Showing posts with label yarn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yarn. Show all posts

Yarn Materials or Where does that yarn come from? {yarn craft information}

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I think it's fairly obvious to say that I love yarn.  

  Animal: Sheep
Wool is sorted by fineness of fiber, crimp, length of staple and felting characteristics. There are many types ranging from rug wool quality to fine knitting wool, and all of these are determined by the type of sheep they come from.

Merino is the finest, originating in Spain, but are now bred everywhere.
Leicester Long Fleece Sheep
Rambouillet sheep
Corridale Sheep

Leicester, Rambouillets, Corriedale are other types of sheep that produce good wool for wearing.
Karakul Sheep

Jacob Sheep
Churro Sheep

Wool from Churro, Karakul, and Jacob sheep is traditionally used in rugs. Churro and Jacob
sheep were becoming rare but have made a comeback. They are raised in the southwest and are the source of the wonderful wool in many Navajo rugs. Karakul are from Asia Minor - Turkey, Armenia, etc. 

Angora Mohair Goat
Kashmir Goat

 Mohair and Cashmere both come from goats. Cashmere goats may take up to four years to grow enough hair to make a cashmere sweater. It is combed from the bellies of Kashmir goats.  Much of the cashmere we have now days is grown in China and Mongolia. Mohair comes from Angora goats, also a native of Asia/Turkey. Angora goats came to this country originally as a gift from a Turkish sultan to an American ambassador. An angora goat can produce 10 -16 lbs of fiber a year and they are shorn twice a year. 

Angora Rabbit

Angora comes from Angora Rabbits. It is warmer and fuzzier than wool. Rabbits are combed to get the fur and sometimes even spun directly from the bunny. Angora sheds a LOT and so is most often combined with other fibers. 

Huacaya Alpaca

Suri Alpaca
Alpacas, Llamas and Camels are all in the same
family (Camelids) and have luscious fiber that resists pilling.
Llamas are larger and their fleece is coarser than alpaca's.
Alpacas come in two types - huacaya and suri. Huacaya
have loftier fleece with more crimp. Suri fleece tends to
have a longer staple and grows in long curls. Most of the  alpaca yarn in the store comes from South America but we do have some from locally grown stock. 
Vicuna Camel

Camel hair or down is very fine and incredibly soft and a dream to spin. Also in this family is the Vicuna whose fiber was reserved for royalty in ancient times. Vicuna still cannot
be exported from South America and the fiber is rare.

Yak are those huge ox like creatures from Asia. Their
wool is often felted and is used by nomadic peoples for
tents and garments. Yaks also provide food - yak milk
and cheese. Yak fiber is the fine undercoat combed
out in the spring. Yaks can live to be 25 years old.
The yak fiber we have is for spinning and is best
combined with wool as in the yarn we also have
- Super Yak by Karabella and some pure yak
from Mango Moon. 

Arctic Musk Ox

Quiviut (Pronouced kiv - ee-ute) is the undercoat
of the Arctic musk ox. They shed from 5 - 7 lbs of the
stuff every year, though commercially it is combed
out yearly. See why it is so expensive? 

 Cotton comes in various forms and the organic cotton is even grown in different colors. Cotton as a crop is a grown mostly outside the U.S. due to the need for MANY pesticides, some of which are banned here. Mercerized cotton refers to the process of washing
the cotton in caustic soda and stretching it to increase its shine and smoothness. The process is named after John Mercer, the Scotsman who invented it. The finest grade of cotton is Egyptian. Blue sky Organic Cotton is grown in four colors which tend to deepen with
washing. Patagonia cotton yarn is minimally processed and spun and hand dyed by a women's collective in Chile. 

Flax Plant

 Linen is one of the oldest fibers. Fragments of Linen
have been found in Mesopotamia, Syria and Persia
dating back to 6000 - 8000 BC. In Egypt ancient linen
was found that was so finely spun that even with our
current technology we cannot duplicate it. Only priests
and nobles were allowed to wear it. Linen comes from
the flax plant which grows 3 to 4 feet high and has
bright blue flowers. Fiber is made from the stems and
the seeds are used for oil. 


Bamboo of course is made from the bamboo plant, of
which there are hundreds of varieties and sizes. Bamboo
has some antibacterial properties which stay in the fiber
through many washings. Bamboo is also edible and is
even used to make a wine (Ulanzi). Bamboo takes dye
wonderfully and the colors are rich. The yarn is strong
and soft and cool to the touch, great for summer projects.

Soysilk and soy yarn is made from the byproducts of tofu manufacturing. Early protoypes were around as early as the 1940's. It is an environmentally friendly and renewable product. Did you know the US is the largest exporter of soybeans? It can be machine washed and
air dried. Oh boy, knitting with tofu.

Tussah Silk is made from silkworm cocoons - but AFTER the moth has left it. They are gathered from the wild and the silk has a bit darker color. Regular silk is often gathered before the moth has matured. A single silk filament from one cocoon can be up to 1600 yards long. 

Tencel is made from wood pulp using an eco-friendly process that dissolves the wood with nontoxic solvents, then extrudes it in a fiber that is strong, soft and very absorbent. Being made of cellulose, it is biodegradable.
Rayon is not a synthetic fiber. It is made from cotton lint and wood chips and comes in two forms -Viscose and Cuprammonium most oftenreferred to simply as rayon.
Ingeo or Corn Fiber is produced from the poly lactic acid in corn. It can be machine washed and dried.  
Other fibers are making their way into the market too. Hemp, Jute, Banana, Pineapple and even paper yarn.

Guide to Yarn: What are weights, different types and how to use them

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Many beginning yarn crafters make a common mistake (myself included, many years ago) and this mistake is not knowing enough about yarn.  Different yarn can behave rather differently when you are crafting with it, and it is very important to know what type of yarn you can use with different patterns, hooks, and techniques.  I have experimented with almost every type of yarn out there, and let me tell you, there is a world of difference.  For ease of reference, I will list them from the lightest weight to the heaviest and will discuss each one a little more.


Category 0-1: Super Fine
   Yarn types: Fingering, Sock, Lace
          Hook Size: 1-3mm
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 27-32
                      Used for: socks, lace, doilies, baby wear, delicate work


Category 2: Fine
    Yarn types: Sport Weight, Baby Yarn
        Hook Size:  3-5
                Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 23-26
                       Used for: babywear, sweaters, and lighter throws.


Category 3: Light
     Yarn types: DK, Light Worsted Yarn
            Hook Size: 5-7
               Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 21-24
                   Used for: baby and light-weight adult garments, light-weight scarves


Category 4: Medium
     Yarn types: Worsted-Weight, Afghan, Aran Yarn
           Hook Size: 7-9
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches:  16-20
                        Used for: Throws, adult garments, blankets, sweaters, outdoor wear
                       *Most Popular Weight for Knitting and Crocheting*


Category 5: Bulky

     Yarn types: Chunky, Craft, Rug Yarn
          Hook Size: 9-11
               Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 12-15
                      Used for: hats, scarves, throws, rugs, jackets, and blankets


Category 6: Super Bulky
      Yarn types: Bulky, Roving Yarn
            Hook Size: 11 and up
                 Average Number of Stitches per 4 inches: 6-11
                        Used for:  Heavy Blankets and Rugs, Sweaters, Scarves

For some additional information regarding yarn weights, see the following links:


Some Typical Mistakes Made by Crocheters When Choosing Yarn:

Pay attention to your pattern.  When a pattern calls for a light sport, don't use a super bulky or your item won't end up looking anything like the pattern.  If you MUST use a different yarn, it's worth doing a test gauge so that you know what changes you should make, like going up or down a hook to get it to the right size.

Don't start with Bulky or Super Bulky.  I know it's tempting, because these yarns are just so lush and inviting, but they're much harder to see where your stitches are, making the learning process even harder.  Instead, start with a DK or a regular Worsted Weight (I highly recommend the worsted weight).


Well, I hope that helps everyone!  Do you have any beginning yarn stories or advice?  If so I'd love to hear them!!!

Thick and Easy 1 hour potholder, Version 1 {crochet pattern}

Everyone has seen these potholders, I'm sure that some of you have received them as gifts even.  The mystery is in how they're made.  They're one piece double thickness potholders, and they are super easy!  I've rarely come across patterns for them, as I think they are one of those kind of "word of mouth" patterns...The kind that you learned from so and so, who learned it from her mom, who learned it from her grandma, so on and so forth, you get the idea.

Well, I've been playing with this pattern for some of my holiday gifting and am here to share it with you!

Thick and Easy 1 Hour Potholder, Version 1


Copyright 2010-2012 LiLu Studios: This Crafting Life, by Lori Steffens. {} Make it, Wear it, Love it, but above all, Share it, don't Sell it!

Size H hook   
Cotton yarn-  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  Cotton is able to withstand very high heat and will not melt.  It will catch fire if exposed to flame, but it will not melt.  Acrylic yarn will melt when coming into contact with very hot items from the oven and is not to be trusted as an actual useable potholder material.  Acrylic yarn is fine when used for trivets, provided that your dish has cooled slightly prior to being used for it.  I personally used Lily: Peaches and Cream Yarn.  I really like the Peaches and Cream yarn and Sugar and Cream for kitchen items because it gives a thick and durable feel.


{pattern notes}  this pattern is mostly a free form spiraling round pattern.  Do not get hung up on where you are on a row, you can figure out if you are right by laying it as it will go together as shown in the pictures.  You may end your potholder before or after i do, depending on the yarn that you use and the tension of which you crochet.  The important thing is that it meets together as shown in the pictures.
You will not join rounds, instead moving on to sc in the top of the last round directly.

ch 30

Row 1- work 1sc in the 2nd chain, from hook in the back chain only! (see picture)  sc to the end, turn.

Row 2- work 2 sc in what is now the back of the chain, on the opposite side of the last sc of the last row.  work 1 sc in each back chain to the end.(see picture) Add one more sc to last chain.  Do not turn.
*note, piece will begin to curl on ends, and this means you're doing it right.

Round 2- *now rounds will be worked, Row 1 and Row 2 equal the first round. *  sc in back loop of each sc around.

R3-15- sc in back loop of each sc around.

Now while following this pattern, it is advised that once you get to Round 13 or so, you begin laying your piece as it folds naturally.  This way you can see how much of the gap that you need to fill.  Reference the pictures below to see how much difference even just one round can make.  Feel free to add or omit rows as you need to in order to get the seams to line up properly.

Once you're done, you can use any method of seaming that you prefer, but I use a whip stitch with an yarn needle.  If you need ideas or how-to's on seaming, check out this post with nice pictures: How To Seam Crochet

Another note!  Once you understand this pattern, you can make these in any size!  Follow the same formula, but increase your starting chain!  By making it bigger, you can make yourself a bigger potholder!

You can also flip it inside out, and make a different look: