I'm a librarian, spinner, knitter! This is my blog for crafty things, updates to my shop and more.
You can check out my handspun yarns here - Kitty Grrlz Hand Spun Yarns and my hand knit items here - Kitty Grrlz Hand Knits

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Knitting with Hand Spun Art Yarn

For the past week, I have been wanting to post something about knitting with hand spun art yarns. I know for some they are a little intimidating, but if you can break through that fear or uncertainty of "what do i do with it?", knitting with art yarns can be amazing! This post is a collection of some of the tips and suggestions I give when people ask me questions about knitting with my art yarns, and some examples.

My first advice is always to NOT BE AFRAID of the yarn! Don't let it intimidate you! I do know this feeling - when I first started knitting with hand spun yarns from The Yarn Wench, I was always afraid of "not doing the yarn justice", or not knowing what to do with smaller skeins. This fear would paralyze me and all that pretty yarn just sat there . . . waiting.

But finally I just started knitting with it! For some, it may seem "boring" to "just knit a scarf", but with an art yarn - even a plain scarf becomes an adventure. And, a unique adventure since each yarn is different! Here are some examples of skeins to scarves -

This is an art yarn Called "From RocketMan to Red Hat", a 98-yard, 3.4 oz skein
I took this skein and knit it into this scarf -
I used size 15 needles and cast on maybe 10-12 stitches (I know I should keep better track but each yarn is slightly different). I use a "drop stitch" pattern to help show off the yarn AND get a little more length from the yardage. For the drop stitch pattern this is what I do -
1. Knit 2 rows
2. On the third row, when knitting the stitch, I wrap the yarn around the needle TWICE. This means that you actually have twice as many loops on your needle at the end of the row, but they are coupled together.
3. On the fourth row, when knitting, put your needle only through the first loop of the two-loop stitch and as you pull the stitch off the needle, let that extra loop drop. So, in effect, you are knitting the first loop but the second loop drops. After doing that across the row, you are back to the same amount of loops/stitches on your needle as when you started.
4. Knit 2 rows.

Sometimes, if I want extra length I may wrap the yarn around 3 times! Also, I tried to find a video but wasn't able to come up with anything in a quick search, but did find these instructions, which may be better than mine.

Here is another -
I took a similar skein to this one -

And knit this scarf -

This one was a similarly sized skein at 98 yards, but I cast on fewer stitches, and in the blocking process tried to elongate it even more, so it is a longer, skinnier scarf.

Unblocked -

Blocked -

These pictures show how blocking can help even out your art yarn project. Sometimes, I actually like the look of the unblocked scarf, but have started to block them for a more "professional" look. For this one, I even *hung* it to dry so that it stretched out a little bit more.

There are other small projects you can knit with one skein of art yarn, too! Here is a hat that was knit with only a small 68-yard skein - and I didn't even use it all! I like to use size 10-1/2s or 11s when I knit hats with the art yarns.

And, these wristwarmers were knit with only about 40 yards of art yarn! I used size 11 needles for these, but maybe could have gone down to 10-1/2's
Cowls are another *great* item to knit with art yarns! You don't need that much - one skein should be enough - and you can knit them in the round fairly quickly. Here are a couple of cowls knit by Naomi of Ryono Creations - you can find her on ETSY HERE! These pictures are courtesy of her - you can see all of her pictures on flickr here!

and, one more -

These are just a few examples of the beautiful and unique items you can knit (or crochet!) with hand spun art yarns. Don't be afraid to "think outside the box" or "pattern" and you can create a wonderful, one of a kind piece of fiber art!

Update 5-5-2012 - While I plan on doing a complete update to this post, I am editing it to include some links to some other places you can get ideas of what to make with art yarn!  Here is one of my Pinterest boards that shows things made with Kitty Grrlz Hand Spun yarn , some of them the art yarns.  Here is my Kitty Grrlz Knits shop which includes cowls knit with the handspun yarn as well!


Prairie Daisy Handspun said...

Gorgeous yarns and projects! :)

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

thank you! :)

island sweet said...

great article bobbi.

Jus Shar Designs said...

Wow! Simply gorgeous.
Anyone having a blog giveaway for some homespuns? LOL

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

thanks, shawn!

and, jus shar designs, i'm not doing a giveaway on my blog, but i am giving away yarn to one (maybe two) lucky subscribers of my new mailing list - check out the bottom of http://kittygrrlz.com to sign up for the new list and you are automatically entered for the giveaway! :)

LazyTcrochet said...

Great article. I sometimes go back and forth as to whether I want to block a scarf or not. It can look so different, but sometimes different is good. I did block one today and I'm glad I did. Beautiful yarns and projects. Thanks for sharing.

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

Thanks, LazyT! and, I agree about the blocking - sometimes I like the more "wild" look of the unblocked - especially with handspun - but I think for the ones I sell, I should block them to give customers a better idea of what they will look like if/when washed.

Naomi said...

thank you for featuring my cowls! next one will be made with your handspun coming my way!!

and...that was interesting to see the before/after blocking photos. didn't realize the difference it makes even with handspuns. i'm used to seeing it more on lace projects.

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

no problem, naomi! i love them - especially your "model" in the second one - too cute!

and, yep, the blocking really does make a difference in the look of it, i think.

Brenda // Phydeaux said...

Well ... I LOVE handspun art yarn, as you know! It's such a treat to knit, because every row has a new surprise, sort of like a treasure hunt! I agree on the blocking -- I like the rustic look of unblocked, but blocking really does make a difference.

And Naomi's creations, too! My two most favorite yarn creators in one post. yay!

temptressyarn said...

Great blog post, Bobbi! I featured this post in my blog at TemptressYarn.com because I always get asked the same things. People find it so hard to break from tradition. Thanks for sharing ideas.

Kitty Grrlz Knits & Spins! said...

thank you, brenda! i love the scarves you knit with the handspuns!

temptress - thank you, too! :)