Should alpaca yarn be knit using small or big fat needles?
November 27, 2004 11:40 PM   Subscribe

Should alpaca yarn be knit using small or big fat needles?
posted by luriete to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Doesn't the pattern for what ever you plan to make have a stitch gauge? If that is unsatisfactory, knit a sample and see if it has the look and feel you want in the finished product. Good luck
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 AM on November 28, 2004

This depends on too many variables. The stitch involved, the number of strands, the tension you use. Are you knitting something from a pattern?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:20 AM on November 28, 2004

Generally the thicker the yarn the thicker the needles required, but it depends what you're making. Let's presume the yarn is of medium weight (worsted, perhaps). If you use tiny needles, like size 2, the fabric will be tightly woven and somewhat stiff, which is perfect for a handbag or ipod cozy but won't look right for a scarf. If you knit the same yarn on much larger, fatter needles, you would end up with much lighter, more flimsy and flexible fabric. If you go ultra-large with the needles, you'd get a very lacy, open, spider-webby fabric, which can be nice for a shawl of scarf but might not work for a sweater unless you're going for the transparent fishnet look.

Sometimes yarn comes with a paper wrapper that has lots of information on it including suggested needle size. I hate having to buy new needles all the time, so I often adapt patterns to use slightly smaller or larger needles to fit what I already own. If you're making a scarf, there's a lot of lee-way to play around with different gauges. If you're making a sweater, using smaller or larger needles could result in a garment that is absurdly tiny or huge.

Good luck with your knitting!
posted by bonheur at 9:29 AM on November 28, 2004

Alpaca yarn is most suitable for US size 9 or 10 needles, that's 5.5-6mm. You could go a little thinner (8 or 7, no thinner) for sweaters or mittens, but that 9-10 would be my choice for, say, a scarf.
posted by copperbleu at 10:55 AM on November 28, 2004

Luriete: what are you looking to make, and what is the gauge of the yarn? A quick search on Elann found 100% alpaca that gets 8 stitches per 4 inches on US 13 needles, and 100% alpaca that gets you 20 stitches per 4 inches on US 6. One was suitable for a shawl, and one for a sweater. So... none of us being the Psychic Knitter, please give us some more details and we might be able to help you. :)
posted by mimi at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2004

I second (third? fourth?) the call for more information. I've knit a baby sweater using alpaca yarn on 3.25mm needles, and I've knit an alpaca scarf on 19mm needles. Both were alpaca, both turned out really well, but they weren't made with the same weight of yarn.
Is your yarn bulky, or sock weight? Give the name of the yarn and any other info from the ball band. I have to say, it's nice to see so much interest in a knitting question!
A good place to go for your knitting questions are the coffee house boards on knitty
posted by nprigoda at 5:03 PM on November 28, 2004

If your yarn doesn't have a label, you can find a good needle size to start with by determining its wraps per inch. (The link has instructions and a table.)
posted by liet at 6:21 PM on November 28, 2004

Hey, liet: that is a really neat trick!
posted by nprigoda at 7:23 PM on November 29, 2004

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