Thursday 14 January 2010

My Favourite Yarns


I thought it would be useful to have a few short notes available about the yarns that I most commonly use and the reasons why I particularly like to use them.

I do think that in recent years all the new, natural yarns have revolutionised toy knitting. There cannot be a more lovely gift than one which has been lovingly made using beautiful, natural yarns. A new friend who will provide so much love and complete devotion in the years that lie ahead!

One of my definite favourite yarns is alpaca wool , espacially baby alpaca, which I use in double knit weight for bodies, limbs, ears and tails. I have found it to be really well suited to my toy knitting. Firstly, it is very durable being second only to silk in strength and also resistant to pilling so the results of all that hard work will not be short lived!
Over the years I have made numerous toys using all kinds of yarns, but many of the cheaper options have sadly not stood the test of time Although, that is not to say that they don’t have their place if you want to knit up a quick fun knit or you have some yarn oddments that you would just like to give a try. I have seen some lovely toys resulting from a bit of improvisation!

 Alpaca wool is beautifully smooth and non-irritating and is often favourably compared to cashmere in softness, although less costly. Most importantly, it is free from lanolin and therefore considered to be hypoallergenic which makes it a good choice for children or those with sensitive skins. This is an essential quality at The TEAROOM as all members need lots of hugs! It is also naturally flame retardant and water repellent.

There is a great choice of colours as there are 22 officially recognised natural shades ranging from pure white, fawns, greys, through to black. Alpaca wool is now produced by numerous different companies and although extremely sought after, it is readily available these days.

I most often use cotton yarns for clothing. The lighter 4 ply weight results in a more proportionate stitch size, especially when knitting Fair Isle or intarsia patterns and it also has a smooth, looser quality which results in the clothing not being ‘clingy’ when placed over a knitted body . This is particularly good for shorts, trousers and skirts. Using good quality cotton yarn will mean that the clothes wash well and there are some versions which are now made from organically grown cotton. Lastly, cotton yarn is also a great alternative to yarns of animal origin for those prone to allergies. Overall, just lovely!

As there are many overseas customers who may need to use alternative yarns, it would be great if details of any yarns that you have enjoyed using for MJT patterns could be added at the bottom of this post for future reference. I have seen lots of lovely alternatives on Ravelry. Hopefully, we can eventually build up a mini archive of recommended yarns from around the world! On my homepage I have listed the shops where I most often purchase yarns which you can also visit through the links. My particular favourite is McA Direct
I will be adding more short notes through the coming weeks which will hopefully add to your enjoyment when knitting from a Mary Jane's TEAROOM pattern.

Happy Knitting!

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