Friday, February 28, 2014

An Interview with...Laura Aylor

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Laura here and here on Ravelry.

Stella Luna

Where do you find inspiration?
Initially it was because I wanted to knit something very specific and couldn't find the exact pattern that I wanted. That still happens sometimes, but now I get most of my ideas just because of the way my brain works - I have dumped a LOT of knitting information into it in the past 12-13 years and it's all rolling about in there. Occasionally a couple of ideas will bump into each other and the light bulb goes on :) That being said, sometimes what I sit down to design and the end result bear very little resemblance to each other!

What is your favourite knitting technique? 
Barbara Walker's top-down seamless simultaneous set-in sleeves! And short rows - both for color manipulation and shaping.


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs? 
I spend a lot of time on Ravelry and try to keep up with what's going on in the knit design area especially. I have to keep dumping new input into my brain to keep the ideas coming. I guess you could call it market research! Once I've come up with an idea, I do a lot of searching to make sure it hasn't been done already.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I would say that it's less of a 'dumbing down' and more of a case of not having the space limitations of the past. More and more knitters work from electronic devices rather than paper, or just print out the bits that they need, so saving a word here and a page there is not as critical as it used to be. I do think that every designer has their own pattern-writing style and will appeal to a certain subset of knitters. It's impossible to please everyone.


How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
Almost two years ago I started my own Ravelry group mainly to conduct test knits. I feel like test knitters should be compensated with more than a copy of the finished pattern (that they have already knit!) so I run my own tests where I can give away my other patterns and a bit of yarn occasionally as thank yous. I have used a lot of testers - over 150! - but I have a core group of about 20 that test for me often. I knit my own samples - it's an important part of my pattern-writing process.


Did you do a formal business plan?
No, but I do quite a bit of short-term planning, trying to take into account the season, what I want to work on, what ideas I have, what yarns I want to work with, how many designs I want to get out in that time period, what else is going on in my life, etc. I set deadlines for myself - it's way too easy to lose sight of the goals when you have no one to answer to. However, sometimes a brainstorm for something new will shove everything else out of the way - a bit disruptive but so much fun to be able to follow the muse when she show up!

Spiced Cocoa

Do you have a mentor?
Can someone you never met be a mentor? If so, then Barbara Walker hands down! Her Learn-to-Knit Afghan book was my reintroduction to knitting as an adult and her stitch dictionaries and Knitting From the Top book are my go-to references.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
I guess it would be to self-publish as many designs as I can while still maintaining quality and my sanity!

Litchfield Shawl

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
I would have no knit design career without it! From my first pattern in Knitty (Editor's note: Lizard Ridge, Fall 2006) to everything since, it has been my only means of reaching customers. I do have some retailers that I have wholesale arrangements with, but they found me because of the internet. If I had to go the old route of distributing paper patterns or depending on magazine submissions, I would not be designing (for others at least).

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, I have a couple of people I work with, but occasionally for timing reasons I have to do it myself. When I TE my own pattern, I do it with some distance between the writing and the editing and follow a very strict checklist that I've come up with. It helps that I have a background in that sort of work. At some point I might start working as a TE myself.

Sleep Hollow

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I'm struggling with that at the moment! I'm enjoying the work so much that it's sometimes difficult to make myself exercise, eat right, relax, and spend time with my poor long-suffering husband. I absolutely love every part of this job and have a hard time tearing myself away.

How do you deal with criticism?
After a moment of heartsickness I put on my big-girl panties and deal with it! I hate disappointing anyone so it's always hard to hear, but I love having the opportunity to make things right, so I'd rather hear than not.

Brier Island

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? 
The short answer is about 6 years, but only a couple once I made up my mind to stop dabbling and actually work at it. And by 'supporting myself' I mean making enough for ME to live on (very simply!), not my whole family :)

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
First you have to put in your time. Knit a lot of things from a lot of different designers. Read Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker and Maggie Righetti. Get to know yarn in all its fibers and weights. Give yourself a solid base to work from. And then if you want to design, do it because you love it - you will probably never make a good hourly wage, but if you love what you're doing, it doesn't matter :)


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Speed up Blocking with a Blow Dryer or a Fan

We've all done it. We finish a project just in the nick of time and want to wear it ASAP!  We block it and convince ourselves it will dry in time...but it doesn't. Here's a little trick to speed up the process. Use your blow dryer. You need to use a little caution and care with this method as the last thing you want to do is burn your precious knitting. The trick to avoid using too much heat is to keep your hand on the work where you are directing the dryer. If your hand gets uncomfortable, the blow dryer is too close to the knitting. Either turn the heat down or move the dryer further away. I don't recommend using this method on synthetics as they have a much lower burning or melting threshold. Natural fibres, especially wool will tolerate higher temperatures.

Another method you can use is to set up a fan to blow on your project. The last time I had a professional painter in, the final thing he did was to set up large fans in the room. He came back 3 hours later to pick them up. Not only was everything dry but the paint smell had already started to dissipate. 

ETA:  Marsha from the Needle Arts Bookshop sent me this note, "Though I use a large fan all the time for knitting, thanks for the idea of using the hair dryer - great for getting a swatch dried quickly so I can get knitting the main project!" I never thought of doing this for swatching, what a great idea.

Note: Last Friday's contest winner has been notified and will be receiving an ebook copy of She Makes Hats.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Find Great Knitting Blogs

I've been on the search for new blogs to read. It turned out to be an interesting research project. My technology skills have increased over the almost four years I've been a professional knitter. I think I have a pretty good idea about the popular blogs out there. I've either interviewed, met or in some cases I'm lucky enough to count some of those bloggers as friends.

I'm currently using Feedly as my reader of choice and I also look at the "You might also like" section for blogs new to me. Unfortunately the referrals seem to be stagnant. I suspect suggestions may need to pass a threshold of reader numbers that may be too low for the knitting community, excluding all but the highest profile bloggers. Many of the suggestions include sites that are not exclusively knitting.

If you are on the hunt as well, I'll list a few of the references I've been working through. Some may be a little out of date. When I tried drilling down to specific lists I was frequently landing on entries as old as five years ago. Often knitting blogs queries are mixed in with craft, hobbies, DIY blog lists or ecommerce sites.

As an example: The tops lists are not knitting but I did find some further down.

In some cases the knitting blog niche doesn't fit in any clear category.  Eventually I found DIY outside of the main directory but it just gave me a blank page.  Let me search knitting, but mainly gave me ecommerce sites.

Here's a few others you can play with:;_ylt=AhGZQE0rYal2yuqEkOppTIIt17V_?p=knitting+blogs&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-715

Friday, February 21, 2014

How to Find Your Knitting Mission

Robyn Devine with her family

I've always been fascinated by the "why" of people's behaviour and choices. I was recently sent a copy of an ebook, courtesy of, to review that plays exactly into my interest. It's written by Robyn Devine and is her personal story of her effort to knit 10,000 hats for people all over the world. The publisher is allowing me to give an electronic copy of the book She Makes Hats to one of my readers. There will be contest details at the end of this post.

The book is a charming, quick little read. It's one half memoir and one half an explanation and analysis on how an individual can find meaning and purpose in the simplest things in life. 

Robyn explains both the importance of knitting to her and to the world at large. I knew by page four that I would enjoy reading about her journey when she described her transition from a non-knitter in yarn shop vowing to never invest time and money in such a "frivolous thing" to " a woman possessed".

You can find Robyn's web site and her free patterns here.

Contest is now closed
To win a copy of She Makes Hats, please put a comment on this post telling me something you have learned from reading my blog. I'll count the posts on Tuesday Feb 25th in the early morning and use a random number generator to pick a winner. I'll post the results on Wednesday Feb 26. The winner can then contact me with their email so I can send them a copy.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ravelry's Top Five Knitting Patterns by Project Numbers

Number 1

Lately I've been looking around the blogosphere for a few new knitting blogs to add to my reader feed. I ended up finding another local knitter who I don't think I've ever met.

While poking around Orange Swan's blog I looked at her popular post list and I read this one. It's from Dec 29 2012. I then repeated her search to see what had changed and the answer is a year later they are the same. While I'm a little surprised, it confirms something I've suspected for some time. Numbered "Top" lists take on a life of their own that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. My top ten popular posts list is also relatively static. I see movement on the bottom two or three posts occasionally but the rest of the list has been static since I added that feature to the page. I'm starting to question if keeping the list there has any real value for my readers. Since I added the topic index I've seen a lot of traffic going directly to the index. Some times I get more direct entries on the index page than on my home page. A few of my friends have told me they really like the index page and are using it frequently. 

Number 2

Number 3

I'm planning to follow up next year to see if the top 5 patterns change. You can check yourself with this search. It's by projects. If you change the search parameter to queues, favourites or popular you will get different results.

Number 4

Number 5

Please let me know what you think about the popular post list in the comments, should I keep or remove it?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Yarn and Fibre Guide Part 3 - Stitch Definition

Part of an ongoing series on yarn characteristics.

The stitch definition ability of the yarn can be critical to the success of many stitch patterns. Other yarn characteristics to take into consideration for good stitch definition are the smoothness or fluffiness of a given yarn. The fluffy nature of mohair and angora tend to obscure stitch patterns. Sometimes fluffiness is also referred to as the yarn having a halo. 

Boucle, eyelash, ladder, chenille and slubby yarns will obscure stitch texture.

Very smooth, tightly spun yarns of many plies tend to show stitches the best. Many plies make the yarn rounder which shows texture stitches off better.

Colour can have a large impact on stitch definition, lighter solid colours generally show complex stitches more clearly. Avoid yarns with colour variegation that is highly contrasted with multiple colours.

Friday, February 14, 2014

An Interview with...Kourtney Robinson

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Kourtney here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. It’s hard to avoid; I love colours and textures and how they interact together. Some of my favorite designs have been inspired by mathematical theories, my favorite books, my children, and specific yarns. I keep notebooks with ideas in varying stages in them; some designs come together almost instantly, and some have spent years on and off the drawing board.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
My favorite knitting technique depends on the day and the project in my hands. I really enjoy stranded colourwork, but I also adore adding beads to knitting. And I like lace. And cables are really cool… but then, garter stitch is so plush and amazing… and…  Really, it’s probably shorter to list the knitting techniques I don’t enjoy: I’m not much for entrelac. And I don’t like toe-up socks very much as I have a very high arch.
Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I actually spend a lot of time looking at other’s designs! I don’t think it’s possible to exist in a vacuum, and in all honesty – my knitting and designing time is so limited that before I go about putting an idea into production to become a finished design, I do a pretty thorough hunt to make sure that someone else hasn’t designed it first. If they have, they’ve saved me the trouble! I take a lot of pride in the patterns I publish, and I feel that they all reflect my unique style in one way or another.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I don’t think it needs to be a controversy. I try to write very accessible patterns, that are easy for all skill-levels to approach. (As an example, almost all of my patterns with charts offer written instructions as well.) My opinion is that if you are a very accomplished knitter, you can skip over the extra details; if you aren’t, the extra bits of detail are going to increase your pleasure in the project and your overall success.

How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
This has changed over the course of my career. I currently work closely with one other knitter – I call her my “tech knitter”; she does sample knitting and tech editing, sort of all rolled up into one. She has a very methodical approach and is quite opinionated, which I delight in! Most projects have been knit several times by me, before I send them to her for another final knit and proofread. I do pay her for the knitting she does, and I provide the yarn and finished pattern, and she gives me the knitted sample.
Did you do a formal business plan?

Do you have a mentor?

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The internet is a big part of why my business has it’s current shapes – without Ravelry, I might not have decided to hurdle the electronic challenges to self-publish online patterns. Ravelry also provides wonderful access to the global knitting community; in the past several months I’ve communicated with knitters in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, the UK, and Germany. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have the chance to share ideas and conversations with all of these people.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes; all my patterns are tech edited in one way or another.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
HAHAHAHA - that’s a good question, ha! Short answer: I wish I needed less sleep. Longer answer: as the stay-at-home mom to two small kids, balance is on ongoing challenge. I look at my daughters as my current full-time job, and design work as my part time job. I try to spend as much time as I can on my (part time) design work that feeds my soul, without taking away from my full-time job of raising my daughters (that feeds my heart). It’s tricky, and as any mother will tell you, there are always moments when you worry that you don’t have it right. Of course, almost every knitter I know will say that they wish they had more knitting time, so I’m in good company either way!

How do you deal with criticism?
I listen to it. Sometimes there can be important chances to make positive change in criticism. Of course, this being the age of the internet, I’m aware that there are trolls out there… so I’m prepared to ignore criticism once I listen to it! But I do give it an honest listen, first.

 How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
Again, with the funny questions! My knitting designs may support my yarn habit but they certainly don’t support me. This is partially because I’m part of a family that has chosen for me to leave the “office” life and raise our children. It can be a thorny question among stay-at-home-parents as to whether or not they are supporting themselves… I’m curious as to how many designers support themselves fully by knitting. It seems to be a bit of a forbidden topic, to discuss earnings and money.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I’m honestly not sure, it depends on the person asking.  I know that there is no magic trick or answer.  I adore knitting and design, and I do it because I feel it expresses some of the most authentic parts of myself.  I’m not in it for the buck.  That said, I don’t know if it will ever be how I meet all of my financial needs; I think that if you are looking at pursuing a knitting career it’s best to be flexible and approach it on a part-time basis, and allow it to grow organically.  At least, that’s what I’ve done…

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to Store Hand Knit Hats

Recently, I had a question from a reader regarding the storage of hand knit hats. I find that berets and tams can be stored flat. You can stack them one on top of the other and they are ready to be worn with no other action. Toques and skull cap type styles use the wearers head for shaping. They can also be stored flat, however if they are not worn regularly they may develop a fold line. A light steaming with an iron (don't touch the iron to the knitting) will elimate the fold mark in most cases. If the yarn fibre or the length of time between wearings makes the fold more persistent you can wash the hat and dry it slipping it over a bowl to eliminate the fold. 

The hats in the photos I've included don't lay flat and don't use the wearer's head for their shaping. I store these hats with tissue paper inside to keep their shape. If they are accidentally crushed I put them on a hat block and steam to freshen up the shape. I wait until they are cool before removing them from the block. You can use a bowl or an upside down flower vase of a size close to the head circumference to substitute for a hat block.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Yarn and Fibre Guide Part 2

Part of an ongoing series on yarn characteristics.

Yarn is often categorized by weight which for the novice can be confusing since we are referring to the thickness of the strand as well as the expected gauge or number of stitches it takes to equal four inches in stocking stitch. Novices will look at the materials list in a pattern and see 50 or 100 gram balls of wool listed and not realize that not all balls are equal in the way that 50 grams of chicken would be.  I'm sure this can be confusing to beginners who are used to food weights measured by ounces or grams and those who have noticed that hosiery is measured by denier.    

Denier is the unit of measurement of hosiery. The unit measures the thickness/weight of a finely spun fiber nylon, silk or spandex. The units begin at 5 and go to 110+. The higher the denier, the thicker more opaque the fabric, and the lower the number the more transparent.

Thinner yarns requiring more stitches to equal four inches of stocking stitch are often used for small projects and for those requiring a delicate appearance like lace shawls. They can also make more flattering garments as the fabric created is thinner. 

Medium weight yarns are typically used for bigger projects, sweaters and accessories. Individual stitches can easily be seen in the fabric.

Bulky yarns create a lot of fabric quickly and often attract new knitters who love being able to see every stitch. Garments from these yarns can add a lot of visual weight to the wearer.

Friday, February 7, 2014

An Interview with...Melanie Berg

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Melanie here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?
Really - just everywhere! When I'm out, I pay a lot of attention to all the different styles of clothing I see. I try to remember stylish accessories, wonderful garments or interesting details, and I sketch down a lot of that. I also find a lot of inspiration on the internet - Pinterest for example is a great place to get new ideas. I often put my sketches down for some weeks, and when I browse them again I suddenly know what to do.

But as nice as it is to wait for the muse to strike - being a professional also means to constantly develop new ideas. I think the trick is to learn to keep things in flow.

What is your favourite knitting technique?
That's hard to say! I don't think there's one special technique I love most. It's great to work with new things and to switch between styles. Knitting is such a versatile craft with so many different techniques - I don't think I'll ever know them all.


Do you look at other designers’ work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I'm very active on Ravelry and I usually follow the hot right now list and pattern releases of my favorite designers. I enjoy seeing what great new ideas everyone is coming up with. I'm not afraid it might influence my work - or let's better say, I don't think anyone is free of being influenced. Everything that surrounds us leaves little footprints in our minds, and who knows which of them might develop into a great idea?

How do you feel about the so called controversy of “dumbing down” patterns for knitters?
I followed some discussions about this online. Here in Germany, where I'm living, knitting patterns used to be a lot less detailed than in the States. It's perfectly normal for a pattern to say "work left side as right side, inverting shaping", or "increase 15 sts over the next 20 rows". But I know that a lot of customers wish to have more detailed instructions, and I want to make my patterns accessible to everyone - so I'm basically trying to walk the line between giving clear and understandable instructions on one side and not being too detailed on the other. I think I manage this quite well - my patterns are usually not longer than six pages, a lot of them even shorter, and I get very few technical questions about them.


How many sample/test knitters do you have working for you or do you do it all yourself?
I have some wonderful and amazing knitters who are regularly testing for me, and from time to time I also do public test knits in my Ravelry group. Although each of my patterns is being tech edited, test knitters sometimes find an instruction misleading and that gives me the chance to improve my patterns. Also, I just love the wonderful finished objects that come to life during a test knit, and the exchange among the knitters is awesome, too. It's almost like a mini-KAL.

I have some people I can come back to when I need a sample knitter, but unless I'm under extreme deadline pressure I prefer to knit my samples on my own. After all - I'm a knitter, and I enjoy the process. It might also happen that I do minor tweaks to a design while it's still on my needles.

Did you do a formal business plan?
No, I didn't. I somehow stumbled into this career without any formal plans - I was not even a knitter before my first child was born! But soon after I gave birth to my daughter, I picked up needles and yarn to create something that would protect my child and keep it warm. I soon started to tweak instructions and finally came up with my own ideas. It somehow felt so natural to me to write down the patterns and offer them to the knitting world. As time went by, I published more and more designs, submitted to magazines and started cooperating with yarn companies... So, although I never noted down a formal business plan, I have a pretty good idea of what I will be doing the next few years, and how I will organize my work.


Do you have a mentor?
I don't have a mentor, but I have some designer friends to exchange with. And I find this exchange to be extremely important to me. Designing knitwear can be a lonely business, especially if you're working online a lot without the "need" of leaving your house. It's awesome to have someone who can point you in the right direction, who can give useful hints and pass important information on to you. And it's also great to chat with someone who knows the industry and who understands the everyday problems a knitwear designer might run into.

I also talk a lot about my work with my husband, and although he's not a knitter, he gives me invaluable feedback. And, of course, cheers me up again when things don't run smoothly sometimes.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated? 

As said before, I don't have a concrete plan that I wrote down or something like that, but I know where I want to take this business and how I want to spend my time working in this job - and that's actually pretty much the same as I did during the last year. I will focus on self-publishing new designs, but I want to be published by a couple of magazines, too. I want to stay in touch with my customers and partners, and I want to stay active in social media, like my blog or Pinterest. I also have two big dreams: The first one is to build my own studio, and I'll definitely start working on this within 2014, and the second one is to write an amazing knitting book. I don't think I can seriously start on that one before 2016, but it's great to have some long-term plans, no?


What impact has the Internet had on your business?
Oh, I don't think I'd have a business if it wasn't for the internet, and especially Ravelry. Ravelry has revolutionized the knitting world and it's never been as easy to bring your work in front of your customers' eyes. I love the short ways through which we are all connected to each other - knitters, designers, dyers, spinners, publishers, bloggers, editors... everything is just an email away. And I love collaborating with creative minds from all over the world. I'm incredibly grateful to live in times with these technical possibilities - it enriches my world and allows me to work in a job I truly love.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes, absolutely. It's a much better feeling to throw something on the market that has been professionally reviewed. I'm working together with a couple of editors all over the world, and I'm very grateful for the awesome job they're doing. I also have a designer friend who checks my patterns and in return I check hers.

After the Frost Mitts

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Working in a job I love so much, it's hard for me to draw a line. Knitting is always on my mind - just like my children, my husband and all kinds of things that make up our everyday life. Working self-employed from home is opening up a lot of ways for me to stay flexible - both, as a mum of three and as a knitwear designer. For example, if one of the kids gets ill, it's easy to keep him or her at home that day without the need to see the doctor and show a medical certificate to your boss and to juggle a thousand other things. I'm also lucky to have a super supportive husband who backs me up and gives me room if I have a pressing deadline.


How do you deal with criticism?
I take it seriously and try to improve my patterns. I know how it is to have a disappointing knitting experience, and I don't want any of my customers to feel that way. I know that it's not possible to please everybody, but I think as long as I'm true to myself and have a good feeling about the quality of my work, I don't have to worry.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I started knitting in 2009, and now, four years later, I'm supporting myself with my business. But I guess I've been lucky - I've had some wonderful people in the industry help and support me on my way and I think I had a couple of "been at the right place at the right time" moments.
Being self-employed means you have the usual ups and downs in your earnings, and so I am very grateful to have a husband with a steady income who can cover expenses if I have a bad month.


What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I think this advice applies to pretty much any career: Work hard, invest a lot of time, heart and soul, network, network, network and always make sure to deliver high quality products. Also, if you're having a bad day, recall this wonderful quote by Confucius - it always motivates me:
Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. ♥

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Body Image and Celebrities - What We See isn't Real

The photo above is one of my favourite photo-shopped examples. They changed the positioning of Carrie Underwood's arm because???

I saw this video on Buzzfeed. If you've got a minute and 40 seconds, head on over and check it out. It's a great demonstration of many photo alterations. Some critics claim that almost all images of women in the media and advertising are photo-shopped. I think this is something we all need to keep reminding ourselves about as we compare our own appearance to gorgeous, genetically blessed celebrities who still aren't beautiful enough for media photos without major changes. I thought Jennifer Lawrence already looked wonderful but that wasn't good enough, her whole body is shrunken down.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yarn and Fibre Guide Part 1

One of the things that new knitters struggle with, is understanding the medium they are working with. Early in your knitting life you have very little understanding of how yarns vary from one to another or why they do once you start to recognize the differences.  Many knitting reference books do describe the characteristics of various fibres but there are many other characteristics of yarn that it would help to understand. Much of this knowledge will be acquired as your knitting experience expands. However one of the differences between novice knitters and more experienced ones is the vocabulary that helps them share information regarding yarn characteristics. Newbies can't always take advantage of information being shared with them because they don't yet understand the nuances of the knitting lexicon. Often it takes the repetition of the information before true understanding is attained.

Yarn can be categorized in a number of different ways. The most common is by weight. The standardized system being used in North America is numbered from 0 - 6 as Lace, Superfine, Fine, Light, Medium, Bulky and Super Bulky.  You can see the chart here from the Craft Yarn Council web site. It includes a number of names of yarn weights, as an example, Bulky yarn can also be referred to as Rug, Craft or Chunky. Names tend to differ geographically and Britain, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have in the past named yarn weight in terms of ply numbered from 1 - 14. Many knitters feel that the system is too narrow with too many overlaps between each category. The gauge range can be problematic as well since it is based on stocking stitch and assumes a firm, solid fabric. Some yarns are purposefully knit at a much looser gauge, lace for example.

Yarn can also be categorized: by fibre, wool, cotton etc, spinning method, elasticity, drape and texture which has an impact on stitch definition. Texture type includes yarn like boucles and eyelash formats. Spinners have their own vocabulary that may or may not be shared by knitters.

Add to the above characteristics those of colour and we begin to understand why the yarns available to us can vary so widely.

I'll be writing future posts on the various aspects that go into creating yarn, so check back in the upcoming weeks for updates on this topic.

Part 2 is here.