Afternoon Musings on Choosing Yarn

May 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm 1 comment

Today I actually got a nap AND some knitting time! These last few weeks, it seems I’ve had to pick one or the other if I have any time to myself at all! But as I was working on little Elsie’s summer dress and listening to the Knit Picks podcast from last week about cotton yarns, I started mulling over my favorite yarns, the yarns I keep in my stash, and how I tend to choose yarn for projects. At one of my little brainstorming sessions for this blog, I envisioned doing monthly yarn reviews, discussing the pros and cons of a new favorite and exploring how it may or may not further ones desire to knit beautifully and frugally. But that idea fell flat in a hurry, and as I was sitting mulling over my yarn choosing practices, I finally put my finger on why. I am a really boring knitter when it comes to choosing yarn, I have a very short list of favorites, and it’s those favorites that tend to get revisited over and over again for whatever project I happen to be dreaming up.

All that being true, I find myself consistently trolling my LYS and the internet for yarns that have the potential to add to that short list, so maybe in time, it won’t be quite that short. So what criteria do I use? I thought you’d never ask. 🙂

1) Sensible Fiber Blends

I don’t tend to like super luxury blends. I like wool/silk blends, but that’s about as luxurious as I get. I have never owned a gram of cashmere, though if the right project/yarn combo came along I’d be open to making an exception, but I’m not likely to put that yarn on the Elegant Economy short list. I tend to favor your classic superwash wools as well as your merino blends and cotton blends.

2) Sensible Yarn Weights

I’m not a big fan of thick and thin, or other funky weights, much as I may drool slightly while in the store or at a festival. The projects that those yarns work well in are just too few and far between, so I don’t tend to buy a lot of it. Not to mention, if you’ve followed me for very long, you’ll know that I like the classics, and most of your funky yarn doesn’t produce classic results. I tend to stick mostly with fingering, sport, and worsted weight yarns. Fingering and sport for sock and baby knitting, and worsted for your hats, mittens, cowls, and sweaters.

3) Sensible Pricing

This is a very relative category. As I hope I’ve made clear in other frugally focused posts, I’m not really about knitting on a shoestring, I’m more about knitting with high-quality yarn, that doesn’t have an excessive price tag. Now admittedly, that still is pretty vague. What might be more concrete is how much I like to spend for different types of projects, and then I fit in whatever yarn matches that budget. So for a baby sweater, I like to spend between $10-$20. I think all the sweaters I made for the twins matched that budget. Accessories like hats, cowls, mittens and socks have a similar budget. For a sweater for me, I prefer the $60-$80 range. So depending on what the yarn is for, you’ll usually find me recoiling from a price tag if it’s more than about $15 for a 100g skein.

4) Good Color Selection

So a yarn may meet all the above criteria and make it into a single project. However, if it doesn’t have a broad selection of colors, it doesn’t really make my list of favorites, because I won’t find myself coming back to it for other projects. Also, it’s probably fair to say, that unless it has a good grey, a good beige, cream or other warm neutral, and a black, I probably won’t be putting it on my favorites list either. I LOVE my neutrals, and while a pretty purple, pink, or teal may catch my eye for a baby sweater or cowl, I probably won’t be using it for my socks or sweaters, since I like those to blend a bit more with what I would buy if I was shopping at NY&Co, or Gap, and I would never drop over $40 on an article of clothing that didn’t go with at least 40-50% of my wardrobe. So neutrals are an absolute must when I count a particular yarn line as a favorite.

So what about you? How do you decide what your favorite yarns are?



Entry filed under: Knitting. Tags: , , , , , , .

Farnsworth Sweater A “Go To” Yarn Roundup

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Deb J  |  May 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    My go to yarn is cascade 220. It is nice enough for clothing and accesories and is perfect for felting. Lots of color choices, too. I have lots of other yarns I love but if I could only choose one yarn, it would have to be cascade 220, as it is so versatile.


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