Monday, 27 January 2014

Needles and Yarn.

I think most of you know by now that I am challenging myself in January to learn how to knit.  Wow, it is one big learning curve isn't it.   Before you even begin to knit you have to get your head round the needles and all the different kinds of wool.

Thought the needle bit would be easy. I had some old needles, don't know where I acquired them from.   I have 5 needles that say 7 on them, 3 needles with an 8 and 1 each of size 2 and 3. OK.  I kind of thought something was going on here.  Good job I checked.  It seems the needles that I have are numbered on some old, antiquated British system.  Seems that we are now in metric. So, my number 7 needles were fine as they are 4.5mm and just what I needed.   The needle situation is complicated further because the Merikans across  the pond use a different numbering system.

Knitting Reference – Needle Sizes

Knitting needles in the UK are now sold in metric measurements. However, if you’ve inherited your great-grandmother’s knitting bag you may have needles with the old UK ratings so these have been included for your information. Where there is a gap in the table this is where there is no direct equivalent size.
US    Metric Old UK 
So with my needles sorted it was time to turn my attention to yarn.  I will call it yarn as wool is a misnomer because half the time it isn't actually wool.  My limited knowledge was such that I thought pretty much everything was knitted in double knitting wool which I actually know is 8 ply and yes thank you, I do know what ply means. I was aware (vaguely) that there was something called 3ply which was for things like shawls and something called chunky which I wouldn't have a clue what to do with.

Seems that there is way more to yarn than I ever could have guessed. First comes the weight, which means the number of ply. I think there are about 7 to choose from and they would be used for different things. Of course it is complicated again by those Merikans who have totally different names to us.  

Once you know what your pattern requires and so far I have been using DK, then you need to actually choose the yarn.  Cheapest seems to be acrylic, then there is pure wool or how about cotton or any number of mixes in between,  The mixes can use alpaca, silk, mohair, merino (isn't that wool?) angora and I am sure there are others. 

Angora?  That opens a whole can of ethical wormies.  I personally wouldn't touch anything with angora in it. Do you know how that is obtained?  Want to see a bunny skinned alive?  Google it.  Sick, sick, sick. If you have any shred of decency then I urge you to boycott anything that contains angora. Sorry, off my soap box now. **

Yarn Conversion Chart

USAUKAustralia - NZ
Lace2 ply2 ply
Sock or Fingering3 ply3 ply
Fingering4 ply4 ply
SportSome double knitting yarns5 ply
Light WorstedDouble knitting8 ply
ChunkyBulky16 ply
BulkyChunky20 ply

To think all of these considerations for needles and wool have to be made before you can cast on the first stitch.  It's a minefield. 

Having completed a pair of mitts and a little keyhole scarf, I am now going on to the next stage.  A whole complete set of scarf, cowl, mitts and headband.  I have purchased this pattern from fellow Etsy teamie MADMUM.  

Isn't it lovely?  It does have some new techniques in there for me. It also requires that I branch out into chunky wool  and I need some new needles as I do not have the required 5mm ones.  Now I thought I had needles sussed out, but when I went to purchase some I found there was a whole new conundrum....... do I get plastic, bamboo or metal???  

Long story short I have opted for bamboo.  My old needles are metal so I thought I would try something different to see if it actually does make any difference. I suspect not but I am sure that there are peeps out there who swear by one or the other.  I think I might just be swearing about the whole thing!  In the course of my research for my purchase it has come to my attention that there are also needles that are pointed at both ends and short needles joined together by plastic tubing.  The mind boggles, well my mind does!  Who wants needles with points at both ends?  The stitches would all fall off. 

My chosen wool after many hours of deliberation is this one.

James C Brett Marble Chunky in pink mix. 

So, I have my chunky wool on order and my bamboo needles.  Hopefully they will arrive in the next few days and I will make a start.  I will keep you updated on the process.

** Actually, I am not sorry at all it is the most horrific process and should be banned.