Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hooks and Needles and Yarn, Oh My!

As I am shifting through my patterns, trying and testing them to make sure I don't need to make corrections, I realized that I use some similar types of yarn and some similar hook and needle sizes. So I decided to compile a list of what I commonly use, to help some of you newer crafters when shopping, and to help some people interested in my designs know what they will most likely need for my next project.

As far as yarn goes, I have two favorites. They are the Lion Brand Homespun yarn,
6.00 oz./170 g (185 yd/169 m)
98% acrylic, 2% polyester
Weight Category 5 (Bulky)
This one is for more experienced crafters, because it can be more dificult to work with. It does, however, work up quickly in both knit and crochet. It is very silky and soft, with pretty color variations. It is also very warm, which makes it perfect for hats and scarves.
The other favorite is Caron Brand Simply Soft.
It is 100% acrylic
Weight Category 4 (Medium)
The yardage and what not varies depending on the kind you get.
This yarn is perfect for beginners and experts alike. It is relatively inexpensive, yet looks and feels more high quality than most yarns. It comes in tons of colors ranging from white to neon, so you're sure to find what you want. The projects made from this will tend to be smaller and not work up as quickly, but it is easier to count your stitches and what not.

There are other kinds of yarn I like, some that you need to find a specialty yarn store to buy even, but those are the two I use most often. You can find both at stores like Hobby lobby, Joann Fabrics, and Michael's.

Hooks and Needles
As far as these go, the kind of yarn you are using will determine what size you need in needle and hooks. But I'll tell you what size you'll need for the two yarns above.
For the Homespun yarn, I use a K/10.5 crochet hook and a size 10 knitting needle.
For the Caron, I use an I/9 hook and size 8 needles.
What needles you use also depends on how tight or loose your stitches are. If they turn out too tight, you a larger size hook/needle. If they are too loose, use a smaller size. This is especially important on things like hats and mittens and sweaters, because if you do it too big or too loose, they won't fit right. But in projects like scarves and my little iPod cozy, it doesn't really matter so long as it works.

I hope these descriptions were helpful to you. When I first started to crochet, I had no clue what yarn to use and I was often too shy to ask for help, so I know I would have loved something like this. My first yarn shopping trip was a disaster, I got a boucle yarn and its texture made it hard for me to count the stitches, the rows, everything. My final project looked like something had eaten the edges off. So I recommend that any beginners stick to a non-novelty yarn, and try to use things like the caron, you know, regular worsted weight yarns.

That's all for tonight, happy stitching!