Wonderful Wool – A Quick Yarn Guide for Beginners

Malabrigo twist yarn, image courtesy Malabrigo Yarn

For the last couple of years I’ve been making an effort to make some of my holiday gifts. During my first attempt, I blindly chose yarn based on color and price. However, after going through a few local yarn stores in my area and having conversations with more experience knitters and crocheters, I was able to slowly learn the subtle differences in yarn types and how the material affects the quality of your work.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite yarns for those who might consider starting something up this holiday (whether for gifting or leisure). Most of the time I still select yarn based on color and thickness (also known as weight) but now I take the time to make sure the feel of the yarn is something I wouldn’t mind running my fingers through over a possibly extended period of time.

Worsted Yarn

Image from Malabrigo Yarn

Worsted yarn is probably the most common weight you can find on the market. Most projects that have a relatively tight knit or stitch pattern with smaller stitches will use this type of yarn. Usually for a scarf knit with this type of yarn you’ll need to use around 4 skeins, and more if you’re doing a bigger project.

The yarn company Malabrigo has a great selection of yarns in all weights, and is reasonably priced considering the quality of the fibers they use. All their yarn uses pure merino wool from Uruguay and hand dyed so there are slight variations in the color which make projects look really special. Their worsted yarn is a basic I like going back to.

Image from brooklyntweed.net

Another company that has great yarn is Brooklyn Tweed. All their yarn comes from their own farms in the North Eastern United States and is dyed in batches to maintain quality and uniqueness. They also have great contemporary patterns of projects to make with their yarn.

Chunky Yarn

Original image by Renee Alfonso

Chunky yarn is my go-to for last minute gifts or if I’m looking to make something extra-comfortable and warm. Chunky yarn is probably the thickest type you can find that is readily available in stores. The only down side of chunky yarn is that one skein has less length than worsted weight yarn, and is sometimes more expensive.

The photo above is a scarf knit in Cascade Yarns Magnum, and can be made in around one week if you knit a few hours a day. I recommend using pure wool when choosing a chunky yarn, or something infused with a softer fiber like cashmere, so your process feels as good as finishing the project quickly!

Malabrigo also has this amazing chunky yarn called Rasta, which I find unmatched in terms of color.

Image from Fabulous Yarn

Yarn Kits

Image from Wool and the Gang

Since the revival of handmade crafts and fiber arts in recent years, yarn is slowly beginning to shed its homely image and has become part of a new crafting revolution. Contemporary designers and entrepreneurs have begun to come up with ways of presenting yarn crafts to a younger audience and to get people clicking those needles.

Wool and the Gang is one such company – their marketing is definitely aimed for the younger generation of crafters. To help get them started, they have a selection of project kits that include materials for items such as hats, scarves and basic sweaters, but with a contemporary twist, like their Zion Lion hat.

Yarn kits are pretty convenient and a great way to get started without having to do much guesswork on material and quality. They can make great gifts too!

There is certainly a lot to discover in the wonderful world of yarn and crafts, especially with technology making it easier for yarn makers and designers to market their wares. With the right amount of time and material, handmade gifts are something anyone can enjoy – to make or receive!



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