All About Hand Knitting Yarn

Have you been in a yarn shop lately? Looking for your next knitting project and browsing through the hand knitting yarn? It seems everytime I visit a LYS (local yarn shop) or a Michael’s or A.C. Moore, etc., there are always NEW yarns to see! While it’s exciting to pick out my favorite colors and fibers, I always need to know more about what kind of yarn I’m buying.

Iyarn skeins have a great lead-in post on finding yarn, which you can read here.  It’s full of fun information on the different types of yarn we use for knitting all of the beautiful things we do. Do I have my favorites? You bet I do!

Hand knitting yarn is one B-I-G category. In fact, I could write a post a day for a year, and not be done telling you all there is to know about knitting yarn. Yarn, as you know, goes back a few millennium; very crude bits of flaxen, then cotton which has been spun and knit for centuries. Some believe it came from the Middle East and spread to Europe during the Crusades. Once the 16th century arrived, yarn found its way to the New World and beyond.

Yarn comes from plants, animals and man-made fibers. Some of the best known are cotton and wool.  Llamas and alpacasThen there are silks, mohair, angora, linen, and alpaca. Nowadays, there are all of the acrylics and specialty or ribbon yarns; some of these seem fun to knit, yet they don’t use knitting stitches in the traditional way; rather you do nothing more than pick up stitches all along the row. Which to my mind, isn’t knitting.

If you’re like me tradition means a lot. One of my favorite places to visit is Harrisville, New Hampshire. This little town looks EXACTLY as it did in the 1850’s!

Harrisville NH

Courtesy of

The brick buildings, the waterwheel and mill transport you back in time. Wander into the knitting shops, join a class or just enjoy the scenery; it’s a place you won’t soon forget.

So, when you have a particular knitting project in mind the first thing to consider is which yarn to use. Will it be acrylic, wool, polyester, alpaca, silk, cotton, mohair, cashmere or rayon? Or is it boucle, faux fur, chenille, rug, ruffle, ribbon, pom-pom or ladder? How about weight? Superfine, extra bulky, medium-weight, fingering, super-bulky, sport, worsted, or lace weight?

Confused yet? Because it can be downright confusing!

So, take a tip from me:  if you are knitting a pattern that calls for a specific type of yarn, use that yarn. Sometimes you won’t find it in your LYS, and that’s okay. Look for it online and order it that way instead. Nine times out of ten you will be successful at finding the yarn you need.

As to what you can knit with certain yarns, well . . . that’s a post I’ve yet to write. But, check back here in the coming weeks because you will find it. ALL the information you need to know to match yarns with your knitting projects. After that, we’ll take a look at all those cryptic symbols you see on knitting labels and what they mean. Then you will know all about hand knitting yarns!

As always, take your knitting to heart!   ♥





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