What is WPI? WPI, or Wraps Per Inch, is a way to determine the weight/thickness of your yarn. If you wrap your yarn around a ruler for one inch and then measure the wraps, you can compare to a chart of standard yarn weights (e.g. worsted weight yarn is approximately 9 wpi). It is helpful to give you a starting point as to what needle or hook would work well with your yarn.
However, using bulky art yarns, you will most likely only get 1-2 WPI! Not very helpful. We suggest swatching and sampling your yarns on different needles and hooks to see if YOU like the fabric it makes (firm, drapey, etc) and then determining gauge, explained below.
What is Gauge? Gauge is the measure of stitches per inch, which is important when you are trying to make items that fit! Sometimes called "Tension", it will be different depending on the yarn, needle size, individual knitter, and stitch pattern. Don't be afraid! In general, the fatter the yarn, the fatter the needle you should use with it, the bigger the stitches it will make, so you will need fewer of them. The thinner the yarn, the thinner the needle you should use with it, the smaller the stitches, so you need more of them. Even ½ stitch per inch off can make a difference.
For example, if you are following a sweater pattern that is 40 inches around at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch, you will need a total of 200 stitches (5 stitches per inch multiplied by 40 inches). If your gauge is 4 ½ stitches per inch and you cast on 200 stitches, your sweater will be 44.44 inches around (200 stitches divided by 4 ½ stitches per inch). With THISyarn's accessory patterns, gauge shouldn't matter too much, but the concept is important when you are trying to make a hat or sweater fit well.
How to knit a gauge swatch: The larger the swatch, the more accurate your measurement will be. Figure out what will be at least 6 inches worth of stitches with your yarn and cast on that many stitches. Knit a few rows in garter stitch. Keeping an inch-worth of stitches at the edges in garter stitch, work in stockinette stitch for a few inches. (NOTE: If your pattern gives a gauge in a pattern stitch, you must do your swatch in this pattern rather than stockinette). At this point you can measure roughly and see if you are way off. Measure 4 inches, count the stitches (half-stitches, too) and divide this number by 4 (it may be a fraction). This is stitches per inch. If you have too many stitches, your stitches are too small and you need a LARGER needle. If you have too few stitches, your stitches are too big and you need a SMALLER needle. Grab your yarn and needles and play- see what you get!
How can I organize my stash? There are many ways to organize a stash! For funky chunky yarns, you can organize by approximate weight of yarn (bulk) and also textures. Color is also something you can try too! This way, you can see what you have easily.
Where can I buy handspun / art yarns? Handspun, funky yarns are everywhere on the internet! Check out our resource page for ideas. If you are in Connecticut, head to Madison Wool for an extensive selection (we ship too!).
Does fiber content of yarn matter? Fiber content matters in relation to how to care for the yarn and garment, the "memory" of the yarn, and also if you are looking for 'next to skin soft' yarn. This varies by person, though most use merino or alpaca as a standard to measure. Take the yarn that you want to use and place it against your neck- if you can tolerate it and it doesn't itch or irritate, go ahead and make that neck warmer or scarf. If it is too itchy, think outerwear or housewares for this yarn. Every yarn has a purpose; they are not all meant to be scarves or sweaters! Some yarns, cottons or alpacas, may stretch out of shape and not return to original proportions. These yarns have no 'memory'- always make a swatch and wash it to see how it will behave. You may be able to combine yarns to make them behave and retain shape.
What if I want to make something stretchy or drapey? To make an item drapey, try a larger hook or needle than you would normally use for the item and swatch - cast on about 10 -20 stitches and knit/crochet about 4 inches. Cast off and see how the fabric feels and behaves- possibly even weight it to see how stretchy it gets. Keep swatching until you get the fabric YOU like, and then fit that into the pattern.
What if I don't want to have any stretch or drape in my item? To limit the amount of stretch in a garment, you can look at your fiber content (might be difficult in a funky yarn of different components). Alpaca, for example, has little 'memory', and will stretch out, so yarn companies often make blends with merino wool to add softness and memory to the yarn so the finished garment will retain it's shape. The best way to do this with funky chunky yarn is to use a smaller needle or hook to make a firmer fabric. Do a swatch then wash and block it to see if it loses it's shape.
How can I contribute my handspun yarns to THISyarn pattern makers? Please go to this link.
How can I contribute my pattern ideas to THISyarn for publication? Please go to this link.
Can I use these patterns with my yarns to sell? Yes! THISyarn is run under a Creative Commons license, or share and share alike. All we ask is that you credit THISyarn and the author of the pattern with the item.
I'm just a few stitches short of yarn for binding off. What can I do? Time to get creative! Check your stash- is there something in it that you can use for the bind off? You can also take out some of your work and add this yarn further back to make it interesting. If you find you don't have the same thickness of yarn in your stash - here is another chance to get creative! Make your own thick yarn using a crochet hook or a knitted I-cord. It's fun to 'bulk up' your DK-worsted stash yarns and make them big and thick to use with your funky hand spun. You can also knit or crochet with several strands together to make a thicker yarn, or crochet chain them together. Have fun and see this problem as a catalyst for getting creative!