Choosing the Right Yarn for Your Project
Wall of colorful yarns on wooden shelves.

Choosing the Right Yarn for Your Project

A successful knitting project comes down to the right combination of yarn, needles & pattern.

When you’re knitting, you’re creating fabric & shape at the same time. So if you want a knit that’s the right size, and the right shape? If you want the fabric to be light, or cosy or dense, drape or hold it’s shape, thick or thin? It’s about choosing the right yarn & needles to bring your pattern to life.  

Unfortunately this isn’t just about choosing the same yarn & needles as listed in the pattern. Since everyone has a slightly different knitting style, and we use different kinds of needles, and each of us carries a slightly different tension in our hands as we work, your gauge might be different to the pattern gauge. Gauge is the number of stitches in a given space of knitted fabric and when your gauge is different from the pattern, it can result in a knit that is larger or smaller than you were expecting (sometimes by a LOT). 

If your knit doesn’t fit, it’s most likely:

  • Your gauge was different from the gauge of the pattern.
  • The size you chose was not the correct size for the person you wanted it to fit.
Wool handkit swatches in a pile

The pattern will tell you what you’re looking for:

  • Recommended type and weight of the yarn.
  • How much yarn you need.
  • Recommended needle size & suggested type (straight, circular, metal, wood etc).
  • Gauge measurement (How many stitches & how many rows you should have in a 4 inch/10 cm area - a gauge swatch).

It’s about yarn weight & fibre content, and your knitting needles.

1. Choose yarn that is the same weight as the recommended yarn

Weight affects the size of the stitches and density of the fabric, which impacts the way your project will drape & fit. 

Not all yarns are created equal - there can be a lot of variation in yarns in the same weight category. An easy way to check if your yarn is as close as possible to the suggested yarn is to compare the number of yards/meters per grams, for example:

If your pattern calls for worsted weight yarn with 200 yards/183 m in 100 g, then you want to choose yarn that is very close to that yardage/meterage and weight. 

You’ll find these details on the yarn label or listed online.

Bellish app yarn details and supplies screens

2. Consider the fiber content of the yarn you’ve chosen.

Fiber content (wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, etc) affects the way your knitted fabric feels. If your pattern calls for wool, but you’re knitting with alpaca or a bamboo/silk blend, your gauge will probably be very different – even though it’s technically the same yarn weight. 

For the best results, choose yarn that’s the same fiber your pattern recommends.

3. Start with the recommended needle size but be willing to adjust.

The suggested yarn & needles listed in your pattern are a starting point to help you achieve the correct gauge. If you knit a swatch with the same yarn weight and needle size the pattern suggests but your gauge doesn’t match, try adjusting your needle size and swatch again! Keep knitting gauge swatches with different needle sizes until the gauges match. We cover gauge swatching in detail here.

Bellish recommended yarns cards

Once you have a gauge swatch that matches the pattern, you’re ready to go! And if you need any help finding the right yarn, check out our favorite versatile & budget friendly options

Here’s to knits that fit!

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