The question most of us have when we pick up a yarn, or pick a project we want to make is “Will this yarn work for this”? I love to swatch, so I am always trying things out and have come up with a formula for getting a sense of a yarn, but quite honestly, I almost always know what I want to do before I go down that path. If you haven’t seen them, you might like to look at the Meet the Yarn series I’ve been doing on Anzula Luxury Fibers (I’ve linked to the latest, Cloud, then use Meet the Yarn to find others–there are eight and more to come!).
Why Your Yarn May or May Not Work
Who knows how many stitches I have knit since I returned to hand knitting in 1994? Or how many yarns I’ve used? I pretty much work from instinct at this point. This is a problem because once you get to a certain point of experience, you quit noticing what is driving your decisions. “Will this yarn work for this project” becomes an automatic series of decisions. Then someone else picks up your pattern, they use a different yarn entirely, and the resulting photos of their version of your project don’t do it justice because they didn’t make the same decisions you did. Or, someone picks up the pattern, and brings their body of experience to it, and makes decisions that result in a perfect marriage, although perhaps different than the one you suggested.
I would like to shed some of the light of my experience on the “will this yarn work for this project” question. We live in a time where
- there are so many options,
- there is a disinclination to tell people what to do, and
- a lot of people working our craft have a different level of experience and knowledge of the inputs.
These are not negatives, just what is.
The Background of “Will the Yarn Work”
We went to an art lecture the other night and as Mitch and I were chatting about it on the way home a couple of things popped out for both of us. First, the speaker knows a lot (and it is an hour-long lecture, so he/she only has so much time). Second, the speaker gets a bit in the weeds talking about what they love in a painting or what doesn’t work, without making it clear to us why.
I am then trying to figure out how to overcome this lack of knowledge. Why do I like Diebenkorn’s art, even thought I’ve never seen any of the things I was supposed to see? How am I supposed to know to look for those things? Now that I know, do I re-look at every piece I’ve ever seen?
I always bring those questions back to my work.
- Am I communicating what I want to?
- How can I make it clearer?
- What does my audience know?
- Do they need to know?
- What do they want to know?
- How do they process information?
- In what manner will they engage with the information I provide?
This is what I love about teaching. What makes sense to me, in my crazy brain, has to make sense to others, so how can I communicate that information without being didactic or pedantic (although I admit to both sometimes!)? How do you give just the information the user needs, without giving more than they want? Most importantly, how do you address the unknown “will this yarn work for this project” when you are not there to answer the question?
Information that Will Help the Yarn Work
These are things to think about when making that match:
- twist and ply
- weight (worsted, dk, etc.)
- yarn weight (grams, ounces)
- yarn maker/mill
- dye method
I’ll be expanding on this more as we move forward in 2018. I’d love to hear from anyone on what they want to know more about to help them answer the “will this yarn work” question more accurately.
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