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4 tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn

This week’s yarn is colorful, fuzzy Revolutions by Universal Yarn. Yesterday, we looked at all of the 8 colorways available for this yarn. While knitting swatches and a shawl with this wool, alpaca, mohair, and acrylic blend, I came up with 4 tips to help knitters who have avoided fuzzy yarns become more comfortable with them.

 

Alpaca and mohair fibers create a glowing halo in the Grape Attack colorway of Revolutions yarn.
Alpaca and mohair fibers create a glowing halo in the Grape Attack colorway of Revolutions yarn.

 

Choosing an appropriate project for fuzzy yarn

Your previous exposure to fashion trends in clothing and home décor could bias your mind when you pick up a skein of fuzzy yarn. It might evoke fond memories of faux fur blankets or throw pillows, and it might make you think something you’d rather forget, like shag carpet or those cringe-worthy, long shaggy faux fur-trimmed coats of the 1970s, which can be found today in vintage shops in major cities for upwards of $200. For some reason, these actually cycle back onto fashion runways every once in a while — why? And, how can we forget the eyelash and fuzzy yarns from the early 2000s?

This does speak to the timelessness of fuzzy yarn. I think that it has a place in every wardrobe and home, so it appears it isn’t just me. The reason I think Revolutions hits the mark is that it is a gradient yarn, which fits right in with the current color fade trend. I think that scarves, cowls, blankets, cushion covers, toys, and vests would all work great knit with Revolutions yarn.

I know that some people would say that only skinny girls can wear those fuzzy sweaters, but I think that regardless of one’s size, you can pull it off. Did any of you see the fur dress in Project Runway 2017? I think looks awesome on a plus-size model! But I digress. Since fuzzy isn’t to everyone’s taste, if you’re knitting a gift, be sure you know your recipient’s taste well. It may not hurt to introduce them to some colorful fun with something knit out of Revolutions — if it will be well-received. Tomorrow we’ll look at several patterns that would suit anyone’s winter and shoulder season wardrobes.

 

Knit fuzzy yarn for any garment or home decor. The white alpaca in Revolutions lends a certain shimmer to the finished knitting.
Knit fuzzy yarn for any garment or home decor. The white alpaca in Revolutions lends a certain shimmer to the finished knitting.

 

Knit a gauge swatch

Fuzzy yarn has a lot of irregularities, as all those fibers must go somewhere. You can always brush or tease the knit fabric after to draw more fibers to one side of the fabric and increase the halo. Regardless, a fuzzy yarn places extra fibers between the strands and loops of the stitches, often “pushing” them to the one side of the fabric. Because of this, gauge is unpredictable, as you really won’t know how much fuzz will fill the space around the core strands of the stitches. Unless you swatch.

 

An unbrushed swatch of Revolutions still has trace evidence of the stitches. This will disappear with wear.
An unbrushed swatch of Revolutions still has trace evidence of the stitches. This will disappear with wear.

 

I knit two swatches: one with US 8 [5mm] needles and one with US 11 [8mm] needles. There is a substantial difference! In the following video, you can see the one knit to a tighter gauge (US 8). The fibers fill the spaces between the stitches making them almost indistinguishable. This is great for people who struggle to get an even tension because it looks quite even. The halo helps hide the uneven stitches. It also hides textured stitch patterns, sometimes to the point of near invisibility.

 

On the other hand, when I knit with the larger needles, there’s a lot of drape. In the next video, you can see how I struggle to get tension, even in garter stitch. The “fuzz” interferes by pushing strands aside to make room. To get the ideal tension for your knitting, swatching is the key to success.

 

Use blunt knitting needles

When you knit fuzzy yarn, there’s always a chance that the tips of the needles will pierce through the area between the yarn’s core and the exterior fuzzy fibers, essentially “splitting” the fuzz away from its core. Even if you successfully knit the stitch rather than just catching the fuzzy fibers, the longer fibers get dragged along for the ride and pushed through the neighboring fuzz. This causes a small amount of snagging. This snagging isn’t a problem — it’s quite invisible. Sharper needle tips tend to intertwine the fuzzy fibers more than blunt needles, which don’t split the yarn strand or drag the fuzz along. The only time this snagging causes a problem is when you have to take back a few stitches or rows of knitting, which leads me to my next tip…

Take care when frogging

Unraveling your knitting, or frogging, isn’t fun at the best of times, particularly if you feel you are losing hours of knitting investment. So it’s important to be aware of the dynamics involved when you have to frog a fuzzy yarn. By the time you’ve found your error, the fibers that create that lovely halo have managed to intertwine with the ones in neighboring stitches and rows. If you pull gently with an upwards motion when pulling out stitches across the center of the row, but in those last few stitches at the ends of the row, you’ll want to stop and pull with a gentle downward motion. I recommend that you unknit those last two stitches by hand, as I demonstrate in this video.

 

I’ve heard of people placing their “to be frogged” mohair or other fuzzy knits into the freezer for an hour before frogging, but I haven’t tried that trick to see if it works. Other knitters keep a spare knitting needle at hand, in case they need to tease a few fibers apart.

Now that you have my 4 tips for knitting with fuzzy yarns, tomorrow, we’ll look at some beautiful free designs that will inspire you to knit with Revolutions.

 

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Revolutions, a yarn that fades one gorgeous color into another

About Charles Voth

I’m Charles Voth, a crochet and knitting professional. I enjoy reviewing yarns and tools to help others find materials that will help them be happy with what they stitch. I design garments and accessories and items for the home. I teach both crafts at yarn stores, in schools, and at craft shows and retail events. I am also a technical editor of both crochet and knitting patterns and illustrate the charts and diagrams that make pattern reading accessible to so many.

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