Project Planning 101
Whether you’re using yarn from your stash, or you’re a first time knitter, the new year brings an opportune time to plan out your knitting projects. When it comes to choosing your yarn, gauge swatching, or trying out new stitches, the world of knitting can be an overwhelming experience. Read on for the FIRST STEPS to project planning and organizing your materials for a well-rounded knitting adventure!
There is no right or wrong way to start your project planning, but most of our staff highly recommend choosing a pattern before choosing the yarn. Doing so will give you a chance to think about time commitment, material requirements, and skill level– all before making any yarn purchases.
Consider how much time you can put into a project. A bulkier yarn will knit up much faster than a worsted, which will knit up much faster than a lace. Along the same lines, a project that has more yardage will take longer than a project with less yardage.
These details are usually available from a pattern’s description:
Many patterns exclude the weight of yarn in favor of a recommended brand. If we do a quick search of “Kelbourne Woolens Germantown”, we can find out that this pattern uses WORSTED weight yarn, and calls for about 220 yards.
Now we can easily go through our stash or visit our LYS, and find yarn that fits these parameters!
If you’re like most of the staff at Baaad Anna’s, you’ll completely ignore the above advice at the arrival of new and pretty yarns! In this case, let’s go over how to project plan when choosing a pattern for a specific yarn you already have.
If you haven’t already guessed, knowing your yarn’s WEIGHT and YARDAGE are the first steps to picking a pattern. Once you have that down, you can determine if the FIBRE CONTENT is more suitable for a certain project.
|Content:||Machine Washable?||Texture and Drape||Ideal for:|
|Wool/wool blends||Hand wash||A range of soft and rustic, softens with wear||Garments, toys, colorwork or steaking projects.|
|Superwash wool||Yes||Soft and Squishy||Baby apparel, garments, cable work projects.|
|Alpaca/Llama||Hand wash||Soft and flowy, stretches over time||Slouchy or drapey garments, like hats, shawls, and loose tunics.|
|Cotton/Linen||Yes||Breathable, softens with wear||Summer garments, baby apparel, dish cloths|
|Mohair||Hand wash||Soft and insulating||Adding that extra bit of warmth. Lace mohair gives a fuzzy halo.|
|Acrylic||Yes||A range of soft and soapy||Budget, wool allergies, machine dryable needs.|
Color selection can be the hardest part of project planning! When choosing for a project that requires 2+ different colors, there are two methods we can vouch for:
- The Saturation Photo Test: Take a photo of the yarn options, and set the filter to black and white. Colors that look different in black and white will have the best contrast.
- The Lazy Swatch: Take a piece of cardboard and wrap your yarn around it in the order you want to use your colours.
Read more about these two methods here:
What about Needles?
Needle sizes are suggestions. A pattern designer lists the needle size they used, paired with their yarn-weight suggestion, to reach the gauge of their pattern. However, even using the same yarn weight and needle size that’s recommended, you could come out with a completely different gauge!
So what is gauge and why is it important?
A knitting gauge will tell you how many stitches you have over a specific size, usually 10 cm/ 4 in. This is important, especially for garment construction. Gauge is impacted by needle size, yarn weight, personal knitting tension (if you’re a tight or loose knitter), and even needle material! A grippier needle, like wood or bamboo, might impact your tension to be tighter than a metal needle, which allows more slide along the needles.
A hat has a 19.5” (49.5 cm) circumference and a gauge of 18 stitches and 32 rows = 10 cm/4 in, in a worsted weight yarn.
There are going to be about 88 stitches to cast on. If we do the math:
- (19.5″ ÷ 4 in) x 18 stiches = 87.75 stitches
That means that 88 stitches across the whole hat will be equal to 19.5 inches in circumference.
But if you’re gauge is 16 stitches= 4 in, then if we still cast on 88 stitches, the circumference of the hat will grow to 22″ circumference:
- (88 stitches ÷ 16 stitches) x 4 in = 22″ circumference
- Recommendation: Your gauge is too small, move down a needle size to increase the number of stitches per inch
The same can be said if your gauge is 20 stitches= 4 in. If you cast on 88 stitches, the circumference of the hat will shrink to 17.6″ circumference:
- (88 stitches ÷ 20 stitches) x 4 in = 17.6″ circumference
- Recommendation: Your gauge is too big, move up a needle size to decrease the number of stitches per inch
If you’re gauge is off, your sizing may be off. While this may not be important for simple constructions, like scarves or blankets, it will definitely impact sweaters and hats. Most importantly, you may run out of yarn/have yarn left over from your yardage calculations!
While it’s not a necessity, try a gauge swatch to see what needles best suit the yarn and pattern you’ve chosen!