Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Yarn to Use for Your Machine

I get the question about what yarn to buy for different machines.

Beginners get horribly frustrated by trying to knit with inappropriate yarn. If you're an old hand with a yarn stash, please treat the beginners you know to some hand-me-down yarns that are easy for knitting!

If you're learning to machine knit, here are some tips on choosing practice yarn:
  • Skeins of yarn are labeled with the gauge, usually how many stitches are in 10 centimeters, which is 4", so divide by 4 to get stitches per inch.
  • As a beginner, get yarn for a standard gauge (4.5mm) machine knits to a gauge of at least 7 stitches per inch. I kind of like 8 stitches per inch for beginners on standard machines. More stitches per inch means the yarn is thinner.
  • Got a 9 mm bulky? Get yarn that knits at least 5 stitches per inch.
  • Got a midgauge? Try for 6 stitches per inch or smaller.
  • Try to get some cone yarn. It's treated with wax to make it knit more easily, and besides, the people who sell cone yarn can steer you to the right stuff. Also, cones feed the yarn perfectly. Set the cone on the floor.
  • Use a wax cylinder. Pick it up off the holder, thread the yarn, and then set it on top. It will turn slowly as the yarn passes underneath. If you put the yarn on top of it, it'll cut a groove in the wax.
  • The yarn should be smooth and boring, not bumpy, kinky, laddery, eyelashy, furry or hairy.
  • Avoid yarn that breaks easily.
  • The yarn should have a little stretch and spring. Stay from limp cotton, linen and silk, for now. It should have more than one ply (strand) and some twist.
  • There's nothing wrong with cheap acrylic yarn for practice! I'd like you to enhance your learning experience by making lavish piles of swatches.
  • Get light colors.

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