Thursday, May 3, 2012

Borrow Leftovers From Friends

Borrow leftover yarn from friends to swatch with. You may find a new favorite yarn, or learn to avoid one you've always wanted to try.

Example:  One of the yarns I love is Scheaffer Nichole Sock Yarn.  In general, my socks don't take up all the yarn in a skein, and leave a little ball of about two and a half to three grams.  This is a good size for swatching.

My girlfriend Rosemary knits socks, but has never tried Nichole.  This is a perfect opportunity for her to try this yarn without spending $26 for the whole skein.  She can knit up a swatch of her favorite pattern and see if she enjoys knitting with it as much as I do.  If she does, great.  If not, it cost her nothing to try it.

The cool part, though, is if she hates it.  Really.  When you leaf through the knitting magazines and are thrilled by the look of a yarn, and the projects they show made from it, you have no idea what that yarn will be like to use.  If your LYS doesn't carry it, you can't even feel it in the skein.  If you're anything like me, you'll be tempted to order it online, and you'll order enough to complete your project.  This can be quite a hefty investment, plus shipping and handling.

The yarn arrives, and you start swatching for your project.  The yarn splits and snags.  You change to needles with softer points, but now you're dropping stitches.  You finally finish your swatch, launder it, and discover that the color runs all over the place.  When it's dry, you see that it has pilled slightly.  There is no returning the skein you've swatched with, and now you're sure you don't want to waste any more time with this yarn. 

What to do with the leftovers?  Foist them on another unsuspecting knitter?  Return them, paying postage and possibly a "restocking" fee?  Put them in the stash and hope someday you'll have the patience to fight with this yarn?  No.  This is where swatching with freebies from friends would have saved you time and money.  You'd know before you spent the money. 

Make a little list with two or three headings: Like, Love, Hate.  If you don't want to use the yarn ever, put the vital stats in the Hate column.  (Maker, fiber name).  You can be sure you'll never use it again.  If you love it, put the stats in the Love column.  You can use the identical yarn.  If you Like it, put all the info on the label in the Like column.  It will help you develop an understanding of which yarn characteristics work best for you.  Your like list will develop some clear patterns, whether by weight, fiber, manufacturer, loft, or twist.  Knowing what you like will become more intuitive as your list emerges.

And that leftover yarn?  Give it to a daycare or kindergarten to use during arts and crafts time.  It will make great hair on some body's macaroni art.

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