It was 62 out when I dropped my oldest off at preschool today. With a nice little chill in the air, I immediately thought one thing, “SWEATER WEATHER!” You know, a knitter’s New Year. Sweater Weather is always the beginning of knitting season, where you go from thinking about knitting lightweight accessories that won’t overheat you to full on, warm and cozy bonewarmers.
This October I am participating in the 30 Day Sweater Challenge, where I will be hand-held by the folks over at http://30daysweater.com/fablefibers to design and knit my own, custom fitting sweater. And I want it to be GREAT. Diane from over there has graciously provided me with a blog post about WHAT yarn makes a handknit sweater right for you…
Want to think about doing it? Read a little further…
Five Rules for Choosing the Perfect Yarn for Your Sweater
Have you ever knit a sweater out of beautiful, soft, cozy cashmere then realized that you never wear that amazing sweater because it is far too warm for the climate you live in? Or maybe you knit a sweater for your newborn out of 100% wool and they promptly spit up all over it and you couldn’t throw it in the wash? A big part of knitting a sweater that you will love and will be worn often is choosing a yarn that is suitable. Lets take a look at five things to consider as you are choosing the perfect yarn for your sweater.
Rule # 1 Consider the Who
The first thing you will need to figure out is who you are knitting this sweater for. Is it for yourself, your teenage daughter, your four year old grandson or for your husband? Now think about what sort of sweaters they normally wear. What do they spend most of their time doing? Where do they live? What kind of sweater would be practical for them?
Rule # 2 Consider the Purpose
Imagine what you will wear this sweater for. Will it be for your backpacking trip through the Alps? Will you use is as a swimsuit cover up this summer? Do you plan on using it as your go-to sweater on lazy fall days? Or will it be worn over your party dress at your next dinner party?
How you decide you’ll use your sweater will determine what type of yarn you will need to buy and the type of sweater you’ll make. For a backpacking trip you will want something that fits close to the body that is made out of a durable animal fiber that breathes well. To cover your swimsuit you might try a lightweight cotton knit on large needles to make an airy fabric. The sweater you wear on lazy fall days could be a little bit looser fitting and super soft. A fancy party sweater would be a great excuse to use a delicate fiber like angora and make a cardigan that goes with all of your favorite dresses. But as you can see, each occasion calls for a different type of fiber so it is prudent to take a moment to consider the purpose of your sweater.
Rule # 3 Consider Climate
I live in a very warm climate and one of the first sweaters I knit was out of a very thick, warm yarn. Needless to say it rarely got worn, it just isn’t practical for me. Personally if I spend a ton of time knitting a sweater I want to wear it (often). So now I opt to primarily knit sweaters with worsted weight yarn to be light enough to wear in the spring and fall while still warm enough to layer in the cooler months. It might be the opposite for you. If you live in a very cold climate you probably wouldn’t have much opportunity to wear a light cotton sweater.
There is one more thing to consider as you’re choosing how warm your sweater should be and that is your individual temperature. If you get warm easily then you will want to consider a thinner, cooler fabric for your sweater; if you want a sweater for those winter days when you feel you can never get warm, you will want a thicker, warmer fabric.
So what sorts of fibers should you use? In general, animal fibers are warmer than vegetable fibers. If you live in a warm climate try using cotton, bamboo, linen or blends high in vegetable fibers. Another way to stay cooler is to use light weights of yarn like fingering, dk or a light worsted weight. To stay extra warm try animal fibers or single ply yarns which trap air close to the body keeping you warmer.
Rule # 4 Consider Care
How much effort do you want to put into the care of your finished garment? I personally think that a good sweater is worth finding the time to hand wash. But if you’re a college student with a busy schedule or the sweater you’ve made is for a small child maybe a washable yarn would be a good option.
Good options for easy care are cotton and cotton blends, superwash wool and most varieties of acrylic.
Rule # 5 Consider Color
The final thing to consider is what color your yarn will be. Make sure to think about the clothing you already have in your wardrobe, choose a color that will work with what you have. Pick a color that complements your skin tone, there is nothing worse than spending the time and effort to knit a sweater and finding out after you put it on that it makes you look ill when you wear it. I tend to stick to the colors that I wear often, for me this means most of the sweaters I knit are grey, green or pale pink.
Another aspect of choosing a yarn color is the different dying processes that can make a the same color of yarn look very different. There are solid colored yarns, heathered yarns, tweed yarns, hand painted yarn and variegated yarns. One great way to make your sweater unique is to try a hand painted yarn to guarantee that no one else will ever have a sweater exactly like yours. My personal favorite is heathered yarns, I find that the heathering process adds a little bit of depth to the knitting while still having a consistent overall color. If you decide to use a variegated yarn be aware that the rate at which to color changes will very likely be different on the sleeves than on the body of the sweater. Although… Fable Fibers yarns are hand dyed in a way that pooling does not happen! I use very short color repeats that will not change, no matter what diameter you are knitting at. This was developed to add depth and texture to your knitting no matter how simple a pattern you are doing. -Lelah
If you would like to learn more about choosing a perfect yarn for your sweater download this free Sweater Planning Guide. This guide covers everything you’ll need to know as you’re preparing to knit your sweater from how much yarn to buy to knitting and measuring a gauge swatch. And did I mention that it’s free?!
This guest post is part of the 30 Day Sweater Challenge promo tour. Join us this October as we help 5,000 knitters around the world knit a sweater they’ll love, in 30 days. To sign up just visit http://30daysweater.com/fablefibers and download your free sweater planning guide. It will help put you on the right track! See you in October!