Your Guide to Buying Wool for Knitting

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Your Guide to Buying Wool for Knitting

There is something very satisfying about creating something warm and comforting, either to keep for oneself or to give away as a gift. And nothing is warmer than knitted items created from wool to bring comfort to even the coldest days. This natural fibre has several qualities that make it ideal for use when knitting many projects, especially garments intended to insulate the wearer against the cold.

A wise knitter carefully considers the yarn chosen for each project. Wool is a good choice because it insulates the wearer, it is durable, and its elasticity makes it fairly simple for the knitter to maintain the appropriate tension while knitting. Its innate qualities do present the knitter with some difficulties, however, and items crafted from wool should be treated in specific ways. Learn about these and tips on purchasing wool yarn for knitting in order to ensure the success of any project created with it.

Wool is a Good Yarn Choice

Like many other kinds of yarns, wool yarns are available in a large variety of textures, colours, and weights, allowing the knitter a myriad of choices and an opportunity to be creative. The choice of yarn that the individual knitter makes can change the look, feel, and effectiveness of any project constructed from it. Choosing between all of the different yarn variations is part of the enjoyment of creating a knitted project.

With all the colours, weights, and textures combined the choices are nearly limitless. When deciding on a yarn to use for a specific project, one step that wise knitters who know their way around the yarn shop would never miss is first determining the fibre makeup of the yarn they want to use. Different fibres, whether natural or synthetic, have inherently different qualities that make them better for some projects than for others. Wool is one such yarn fibre that many knitters may avoid for certain projects but will turned to for others because of some of the specific characteristics that make wool a better choice in yarn fibre.

Wool is a natural fibre, as is cotton. One bonus in choosing a natural fibre over synthetic ones is that natural fibres breathe better than synthetic fibres do. Natural fibres mimic the human body's own heat regulation system, allowing heat and moisture to escape away from the body and thus moderating temperature. This makes garments made out of wool yarn excellent choices for insulating the body against the cold, without adding as much risk for overheating as some other fibres do.

Wool, like other natural fibres, has a considerable amount of elasticity, which means it is an excellent choice for knitters. It is a forgiving material to use. Regardless of the inconsistent tension that a beginner knitter may use, the elasticity in the wool helps the knitter to keep the stitch looking consistent throughout the project.

While wool may be known for shrinking when washed, if it is handled properly and treated with care during laundering, garments knitted from wool yarns typically keep their shape throughout their life. Wool is a very durable fibre, and great for use when making knitted garments such as sweaters as well as other items like afghans and scarfs. The items created from it help to keep the wearer's body temperature comfortable, even in severe cold weather conditions. These durable but beautiful knit items also tend to stay dry in moist conditions and hold up through rugged mistreatment.

Choosing Wool Yarn

The first step in creating any knitted project is to collect all of the necessary materials and knitting supplies, including the yarn. The key to buying wool for knitting is to choose the right yarn for the project or pattern that you intend to use it for. Many knitters work following a pattern in order to ensure the success of the project. Other knitters are more casual and tend to use a pattern as just suggested guidance or may not use a pattern at all.

Regardless, a pattern can offer good guidelines on which types of yarn, materials, knitting needles, and other items are the best to use in order for the knitter to succeed with the project. Most patterns are very explicit on the type of yarn weight and texture to use for the project, which is helpful for the beginning knitter and for anyone who wants the project to turn out exactly the way the pattern suggests. To ensure that the end result closely resembles the pattern description or picture, it is wise to stick with the yarn that matches what is listed in the pattern.

Some of the choices about the yarn are dictated by the pattern, but others are completely up to the knitter. For instance, in order to keep the projects end size consistent with what is listed in the pattern, it is important to that the yarn's weight and gauge follows the pattern guidelines. Colour and texture, on the other hand, are largely up to the knitter's creative choice, and are where most of the originality of the knitted item will show through.

Choosing the Weight of Wool for Knitting

The yarns weight refers to the thickness of the yarn and is relatively consistent from manufacturer to manufacturer. In general, yarns come in four basic weights and each one is best suited for certain knitted items. Wool yarns are available in all of these separate weights.

Yarn Weight



Thin, lightweight yarn that is typically suggested for lacey garments that are not expected to provide much warmth

Double Knit

Twice as thick as 4-ply yarn, it produces a closer, thicker knit and is often the choice for lightweight sweaters and socks


The most common yarn weight available, it is twice as thick as double knit and produces a very tight, thick, warm knit


Thick yarn makes for fast knitting and chunky yarn is twice as thick as Aaron; this yarn creates bulky projects or large loose ones if large needles are used

Choosing a weight of wool yarn that is different from what the pattern suggests can greatly affect the results of the size and appearance of the project.

Choosing the Colour and Texture of Wool for Knitting

The knitter's true creative juices start flowing when it is time to choose the colour and texture of the yarn for the project. These choices are where the available options can seem endless and where a slight change in colour can result in the creation of an entirely different garment. Making changes to these options are a great way to create several different items without changing the pattern and steps in the knitting process. There are many different textures available and each have a unique feel.

Most yarns are available in a number of different colours and several shades for each colour. Some yarns vary only slightly in their overall appearance, and it can be easy to get confused when choosing several skeins to use together on a project. colour differences that may not be very noticeable when skeins are set side-by-side are often very apparent in the end project, and should be avoided at all costs.

It is not enough to simply match the yarn's colour name or product number. Skeins that are labelled with the same name or number can still show a significant difference in colours if they were produced at different times because the dyes often vary slightly one dye lot to the next. In order to avoid these differences, ensure that the dye lots on all of the skeins chosen match exactly. Do this by checking that the dye lot numbers are consistent. This number is often documented near the barcode on the label.

Tips for Knitting with Wool Yarn

The qualities of wool that make it such a good choice for certain projects also presents the knitter with some difficulties to overcome. All types of wool yarn, regardless of its weight, texture, or colour, have certain characteristics that the knitter should pay close attention to when creating a project. Specifically, the knitter should be sure to make a gauge swatch, block the project when finished, and follow washing instructions very carefully. Doing so will ensure that the project looks and feels great for years to come.

The Importance of Making a Gauge Swatch

Natural fibres tend to have more inconsistencies than synthetic fibres do. These inconsistencies can show up as sections of the yarn that more readily accepts the dye, becoming darker than the rest of the yarn, and as areas where the spun yarn turns out either thicker or thinner than expected. Skeins that have areas of clearly darker shades should be avoided for most projects.

The variations in thicknesses can mean that skeins that are marked the exact same way may not produce the same knitted size. Generally, these inconsistencies are only slight, so it may not cause a problem for the knitter. However, in order to ensure that the weight marked on the package is appropriate for the pattern, it is important to always make a gauge swatch using the yarn before starting a project. This small sample is priceless in determining that the knitter is using the appropriate yarn and needles that will produce the same size gauge swatch that the pattern calls for.

Be Sure to Block the Finished Project

Because natural wool fibres are elastic is important that the shape of the finished garment is set. The term used to describe setting the size and shape of the finished item is to "block" the item. This technique often incorporates dampening the finished project and securing it in the shape in which it is to remain. While it is a good idea to block any finished that project, it is an especially important to include this step when using wool yarn in order to ensure that the item is not misshapen.

Follow the Washing Instructions

Washing any knitted items can present the owner with the number of different dilemmas. Laundering it the wrong way can cause it to shrink, fade, or even to become what is known as "felted", when the individual fibres begin to integrate into the garment. Wool items are especially susceptible to damage from laundering.

The project's pattern or the packaging of the yarn may include special washing instructions. The owner of the item should follow these very closely. Many yarn producers package it with care instructions included, and following these instructions is the best way to ensure that the garment withstands the cleaning process.

Buying Wool Yarn on eBay

Many fabric and craft stores sell wool for knitting. Yarn shops also specialise in marketing it. The internet, however, provides perhaps the largest selection, drawing from sellers from all around the world, especially on auction sites such as eBay. eBay sellers list all types of yarn and knitting supplies. It can be an especially ideal place to turn for the knitters who prefer having all the necessary items delivered directly to their front door, allowing them to avoid the hassle of going out into the cold to shop for them.

To find wool yarn on eBay, buyers need only type relevant keywords into the search bar found on every page. General keywords, such as "wool yarn", will generate more results than searches for specific keywords such as "blue aran wool yarn". Filters such as colour, brand, price, and more can be used to further limit the results shown.

When purchasing wool yarn on eBay, be sure to check the dye lot number to ensure that the skeins for the project match as closely as possible. Many sellers group several skeins of matching dye lots together and sell them as "lots". These provide an exceptional bargain because they not only include multiple skeins of matching yarn sold for one great price; they also allow the buyer to save time on shopping for matching yarn.


Knitting is a wonderful way to create unique, beautiful, and comfortable items to give away or to keep. Being a natural fibre, wool has certain inherent qualities that the knitter who wants to use it for a project should remain mindful of before purchasing it. As a naturally insulating material, it is perfect for creating garments intended to be worn in cold weather situations. It is also durable and a reasonably easy material to work with, even for a beginning knitter.

In many ways, the process of choosing wool for knitting is not much different than choosing other types of yarn. The knitter must make many of the same choices that are required when deciding on any yarn to use for a project. However, wool does have certain qualities that the knitter should keep in mind in order to ensure the success of the knitted wool project. In particular, the knitter should follow specific advice about the proper care and handling of the final product.

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