Scratching Your Head Over Which Yarn to Use?

One of my very favorite things to do in life (aside from enjoying Christmas and holidays with my family) is to walk into a bona-fide yarn shop and browse around. It’s right up there with leafing through my favorite book shops!                               

Of course, from the moment you open the door your knitting senses are on fire. Because everywhere you look you see yarn explosions. Mohair in this corner, fanciful silks and bamboo yarns over here, not to mention deep-colored wools and alpaca yarns in various shades of white, straight ahead. Move to the back of the store and there’s more yarn; acrylic, cotton, sport, baby, fingering.

Most often you will see patterns or swatches hanging to give you ideas for what to knit with that particular yarn. In my previous post, “Questions About Knitting Yarns? I’ve Got Answers!” you’ll find a review of basic yarn knowledge and tips. But you know as well as I do that just looking at yarns tells you they are VERY different.

How DO you choose knitting yarns? Here’s how:

Yarns, just like people, come in many different shapes and sizes. And most of them, are lovable! Be sure to know exactly what you are going to be knitting before heading out to your LYS (local yarn shop).Bunches of yarns

It’s SO easy to just pick up what looks pretty and enticing, but that may not be what is called for in a pattern.  If you are looking to knit a scarf, for instance, then very thin yarn, like a fingering or a super chunky weight yarn is not your best bet. These yarns will be too skinny or too bulky to give you the patterned look you see in the instructions.

Super bulky or bulky yarns are very thick and usually quite difficult to knit with. I know my fingers feel the strain after a while. They make great rugs or hats as well as larger scarves, cowls, and vests.

Bulky yarn

Bulky yarn

Worsted weight yarn is the most popular yarn there is. Easy to knit with you can find it in cotton, wool, acrylic and many other types. This type of yarn is PERFECT for sweaters, scarves, shawls, and lots of other patterns.

Double knit yarn is a good choice for those socks you’ve been putting off, or for toddler or children’s clothes.

Sport weight yarn is lighter than worsted-weight and you usually find these skeins when looking for baby yarn. They are soft and pastel and make great baby blankets.


Fingering yarn or lace yarn is used when making delicate shawls or intricate doilies (those pretty table-toppers).  This type of yarn is very delicate and is usually knit on small needles, such as size 1 or 0.

Linen Lace

Lace yarn

Nowadays there are also fun fur yarns and ribbon yarns in many colors and textures. They’re fun to knit small projects with, but the ribbon yarns I find next to impossible to knit with. There are video’s available if you are interested, just Google “ribbon yarns”.  Good luck with that.

The latest fad for knitters is something called “arm knitting”, where you are actually using your arms as the “needles” and your yarn is entwined into specific patterns that you follow. This is something I haven’t tried yet, and I don’t think I will. Just me. Knitting, for me anyway, has always been done on needles and always will be.

Yarns are definitely an investment when you are knitting, so a little knowledge ahead of time, is sure to help!  And here’s a tip: always try to purchase the exact yarn called for in the pattern, but if for some reason it is no longer available, then your yarn shop owner should be able to point you in the right direction as to an appropriate substitute! That’s what she’s there for!

As always, let me know what you think on Facebook or Google+, and be sure to take your knitting to heart!  ♥





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