my other FREE patterns, as well as my Ravelry shop.

A little info

Stitches:  Ch, sl st, beg V-st (ch 4, DC) V-st (DC, ch 1, DC) W-st (DC, ch 1, DC ch 1, DC)

Yarn:  200 yards DK (WeCrochet’s Upcycle Alpaca, alpaca/silk/Tencel, 1 skein)

Hook:  H

Sizes:  Approx. 5” wide x 62” long, unblocked (if you use a whole skein of Upcycle Aplaca)

 

Gauge:  3 V-sts x 3 rows = 2” approx.

 

Notes:  Ch 4 in beg V-st counts as (DC, ch1) and ch 3 at the beginning for row 3 counts as a DC.

Let's get hookin'!

Pattern:

Ch 32

Row 1) V-st in 5th ch from hook, *sk 2 chs, V-st in next ch* eight times, sk 2 chs, W-st in last ch. Ch 1. Turn.   = 9 V-sts

Row 2) Sl in 1st ch-1 sp, beg V-st in same ch-1 sp, V-st in each ch-1 sp to end. Ch 1. Turn.  = 11 V-sts

Row 3) Sl in 1st ch-1 sp, ch 3, *V-st in next ch-1 sp* to last ch-1 sp, W-st in last ch-1 sp. Ch 1. Turn.  = 9 V-sts

Repeat rows 2-3 until desired length or until you run out of yarn. Finish off. Weave in ends.

Yup, that’s literally the whole entire thing. Wasn’t that the most enjoyable and stress-free little piece of crochet you’ve ever done? Now you’re ready to spring in style! I hope you’ve enjoyed this pattern. I’d love to see your finished scarf! Share your project on social media with the hashtag #RowsAndRosesSUNday so we can all see how you’ve made it your own! As always, if you have any questions, just ask. I’m easy to find 🙂

Blocking Finished Items

Blocking Finished Items

The whys and the hows

I’m sure that we’ve all seen some handmade items that, well… left much to be desired. It’s not the yarn. The yarn is gorgeous! And it’s not the pattern. We can see pictures of other items made by different people using the same pattern, and they are remarkable. However,  perhaps the one in front of us just doesn’t seem right. Sloppy? Is that the right word? Could it be that the gauge is off? Or maybe it looks more like what you would consider a “rough draft” would look like. 

I bet I know why this beautiful item, knitted or crocheted by a talented fiberartist who knows what they’re doing, in the most scrumptious yarn, fails to impress. I bet it’s due to a shoddy blocking job, or perhaps it hasn’t been blocked at all! So we’re going to talk about blocking today. See that picture above, with the colorful top next to the black top? That is the exact same top. Same yarn, same size. The colorful one has been blocked, and the black one has not (yet.)

A Big Difference

Take a look at the picture on the left. This gorgeous doily was crocheted by a very talented fiber artist on Ravelry (click the pic to see her project.) She did an amazing job crocheting it, and then lovingly and painstakingly blocked it, pinning all the little points and scallops. Isn’t it amazing?!

But look at the difference between the top slice and the bottom slice. See how the top slice looks bunched up? That’s before blocking. And the lacy and open bottom slice is after.

Just imagine if they had left this gorgeous doily unblocked. Would it ever have laid flat? Could you even see all the special stitches and lacy spaces there toward the center? The points and loops on the outer edge wouldn’t even be noticeable! The stitches for them are, but you can’t see them. THIS is why we block. Maybe not so much for things like dish cloths or mittens, but for anything with a stitch pattern, yes, you really should block it.

Getting your Block On

Just so that you are aware, blocking is not a difficult thing to do. It does, however, take some supplies, and usually a good bit of time if you’re going to do it right. See these three pictures on the right? They show the transition from a bunched up swatch of yarn, to the blocking mat, and finally to the absolutely stunning shawl that this artist knew they were making all along. I’m sure it took a lot of faith in the magic of blocking to continue on knitting this lace shawl when the whole time it was looking like the top picture!

So let’s get ready to do some blocking! 

Then first thing you’ll need is something to block your item on. Some people, like me, have special blocking mats we like to use. They are made of dense foam, and they interlock to form a surface as big as you need. The middle picture here shows interlocking blocking mats. The ones I have are smaller, and I have two sets so that I can put together a mat for unusual designs, such as crescent or asymmetrical shawls

You’ll also need some rust-resistant pins, and if you’re blocking lace, some blocking wires. I just use guitar strings.

You’re going to soak your item in a warm bath for a little while, then squeeze or spin as much of the water out of it as you can. Block damp, not saturated! Lay your item out on the blocking mat in the form it should be when it dries. Pin it liberally, taking care to get all the little points. There are never too many pins when you’re blocking a piece! Once you’ve pulled it out into the correct shape and pinned it, let it dry and you’re good to go!

It's Not Just for Lace!

While blocking is, of course, necessary for lace projects in order to open them up, I am a firm believer that a good blocking equals a better finished, more polished piece of knitting or crochet. This before/after of a sweater shows how even cables can benefit from a good blocking. 

Blocking helps any item go from “homemade” to “handmade” and is the final touch that I would encourage you to add to all of your projects.

Are you first time blocker, looking to give it a try? Show us! I’m dying to see how it goes for you. I bet you’ll love it, and will block from now on. Share your before/after pics on social media and hashtag them #RowsAndRosesBlocking so we can all see your masterpiece! And as always, if you have found value in anything set forth in this blog post, please consider sharing, pinning, tweeting, or otherwise helping to get it out there for others to use ♥

Spinning Yarn

Spinning Yarn

Taking a Braid for a Spin

Spinning

Spinning yarn is one of those things that so many people find to be amazing. Myself included! Lots of people who are into other fiber arts, such as knitting and crocheting, seem to believe that spinning yarn is beyond the realm of reasonable activities to take up. Spinning is something from the olden days, right? Why would I spend time spinning yarn when I can order thousands of different types of yarn, and get whatever I want already made? 

Well, let me tell you, spinning is a glorious adventure if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your fiber arts! While there is certainly a learning curve, it isn’t actually “hard” to do. You can find prepared fiber in all kinds of braids or batts, you can purchase different types of fibers and blend your own mix, or you can even take the wool right off a sheep or alpaca and spin it in the grease!

Different put-ups for different spins

My favorite way to spin is from a braid of fiber already prepared for me. Sometimes I purchase a bare braid and dye it myself, and sometimes I get it already dyed by a favorite dyer, such as Kim Russo of Kim Dyes Yarn. When you’re spinning yarn from a braid, you will undo part of the braid and pull off a section, usually splitting the section into two or three narrow strands.

You can find prepared braids in all different types of fibers! My favorite is merino/silk, with pure Polwarth being a close second. I also enjoy alpaca blends (such as alpaca/silk, or alpaca/bamboo.) While I have certainly spun pure Merino before, I don’t enjoy it as much as when it is blended with another fiber, due to Merino’s short staple length. Getting to play with different types of fibers is so much fun!

Braid of Merino

Batts are another fun option for spinning yarn. Batts are made by carding different fibers together into a fluffy blend, kinda like a “cloud” of fiber. You can then take chunks off the batt and spin them however you wish. I’ve had batts before that were alpaca, mulberry silk, mohair locks, Angora, and stellina (sparkle strands) all mixed together to make an absolutely stunning blend of color and texture. While I have more trouble getting a uniform yarn from batts, I do so enjoy the fun of them! They always make for an interesting spin. As do rolags and p-rolags, but perhaps those are a post for another day…

Braid of Merino/Bamboo/Silk

Wheel vs. Spindle

spinning wheel
My sweet little baby wheel <3

Honestly, I kinda feel like the wheel vs. spindle is a whole other post by itself, too, so I’m only going to touch on a couple of things here.

First, a spindle (also called a drop-spindle) is basically a dowel threaded through a center hole in a round weight. Like a pencil through a donut, only tightly anchored. The round weight can be wood, stone, Fimo clay, or just about anything else you can think of. You hook your fiber around a hook in the top of the dowel, and you spin the whole thing either between your fingers or by running it down the side of your leg. When you get a long length of yarn spun, you wind it around the shaft. This is my prefered method of spinning, as spindles are inexpensive and easily portable.

I am not quite familiar enough with spinning wheels to talk much about them. I have a small one that doesn’t work, and intend to get a larger one that does sometime in the future. The reason I haven’t made the plunge yet is because A) they’re expensive (the cheapest being at least a few hundred bucks, and I’ve seen some go for upwards of $5,000) and B) they take up a good bit of space. For years, my spindles have served me well, so I’m in no rush. Eventually it’ll happen, when I have the money to spend and can make room in our small home.

Try it, you'll love it!

current spin
My current spin, dyed by me!

In summary, if you haven’t yet tried to spin your own yarn, you really should give it a go! There are lots of places online where you can find high-quality hand-dyed spinning fibers, as well as handmade spindles. There are books on spinning, videos to get you started, and I’m always just an email away.

Spinning is relaxing (once you get the hang of it) and it really is so much fun to be able to play with all different types and blends of fibers.

If this post inspires you to try your hand at spinning, I’d love to see your pics! Post in the facebook group, or on instagram, and hashtag them RowsAndRosesSpin so I can see what you’ve got going on!

Craft-alongs

Craft-alongs

Why community is so important

I’ve always been quick and easy to make friends. All my life, I’ve enjoyed getting to meet up with other humans and hang out and chat. I love getting to know people: their interests, their stories, what makes them tick. Sharing my thoughts and ideas, and interests and plans, is very important to me when connecting with people. If I’m currently feeling the urge to get creative in the kitchen, I seek out others who love to cook. When we’re struggling through a difficult time in our homeschool, I reach out to homeschool communities locally and on facebook to share my frustrations and get new ideas, as well as gain a new perspective. Human beings connecting with other human beings- REALLY connecting and not just smiling and sipping coffee and remarking on the weather- is the single most important thing in life that I can think of. It’s no wonder then that craft-alongs are one of my very favorite things to do.

What are craft-alongs?

When I think of craft-alongs, I think specifically of crochet-alongs (CALs,) knit-alongs (KALs,) spin-alongs (SALs,) and weave-alongs (WALs.) I’m sure there are other craft-alongs out there, but these are what I’m into since I’m a yarny. 

In a CAL, for instance, a group of us get together and pick a crochet pattern- or pattern type- and then we all crochet it at the same time. We share our yarn choices, our pictures of our works in progress (WIPs,) and we ask questions and encourage each other. It’s a great way for crocheters to connect with each other and gain inspiration and offer help. Furthermore, it gives us the sense of community and  camaraderie that many of us so crave. We laugh and cut up, and just have an all around great time. There is really something to be said for doing the same thing with a bunch of other people, all over the world, at the same time.

Craft-alongs for motivation

Sometimes I just want to make something different. Or sometimes I need to make something custom ordered and just really don’t know about this pattern or design. Possibly, I’m scared of messing it up. Then again, I could just be in a creative rut. 

Craft-alongs to the rescue! I love joining into a community of other makers who are making the same thing. I’ve found it especially helpful during a daunting project to be able to chat about our experiences with the pattern. If anyone has questions, they ask in the group and everyone else chimes in with their helpful answers. Errors happen in patterns sometimes, and when someone catches it, posting in the -along helps everyone else who hasn’t made it that far yet.

Rockstar Ravelry

If you’re looking to join a craft-along or two, my advice to you is the check out Ravelry. This website is FULL of everything yarn. From their massive database of knitting and crochet patterns, to their forums full of groups of every kind of yarn crafting imaginable, Ravelry has it all. I have a group there for Rows and Roses, and we actually have a CAL for my Felici on the Double cowl going on right now! Pictures are being shared and encouragement is being given as we speak. Please come join us, we are having so much fun! It’s free to join, and only takes a second (username and password. Done!) You can create project pages for everything you knit or crochet, find groups of people for just about anything you can think of, and I’ve never seen so many patterns in my life. Many of them are free! Come join our community, cast your voice with the rest, and show us what you’re working with!

Christmas Crunch

Christmas Crunch

When blessings meet “curses!”

christmas crunch

Welcome to my holiday love affair with insanity, what I like to call the Christmas Crunch. This time of year, I’m reflecting on the year ending and planning the year coming, as well as baking like a madwoman. I’ve got about seven different kinds of cookies to make, a gingerbread cake, a blanket to finish before Santa comes, a pair of socks to knit that I haven’t even started yet….. Pour me a bourbon, okay? I don’t drink anymore, but I’m starting to rethink it.

 Wanna see what the 2019 Christmas Crunch is looking like? Let’s start with the blessings, since it’s so important to remember just how lucky we all are.

A gift from a new friend

wecrochet gift

I might be the luckiest person alive right now. A new friend decided to send me a Christmas present, but when she was asking for my address, she made it sound like it was just a ball of yarn. Therefore, I didn’t think the great big box that arrived yesterday was mine. I had already received all the yarn I had ordered this year, and thought this must be a mistake. Imagine my surprise (and happy tears!)

Inside, I found 4 skeins of the brand new sock yarn from WeCrochet called “Muse,” seven balls of the new Dishie Twist that I have been eyeing enviously since they released it, a bunch of solid Dishie to go with it, and four balls of the super-exclusive Felici colorway “Present.” You can only get Present with a $75 purchase, so this is HUGE! There was also an amazing WeCrochet project bag, a copy of their new magazine (the samples I crocheted for them are in it!) and Sparkles the Unicorn enamel pin. I have never been so overwhelmed with gratitude, and I am so thankful for this chick I can’t even find the words to express myself ♥

Planning a new class

With the new 2020 year on the horizon, there is so much planning to do! One of the more exciting things coming up is thanks to the lovely Melissa at Green Heart Awakening. GHA and R&R have partnered up to offer local crochet classes! These classes are one-on-one, one day available per month, and all materials are included. Each day we do them, there will be 4 slots available on a first come, first served, basis. The class is 90 minutes long, with an optional follow-up and lifetime email support. If you or someone you know is interested in learning to crochet and are local to the Pendleton, SC area, please check out the class listing here.

learn to crochet class

And now, the curse

Well well well, whatdoyaknow? I have a hooking injury, right in the middle of allllllll this yarn I need to work up. This could not have come at a worse time. Two Christmas presents still to do, the Felici On The Double cowl rage going strong, and I’m laid up with a hurt wrist. How will I get all of this stuff accomplished? I wonder if I can learn to hook with my feet… Oh well, what can you do? I guess I’m just going to try to laugh it off as my luck and have faith that it’ll all work out. There may be a couple of New Year’s presents coming up if they don’t get done before Christmas, but that’s okay. It’ll have to be.

Christmas Crunch will pass

Just like it does every year. This is such a fun and exciting time, and never without it’s wrenches thrown into the gears. I should be used to it by now. I’m going to go fix a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows and a candy cane, take a few deep breaths, and remind myself just how fortunate I am to be able to do this at all. Working from home, for myself and not a boss, homeschooling my kids, enjoying my home and pets, and looking forward to emerging from hibernation in about a month to rejoin the world and all of my wonderful friends. Thank you all so much for being here ♥

Learning to Ice Dye Yarn

Learning to Ice Dye Yarn

Learning to Ice Dye Yarn: Another adventure in fiber crafts 

Acid dyes for dying yarn

Today I’m learning to ice dye yarn. This is something I had heard about a while back, but never had the time to try to figure out. I’ve dyed yarn in the past, both hand-painted and kettle dyed, but ice dying is something new to me. Seeing as how I’m on day 2 of a five day streak of staying at home, it looks like today will be the perfect day! No time like the present, am I right?

Follow along with me here today if you’re interested in learning to ice dye yarn yourself. Not that my newbie self can probably teach you anything other than what NOT to do… but hey, it’ll be fun I bet. Let’s get started trying to figure this thing out.

Yarn prepped for dying

What is ice dying?

From what I understand, dying yarn using the ice dye method is supposed to be super simple. Ice dying fabric is also a thing, and I’ve seen some gorgeous ice dyed bamboo velour, but since I’m into yarn and not fabric, let’s just stick with the yarn for now, mkay?

Apparently, the gist of it is that you mix up your dye and pour it into ice cube trays. You then freeze it, bust up the cubes (or leave them whole, but not us!) and sprinkle them onto your prepped yarn. Once you have the ice the way you want it, simply bake the yarn in the oven to set it. I’m excited to see if it’s really THAT easy!

 

The Process

(otherwise known as the adventure)

This is it! The start of our epic adventure. Picking out the dyes is always fun. Since I wanted to do a speckly green, so I went with Jacquard acid dyes in Emerald, Chartreuse, Turquoise, a diluted Sky Blue/Yellow Sun mix, and then as an afterthought, I added Jet Black. I used a 1/8 teaspoon to measure out some dyes into each jar, then added a splash of vinegar, along with some water. Craft sticks make perfect stirrers for something like this. Do you think I made a mess? I mean….. of course.

My yarn has been soaking in a tub of hot water with vinegar all morning, so it should be ready to go. After pouring dye into my one and only ice cube tray, I put it in the freezer to set up. Waiting is going to be the hardest part, for sure! 

Patience: not my virtue

Ice takes a long time to freeze. Like, I was kinda aware of that, but not as aware as I am now. I waited all damn day for this dye to set up and let me tell you, it was the longest day of my life! Knitting happened while waiting. Hanging out with the kids. A friend came by and brought Isaiah his old drum kit, which was awesome. Lots of fun was had while waiting, but still……. waiting sucks. 

Considering I was going to have to wait for as long as it decided to take for the dye to freeze anyway, I decided to go ahead and get ready for the pounding. Oh yeah. Demolition’s my THANG! Even if it’s just ice cubes.

73186829_2508892869231490_4604495779317415936_n

And now, we dye

From here on, we’re really getting into our project. After squeezing out a good bit of the water, I spread out my skein of yarn into a roasting pan with parchment laid in it. I want to be able to continue to use this pan with food at some point, and I don’t want to take a chance that the metal may react with the dye. I preheated the oven to 250 degrees. You know I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, right? The ice cubes were dumped into thick freezer bags, after which I smashed them with a hammer. Lots of big pieces, small pieces, and tiny pieces seem just about perfect for what we’re doing, don’t you think?

Smashing is my favorite, so I savored that little task. Then, after making sure all the yarn was spread as thinly as possible without causing a tangled mess, I scattered the ice, one color at a time, in a random fashion over the yarn. Isn’t it so pretty??

Yarn spread out
Ice cubes scattered

Wakey Wakey, yarn gets bakey!

Into the oven it went, much like the witch from Hansel and Gretel. But not as roughly. I was careful. Baking at 250 for about 30 minutes seems right (remember I have no idea what I’m doing, k?) Back to waiting…

Ding!

Oh my very goodness. Looks like all that patience really paid off. This yarn is gorgeous! The greens and blues speckled with the black is exactly what I was thinking when I started on this today. This is my dream yarn, y’all! I can’t believe how amazing it looks. But… what is that? Is that ORANGE? Where did THAT come from?! I wonder if perhaps some of that Sun Yellow didn’t dissolve well. It’s actually quite nice. An unexpected surprise, yes, but I dig it!

Ice dyed yarn
Orange speckles

Learning to ice dye yarn has been such a fun adventure! I’m so glad we decided to do this, aren’t you? This gorgeous yarn will be listed in my shop soon (if I don’t decide to use it first.) It’s a fingering weight, single-ply wool and will be absolutely perfect for a crocheted shawl. Wanna learn about fingering weight, and all the other weights of yarn? Check out my post here.

Thank you all so much for joining me today. Gorgeous yarn never gets old, does it? If you like what you see, or found value in this post, please share it! There’s lots more to come ♥

Is Gauge Important?

Is Gauge Important?

Have you had trouble getting gauge with knit and crochet? Is getting gauge with knit and crochet even important? Read on and let me help!

An adventure in swatching- Getting Gauge with knit and crochet

The short answer: Yes. Getting gauge in knit and crochet *IS* important. This is true especially if you are unsure about sizing, or the pattern uses a technique that is new to you. Doubly so if your math skills are not up to snuff, or you have a specific amount of yarn with which to work. Basically, there are many good reasons why you’ll want to pay attention to gauge. Read on and see how you can make gauge work for you.

These swatches are all the exact same yarn, worked with different sized hooks.

Gauge? Huh?

So what is gauge, exactly? Well, to put it simply, gauge is how many stitches and/or rows you have per unit of measurement, usually 1″ or 4″ squared. If you’re looking at a pattern and it tells you that gauge is 20 sts x 24 rows = 4″ then you know two things. First, that 20 stitches needs to be 4″ across. Which also mean you’ll need 24 rows to be 4″ tall. Here’s where you need to swatch.

A gauge swatch is simply knitting or crocheting a small, square piece of fabric using the yarn and hook or needles specified in the pattern. Work your swatch before you do anything else so that you can see how close (or far off) you are from the intended gauge. If you’re getting less stitches per inch than the pattern calls for (for example you only get 12 stitches in 4″,) then you’ll need to go down a hook or needle size and try again. Same goes the other direction: if you’re getting too many stitches in your measured section, then your hook or needles are too small and you’ll need to go up a size.

Tell me why!

What happens if your gauge is close but not quite? What happens if you decide not to swatch and just hope for the best? Well…. maybe everything will be okay, but more than likely, you’re going to deal a with a good bit of frogging (rip-it, rip-it) and a whole lot of wasted time. Here’s why:

Say your gauge is too small, but not by much. Maybe you’re supposed to get 10 stitches per inch, but you’re  getting 11. Seems like not a huge deal, so you just go with it. Close enough is close enough, right? Well, maybe. If you’re just making a washcloth, or a scarf, then you may not mind one bit if it’s just slightly wider or longer that the pattern says it will be. In fact, you may never even notice! 

But what if it’s a sweater? Or mittens? You must remember that you’re not going to be just one stitch too many in the finished item, but rather one stitch PER INCH too many. If your item is supposed to be 10 inches long, then at 11 stitches per inch, it’s going to be 11 inches long. For a mitten, that’s a good bit more than you bargained for. What if your finished item is supposed to be 30 inches long? Now it’s going to be 33. 

Think about that. That’s a BIG difference, especially in something like sleeve length, or bust circumference! This is how being just slightly off in gauge can result in a hat or sweater that is completely unwearable. Look what happened when I tried to knit an adult hat and didn’t swatch:

Great, but is it ALWAYS necessary?

It is absolutely possible to turn this whole idea on its head though, if you’re good at math and know what you’re doing. One of my preferred methods of creating “my own” item out of someone else’s pattern is to swatch for fabric, rather than for gauge. Especially if the yarn contains any silk (swoooooon.) I will look at the recommended hook or needle size and start there, just to have a jumping-off point. Then I will make 3-4 swatches with hook/needle sizes close to the stated size .

For example, if a pattern calls for a 4mm hook, I may make swatches using 3.5, 4, 5, and maybe even 6. This is so that I can see how the fabric feels and drapes. I’ll pick the swatch that looks and feels the best to me, and then rework the math in the pattern to make it match my gauge. 

This is fairly time consuming, and math isn’t something I’m great at, only passable. Therefore, I tend not to do this for a customer’s order as it takes an ample amount of extra time and effort, and I have to charge extra for that. As I progress in my journey, I hope to one day be good enough at it to start making most of my items this way.

Show us your gauge!

I’d love to see your pictures of gauges gone wrong! Send them to Sati@rowsandroses.com or post them on the facebook page with hashtag #GaugeGoneWrong and share your horror story with the world. Show everyone why getting gauge with knit and crochet is so important! 

If you have any questions about what you’ve read, you can always contact me. And please, if you found value in this post, take just a second or two to hit some buttons for me. Like, tweet, pin, comment, and mostly SHARE SHARE SHARE!

Yarn Selection

Yarn Selection

Part II: Weight

Gorgeous swatch in Lindy Chain, a fingering weight yarn by Knit Picks

Remember our little chat about yarn selection last week where we discussed why certain fibers were good for certain things (like cotton is absorbent and great for kitchen towels, while wool is light and springy and warm so excellent for sweaters,) and how some yarns may not work for certain items based on the fibers from which they’re made? Well there’s another thing we have to take into consideration when dealing with yarn selection, and that’s the yarn weight. Just to be clear, yarn weight doesn’t mean how much a ball of the yarn weighs, but rather the “gauge” of a single strand of the yarn. In other words, thickness. Let’s elaborate a bit. 

Why yarn weight matters

Say we want to make a fluttery springtime shawl. A transition piece for those warm yet breezy late spring days (we don’t have those days here in SC very often: we tend to go from winter to pollen to full-on Hades. But I digress…) We pick out a pattern with an airy feel, like butterfly wings, perfect for mid-April. Now we need to find a yarn. We discover that our local yarn shop, or perhaps our favorite online retailer, offers a drop-dead-gorgeous yarn of merino and silk, which we know will be equal parts bouncy and drapey, in a colorway that just screams BUY ME!! This is it, this is the yarn. We check the yardage to make sure we order enough and now, finally, we are at home with our yarn and ready to start. Guess what? It’s a #6 bulky-weight yarn. Oh…… no. This shawl is going to wear like a carpet.

Or how about this: we want to crochet a rug for our living room. Brown and green to match our decor (assuming you all have decor. I do not, unless “third-hand cast offs” is a decor.) We find a brown yarn with green speckles in the perfect shades. We grab a bunch and head home. Now we’re ready to start hooking. We need to swatch (swatching will be a whole ‘nother post) to figure out which hook will give us the thick and unyielding fabric we want for this rug that’s going to be walked on for years to come. Oh wait, this gorgeous yarn is fingering weight. Oh man, that’s not going to work. It’ll take 10 years to make this rug, and then it’ll be thin like a cotton tshirt. Gotta take the yarn back and try again.

Or how about we just skip all this insanity and disappointment and jump right to the part in our yarn selection where we learn how to pick the right weight of yarn the first time around? Yeah? Awesome.

First, let’s get familiar with some weight terms here, and what they look like.

Getting smart

Weight Number

#0

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

Weight Name

Lace (think angel hair pasta, or even smaller)

Fingering

Sport

DK (great middle of the road weight)

Worsted

Aran

Bulky (think rug)

L to R: lace, fingering, sport, dk, worsted, aran, bulky

To find the yarn weight on a ball or skein of yarn, just look at the label. It will tell you! Thankfully, most patterns you’ll find already tell you which yarn weight the pattern is written for. However, if you’re writing your own pattern, tweaking a pattern for a lighter or heavier weight yarn, or just trying to make something up from scratch with nothing but a hook, some yarn, and your imagination, then you’ll need to have an idea of what these different weights can do, and what they probably can’t.

It’s usually okay to substitute a yarn within 1 of the original weight. For example, I’ve substituted fingering for sport, and aran for worsted, more times than I can count. The trick is to make a gauge swatch with two or three different hook sizes to either A) meet the correct gauge for the pattern, or B) get the fabric feel and drape that you want and then do the math according to the gauge of the pattern vs. the gauge of your swatch. If this is Greek to you, don’t worry, we’ll cover swatching in another post a little later on. Suffice it to say, substitutions can usually be made as long as they’re not too drastic.

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Yarn Selection: How it works

Yarn Selection: How it works

Part I: Fiber

Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with a yarn or pattern that you had to have it RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW!! so you send me what you have and tell me what you want, and…. I dash your dreams by telling you that there’s no way this yarn and this pattern will work together? If you have, then I’m so sorry to have to be the person who ruins everything! But you know what? The ruination (new word, enjoy) would have been much more devastating if we had gone ahead and messed up your yarn with the wrong pattern, or messed up your finished item by using the wrong yarn.

What makes a yarn perfect for an item, or all wrong? There are two factors here: fiber content and yarn weight. We’ll discuss fiber today, and leave weight for a Part 2 post. For now, enjoy these gorgeous yarn pics while I babble.

There are two different kinds of fibers we will discuss here because the third type (man-made aka acrylic, polyester, nylon, etc.) are all plastics and I tend to stay far away from those if I can help it. For today, we have plant fibers and animal fibers. A few types include:

Plant:

  • cotton
  • hemp
  • bamboo
  • linen (flax)
  • jute

Animal

  • wool (all different breeds!)
  • alpaca
  • cashmere
  • angora
  • silk (it comes from worms)
  • mohair
  • yak

So how do we know what gets used where? Well, there are no hard and fast rules that apply across the board (that I’m aware of, anyway) but there are some basic ideas that can help us decide.

For example, plant fibers, like cotton and bamboo, tend to be very strong and absorbent (especially linen!) so they are great choices for kitchen textiles such as dishcloths, hand towels, and placemats. They do not, however, hold their shape very well, especially when wet, and can become heavy and stretched out. Because of this, you wouldn’t normally use cotton for a heavy sweater, or something that needs to spring back and “hug” you, like a hat, or socks.

On the other hand, animal fibers such as wool and alpaca, tend to be very warm, and very springy. They are excellent for things like sweaters and hats because they’re lighter than plant fibers and don’t usually pull out of shape. They are insulating and will help you retain body heat in the winter, but they’re also very breathable and will actually keep you from sweating. This is why cloth diapering parents LOVE woolies! They’ll absorb moisture while allowing the air to circulate and dry the skin off. No diaper rashes here!

Now don’t get me wrong, lots of items “could” be made with all different types of fibers and turn out just fine. I’ve made hats from cotton before, I just make sure to let the recipient know that it may require more frequent trips through the dryer to spring back into shape. I don’t normally make “kitchen stuff” with animal fibers, but I LOVE making coffee cozies and trivets out of wool since wool will hug my cup better AND keep things warmer, for longer.

It is my mission as a semi-professional yarny to make sure that you are aware of these things when deciding on an item you want, and while picking a yarn for it. I am always happy to make suggestions and will be sure to steer you in the right direction. I won’t let us run off the rails and make something that ends up being completely ridiculous and useless by choosing a yarn that couldn’t possibly work. Forever and always, I am committed to bringing you items that are wonderfully astounding and will be loved and cherished- and USED!- year after year after year.

Join me here again later on for more chatter on yarn in Part II: Yarn Weight. Until then, why not cruise the site and see what you can see? Every single like, comment, pin, tweet, and share, is so appreciated as it helps Rows and Roses to grow and thrive. Thank you so much for being here ♥

Meet Weaverly Marsh

Meet Weaverly Marsh

Isn’t she gorgeous?

My son and I have jumped into rigid heddle weaving, and it is so much fun! Like anything worth doing, though, there is a lot to learn and we're not really good at it yet. We are forging ahead and making progress! We started with a small sample that my sweet daughter turned into a blankie for her favorite stuffed rabbit, Rabbity. Then we moved on to kitchen towels. Let me tell you, you'd think something like a plain rectangle would be simple, right?

YOU WOULD BE WRONG! Just like me...

It’s really okay, though. We’re not doing a half bad job learning, and we’re motivated! You know what this means, right? It means we’re going to get GREAT at it, and soon start offering woven kitchen textiles to our ever-growing list of delightful yarny items! It is my hope that by the Grand Reopen in January 2020 I will at least have dish towels available, with placemats, table runners, dish cloths following shortly thereafter. Must excitement to come!

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