Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tips and patterns for using Hand spun yarns.

Hand spun yarns are unique.
It can be hard to work out how to use them to their best advantage.
I will attempt to give you a few tips to help you to best use hand spun yarns, to take advantage of their unique beauty and characteristics.

I like to look and feel the yarn. All fibers don't behave the same, wool has memory and silk drapes. Many hand spun yarns can be a mix of fibers and the best way to find out how the yarn will behave as a fabric is to knit a swatch.

What size needles do I use to knit hand spun?
You need to make a few decisions here based on what you are going to make with the yarn.
Does the fabric need to be dense and stiff or loose and drape well or somewhere between the two?

As a starting point I suggest you double the yarn and thread it through a knitting needle sizer, the type with round holes.  Which hole does it fit though without being squished? This is the size needle to start knitting your first swatch with.

Knit a swatch big enough to see how the yarn will look as a fabric. Too loose and drapey then reduce the size of your needles and try again, too tight and dense then increase your needle size.

For more detailed Information go read the Knitty article HERE

What can I knit with small quantities?
Things I like to make with smaller amounts of yarn are:
Hats, headbands and ear warmers
Cowls take less yarn than scarfs
Mitts and wrist warmers
Bags and coin purses.
Coasters, teapot and mug cosies
Table Mats and pot holders.

Hand spun yarns can also be used as a contrast with commercial yarns when knitting larger items like cardigans.
This cardigan is knit with handspun in the yoke, contrasted with a commercial yarn.
How much yarn do I need?

Lion Brand has a nice chart which gives you a guide for the amount of yarn required for projects. LINK HERE
Elizabeth's Fiber and yarn store also has a guide LINK HERE

How do I care for hand spun?
Gentle Hand Wash ONLY, using a wool wash. Unless you deliberately want to felt your yarn, which you may do!
Lay flat in the shade to dry, out of direct sunlight (which over time may fade the colours).

Some links to patterns that suit Hand Spun Yarns:

This is a FREE Ravelry dowload

This is  FREE Ravelry Download
link HERE

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