The Knitting Process

Isn't it nice to have a sunny mossy photo to look at?  Today it's dreary and drippy, gone is that lovely sunshine that hinted at spring.  I think we are heading back to cooler weather, that is find with me.

I thought I'd share the process of how I choose my projects.  Since I've started knitting I've been the kind of person who is influenced by the yarn first.  Walking through yarn stores, I am mainly motivated by the color and the fiber.  Well I am partial to thin yarn as well.  I will walk through a yarn store and just soak in the displays of yarns, once, twice, three times around.  I try to get an understanding of how the shop is set up.  I love stores that sort yarn by brand or by weight including the yardage is helpful as well.

Once I've fallen in love with some yarn (and that does happen!) then I'll think about what I would do with it.  Scarf? Shawl? Sweater? Socks? Mitts? or a Hat?  I usually knit those items the most.  Price is factored in because I dislike knitting $200 sweaters, it hasn't happened yet.  I can justify up to $80 because whatever I knit for myself in a sweater lasts forever and tends to be timeless.  Quality yarn is what makes a sweater durable.

So I guess you're wondering how I know how much to buy!  Well for a sweater I will purchase about 1200 yards more if the sweater is long and with cables.  1400 yards gives me wiggle room and more than likely a left over skein.  If I'm making socks I like 400 yards.  For a shawl....well now that can be wide open in the yardage-most of the shawls that I wear frequently are 400-800 yards in fingering or lace weight yarn.  If I buy 200 yards I'm probably making a hat or mitts with a yarn that I'm trying out for the first time.

I have a soft spot for the unwanted skeins in the clearance section.  If it's a brand I like I will adopt it willingly to give that unwanted skein a home where it will be loved :)  I usually haven't a clue what I'll make with it.

Once I'm home with my lovely purchases, I will browse Ravelry to find what I want to make.  Sometimes I am immediately inspired to cast on and sometimes my purchases end up in my stash patiently waiting for inspiration.  I like my yarns-in-waiting, saves me many spontaneous trips to yarn stores when I want a project.

How do you go about selecting a knitting project?  Are you inspired by a pattern?  Yarn?  Sample in a store?  I'd love to know:)


  1. I, too, like the thinner yarns except for lace weight. I am not patient enough to fiddle with it. I'm glad to have your estimate of yardage needed for a project when you don't have a specific pattern in mind. I made the mistake of buying 600 yards of a worsted weight that I fell in love with and then could not find a pattern that "worked" with the weight and yardage. I finally made a vest which I love, but another skein so I could make a sweater would have made me much happier! Love your blog.

  2. Hello Karen!

    You've got me thinking about how set about things now. I guess I tend to fall in love with projets I see, on Ravelry on on blogs such as yours, first and then I think; 'great! I have to fall in love with a yarn that goes with that project now'.

    I hope you have a lovely week.


  3. This is a good question. I think both inspire me. And oh those lonely skeins in the discount bin do have a siren song for me. Lately I probably go by pattern.

  4. Thanks for sharing your process. I do a little bit of both, sometimes inspired by a pattern and sometimes by the yarn. Love the discount bin :)

  5. I like to work in the opposite way. I find a project and hunt out the perfect yarn for it.

    I wasn't always so discerning, though, which is why I've been able to work from my stash for so long! I do love a good clearance section, though. Most of my yarn store purchases are from such sections. This weekend my favorite local yarn store is having a "Yarn Yard Sale" and I'm super excited. Last Fall I got the blue yarn that I recently used to make two hoodies for my youngest sons (for less than $20, if I recall correctly)!

  6. Well, as you know, I'm not too much of a knitter.
    But I love reading about your process!

  7. Pattern before yarn. Every time. What a cool thing to read how your process is different from mine!

  8. ....sounds like something I would do Karen- yarn first. It's the color and the texture of the yarn I fall in love with- then the hunt for the pattern starts.
    Don't you love the bargain section:)

  9. I like your process, it sounds very relaxing.
    My process is finding the pattern first and then the yarn.
    I always visit the clearance rack when I am in the lys and
    often bring home a lonely skein of yarn just because I love it;
    I really should do something with all those skeins, they have
    really built up!

  10. I am the opposite. I find a pattern that I love and can't wait to make. Then I hunt for the perfect yarn. That's why I had such a problem finding yarn for the Sylvi. I needed 1700 yards and that would have cost me close to $200 in yarn alone. Until I found the perfect Cascade Eco+. So my stash of good yarn (not to be confused with the icky gifted acrylic yarn) is rather small.

  11. Oh I seem to do both! I find yarn that I fall in love with and buy it w/ no plans of what to do w/ it (something my hubby is not a fan of). But sometimes I find a pattern that I just have to make. Of course I'm usually thinking of a yarn I know and love...probably not in my stash though:)

  12. I'm a sucker for the yarn. I'm like you in that respect. Once I bring it home, I'll search of Ravelry. I love that you can narrow your search by the yardage. That keeps me from getting disappointed with "oh I love that....not enough yarn" problem.

  13. Hmmmm...that's a good question. I am usually inspired by a pattern or what I/someone else need/s. Or seeing a lovely piece in my favourite yarn store.

    Oh - and I think I am gradually getting the hang of cabling... :)

  14. I often go into the yarn shop looking for something specific, only to come home with something entirely different. I frequent two 'local' shops that are both about 75 minutes away. One is very upbeat, modern and has a million samples and things to choose from. There is always lots of activity and many special events. The other is my 'go to' shop for basics. They carry lots of solid wools for color work and the shop is more quiet, and 'home-y'. Since they are not too far from each other, they seem to know not to carry what the other does. So,depending on what I have in mind is where I go. I always come home with something else, along with my original purchase. My problem is, choices...there are so many choices, I can't decide! Color is my big one...I want one of every color! I love looking at Ravelry, and I have some favorite blogs. Also, when I am travelling, if I see something I really like that I can't get at home, such as a handspun, I will buy as much as the budget allows. Then find a project. I find that I don't want to part with any of my 'good yarn'. I bought craft store yarn when I first began knitting, but now I rarely go to these stores for any yarn or needles. I try to support LYS as much as possible. Maybe this didn't answer your question exactly, but... I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your FO's.

  15. in the store i look at color and feel the texture. i squish the skein between my hands, dig my fingers in it a bit. if it feels right, i will carry it around and hold it against any other yarn that gets my attention to see if it'll match. so far i've mostly had specific people in mind, and wonder what i could make for them. unfortunately, price is an issue, so ever so often i make a selection and end up tossing it again since i really don't need to be buying any more. then i go home and use up leftover yarn.

  16. I usually pick the pattern first, but occasionally I will fall in love with some really wonderful yarn & buy a few skeins and then decide what to do with it later. I am trying to build up a little bit of stash so that when I run across a pattern I like I might have just the right yarn for it already. (It's already happened once or twice, but it would be great if my yarn stash was as varied & useful as my fabric stash is!) xo


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