Let’s Talk About Yarn, Baby: Shawl Knitting Yarn
We’re knitters, and our materials are yarn and needles. We turn yarn into shawls, socks, sweaters and other wearable items using some knitting needles and our inspiration and knitting patterns. So it’s time to talk about yarn, baby! Especially about shawl knitting yarn – and about all that yarn used in shawl knitting.
Yarn is made out of a variety of fibers. Wool, cotton, silk are just a few examples out of many, and blends are quite common (for example wool mixed with silk). It comes in different weights and can be plied or just one single strand. Yarn can be handspun or made industrially and can have any color – solid, semi-solid or busy and colorful, or even self-striping.
Knitting yarns come in different weights, or thicknesses. The thickness of your yarn has a huge impact on the look of your knitted fabric, and certainly affects the amount of time it takes to complete your shawl knitting project. Yarn weight determines how many stitches it takes to knit 4 inches (10 cm).
Although there are no official categories for yarn weights, many knitting books, designers and yarn manufacturers use common terms to indicate a yarn’s thickness and the size of the needle with which you work on the yarn. We use the standard yarn weight system by the Craft Yarn Council. Relevant weights for shawl knitting are lace (0) to light/DK (3). Sometimes medium weight (4), also called Aran or worsted weight, is used for shawls but it is rare.
Lace weight yarn usually has about 660 – 990 yards (600-900 meters) per 100g skein. Needles size 2.5 – 6 (3 – 4 mm) works well for this weight when knitting shawls, especially lace shawls.
Super fine is also called fingering weight. Fingering weight yarn usually has about 440 yards (400 meters) per 100g skein. Needles size 4 – 7 (3.5 – 4.5 mm) works well for this weight for shawl knitting.
Fine weight is also called sport weight yarn. It usually has about 385 yards (350 meters) per 100g skein. Needles size 6 – 9 (4 – 5.5 mm) works well for this weight for shawl knitting.
Light weight is also called DK weight yarn. It usually has about 330 yards (300 meters) per 100g skein. Needles size 7 – 10 (4.5 – 6 mm) works well for this weight for shawl knitting.
Shawl Knitting Yarn: Fiber
Yarn comes in various fibers: wool, cotton, silk, Alpaca, Mohair, and many others. Blends of different fibers in one yarn are very common. The examples are endless – the most used ones are wool & silk, wool & cotton and wool & polyamide (the latter is used lots for socks). The type of fiber used for a specific yarn has a huge impact on the drape, weight, stretch and texture of your finished item.
The bigger your finished item and the heavier the weight, the lighter your fiber should be to ensure good wearability of your finished shawl. Mohair is lighter than wool, wool is lighter than silk (but has about the same weight as Alpaca). Cotton and bamboo as well as milk fiber are amongst the heavier ones.
My Favourite Yarns
The fiber I use most are wool (especially Merino), silk, Alpaca, and cotton. I use blends a lot, especially 50/50 or 70/30 blends of wool and silk, and 70/30 blends of both wool and Mohair as well as wool and cotton. Blends made of Alpaca and silk are a dream to work with.
My all-time favourites are (in no specific order):
Wollmeise Pure 100% Merino, Malabrigo Yarn Sock, Das Mondschaf Andromeda, and Yarn Indulgences Indulgent Love.
What is your favourite yarn? Make sure to let me know and share your most loved yarn by leaving a comment!
3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Yarn, Baby: Shawl Knitting Yarn”
I like a wool and silk blend for shawls. I have used alpaca and was pleased with the results, but I gave the shawl to my sister. I’ll have to ask her how it held up.
I spin my yarns but I use Marianated yarns, Baad Mom yarns and yarns I’ve been gifted such as Madeline Tosh.
My favorite yarns to knit are mainly cashmere & cashmere blends. I love love 65/35 cashmere silk blends, but find I’m hoarding rather than knitting them, which I have to change. Love the hand of Madelinetosh & Woolmeise yarns. There are so many fantastic yarns out there.