There are hundreds of yarn varieties available, from the softest pastel cottons for baby hats to thick, nubbly wools for cozy sweaters. You can find yarns in every color of the rainbow, and many yarns are dyed at least six or seven of these shades. If you're new to knitting, don't go for expensive luxury stuff right away you'll want to practice on something inexpensive, and if you decide knitting isn't for you, you won't have spent a lot of money on materials you won't use. It's also a good idea to choose a simple, light colored yarn that contrasts with your needles. Easy to use cotton is one of the best things with which to start since specialty and fancy yarns will be hard to see and easy to tangle or miss a stitch. Painted pile yarn or variegated dyed yarn is more colorful and exciting, but still easy to use for beginners.
Another frequent concern for new knitters, is how much yarn to buy. This now brings us to an important consideration when buying yarn: gauge. If you have the basics of knitting down and are moving on to creating serious projects, it is imperative that you understand gauge. Otherwise, if you are just aiming to get the hang of knitting to decide whether or not you like it, opt for one or two balls of yarn for a scarf or two. These are the beginner's staple project until you are ready to get into more complex patterns.
About Yarn Gauge
When you are ready to create a project, whether it be a hat, shirt, socks, poncho, or coat, the "one size fits all" mentality has got to go. With every project that must be fit correctly, yarn gauge must be taken into account (among other things). For starters, gauge is the tension of the yarn. You'll see it listed on yarn balls and on project labels. It is quantified by the number of stitches and rows it takes to knit (or crochet) a 4 by 4 inch square. You want the gauge requirement on the pattern to match the gauge of the yarn you plan to use (in the case that you only have a pattern and are not buying a knitting kit that includes the yarn).
: For example:
* Weight 1 32 sts by 36 rows = 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) on size 2 (2.75mm) needles (Super fine, Sock yarn, Fingering)
* Weight 3 22 sts by 30 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size 6 (4mm) needles (Light, Worsted yarn)
* Weight 4 16 St sts by 24 rows = 4" x 4" (10cm x 10cm) on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles (Afghan yarn, Cotton yarn)
* Weight 5 8 sts by 16 rows = 4" (10 cm) on size 10.5 (6.5mm) needles (Chunky, Craft and Rug yarn)
* Weight 6 6 stitches by 8 rows = 4" (10 cm) with US #19 (15 mm) needles (Super bulky, Roving yarn, Mohair)
Often, knitting kits that include a pattern and yarn are specifically designed so that you don't have to worry about gauge. Simply get the right needle size and you're set. However, often you'll see a ball of yarn that you absolutely love, but the pattern or kit calls for a different one. As long as the gauge is the same, you are one step closer to using that beloved yarn. What you must remember is that for two yarns to produce similar results, they must have the same fiber content and drape. Texture and color are other aspects that will affect the final outcome of your project.
Tips on Texture, Drape, Color
* Consider what you are knitting and who is the recipient of the garment or project. If it's for yourself, that's no issue, but for someone else, make sure to consider the climate in which they live and what type of yarn would be best for them. Someone from a cold damp climate will enjoy thick wools, while someone living in a more temperate climate with warmer weather, light cotton or polyester are more than sufficient for providing warmth.
* If you are knitting rugs, blankets, or scarves, size and drape is often not a huge issue. Usually people pick their favorite colors or material and start knitting right away. However, with garments, the drape is a big issue. Certain yarns are meant to give an elastic effect, ribbing to create a stretchy result. Others are meant to hang loose and drape.
* Color is a very personal issue. You should keep in mind that balls look interesting when rolled up, but once knitted, will take on a different appearance. For example, while some sock yarns are dyed to produce stripes (when knit into a "tube" like shapeband [alternating between 2 separate skeins to insure even distribution of the colors].
* Depending on what type of things you want to knit, certain yarns are better than others. Cable knit sweaters need a sturdy cotton or wool with few or no patterns and no embellishment. Because the pattern is complex, you want the details to show with the simplest textures and colors. When knitting a simple, draping top with a simple pattern, complex textures and colors are perfect to highlight.
Synthetic and Specialty Fibers
For this resource in your home country, please see:
ES: Punto y ganchillo