So, you’ve been hanging around long enough now to have heard some terms and abbreviations bandied about. One of those terms we talk a lot about is yarn weight.
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What is Yarn Weight?
Yarn weight, despite what it implies, does not refer to the weight of the ball of yarn. Also, not to be confused with ply ( the number of strands twisted together to make the yarn) yarn weight refers to the thickness, or the size, of the yarn. I know, crazy right?
There are basically 6 different weight categories, although some yarn manufacturers have separated them out even further, and with the addition of the now popular giant yarn, I suspect a new official weight category will be added soon.
Yarn Weights & Categories
So about those 6 categories. From smallest to largest, there are
The finest yarn, fingering weight will feel the softest, whereas worsted may start to feel a bit scratchy. But then again, yarn has come a long way, and it is now entirely possible to get a worsted weight merino that feels lovely, and even a worsted weight synthetic that would still be super cozy. But I digress.
Best Uses for Yarn Weights
Because of the softness of the fingering and sock weight yarns, it is often the popular choice for baby clothes and socks. Due to the fineness, it is also usually the yarn you would choose when making lace, or airy, delicate shawls and wraps.
Sport and DK (double knit) weight yarns are often the go to choice for kids’ clothes, and spring and summer wear. You can use this yarn weight also for hats and scarves and sweaters etc, however, most patterns for those items are written with a bigger yarn in mind, such as a worsted weight or larger, and you would really need to mind your gauge. We’ll save the gauge talk for our next pontification.
Worsted weight yarns are probably the yarns that get the most use. Good for sweaters, afghans, scarves, mitts, hats, thick socks, kitchen and bath accessories, and many many other projects. As I mentioned before it is possible to get worsted weight yarns ( both natural and acrylic varieties) that still feel luxurious.
Bulky yarns and Super Bulky yarns are possibly my favourite weight yarns. Not always the easiest to work with, but they add a certain level of instant gratification to any project, as using them helps the project work up much, much quicker. Excellent for hats and scarves, and blankets etc.
Gingerbread Man = one part cute, one part sweet, one part kind, and three parts fun!
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Hand Knit Gingerbread Man
This sweet invention is going be just as popular as your Elf on the Shelf – minus the tattling. Whether he ends up on the tree as a decoration, in the playroom with the other toys, or hanging from the chandelier, this Hand Knit Gingerbread Man is going to be a welcome addition to your home this holiday season.
About the Hand Knit Gingerbread Man Pattern
I have made this pattern beginner friendly by designing the entire project to be worked flat – that means that you need not get intimidated by those double pointed needles. Becasue a gingerbread man has so many parts ( who knew, right?) the pattern may seem a bit longer than my usual ones. Hang in there, and just follow along. It will all turn out. And this is a stash buster project!
Stuffing ( I used polyester fiber fill – you can wash it)
· Cast on
· M1R ( see the video below)
· M1L ( see the video below)
· Bind Off
M1R ( Make one right) is an invisible increase that slants to the right. When adding shape to your projects, for example when you want to add width to your project equally on both sides, you would use this along with the M1L increase. Using this type of increase also ensures that you won’t have any gaps in your knitting, and this can be important depending on what it is you are making, and of course, your preference. I created a video tutorial for this stitch, and you can see it here:
M1L ( Make one left) is an invisible increase that slants to, yep you guessed it, the left. You would use this along with the M1L increase. Again, Using this type of increase also ensures that you won’t have any gaps in your knitting, and you can see it here:
Row 10 : K7, Slip next 11 stitches onto stitch holder, K14, Slip next 11 stitches onto another stitch holder, K7 (28 sts)
Row 11: Purl across the remaining 28 stitches now on your needle, being careful to pull the yarn tight where you have made rhe openings for the arms
Row 12 : K6, M1R, K1, M1L, K14, M1R, K1, M1L, K6 ( 32 sts )
Row 13 : Purl
Row 14: Knit
Row 15 : Purl
Row 16 : Knit
Row 17 : Purl
Row 18 : Knit
Row 19 : Purl
The arm stitches are on separate stitch holders, and the 16 leg stitches for the first leg have just been knitted, and the work is turned.
Divide for Legs
Row 20 : Knit the first 16 stitches on the needle, and turn your work. You will be leaving the other 16 stitches on the needle and coming back to them later
*Row 21 : Working only on the 16 stitches you just knit ( one leg ) Purl across
Row 22 : Knit
Row 23 : Purl
Row 24 : Knit
Row 25 : Purl
Row 26 : Knit
Row 27 : Purl
Row 28 : Knit
Row 29 : Purl
Row 30 : Knit
Row 31 : Purl
Row 32 : Knit
Row 33 : Purl
Row 34 : K2tog ( 8 times ) ( 8 sts )
Row 35 : Purl
Row 36 : K2tog ( 4 times ) ( 4 sts)
One leg has been completed, and seam has been sewn – I have the one leg turn inside out in this image, but I would totally sew the seam with the fabric right side out. It won’t make a huge difference in the finished product, and it may just feel easier.
Cut yarn, leaving about 8 “, thread darning needle, and pull the darning needle through the last 4 stitches on the needle, remove them from the knitting needle, Pull tight, and sew up one leg seam.*
Rejoin yarn to the 16 stitches you set aside for the other leg, and work from * to * for the other leg.
Cut yarn, leaving about 12 “, thread darning needle, and pull the darning needle through the last 5 stitches on the needle, remove them from the knitting needle, Pull tight, and sew up seam, stuffing the gingerbread man as you go.
The answer is pretty obvious – natural fibers are going to always be better than synthetic ones, right? Of course. Before we write off acrylic yarn completely though, let’s talk about the pros vs. cons.
Natural wool fibers can not be dismissed. This stuff has been keeping multitudes of animals and people warm and dry for eons. If you’re looking to knit some hard core work clothes, 100% natural wool is definitely your better option. It can and will likely last a very long time, and stand up to the elements. As long as wool bearing animal farms keep producing healthy stock, it is a renewable resource. Also, the wool market has grown to include more than just sheep. Wool producers have turned to alpacas, goats and rabbits as well as yaks. Now really, what could be cooler than a yak farm?
Be aware however, that it does not wash easily, and is quite expensive. Depending on the wool itself, it may not feel so great next to your skin.
Acrylic yarns come in all varieties of textures, weights, colours – I have yet to meet a yarn I don’t love. They are 100% washable, dryable and wearable, and that makes them more than ideal for children’s clothes, hats, mittens, socks and anything else you need to wash often, without having to rely on washing by hand. Don’t get me wrong, washing the laundry by hand is totally something I want to spend my time doing. Ok, so not really. Acrylic yarns are more affordable than real wool, and can be manufactured to be soft enough to be against the most sensitive skin.
So acrylic yarns get a bad rap because, they’re well, synthetic. And wool is frowned upon for being unwashable. Consider though that acrylic yarns can now be manufactured using recycled synthetics, which is a win all around, and natural fibers can be treated to make them washable. Another win.