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CAL: Guest Post, Maybe Matilda : How to Buy Yarn

by | Crochet, Tutorials

Today, I’d like to welcome my friend Rachel from Maybe Matilda.  She makes the most beautiful baby blankets and crocheted hats and has a wonderful sense of humor.  I love her and I think you will too!

Hello, fellow crocheters! My name is Rachel and I blog at Maybe Matilda. I’m excited to be a little part of ChiWei’s crochet along, and can’t wait to finish up and wear my pretty new cowl.

As a quick introduction: I’m the mom of a cute/crazy 2 year old boy, I live in Utah, and I love crocheting for myself, my family, and my Etsy shop. My current obsession is making baby blankets, and hats are also a perennial favorite. I’d love to branch out and try more clothing—sweaters, baby girl dresses, etc.


(^ that’s me!)

I’m a mostly self-taught crocheter, and it was tutorials just like these ones that helped me to learn. Which makes me excited for you guys participating and just dipping your toes into the crochet waters, because I know how much crocheting fun is in store for you!

I’m hoping this post will help you out when it comes to yarn shopping. If you’re new to crocheting, the yarn aisles at the craft store can be pretty intimidating. There are a zillion different brands, colors, yarn weights, prices, and textures . . . how do you know what to purchase for your project? Hopefully, this post can clear things up and arm you with some confidence when you hit the craft store.


(^ that little cutie is my son, Forrest playing in my yarn stash. See? Yarn is fun for everyone.)

Yarn Weight
The first thing to consider when yarn shopping is the weight you need for your project. The pattern should tell you what you’ll need (for instance, the Double Strand Infinity Cowl we’re making for this crochet along tells us we need 2 balls of worsted weight yarn). Just about every yarn label you’ll ever see in a big craft store should have something that looks like this on the label to help you identify the yarn weight:

A yarn labeled as ‘1’ or super fine/baby/fingering yarn will be itty bitty skinny yarn; a ‘6’ or super bulky/roving yarn will be a big chunky rope-like yarn. Most of your everyday projects will probably require a weight of 4 (worsted/medium weight). So double check your pattern to see what weight you need to purchase, then, when you’re yarn shopping, check for the appropriate number/word on the label to make sure you come home with the correct yarn weight. Using the wrong weight for your pattern will affect the finished size, so it’s best to stick with the recommended weight. You’ll also want to check the amount of yarn you need for your project—many projects will list a certain number of yards of yarn required, and you can find the yardage per skein on the yarn label once you get to the store. I hate running out of yarn mid-project!

Fiber Content
Yarns are available in a huge variety of fibers, from cashmeres to merino wools to cotton to acrylic to a blend of multiple fibers. You can find information about the fiber content on the yarn label. The fiber content will affect the price of your yarn, the feel of it, and even its use and wearability. For instance, if you have allergies to wool, you’ll obviously need to avoid wool or wool-blend yarns; if you are making something you hope to wear in spring and summer, maybe a breathable cotton would be your best choice; if you’re crocheting hot pads for your kitchen, an acrylic yarn might melt if you place a hot pan on it. So think about what you’re making, how much you’re willing to spend on your yarn, and how/when your project will be used, and choose an appropriate fiber. Personally, I use acrylic yarn for 99% of my projects. It’s affordable, sturdy, machine washable, doesn’t require any special care, and there is a huge variety of brands and colors to choose from!

Workability
Some yarns are just easier to crochet with than others. As a general rule, the easiest yarns to crochet with are the simplest, least fancy/unique ones. Just a regular, run of the mill worsted weight yarn will be the easiest to learn with since your stitches will be clearly visible and the strands are compact and easy to see and navigate around. If you are a beginner to crochet, I would recommend that you avoid yarns that are too curly/loopy (for instance, Lion Brand Homespun is beautiful, beautiful yarn, but since it has a sort of ‘curly’ look, it can be difficult to see your stitches and wouldn’t make a good practice yarn), as well as yarns that are fuzzy or have loose fibers, as pictured below. They sure make for unique finished projects and are fun to play around with once you’ve nailed down the basics of crochet, but they make your stitches hard to see clearly, and they’ll probably be frustrating to work with if you’re just starting out. Save the ‘fun’ yarns for when you’re confident in your stitches and have a little practice under your belt.

 

Personal Favorites

In my crocheting days, I’ve tried quite a few different brands. Some of my very favorites—taking into consideration many factors like price, color options, availability (ie. do I have to special order vs. just pick it up in store?), softness/comfort, and workability—are Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn, Red Heart With Love, Vanna’s Choice, Waverly for Bernat, and Bernat Super Value. I would wholeheartedly recommend any of those!

 

I hope this guide makes the yarn aisles a little less intimidating—although there are tons of choices, you’ll love browsing the yarns and finding the perfect one for your project. Have fun yarn shopping and crocheting!

3 Comments

  1. homeschooljewelrymom

    Because you’re so sweet, I have something for you over at my blog 🙂

    Reply
  2. Joey Bailey

    I’m hooked on I Love That Yarn, too! So many colors, and so soft. Although, I noticed on a large afghan I made, that when I finished it, the beginning looked like it had started to “fuzz.” Do you see that in your projects?

    Reply
    • Rachel

      Hi Joey! I haven’t experienced that with I Love That Yarn, but I definitely have seen it with the Bernat Super Saver. I just make sure that if I’m using a yarn I expect to ‘fuzz,’ it’s for a project that will look okay being a little fuzzier (like simple blankets or baby hats that don’t have a lot going on in the pattern). I’m not sure what the best way is to predict which yarns will become fuzzy over time and which won’t other than just trial and error.

      Reply

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