Art Yarn - What Do I Do With It?

So What Do I DO With Art Yarn? 

Congratulations! You just bought a skein of beautiful handspun art yarn. It looks unique. It looks artsy. It looks…like nothing you’ve ever used before! So what do you do with it, other than admire it? 

First of all, let the yarn speak for itself. Avoid stitch or weave patterns that are too complicated and don’t let the yarn shine. 

Next, get to know it (check the tag, or look at the yarn itself):  

*How does it behave? Do the materials and techniques give it a lot of stretch, very little, or none? Go ahead and give it a gentle tug to see if it springs back. Stretchy? Use it in just about anything including hats, cowls, etc. Don’t use it in hard-wearing items like socks and mittens. Not so stretchy? Try an infinity scarf, shawl, scarf, sweater yoke, or wall hanging.  

*Are there threads or loops that you’ll need to work around if using knitting needles or a crochet hook? 

Then check how much you have to work with - art yarns tend to be put up in smaller skeins. You can stretch your yardage by using patterns that allow you to use every bit of yarn, by combining it with another skein of yarn, and/or by using a larger needle or hook gauge (just remember that if you use too loose a gauge knit and crochet work can look sloppy. 10-15 mm is a good range. 

Here are some basic knitting ‘recipes.’ They will work well even for over-spun yarns as biasing won’t matter: 

Cowl: Using 15mm-25mm 16” circular needles, CO 20 stitches. Join in the round and knit in a rib pattern of your choice (so it doesn’t curl) until you have just enough left to bind off. 

Or, cast on 12-16 stitches, knit flat in a rib pattern of your choice for 16”, bind off and stitch the ends together, with or without a twist. 

For a shawl, choose a needle size appropriate to the yarn weight (6-8mm for bulky, 8-15mm for super bulky, 20mm and up for jumbo). Cast on 5 stitches. Row 1 (RS): k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 (mark this st as centre st), yo, k1, yo, k1. 

Row 2 (WS): k all stitches. Row 3 (RS): k1, yo, k to centre stitch, yo, k1, yo, k to last stitch, yo, k1. 

Repeat rows 2 and 3, switching row 2 to stockinette as you please. Be sure to end with a few rows of garter stitch before binding off. This is a great place to use a commercial yarn and use art yarn as an accent. 

Hint: it can help to purl any stitches where you’ve reached a large bead, lock, or flower, regardless of what your next stitch should be.  

*Art yarns are great for weaving, especially wall art and scarves. You use larks head knots to simply drape various yarns, ribbons, and other textiles from a piece of driftwood for a wall hanging.  

*Art yarns can be worn in a loop as is like a cowl, or finger crocheted into a necklace or lariat. 

*Use it to weave on a Y shaped branch, or on a cross (similar to woven “God’s Eyes”) 

Caring for your art yarn projects: 

Always check the tag to see if any additional care needs to be taken. In general, you will want to wash items only when necessary. Fill your basin with tepid or cool water and no-rinse wool wash. Gently submerge the item, and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Carefully lift it out, supporting the entire surface. Gently squeeze, or better yet use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Gently roll in a towel to remove more water, then lay flat, well-supported, to dry.


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