Terra Firma Cowl KAL :: Choosing Yarn

Terra Firma Cowl KAL :: Choosing Yarn


Hello and welcome to the Terra Firma
Cowl knitalong. So, today we’ll be talking about choosing and substituting
yarn, swatching, evaluating your swatch, and based on your swatch, estimating the
finished size in the amount of yarn you’ll use for your cowl. This particular video
is all about choosing and substituting yarn. When you’re considering yarn
options for your cowl, there are a few things you might like to keep in mind. The first up is the weight of the yarn. The weight of the yarn refers to how
thick or thin a yarn is and is typically given a name like fingering
or lace or DK or worsted. The Terra from the cowl pattern was written for
sport weight or a 5-ply yarn and the gauge listed in the pattern is to
achieve a nice fabric with sport weight yarn. Does that mean you can’t use a
different weight of yarn like fingering or DK? No, not at all. There is a calculator that I included with this pattern that can help you
figure out how much yarn you’ll use and the finished dimensions of
your cowl based on your swatch. So that means you can use any weight of yarn and
you’ll be able to figure out how big it’s going to be or how much yarn you’ll use
for your specific weight of yarn. That being said you will want to keep in
mind that if you’re using a smaller yarn like fingering or lace weight, you’re
going to want to go down a few needle sizes in order to get a nice fabric. If
you use a bigger needle with a smaller yarn you’re gonna get a fabric that’s
kind of like this where you can kind of poke your fingers through it, which if
you’re trying to keep warm is not the best. That being said, if you want to use
a smaller weight yarn and you do go down a few needle sizes, your cowl is
obviously going to be smaller than the pattern lists.
If you want to add some extra width, you can do that by adding some more seed
stitch lace repeats and instructions for that and are included in the make it
your own portion of the pattern. If you want to use a larger yarn, like a DK a
worsted or a bulky, you’re going to want to go up a few needle sizes to get a
nice fabric. You’ll get a wider and longer cowl. If you don’t go up needle
sizes, you’re going to get a very dense fabric which is not going to fold super
well around your neck. Next up I want to talk about fiber considerations. I am
not a yarn snob. I chose wool for this because I like how
it feels, how it washes, and how it holds up long term. You can absolutely get a
result you love with other fibers, so here are a few tips. If you’re planning
on working with an alpaca yarn, alpaca does not have as much memory as wool and
so it will grow a lot in circumference or row wise with wear. You may also
notice the leaves don’t quite pop out quite as nicely. It’s a little bit
flatter than the wool yarn. You may want to work fewer row repeats or with a
smaller needle size so you don’t end up with a cowl that stretches to the moon
and back. If you plan on working with a synthetic fiber (like acrylic), linen, or
cotton you will likely want to knit at a larger gauge or a larger needle than the
pattern because the yarn does not stretch quite like wool. It also does not
stretch out quite as much when it is washed so using a larger gauge helps the
fabric drape better when it’s wound around a neck. The next thing to consider
is the yarn structure. When I’m talking about structure, I’m talking about how
the yarn is physically put together. So in this case with Malabrigo Arroyo, you
can see that it is plied and it’s, it’s fairly loosely plied, like the twist
isn’t super tight. It’s also fairly stretchy, so I can take a length of it
and I can stretch it a little bit. If you’re using a different structure of
yarn, like a super tightly plied yarn like this Paragon from Knit Picks, you
can see that the ply structure is super defined and that does affect the final
look of the piece. So if you look at the stockinette section, you can see how the
plies are actually showing in that and it can be a little bit distracting. You can
see the seed stitch section too. The texture isn’t showing off quite as nicely. If you’re planning on working with a single ply yarn pay attention to how the
stitches are stacking on top of each other in your swatch. Single ply yarn
tends to have one half of the stitch legs
line up vertically and then the other half on an angle. This can make the seed
stitch and other textures look unique. If you like that in your swatch – awesome! At
least you know how it’s going to look in the final piece. Last up I wanted to talk
about color. I typically choose a solid or a semi
solid color for texture and lace because I want the stitch patterns to be the
star of the show. The yarn is kind of secondary and is there to accentuate the
pattern and help display the stitch pattern. And you’re putting as much work
into something like this, typically you want the stitch pattern to be really
evident in the final piece. If you want to use other colors here are some
considerations for other types of colorways for this cowl. One thing to
keep in mind is that this cowl is worked back and forth and there is no shaping
in it. So if you’re using a short-run variegated or multicolor, your colors
are probably going to pool and they’re probably either going to stack up on top
of each other giving you vertical stripes or a diagonal or sometimes like
grouping or color banding. This can also happen if you’re using a kettle-dye and
so if you’re using something that has a lot of color changes in it you may want
to consider alternating skeins for this project. I did do that with the Malabrigo Arroyo that is used in the sample and I thought it’d help break up
the color a lot, especially if you have skeins that are very different coloring.
If you are using a self striping yarn, how that’s going to end up looking in
this piece is you’re going to have bands of stripes that go horizontally. If you
want your colors to line up properly at the graft line, it’s going to take some
pre-planning and it may not line up exactly the way you want it to. And the
same thing goes for gradient yarns. So if you’re using a gradient yarn, the
gradient is going to run the circumference of the cowl. And so you may want to pre-plan how that’s going to be working. I think your best
bet for this one would actually be to buy two skeins that are very similar and
maybe run them opposite directions so that you can end up at the same gradient
point when you graft the cowl together at the end. Long story short, when you’re choosing or substituting a yarn, the most important
thing is to just get a yarn that you love and that you think works well with
the pattern. My opinion doesn’t matter. It absolutely doesn’t. This is something
that you are making to wear yourself or to give away, so the only thing that
matters is that it looks great to you. Nobody else’s opinion matters. Alright, I
hope you enjoy stash diving and I’ll catch you in the next video where we’ll
talk about swatching.

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