|1: Choosing Patterns,
Yarns & Size (cont.)
What size needles do I need?
Stitch gauge and needle size are interlocked.
They are shown on the ball band, and indicate the tension, which is
the size of stitch and the number of rows that should result from
using the yarn with needles of a particular size. It is normally
measured over a ten centimetre or four inch square of stocking
If you are a tight knitter, or knit loosely, you will have to change
the needle size to get the stated tension (see
here). This alone
is a good reason to knit a tension square. The tension information
is crucial if you are knitting a garment using many different yarns.
The same stitch size and tension will mean that the yarns will work
well together, and the resulting fabric will sit flat as the yarns
are roughly equal.
The tension information looks different on every ball band.
Search for it!
The size of the ply is sometimes stated, but I have found
tension information to be of more use than yarn ply, as this seems
to be different from one brand to another. If you are not following
a pattern, you can use the yarn for a different tension other than
stated on the ball band, but if you do, work a tension square first
so that you can check that the knitting is not too floppy or stiff.
What use is the ball length info?
The length of the yarn in the ball is not much use for new
knitters. If you are following a pattern, it doesnít matter at all
because the amount of yarn to be purchased is stated in the
instructions. To substitute one yarn for another however, buy extra
yarn if the length of the ball you want to use is shorter than that
of the original yarn suggested.
I find the ball length information helpful because I can work
out whether I need to buy more balls of yarn for a garment. I donít
use a pattern, but I know from experience roughly how much yarn I
will need. A less frequent knitter may not be able to calculate how
much yarn to buy unless there is a pattern to follow. A good
relationship with the wool shop is very important here. Ask for some
extra balls to be reserved for a short time, but donít be
unreasonable and expect the yarn to still be there months later.
Another use of the ball length information is to calculate if
the yarn for a project will be expensive, as short ball length means
you will need to buy a large amount of yarn.
Avoid surprise stripes
When buying yarn, check the dye lot number on each ball to make sure
that the balls are from the same batch. An enormous weight of yarn
is dyed at one time, and the most minute amount of dye can mean the
difference between red and pink. Even with computers setting the
amount, the dye lots are similar, but rarely identical.
Donít listen to anyone who tries to tell you that if the dye lot
numbers are close, the colour match will be close. Thatís rubbish
Iíve overheard in wool shops. Batches of yarn dyed weeks apart, and
so having dye lot numbers far apart, can often be more alike than
consecutive dye lots.
Difference in colour is very difficult to see even when the balls of
yarn are held together. It is also often hard to see when the
knitting is in progress. If the problem is not obvious when the
garment is being joined or ironed, it will usually show up if you
look at the piece of knitting in a mirror. A mirror and a good light
can be a great help. Not only is it easier to see colour
differences, but often a mistake in a pattern stitch, or even a
dropped stitch will show up when you see the fabric in reverse and
from a distance. If all else fails, then a kind friend will be sure
to point out a stripe across the back of your new creation.
Sometimes, you might really want a particular colour, but there is
not enough in one dye lot to make an entire garment. If you are
short by only a ball or two, use the odd dye lot for all the bands.
Maybe you will have enough to do the sleeves in the different dye
lot. If you have an even amount of yarn in two different dye lots,
work the whole garment in stripes of two rows in each dye lot.
However you juggle the different dye lots, use them for matching
areas to make the difference less obvious.
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