When it comes to knitting yarn, many factors come into play. These are the four critical factors you need to consider to ensure you have the suitable yarn for knitted sweaters.
- Choosing the right kind of fiber.
The type of fiber you pick will determine the quality of your hand-knit sweater. There are three common types of fiber: protein/ animal-derived, cellulose and synthetic.
Protein fiber is a natural fiber that comes from animals like: sheep, goat, buffalo, rabbits, alpaca and yak. Yarns derived from such animals are wool, silk, alpaca, angora, mohair and cashmere. Wool is suited for fluffy warm clothing, blanket or accessory. Cashmere and angora goes for softer but luxurious and expensive clothing types. For a beautiful smooth end pick silk. If you want a very strong fiber go for mohair. Alpaca is more like wool but it is smoother, warmer and shinier.
Cellulose is also a natural fiber that is derived from plants and trees. Plant fibers include cotton, flax, bamboo, linen and hemp. Since it can “breath” and release moisture, cotton is good for sweaters in warm weather as it is cool. Linen is stiff and glossy.
Synthetic fiber like nylon, microfiber, acrylic and polyester are man-made. Unlike the natural fibers, they cannot “breathe”. They are easy to take care of and very affordable. This easy to maintain feature makes it suitable for babies clothing. It’s also great for toys and blankets.
- Correct preparation of yarn.
After choosing the correct fiber, it should be prepared well for spinning. Preparation is done so as to make spinning easier and ensure the fiber would be spun straight and ultimately would be easy to use.
The preparation process entails dividing, stripping and pre-drafting.
Dividing the yarn into smaller portions (lengthwise) of fiber is necessary since it is easier to work with smaller sections on the wheel. Simply weigh the entire fiber then divide into equal portions. For braided fiber just fold it into sections then pull the roving apart.
Stripping involves dividing the small sections into strips. Depending on the width you desire, grab a chunk of fiber at the top and pull down, and will strip with ease.
Pre-drafting is the final stage in preparation. It’s done to preserve the divided and stripped fiber in a nest-like form that can easily be taken to the wheel for spinning. Holding fingers on one hand wide open, the fiber is gently wound around the fingers using the other hand then formed into little nests.
Dying can be done before or after spinning. There is an option to bleach or retain the natural color. Be sure to match the colors well. Choose colors that will blend with where the cloth will be worn. Also remember, with lighter colors the stitch definition is more conspicuous than with darker colors.
- Making the correct yarn spin.
The fiber that had been prepared in little nests is now taken to the wheel. Spinning takes two major forms, multi strand and cabled yarn spinning. For a multi strand spin, the single plies spinning is done in one direction then yarn formed by twisting the singles together in the same direction. Cabled yarn involves spinning the singles in one direction then twisted together to the other direction to form a balanced yarn.
- Suitable ply combination.
A ply combination is chosen depending on the thickness, strength and weight desired of the yarn. Single ply, which basically is one strand, makes soft plushy yarns. Two ply is composed of two strands. A three ply with three strands gives more strength.
Depending on the type of cloth you want to make, you will need to choose the correct ply or combination of plies.