Overwhelmed by yarn choices? 4 top tips

Posted by on May 30, 2014, in crochet & knitting, ,

Choosing yarns--4 tips

I’ll be the first to admit that I get a little overwhelmed—in a good way!—by the walls, cubbies, baskets, and bins of luscious yarn when I visit my local yarn shop. Wool? Cotton? Magenta? Pastel? Hand dyed? How is one to decide?

Turns out, some of our authors have some really handy tips for choosing the perfect skein, every time. Check out these quick tips for choosing yarn for your knitting and crochet projects:

Quick tip #1: Make a mood board to inspire color choices

“Though I currently focus on knit design, I am way into all kinds of design. When I was pregnant, one of the biggest things on my mind was designing a nursery for my new kiddo. To start, I picked a color scheme from a piece of fabric that I loved. From there I decided to go with a really clean, modern feel for the furniture. I printed pictures of the pieces I was thinking about and put them together on a piece of paper to see what I thought would look best together.”

—Rebecca Danger, author of Knit a Monster Nursery

Projects from Knit a Monster Nursery
Rebecca’s yarn picks from Knit a Monster Nursery. Find more design ideas and monster baby patterns from the book here.


Quick tip #2: Go by the book—or don’t

“If you want your completed project to look like the one in the book, choose the specific yarn or one with similar gauge, fiber, and structure. If you choose a yarn that’s markedly different, understand that the end project will also be markedly different—although the result may still be very attractive and striking. The choice is yours.”

—Sheryl Thies, author of Knitting by Nature

Yarn choices from Knitting by Nature
Sheryl’s yarn picks from Knitting by Nature. See more unique designs from the book here.


Quick Tip #3: Choose fibers to fit your lifestyle

“I used cotton yarn for these projects because bags and everyday accessories that kids might take to school tend to get very dirty, and cotton seems to hold up better than wool when put in the washing machine. Also, I don’t know about your kids, but mine are always hot (oh, to be young again!). I couldn’t imagine either of them carrying a warm backpack in the summer, so cotton seemed like a better option.”

—Ana Paula Rimoli, author of Amigurumi On the Go

Projects from Amigurumi on the Go
Ana Paula’s yarn picks from Amigurumi On the Go. Find more kid-friendly, on-the-go designs from the book here.


Quick Tip #4: Experiment with your color palette

“While pastels are timeless, modern babies have a lot of color options. The only rule that guides modern baby decor is that it has to be adorable! I’ve crocheted projects in three fabulous color stories: brights, pastels, and neutrals. I can’t get enough of the lime-turquoise-orange combo in the Funky Argyle Pillow and Afghan, but I’m also partial to the lovely gray basket-weave blanket. So go ahead, switch up that color palette. You can do it!”

—Stacey Trock, author of Modern Baby Crochet

Projects from Modern Baby Crochet
Stacey’s yarn picks from Modern Baby Crochet. Find more color palette ideas and crocheted nursery patterns from the book here.


What’s most important to you when picking yarn: color or fiber? Tell us in the comments!


7 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Until quite recently, it was fiber.. cotton for washability.. now I knit more for fun than practicality, I use what I want, wool, acrylic, blends…whatever I fell like at the time.

    —Carol on May 30, 2014
  • Fiber comes first, with color range a close second. Like Ana, I am a firm believer in cotton for clothing and anything that takes a lot of wear. For other items, sturdy acrylic will do. No wool, thank you, not even in the depths of winter.
    And have you ever seen thread appliques on a quilt block – absolultely gorgeous? But I think the prettiest thread item I have ever ever ever seen was an Irish crochet bridal gown, all hand done, from the mid-1800s.

    —Lynne on May 30, 2014
  • Some of each. I don’t do a lot of knitting, but when I do it usually to give away. So I am concerned about the color the person would like and the texture of the fiber I am choosing.

    Sharon on May 30, 2014
  • Both are important to me. If you don’t like the color you won’t use what you made. If the fiber is wrong – you won’t like it either.

    —Quilting Tangent on May 30, 2014
  • Fiber is most important because I am allergic to wool, gives me a rash. I can tell if the yarn has wool in just part of it. Others may think it is no problem for them but if what you are making is for a gift, you may want to consider what the fiber is that you use. Now do not get me wrong I do think color is also important.

    —Kathy on May 30, 2014
  • I can’t wait to see a copy of Gail Pan’s new book "Patchwork Loves Embroidery". I’ve been itching to get my hands on it for a while 🙂

    —Merrill Hogan on May 31, 2014
  • I prefer colors matching first along with the texture of the yarn for what I’m making.

    —barb on May 31, 2014

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