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Choosing yarn for new designs

design knitting learning making process yarn

There are a lot of steps to designing, but one of the first for me is picking out what kind of yarn I’m going to use. In tandem with picking out yarn is deciding on the type of item I’m designing, and often times, the final decision rests on a feeling.

Let’s say I want to design a cowl, pretty simple. Now there’s no rulebook that says cowls have to be made with a particular type of yarn, so I have to decide what I’ll use. Looking through my yarn stash, I have enough of DK, bulky, and fingering to make a cowl. Any of the these types of yarn works just fine, but I want my cowl to be something that a knitter can make in a weekend. That edges out fingering weight yarn, and I’m left with DK and bulky. This is where the feeling comes into play. Do I want the cowl to have really pronounced stitches and be sturdy yet squishy? Or do I want the cowl to be more supple and have fun details? A bulky weight yarn acts differently than DK, so this is an important decision. Holding the two yarns in my hands, feeling the difference in texture, I decide that the bulky is just too soft to pass up and choose that one. Having chosen a bulky weight yarn, I can now start swatching and testing out different stitches that will show up nicely in a cowl.

Other factors that go into my decision making process also include what function the garment will serve. If it’s a scarf that will get tucked into a coat, then I feel better about choosing more luxurious fibers. However, socks that will be worn often might work better with a sturdy wool. Sometimes, I decide what type of garment to use based on the yarn I pick. For example, I recently went yarn shopping and found some really soft fingering weight yarn. The combination of the available colors and the quantity made my mind go instantly to “this has to be a sweater.” Now, a fingering weight sweater is going to take some time - but that’s ok! The purpose of this design won’t be to get it done quickly - it will be to enjoy the process and find comfort in the meditation that knitting often brings. Soft, beautiful fingering weight yarn is perfect for this type of pattern.

For now, I find that these strategies for picking out yarn works really well for me. Maybe that will change, but that’s all a part of the process.

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