January 2011

Needlecraft University's Anniversary

Happy 2011 everyone! I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. Needlecraft University is celebrating its eighth year in business. NU opened its doors in January 2003. We are now offering forty seven classes, and are in the process of adding more. The most important fact is that we could not have done it without your patronage and support. So from all of us at NU, Thank You for your support by visiting the web site, taking our classes, and sending us your encouraging comments.

Article of the Month - How to choose the perfect yarn for a project

I have talked about different fibers and their characteristics a lot. This time, I want to talk about choosing the best fiber for a project.

Most of the time, we walk into a yarn shop and fall in love with a yarn, because of its color, its softness, and its feel. We purchase it and take it home. Now it is time to figure out what to do with it. Usually, we start searching our collection of patterns, whether in books and magazines or online. Most of the time, we look for something we like without thinking if it is a good choice for the yarn. Sometimes we spend a lot of time working on a project and are disappointed with the result after it is done. Of course, gauge is very important, but is it enough to consider only the gauge? The answer is, while gauge is important, it is not the only factor.

Other factors to consider are:

  1. If the project is for kids or babies, the yarn should be easy to wash and dry. As a result, a project for a baby item should be made with a yarn which is soft and washable (either synthetic or washable wool).

  2. Some people find wool and mohair scratchy. Therefore, we should be careful when choosing a project that will be close to the skin. Think about the person who will receive the item. Is he/she sensitive to the feel of the yarn? People will not get used to wearing itchy garments. If it is not comfortable, they will stop wearing it.

  3. You might fall in love with a stitch definition in a project. The question is, can the yarn show the stitch definition the way you want? A plant-based fiber such as cotton or bamboo may not be a good choice for a cabled sweater. Cables use more yarn and the garment worked in cotton will be heavier than a garment worked in wool. In addition, plant-based fibers tend to stretch, which might ruin the look of your garment.

  4. Not all animal-based fibers act the same. While wool is springy, alpaca and silk tend to drape and do not maintain their shape as nicely as wool does. If you have a lovely alpaca or silk, you might want to consider a loose fitting garment or shawl rather than a sweater that needs to keep its shape.

  5. When you are choosing a pattern, think about the time of year you will be wearing it. You will be happier if you use wool for winter garments and cotton for a summer top. Our choices make or break a project.
So next time when you fall in love with a yarn, think about the projects you can work with it before purchasing a large amount. Purchase one ball and make a large swatch. Wash it, hang it, block it, and do whatever you do to your garments and check how the yarn reacts. If you like what you see, then go back and buy enough for your project.

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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