Knitting Tips by Judy
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WEIGHT refers to the thickness of the yarn and there are six main categories, ranging from super fine to super bulky.

FINGERING is also known as sock yarn, or baby yarn and is worked on small needles.

SPORT yarn  is slightly heavier and is worked on medium needles..

WORSTED is probably the most popular yarn, usually used for  sweaters, scarves and throws and is worked on medium to large needles..

BULKY OR CHUNKY is the next heaviest yarn.  This is a heavy yarn great for scarves and ponchos and usually worked on  large needles.

is the heaviest yarn, used for even bulkier scarves, hats, blankets and sweaters and worked on super large needles..

TIP: The thicker the yarn the faster it knits up.  For a quick project, make a scarf out of super bulky on big needles.

Yarn is made up of all sorts of fibers.  You'll find  yarns of cotton , wool, acrylic, silk, mohair, angora, blends and now even organic and bamboo.

Wool is  incredibly versatile and not itchy  as it used to be.  MARINO WOOL comes from a long-haired sheep and makes a fine, soft, luxurious yarn.  TIP: if you use wool remember that it will shrink in warm water, although there are now some Washable Wool Yarns  available.

Cotton is also very versatile yarn, and good for all sorts of projects.

It is usually relatively inexpensive and is widely available in many  colors, weights and textures. TIP: Cotton does not hold its shape as well as wool and tends to stretch out.  Although It's  more washable than wool, it can shrink as well if washed in hot water.

Acrylic yarns have come a long way.  Although there's nothing natural about them,  it's inexpensive and  machine washable.  It's great for baby gifts because, as I found out when I became a grandmother, today's new mother's don't have time to worry about anything like how to care for it.  They can just throw it into the washer and dryer and forget about it.   Acrylic yarn comes in an amazing  array of colors, textures and weights.  Many of the new novelty yarns are acrylic, and with them you can make a fun scarf, handbag, poncho or hat.  In the last few years there's been an influx of novelty yarns such as eyelash yarns (fluffy, hairy) and ribbons. With those novelty yarn you, as a beginner, can make something that looks like it was made by an advanced knitter.

Bamboo  yarn is fairly new and has become quite popular lately.   Many yarn companies are now selling Bamboo Yarn.  Bamboo is a grass that is harvested and distilled into cellulose that is then spun into the yarn.  It's a renewable resource because  it can be harvested without killing the plant, and it takes just a few months before the plant can be harvested again.  That alone makes it environmentally friendly.  It is also biodegradable unless it is mixed with other yarns and is often dyed with natural dyes that are safer for the environment.  In addition to being antibacterial it also has ultra-violet protective properties.   On the down side Bamboo does lose strength when it is wet and swells a lot in water.  TIP: To make it stronger knit two strands  together.  Bamboo yarn may not be very cohesive and sometimes tend to split when you're working with it..  TIP: Use Bamboo blunt ended needles to cut down on splitting and knit slower than usual.  As of now all Bamboo yarns need to be hand washed.


There are Organic yarns now that give us substantial environmental benefits.  When we realize the environmental advantages organic yarns have over traditional yarns  it's easier to justify the higher cost.  The environmental impact related to making cotton. is an eye opener that I won't go into that here.  Most organic yarn companies provide information on their processing and dyeing procedures, so you can avoid products exposed to toxic chemicals during that stage. The challenges of working with organic yarns are price, availability and color selection.  Though some companies offer a wider variety of colors than others, you mostly have only earth tones to chose from.  TIP: Some yarn companies are listed under LINKS.  One interesting thing about organic yarns is that they improve with age. Most colors deepen as the item is worn and laundered  and now that the market is growing the variety of colors and styles of yarn will no doubt continue to increase as well.

There are many other kinds of yarn available.  You will find, among others Rayon, Hemp,  Angora,  Mohair, Polyester, Linen,  and Silk.

Yarns have labels that provide all the information that you' need to know, such as the type of yarn it is, the amount and/or yardage in the ball or skein, the gauge, weight, fiber content and care instructions. Some labels also include free patterns, which are printed on the inside of the label.  Buy  an inexpensive, simple ball of yarn to play with.  You will not want anything fancy, fluffy or hairy for practicing as you'll probably be undoing it and reusing the yarn.  TIP:  You might  find practice yarn and needles at a Thrift Store for very little money.