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  • And my husband the physicist used to think that knitting was just “play”. Thanks for a super informative summary Jillian, I am linking to your suggested readings for a deeper dive.

    • Hi, Jillian. Very interesting — thank you. One other element I’d be curious to hear you discuss is the difference in twist, the reason for the choice, and the effect it has on yarn and knitting. I’ve been knitting with Atlas this month, and I’m very curious about (what looks to a non-spinner like) its very loose twist.

  • Thanks for such an in depth look at the mysteries of yarn! I did not have much awareness of the differences when I was a new knitter. I just chose what colors and skeins that I liked that were on sale. One of my first scarves was a proud gift to my mom, who wore it daily. To my horror, the stitches became all loose and saggy. I wrote to the company who answered that the chenille yarn was “worming”. WHAT? Shouldn’t there be some warning on the label??? To this day,20 some years later, I avoid chenille.

  • Thank you for putting these definitions in one place. I have all these deeper dives saved but when I’m searching for a particular topic, I have to hop around to find it. One thing you didn’t include is “grist”. Was that in the “Mystery Date” post?

  • I’m curious how people catalogue their saved swatches. I would like to figure out a better way to keep track of swatches such as the ones in this article that Jillian uses to illustrate the various qualities she discusses than just stacking them in a box and rifling through them now and then.

    • I keep track of my swatches on Ravelry as finished projects. I label them Swatch – name of yarn. I take photos and add lots of notes. I find it really helpful as I prefer to knit with the same yarns over and over. And it helps me greatly when choosing yarn for a project. I also keep my swatches in individual ziplock bags with notes. So I can choose with my eyes on Ravelry and with my hands in stash.

      • What a fantastic system! You are so clever.

  • Excellent article! Thank you for posting it. I’ve learned much!

  • So odd that ‘worsted’ has two distinct meanings … wonder how/why a yarn weight is worsted? If it describes a drafting method?

  • Thanks for this….it eally takes my knitting, and my understanding of it, up a notch! I’m going back to some of my swatches….I bet this explains what I liked and didn’t like about some of them!

  • This was a great article. I learned so much. I have bookmarked this in my favorites. Thank you!

    • I wish that more of this information could be found on the ballband. Is there a way to tell by looking whether yarn is spun worsted or woolen?

      • Check out the “Woollen and Worsted” article linked in today’s piece.

  • You always have the best way of explaining things! I knew this on a certain level, but your explanations with pictures really make it come together. I’ll be referencing this post for a long time to come! And you may have saved me from a shawl that wouldn’t turn out exactly as I hoped. Thanks! Also, LOVE the Nua Sport, it’s a favorite of mine.

  • Jillian, I’d love to see an explanation of yarn categories such as fingering, DK, worsted, etc. I’m working on a project that called for worsted-weight yarn held double (no brand name given) and size 17 needles. I got the needles and a yarn labeled “worsted-weight”. The fabric I was getting was way too loose. To get fabric like that in the pattern’s picture, I’m using size 13 needles! “Worsted-weight” must be a pretty broad category, but what the heck went wrong here?

  • Thanks! Wish I could save this article but the option doesn’t seem to be a available.

    • You have to log in under ‘my account’ if the website doesn’t remember who you are. Then you can flag it as a saved article. Hope that helps!