In this series of posts, I’m working with Deluxe DK Superwash and Deluxe Worsted Superwash yarns. In this post, I’m going to review (and probably express an opinion or two) about ways to name yarns, and what to look for to make yarn comparisons.
The photo above provides a great opportunity to talk about the color ranges for the yarns used in this series. Deluxe DK Superwash comes in 63 colors, and Deluxe Worsted Superwash comes in 72 colors. No wonder I want to talk so much about color this week!
Today, though, I want to talk about the different weights, or grists, of yarn, and the various adjectives and systems devised to talk about them.
The thing is, you can give a yarn any name you want. You could create a laceweight yarn and call it chunky – there are no knitting police to keep you from doing that.
Back in the old days when I became a serious knitter, we didn’t have the variety of yarns we have now. There were no little graphics with numbers to help guide us to the weight of the yarn we were holding. I trained myself to look for the recommended tension. Back then, we didn’t even have yardage on the ball band, but there was almost always a recommended needle size and a recommended tension.
Since names like Molena, Astra and Venus, didn’t tell me what the yarn weight was, I would flip the ball over to find that, at 16 sts to 4” [10cm] with the size 4 needles (US 10 [6mm]) recommended for the yarn, I would get a chunky knit Molena, and that Astra, with a tension of 22 sts to 4” with old size 8 (US 6) [4mm] needles, was a perfect double knitting or DK yarn, as was its fuzzy counterpart, Venus.
Note: We used the British knitting needle numbering system at the time and, since I still have some of my grandma’s and aunt’s old needles, I keep a needle conversion chart and a needle gauge that has all three systems on them.
If you downloaded my Knitting Essentials when you signed up for the KNITmuch newsletter, you will find my full article about yarn weight descriptors on page 8, and a very convenient yarn descriptor chart that shows many of the systems used to define yarn weights on page 9.
The ball band on the left in the photo below shows that the recommended tension for Deluxe DK is 20 sts to 4” [10cm] with US 6 [4mm] needles. Wait, what? According to my handy chart, 20 sts to 4” is ordinarily the tension I get with a knitting worsted yarn, but to get that, I would use a US 7 [4.5mm] needle.
And, Deluxe Worsted’s gauge (on the right in the photo below) is 18 sts to 4” [10cm] with US 7 [4.5mm] needles. That’s Aran weight with worsted weight needles!
It might seem as though this yarn manufacturer is messing with my head, however, it’s important to remember that knitting gauges are guidelines with one exception: when it comes to working the pattern, we must achieve gauge if our pattern is to fit properly.
The best information I’ve gathered so far is I’ll need to swatch, which is something we should always do when approaching a new-to-me yarn. In my next post, let the swatching begin!