Random thoughts on yarn weights

I’m playing with gauge and fabric. My Seafoam Socks are twice knitted, twice edited. I’ve done my swatching with four different yarns, all on size 2 needles. I’m getting 6.5 sts/inch with all of the yarns.

4xseafoam

Gauge is a funny thing! The first time I knit these socks, I knit them with Mirasol Hacho, a dk weight yarn, 137 yards to 50 grams/1.76 oz (78 yards/oz). (Blue sock at the bottom of the pile, foot showing.) I like the hand of the fabric, a bit firm, but not stiff. My hands were tired by the time I finished knitting the socks though, as I was trying to keep things fairly firm so the socks wouldn’t be too big.

seafoam green

My next purchase for this sock was the Butternut Woolens Super Sock yarn above, 341 yards to 113 grams/4 oz, (85 yards/oz). This yarn is listed on Ravelry as fingering weight. It feels bulkier than the Hacho! I would call it a sport weight yarn, at least. It’s making a nice wooly feeling sock, but definitely a winter article. The ply is looser than that of the Hacho. Here’s the Hacho sock on top of the Butternut Woolens sock; although the circumference of the sock is essentially the same, the Butternut Woolens sock has fewer rows per inch, so the sock is a bit taller and a bit longer, same number of rounds. See the green peeking out from behind the blue?

rowgauge

I also swatched with my leftover BMFA Socks that Rock Mediumweight, also considered to be a fingering weight yarn at 380 yards to 155 grams/5.47 ounces (69 yards/oz). This knit up to a slightly loose but still very nice feeling fabric.

str swatch

And I couldn’t help myself. I was at the LYS and wanted to check out one more sport weight yarn, and chose Monarch by FlyDesigns. This colorway is called Sailing. The yarn is listed as a sport weight yarn, although it feels a bit lighter than the STR Mediumweight. It’s 370 yards to 126 grams/4.44 oz, (83 yards/oz). My gauge? Also 6.5 st/inch, and isn’t this lovely? The fabric isn’t as dense as I usually knit my socks, but it’s quite acceptable, very similar to the Socks that Rock Mediumweight.

monarch

monarch close

By the numbers, the Monarch should be closest in weight to the Butternut Woolens, but look at the difference in appearance. By numbers, the STR Mediumweight should be the thickest, because it has the least yardage/ounce. I’ve read that if the yardage of the yarn required for your pattern is within 10% of the yarn you’d like to substitute (similar fibers), it should work. All of these knit up with a decent hand, some thicker, some thinner, but all result in a sock of about the same size, so what does it all mean?

yarn

(Hacho DK, Butternut Fingering, STR Mediumweight Fingering, Monarch Sport)

4x up

I think it means that if I specify sport weight yarn for this pattern, you still have to decide if you like the fabric you’re getting with the yarn you choose. Labels by the manufacturer are just the first step in choosing your yarn. A yarn labeled fingering may knit up thicker than a yarn called sport at the same gauge. A tight twist can make a yarn feel thinner, or a loose twist can make a thin yarn look thicker. You may like your socks thicker or thinner, firmer or floppier. Ultimately, you are the boss of your knitting, and you get to decide how you want the fabric of that sock to feel. Knit on!

About these ads

16 responses to “Random thoughts on yarn weights

  1. Those all look so good together! Will you be finishing them all?

  2. You are very patient! This is something that would have me very frustrated.

    They are all so pretty – I love the top edge a lot!

  3. Wow! They’re all so beautiful!!!

  4. To me it means that I would likely enjoy all of those yarns that you tested, as I prefer using STR mediumweight. :)

  5. I really love how that all looks stacked together. Your words ring true and are good to remember, but I’m so focused on how good they looked layered! (may be a sign for help, :D)

  6. And me… I choose my yarn based on the pretty colors. Oh I am in big trouble when I finally try to knit the socks aren’t I?

  7. You’ve written an interesting post. Too bad I can’t focus on the text because of all the pretty colors ;)

  8. What a great collection of colors you have in all those swatches! Too bad you can’t layer them all into one super sock! LOL

  9. weird, I thought md weight was sport from BMFA

  10. I love seeing the same pattern in so many beautiful colors! It looks great in all of them! I’ll have to start thinking about what color I want to use when you’re done writing up the pattern.

  11. You’ve been busy knitting these up in all those yarns, and such pretty yarns too! I’ve noticed that yarns of “similar” weight behaving quite differently when you let them loose on some needles. I guess that is why I get into a rut and stick with using the same yarns over and over again, mainly for their predictability.

  12. Those are all so pretty! It really is amazing how the same weight yarns act so different – I suppose this is why gauge continues to be a pain for me as I keep on expecting them to act the same!

  13. That’s a lot of good looking socks! Nice post.

  14. I love all of them, though I’m leaning more towards the BMFA Socks that Rock. So nice!

    I guess that’s the good and bad thing about knitting… you never know what you’ll get until you swatch! :)

  15. I love your analytical approach to this, its almost like watching a science project. I wish all of the patterns listed WPI instead of just just the term fingering or sport weight… I especially like the colors on the last two socks, quite striking!

  16. Wow! Your sock knitting is amazing. I can’t seem to get the hang of knitting socks.