Knitting YarnKnitting Yarn MaterialWool Stash

What to Consider When Choosing Your Knitting Yarn Material

Thinking of taking up knitting? First you will need to get to grips with the different types of knitting yarn available. Some people make the mistake in calling all yarn ‘wool.’ In fact there are many different types of yarn available, each of which have different properties and are therefore suited to different knitting projects. Below we discuss some of the values and purposes of various different yarn materials.

Wool

Standard wool comes from sheep, but did you know that different breeds of sheep yield different types of wool? In fact, there are almost as many different types of wool as there are different breeds of sheep! People have been using wool for over twelve thousand years. It varies in price, depending on the type, though popular types can be picked up quite affordably.

Wool Sheep

Wool Sheep

Today many people prefer to make clothing items and accessories out of wool as it has a number of beneficial properties e.g. dirt resistant, durable, waterproof, colourfast, wrinkle-resistant and flame retardant. Whereas some types of wool are coarse, others are medium or fine. It also comes in different weights, making some types of wool more suited to certain knitting projects than others.

Blue Faced Leicester

Two of the most popular wool types are Blue Faced Leicester wool and Merino wool. Blue Faced Leicester sheep have long shaggy coats and produce wool that is soft and strong. It is our most lustrous British breed and can only be rivaled in softness by Merino. Merino sheep produce wool, which is superfine and as soft as cotton. It does however have tendency to pill, creating little balls of fuzz.

Mohair

Mohair is a fuzzy yarn that is often used to make fashionable jumpers and cardigans. It comes from the fleece of Angora goats and is not to be confused with Angora yarn, which actually comes from Angora rabbits. Whilst Mohair yarn looks great and is soft to touch, many people find it to be a little itchy. This is why we recommend blending it with another type of yarn.

Mohair boasts a number of great qualities:

  • Very durable
  • Water-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to dye

Cashmere

Cashmere is known as being the most luxurious of all yarn, which is why it is the most expensive to purchase. It comes from the Cashmere goat and is usually hand combed from their under-bellies during moulting season. Cashmere is known for being soft, fluffy and extremely warm, making it ideal for scarves, gloves, hats, jumpers, cardigans and tunics.

One of the great things about cashmere fibres is that they can be made into any thickness of yarn. This makes the yarn suitable for a wide range of knitting projects. If you cannot afford to splash out on cashmere, a cheaper alternative comes in the form of a cashmere blend. This yarn usually features cashmere and a cheaper type of yarn like wool.

Alpaca

Alpaca is a type of natural yarn that comes from the Alpaca, a llama-like animal. It is best known for making extremely warm clothing and accessories like gloves, scarves and hats. Most people refrain from using alpaca to make jumpers and cardigans, as it is just too warm – even for the UK! The best Alpaca yarn comes from it’s native Peru where the knowledge of gauging the fleece and producing the softest fibres has been handed down through generations!

It is worth noting that Alpaca yarn lacks lanolin, meaning that whilst it is hypoallergenic, it is not water-resistant. You will also find that it lacks the elasticity of other types of yarn, so careful gauging is a must.

Angora

Angora yarn comes from Angora rabbits and is known for being soft, fine and very fluffy. The material is often associated with 1950s fashion, as anyone who was anyone owned an angora sweater! Although angora is soft and fluffy to touch, it is actually prone to shedding. This is why it is recommended that you blend it with wool fibres to create a more durable yarn.

Silk

Silk comes from the long fibers of unraveled silkworm cocoons. It is one of the strongest types of yarn and is known for its luxurious and shiny aesthetics. Like cashmere, it is very expensive to buy. Silk is very lightweight, making it ideal for summer clothing knitting projects.

Cotton

One of the most popular types of yarn is cotton, a lightweight material made from the fibres of the cotton plant. This material is often used to make clothing, as it allows the skin to breath, the same for which cannot be said for some man-made yarns. It is also very durable, making it ideal for cloths and towels.

Whilst cotton has many benefits, if you are new to knitting, it is recommended that you wait a little while until you use it in your projects. Unfortunately cotton is very unforgiving, so if you make a mistake, it will show up more so than if you were using wool.

Linen

People have been making cloth from linen for a very long, long time. In fact, the use of linen for cloth is thought to date back to around 8000 B.C. Linen is a very strong, yet lightweight yarn that is spun from the long fibres of the flax plant. On it’s own it is quite stiff and prone to wrinkling, however mixed with cotton it is ideal for making lightweight summer clothing including shirts, trousers and jackets.

Bamboo (sourced viscose)

Bamboo is a relatively new fibre on the market but is used in many products nowadays most notable re-usable nappies as it wonderfully absorbent naturally germ resistant and breathable!. As a yarn it is usually mixed with other fibres such as wool or cotton as on it’s own it would be too heavy. It has a wonderful drape and gives great stitch definition so is great for slinky evening tops, but is also great for children’s wear as it can be dyed to wonderful colours and is has the benefit of being great for babies who may be allergic to wool, but need something warmer and softer than cotton.

Acrylic and Nylon

Acrylic is one of the most popular synthetic fibres. Although it feels a little like wool, it does not offer the same quality in terms of warmth and durability. Synthetic fibres also tend to pill more than natural yarn. One of the great things about acrylic is that it washes really well. This is why many knitters use it for baby and pet projects. It is also less expensive, (although as this is essentially a plastic and is derived from crude oil the price of oil does have a bearing on the price of man made fibres!) making it ideal for beginners and those on a tight budget. Blended with wool it is both easier to work with and more comfortable to wear.

Have a look at our knitting yarn selection – we have a great range of different yarn materials, weights, and colours here at Little Lamb Wool. If you can’t find what you’re looking for r need some advice then check our Q and A, or get in touch and we’ll see if we can help out!

IdeasKnitting YarnWool Stash

A-Z of great ideas to use up leftover wool scraps

After a big project you may be left with a small amount of wool which you just can’t bring yourself to give away, even though you don’t have any immediate plans.

So rather than be left with lots of wool oddments, why not try these different wool crafts and make something really useful?

Below is an A to Z of some of the mini projects you could try out with the scraps of wool you have left.

A…is for animal stuffing
If you crochet, knit or sew stuffed animals, you will need some kind of soft material to pad out the insides. Why not use leftover wool as an organic and alternative stuffing?

B….is for bookmarks
No pattern needed, a crocheted or knitted book mark makes a great personal present and best of all only uses a tiny amount of wool.

Monkey knitted bookmark

Monkey knitted bookmark : www.etsy.com – Oksana Eremenko

C…is for card making
Why not make your cards stand out by gluing some wool on to make a personal and textured card? You can either decorate shop-bought cards or make your own entirely from scratch, depending on your level of expertise.

D…is for dish cloths
If you want to use an entirely natural and organic dish cloth, then a knitted design will be your best option. Easily washable and totally natural, you can either combine scraps or use just one colour to create an eco-dishcloth.

E…is for ear muffs
Whether it’s to block out sound or keep ears warm in cold weather, ear muffs are a slightly more complex make for your scrap stash suggestions.

F…is for flowers
Whether you decide to use them for creating a brooch, adding to a bag or decoupaging a picture frame, tiny oddments of wool can be great.

G…is for granny squares
One of the first projects most crocheters try, granny squares only take up a small amount of wool so you can make whole squares from small amounts of wool. When you have a big pile, why not sew them together to make a blanket?

H…is for handbags
Even if you don’t have lots of wool in the same colour, all you have to do is grab some of those granny squares you crocheted earlier and sew them together to make a fabulous custom handbag. Very retro chic!

I…is for individual fruit cosies
If you want to help your apple stop getting battered about in your bag, why not create an individual fruit cosy which will protect your snack from getting bruised and damaged.

J…is for jewellery
If you want to stand out from the crowd, why not knit yourself some tiny pendants or other jewellery items using teeny-tiny oddments of wool you have in your bag? Different and eclectic, it won’t take much to look fabulous.

K…is for knitting needle case
A perfect crafting item to use up your spare wool, knitting a needle case from oddments is the ideal purpose for your leftover wool. If you’re proficient at sewing you could add a little zip or else it’s easy to use kam snaps to secure.

L…is for lace
A technique not everyone can master, learning to knit lace is time consuming and tricky, but the final results are simple breathtaking. Try it out using your leftover wool, perhaps aim for a small project such as a coaster or placemat first.

M…is for mug coasters
Another simple project suitable for novices too, you can make a multi-coloured mug coaster from the oddments of wool that you have.

N….is for nest material for the birds
Our feathered friends are always looking for scraps of soft material in the springtime. You could see your wool made into a woolly nest!

O…is for ornaments
Rather than the breakable kind, use your scraps to create beautiful ornaments you can enjoy looking at. If there’s a special holiday season coming up, such as Halloween you could even make themed ornament for a party.

P…is for pom-pom balls
Simple to make and great for using up small scraps, it doesn’t matter how many different colours of wool you use to make a pom-pom. Try a Pom-pom maker to speed the process up.

Q…is for quilt
Use the pom-pom balls you have just made to create a custom quilt; simply stitch them onto a piece of fabric and then back it for a fluffy cover.

R…is for rugs
Create a multi-coloured and beautiful rug for the floor by using of several various techniques. Either create one huge design by either knitting or crochet, sew together small pieces or else felt your rug after knitting it but before you use it on the floor.

S…is for snuggles
Phone snuggles are the perfect way to protect mobiles when you’re out and about and you can either create a custom pattern or just use up tiny scraps you have. You won’t need a complex pattern and you could even add a press-stud or a kam snap for extra security.

T…tug of war dog toy
Strong and resilient, leftover wool oddments can be knitted to make a strong and durable tug of war toy for your pet pooch who will simply love your forever. He probably will anyway…

U…is for up cycling
The trend is for re-using items that would have otherwise been thrown away; why not use your wool to decorate and up cycle something. Use your imagination – even an old can could be cleaned and a cover knitted to create a pen holder pot!

V…is for Valentine hearts
Hearts are always a great decorative item and don’t have to take much wool at all. How you choose to use them in decoration is then up to you!

W…is for wrist cuff
Either add a watch to it for the perfect piece of functional adornment or else keep in plain, you could even felt it and add some fasteners too if you want to make it more complex.

X…xtra tiny teddies
Ok, we know this is a tiny bit of a cheat, but miniature makes are hot right now and crocheting a small teddy or tiny animal could be achieved with just a small amount of leftover wool.

Y…is for yarn bombing
There’s lots of groups all over the country who are yarn bombing cities to make them a more pleasant and colourful place to be. You could contribute your time as well as your wool scraps to join in with a local group.

Z…is for Z
If you have youngsters in the family, why not try using your scraps of wool to crochet or knit free standing letters of the alphabet? A great way to introduce learning whilst having sensory fun, children will love to explore letters in such a hands-on way.

IdeasKnitting YarnStore wool stashWool Stash

Creative ideas on how to store your wool stash

Every keen knitter has a bit of a wool stash hidden somewhere; some may be bigger than others but each one needs a safe, convenient and readily-accessible place to be stored.

Many people have no specific place for their craft stash, letting it slowly creep across the living room, dining table or conservatory. And if you live with anyone else, the chances are that they get pretty fed up with edging round your piles of wool too.

So if you’ve ever needed to find a better place to store you wool stash, this article is for you.

What makes the perfect wool stash storage?

We don’t know about you but for us there are three main qualities that make up the perfect storage solution for a wool stash. It must be 1) easily accessible 2) out of the way and 3) neatly displayed. Below we have shared some of our favourite creative ideas on how to store your wool stash.

Convert an old shoe box

An old shoe box is the perfect place to stash your wool; easy to separate into colour schemes and stackable too, using old shoe boxes can really help to tidy things up.

Wool is fantastic and easily storable!

Wool is fantastic and easily storable!

However, shoe boxes aren’t transparent so that can make it more difficult to find the ball of wool you want. A great way to get round this is to punch several holes along the side, and taking the end of each ball of wool, threading it through the hole. This allows you to access the wool without taking the lid off, and you will also be able to see at a glance what wool is housed where.

If you don’t have a spare shoebox, we bet you have a few tissue boxes lying around? Once they’re empty they will be perfect for storing your wool stash and will fit nicely on the shelves in your craft room.

Pretty yet functional

If you have the space to hang a large peg board on the back of the door, you have the instant crafty storage device.

Attach the large pegboard to the back of the door, and then simply arrange your wool by pushing the spoke of the peg through the centre of the wall. The benefit to this storage option is that it looks very pretty whilst being functional too.

Recycling old storage

There lots of different types of recycled bags and boxes that could be of use in helping to keep your wool stash under control, you just have to think creatively.

Old mesh bags from onions are great as they allow you to store entire batches together in one neat bundle, but are entirely visible too.

Similar to the peg board idea; recycling old canisters and gluing their base to a board, leaving them jutting out at a 90 degree angle provides excellent storage which is space efficient and accessible too.

Funnels or bottles cut in half can be used in the same way too; provide enough room for the yarn to be threaded through the funnel or bottle top and hey presto! You have a homemade storage board.

Out of sight

If you don’t have the room to store your wool in plain view, there are lots of different storage options which can help your yarn to avoid becoming a big tangled mess.

Hanging canvas clothes organisers that go in wardrobes are great for separating colours. Lightweight and easily accessible, you could have your wool stash today and out of sight.

Over the door plastic shoe holders offer a similar solution.

A unique solution

Rather than throw all your yarn into a plastic box, you could use a basket instead. But the twist here is that the basket is made by you!

There are lots of patterns available which will allow you to either crochet or knit a large, self-supporting basket. What better place to store your balls of yarn?

Repurpose your old jars

An easy way to store your wool stash is in old jam jars. Wash them out and then pierce a hole in the lid using either a drill or hammer and nail. All you need to do then is pop your wool inside and leave the end poking through the hole in the top of the lid. Repurposed jam jars are perfect for keeping your wool accessible and tangle-free.

Shoe organiser

Canvas shoe organisers are ideal for using as wool storage. Simply hang one on the back of your craft room door and organise your wool in each compartment. The great thing about using a canvas shoe organiser to store your wool is that it is portable – allowing you to move it from room to room, depending on where you feel like doing your knitting!

Use clothes pegs

Are you one of those people that like to keep every scrap of spare wool in case it comes in use? Keep it all neat and tidy by wrapping it around clothes pegs. You can then peg them onto your shoe organiser or the top of your handmade basket, depending on what you are using to store the rest of your wool stash.

Conclusion

With space at a premium for many households, trying to find the time to be creative over storage can be difficult. Hopefully some of the ideas above have inspired you to come up with your own crafty solution. And why limit it to wool? How about inner tubes from kitchen rolls to store your needles? The choices really are endless….