Knitting Resources and Yarn Information
Here are a few of the many resources and yarn particulars I have discovered that may be of interest to the avid knitter.
Michaels Stores, featuring arts and crafts including knitting, has locations of local stores and many coupons and sales that are available regularly. Every year they feature a Vanna’s Choice knitting, craft or crochet contest with Vanna White on their website.
The best results will be obtained if you used the yarn specified in the instructions. This is the only way to be sure that the look and the texture will match the item photographed. However, the specified yarns may not be readily available. If you must substitute yarns, choose yarn as close to the original weight as possible. In Spain, I did a lot of knitting for my baby daughter. I had patterns that called for baby weight yarn but I couldn't find any so substituted Sport Weight yarn.
Also, different yarns may have different yardages per ounce. The pattern may say that you need 5 skeins of the specified yarn, but the substitution yarn may take much more or even less. To be safe, always buy an extra skein of yarn if you must substitute. To assure the right texture and size, knit a gauge first.
More Knitting Resources
Nancy's Knit Knacks is a family owned business out of North Carolina, offering innovative products and patterns for fiber artists, including knitters. Their patterns seem to be reasonably priced.
All Free Knitting has many nice patterns for free on their site. Another site with lovely knitting patterns is Etsy. Etsy is specifically handmade products by real people. It is always nice to support the average crafter by buying directly from them instead of some large corporation.
0 Lace: This is the smallest of yarns and is really a thread. Also called fingering 10-count crochet thread, usually used for knitting lace or with openwork patterns.
1 Super Fine: This is a lightweight sock yarn or baby yarn. Also sometimes called fingering yarn.
2 Fine: This is called a sport-weight yarn but can also be used for baby garments. Makes lovely fine lightweight pullover sweaters and garments.
3 Light: This is sometimes called DK or Light Worsted weight yarn. Perfect for summer weight garments, shawls and baby items.
4 Medium: This is the worsted weight normally thought of as a 4-ply afghan yarn. It is the most popular thickness of the yarn.
5 Bulky: These are the chunky, craft and rug yarns. Very popular for scarves because they knit up quickly and are thick and warm.
6 Super Bulky: These specialty yarns are usually fuzzy and fluffy. They may look thick but some are very thin with lots of fur or fuzz that stands away from the thread. (Standard Yarn Weight System, 2011)
Knitting in Novels
The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is about dealing with the loss of a child and the knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way of filling the hole and grief left behind. Like the other knitting books mentioned, knitting becomes not only a way for women to bond but also a therapeutic way of dealing with pain and loss.
A skein is a term used to refer to the ball of yarn. This could be any weight or any fiber or any yardage. The manufacturer defines the skein, or how much is in one. They can hold a small amount or a large amount.
Also, today, we have what is known as “pull skeins.” Yarn used to come directly from the spinner in long hanks, which had to be rolled up into a ball before you could start knitting or crocheting. But now the skeins are rolled up at the manufacturers so that the yarn should pull easily out of one end, preventing tangling and balls of yarn rolling away from you. This also keeps the yarn cleaner and tends to attract fewer playful cats. You can’t know what a problem this is unless you are a knitter with a cat.
Sometimes the end of the pull skein is hard to find; some manufacturers mark on the label with an arrow showing which ends the thread can be found. Even with this helpful arrow, I have had an obstinate skein refuse to give up the end thread without my having to pull out a large clump of yarn. It happens to the best of us. We knitters usually call this yarn barf…
My mother told me once that she had her talk with God whenever she started a new sweater: 'Please don't take me in the middle of the sweater.' And as soon as she finished knitting a sweater, and it was blocked and put together, she already had the wool to start the next sweater so that nothing bad would happen.— Judy Blume
More Fun Knitting Books
Also not a novel but well worth the time to read is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter. I can totally relate to this title and premise. Stephanie has a wicked sense of humor about knitting, coupled with really good advice about balance knitting and normal life, yarn stash and the misconceptions that knitters must be ancient grandma types. There are zillions of us knitters around the world who are a bit younger and who horde yarn just the same. Hilariously funny.
Spinners and Spinsters
I used to hang out with folks from the Society for Creative Anachronism. A great group of folks lost in the Middle Ages. They love recreating accuracy of craft and costumes from the Medieval Times. Knitting, lace making, costuming, weaving and spinning our own yarns were just a few of the crafty things we had workshops for. I found those crazy spinners loved spinning anything, not just wool or cotton, flax or hemp, but also dog hair, human hair (which by the way doesn’t spin well because it isn’t curly enough), llama, alpaca and anything else with long curly hair or fiber. At one point I even got an angora bunny to breed because I thought it might be fun to have angora wool, but let me tell you, one bunny doesn’t shed enough hair for even a sock. And I just couldn’t face killing the little guy over some hair.
If you catch the bug, there are a few groups out there you may be interested in joining. Look here for more info.
The only difference between an experienced knitter and new knitter is that the experienced knitter makes bigger mistakes faster. Be bold; there are no terrible consequences in knitting.— Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
I love knitting. It is very therapeutic and cathartic. When I’m feeling down I knit. When I want to feel productive I knit. Let me know if you have any suggestions or questions in the comments below. Happy knitting.