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Knitting craft books

by Megan
(Los Angeles, CA)

Hi Linda,

I was hoping you could give me a little advice.

I'm an intermediate knitter/crocheter. Today I bought some great books by Debbie Bliss featuring her gorgeous baby patterns for my baby boy.

Well, as is always the case, authors like that list a specific brand of yarn that is not only hard to find, but also darned expensive!!

I know that you can read the label to figure out an alternative yarn selection, but I don't know how to do that. That's why I'm writing... to see if you could show me how to figure out what other kind of yarn to use in order to get similar results.

Thanks so much!
Hi Megan,

Yes this is a common problem, some of the yarn is far beyond the budget of most folks. Here is a couple of tips.

First you must check out the gauge on the yarn wrapper. See how many stitches and rows per inch.
Than find a yarn you are happy with and compare that gauge to the one for the pattern. Say you need 10 stitches 5 rows for 4 inches Than compare that to your new yarn choice.

Also check and see the amount of the yarn per skein. You will need to buy the same amount of ounces even if the skein count is different.

Hope this helps,

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Hi Megan, about gauge.
by: Pam

You can also take the measurement of the garment, height and length, and replace your yarn's gauge swatch to the pattern. Some patterns cannot be worked up this way. Fancy, or extreme gauge differences, but many times this will work. It's like inserting your yarn's sizing into the schematics of the project. Lily Chin's book "Couture Crochet Workbook" explains this. Don't let the name scare ya'! Her discussion on this is basic enough, just not her patterns!! A baby sweater is just the right place to try this. Oh yeah, don't forget, do your gauge swatch first!

Linda do we have a spellchecker? My spelling is pretty bad! LOL


Knitting Gauge
by: Megan

Thanks so much for your speedy response! It helps when one is antsy to get on with her project! *wink*

OK, that information definitely helps... but let me throw some more your way, if you don't mind!

So the pattern specifically requests: "4 (50g) balls of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran in Pale Pink"

As you know, I want to avoid having to order her yarn (no offense, Ms. Bliss, if ever you read this!!). The gauge in the pattern reads "8 sts and 24 rows to 4in square over st st using US 8 (5mm) needles".

So that sounds really chunky, right? Like a worsted weight yarn? Do they even make that for babies? Also, is there a specific brand you recommend?

Thanks again, Linda, for your help. It feels SO GREAT finally learning how to figure out the proper yarn. For years and years I've always just taken the pattern into a yarn store where they would gather the supplies for me, without telling me what it means! I appreciate you helping me to not be so co-dependent!! *wink*

Hi Megan,

Glad you found that information useful. Stitches, rows and gauge can be confusing sometimes.

Yes the knitting gauge you described is larger than regular baby yarn but I don't think I would call it bulky.

If it was me, I would try some "Simply Soft" yarn from Wal Mart. It is an in-between weight, not light and not bulky.

It is also so beautifully soft for baby items. Try one skein, it is inexpensive and try going up or down a size in the needles you use.

You many not get a perfect gauge match but being off by 1 stitch or 1 row really won't make a difference in the finished item.

Happy knitting,

How to knit yarn
by: Linda

Hi Megan,

Here are a few gauges that may help you.

Weight Gauge

Fingering 7-8 sts = 1"

Sport 6-6.5 sts = 1"

Worsted 4.5-5.5 sts = 1"

I don't know what yarn was recommended for your pattern. But I do know what you mean about the yarn being hard to find or very expensive. Yes you can substitute yarn. The yarn gauges above may help you. Find the one nearest the gauge in your pattern. Than it is a matter of making a tension swatch and adjusting the needles until you get the gauge you desire.

Gauge is your most important number for any pattern. Needle size is given only as a guideline. The idea is that you'll use whatever needle size it takes to achieve the desired gauge. So do make a tension swatch with different size needles.

A general rule of thumb is to stay within a half-stitch-per-inch range of the yarn originally specified in the pattern.

Once you've determined the yarn weight and gauge your pattern needs, you can begin investigating your yarn options.

Hope it helps,

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