5 Favorite Tips for Knitting with Handspun

A number of years ago, I took a comprehensive workshop with Rita Buchanan on Knitting with Handspun. In going through some of my old file drawers in efforts to downsize to near-paperless, I came across a short write-up I had compiled of notes taken at this workshop 15 years ago! (SOAR ’95)

The fundamental message of the workshop was

“In a knitting project, the elements for a satisfying outcome happen in both the spinning and knitting.”

Rita is a fantastic teacher. A short blog post here would not do justice to the depth and breadth of what we covered and I learned in this workshop. But there were several points I discovered (or re-discovered) that have served me well through the years. Here are my “top 5” favorites. Whether it is something new to you or just a reminder, I hope you find them useful¬†when knitting with¬†hand spun yarn or even choosing commercially spun yarn.

Tip 1: Any fiber can be knit on a wide range of needle sizes (e.g. US 0 through 10) to achieve ranges of firmness or drape-iness (but there is a fine line between drape and sag!)

Tip 2: When changing needles in a test swatch by more than a couple of sizes, do a row of elongated stitches as follows: k1, yo across the row with the larger of the needles; then drop the yo on the next row. This will eliminate puckering between the two areas of the swatch.

Tip 3: You can increase the amount of fiber by up to 3 times on the same needle size and there is no significant change to the stitch gauge, but it does significantly add to the feeling of bulk and likely will affect the row gauge.

Tip 4: For lace knitting, a higher twist yarn is better for wear and stitch definition.

Tip 5: For 2-color knitting, a lower twist yarn is better because the spaces between the stitches will fill in so just the color shows. (And here is a corollary side benefit of this if you are stranding your colorwork: the lower density of the yarn will also compensate for twice the yarn being accommodated in each row/round.)

Written by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer - Visit Website

5 thoughts on “5 Favorite Tips for Knitting with Handspun”

  1. I think you’ve written an excellent post. I absolutely agree with with. It’s always great reading blogs like these. I’ve added your site to my favorites. Cheryl

  2. Hi Shirley,

    You are welcome.

    Of course, these are just broad guidelines.

    I am sorry that you are having trouble finding a yarn that will hold up well. I would not necessarily recommend a singles yarn with low twist unless the fibers of which it were made were fairly long and consistent length (otherwise, the fuzzing you mention is more likely to occur). If selecting a 2- or 3-ply yarn, the twist in the strands can be fairly loose, while the strands themselves can have a firm twist, thus making the yarn more stable and less likely to pill/fuzz.

    Hope this will help give you some additional guidance for future projects.

  3. Thank you for your 5 tips. I was particularly interested that you talked about twist in the yarn doing colorwork. That is my dilemma right now.

    I am knitting the snowbird mittens from Vogue. The first time I started I abandoned the project as the yarns had low twist and before I achieved much progress the mitten looked fuzzy and worn so I ripped it out. I think I used Nova yarn. On my second try it’s better, but one yarn still is somewhat fuzzy. I want soft mittens and the warmth, but I want to have the pattern show up and not look old before they’re even off the needles. We don’t have a yarn store here so it’s not even like I can see before I buy. For Christmas I made some thrummed mittens for a friend. I guess I goofed using Brown Sheep yarn as there is almost no twist and although very warm they already look old and worn. Maybe the only way to have both is to knit mittens with liners, and that would decrease my knitting output even further. : (

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful knowledge. We need more people like you. Have a nice day

Leave a Reply to Knitting Patterns For Beginners Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove you are a human *