First week was Lesson 1, the process of chosing the design.
Week two was Lesson 2 : how to make a knitting motif chart for the boat etc
Last week Lesson 3 : how to read a knitting motif chart.
This week we have Lesson 4 : Choosing yarn and colours ready to start knitting.
The yarn I’d chosen to use for this blanket is a DK yarn that knits up with a tension of 20 sts and 26 rows = 4 ins [10 cm] in stocking stitch on size 4.5mm (U.S.7) needles.
DK weight stands for double knit and is thicker than sport weight. It is primarily a European yarn weight, though several American companies are now importing it under their own company name. When substituting yarn, always choose a yarn from within the same weight category, that is a similar fiber, and has a similar gauge.
Once you know these three things, you can consider other brands of yarn to substitute. Within each of these categories are all sorts of yarn made from many different fibers. The fiber most often associated with knitting is wool. Wool is a beautiful, durable yarn that is a pleasure to work with and holds its shape well. Check the fabric care symbols on the label carefully, many wools aren’t machine washable. Before you choose wool, make sure you’re willing to care for it properly.
Cotton yarns are very popular because they make a cool and comfortable product. Cotton is usually labeled as hand-wash only. Blends are any imaginable combination of fibers, including natural and synthetic. While most knitters prefer natural fibers, synthetics have their advantages. They are often inexpensive, readily available, offer a wide colour selection, and are easy to care for.
Choose a yarn that’s right for your pattern and based on your personal taste. A good tip is to buy one ball or skein (called the ball from here on) of the yarn you want to use before starting the project. Knit up a large swatch in the stitch pattern, and wash or dry-clean it in the same manner you’ll use for your finished project. You’ll learn several things from this experiment: your gauge, if you like working with the yarn, if the yarn shrinks or stretches after cleaning, and, most important, if the dye runs.
The next question is “How much yarn do I buy?” That information is found in the pattern materials list and on the yarn label. If you buy the brand the pattern calls for, simply check to see how many balls are needed for the size you’re making.
When substituting yarns, first determine if the new yarn ball has the same number of yards or meters as the pattern yarn. Check the yarn label to see how many yards or meters the ball contains, and divide this number into the total yardage needed to determine how many balls you need. Round this number up to the nearest ball to make sure you’ll have enough yarn.
And then, lastly, there is the issue of colour. I will never deign to tell someone else what colour their project should be, as this is entirely personal, but yarns tend to fall into three groups and I think it is always a good idea to pick a group before embarking on your final colour decision.
Solids – I’m talking machine-dyed, 100% solid colors. No tonal variations, no hidden depth of color. Semi-solids – These are the hand-dyed version of solids, and they are exceptionally lovely. Within one skein of red, you may find eight different shades, layered one of top of the other and always subtly shifting. Variegateds – These are the anything goes yarns. They can be as mild as combining similar colors (pink, red, white) or wildly different colors (purple, yellow, black). Once you decide if you want your project to be knit in a variegated yarn, a semi-solid, or a solid yarn, your color choices become a little easier, and you can simply pick the color you like best within that range!
For this blanket I chose solid colour, Royal blue, Azure blue, Yellow and White
Before purchasing, check the dye lot number on every ball of yarn you’ve selected. Yarn is dyed in huge lots, or batches. When distributed to retail stores, dye lots are often mixed together. You may not be able to see any difference when comparing two different dye lots in the store, but after completing a project, you’ll realize just how “off” two balls of “Off-White” can be. The probability of buying or finding matching dye lots months later is unlikely. Check each dye lot number, and buy all the yarn you’ll need before you start your project. You’ll be very glad you did.
Now that you have your yarn and needles, you’re ready to get started!