To start off our SKIF Knit-a-long out right, for those trapped underneath something heavy and can’t make it in on Tuesday nights to hangout and get your SKIF knit on, I present to you today’s topic:
I know it sounds absolutely thrilling. Right now one of you is thinking, “If I can pick out my own socks in the morning I can certainly manage choosing a yarn that I love.”
Au contraire, mon frère (and mon soeur). Choosing yarn is sometimes as hard as finding that perfect bottle of soft drink to go with backyard barbecue. Would you pair Jolt cola with Brats? How about Chocolate Yoo Hoo with German style potato salad? I didn’t think so.
So let us just consider for a moment the weighty (worsted-weighty) decision you are about to undertake and let’s travel to the magical world of the Standard Yarn Weight System as brought to you by those wacky kids at the Craft Yarn Council of America (cue music).
The SKIF patterns are knit at gauges from 4 to 4½ stitches per inch on US needle sizes 8 or 9 (4.5 or 5 mm). If you were to create a garment from just one yarn for these patterns, you would choose a worsted (or Aran) weight yarn. In the land of yarn, this is medium weight.
Now here comes the perplexing part: how do you find fine gauge yarns to equal a worsted weight?
Think of the worsted weight in terms of its parts (I won’t use the word fraction here because as I think about typing it I hear cogs grinding and springs sproinging in the collective minds of the math-phobic masses). Think of worsted weight yarn like an ice cube tray! As illustrated here:
Worsted weight yarn is composed of many skinny yarns called plies just like the tray is composed of several little ice cubbyholes (what else can you call the individual hole that makes ice other than a cubicle? I already lost half of our two readers with the math reference. I don’t want to loose the other one with office-speak). Most worsted weight yarns are about 8-ply. About is a very important word. Sometime the crafty mill-mongrels will make really pretty worsted yarn that is single-ply, double-ply, and whatnot. But for illustration purposes we shall pretend all worsted weight yarn is the same and is made from 8 plies. As we have taken the trolley to the land of make believe, we shall also pretend lace weight yarns equal a single ply.
Worsted = 8 plies
Lace = 1 ply
Ergo 8 strands lace = 1 worsted yarn.
HURRAY! Whoopee! Yay we did it!
You let go of the control and dare to imagine:
Lace = 1-2 ply
Fingering = 2-3 plies
Sport = 3-4 plies
DK = 4-5 plies
Your head might be swimming at this point. Take the edge off with some fresh yarn stash enhancement. Don’t worry we’ll wait.
So now that you have some fresh stash, the next thing you do is prune some of your old stash-beast to go with it. Take those single skeins that you bought “just because” and those leftover skeins and sort them by color. Pick your favorite color(s) then sort that pile by animal/vegetable. Anything that is the hair from an animal goes into one pile and everything else (including silk) goes in the other. If you have a blend use the primary fiber as a guideline. Choose the yarns that seem to go best together, but make sure you choose a some of each: animal, vegetable, smooth, and textured yarns. The combination you choose will make your garment completely unique. If all this gives you a headache, don’t fret. Tomorrow’s post will show you examples of how to blend and mix your yarns together.
Until then lets see some examples from real live coworkers:
Inca Cotton=Worsted weight=8plies
Tsumugi Silk Combo=Fingering Weight=3plies
Doubled Sea Silk= Doubled Lace Weight=2plies x 2
That’s crazy! SandyKay is making her’s with 7plies! Aaaaaaa!!!! Panic! Panic!
The patterns require anywhere from a pound to a pound and a half (.5 to .6 kilo) of blended yarn. In terms of yardage (or meter-age for the rest of the world) that is approximately 890-1350 yards (815-1230 meters).
Think of it as an opportunity for anarchy.