I’m on the first sleeve of my sweater, and naturally I find myself daydreaming about future sweaters and what kind of yarn I’ll knit them from. That got me thinking about The Knitter’s Book of Yarn and how much that book has improved my knitting. When most people talk about the books that changed their knitting, they usually mention technique books or books on sweater construction, but as a self-taught knitter, choosing yarn was what I struggled with the most, and finally finding detailed explanations of how different fibers behave and what they’re good for really revolutionized my knitting. More than a few of my early knitting projects were disasters because I made poor yarn choices. Even when I moved away from inexpensive craft store yarn, I still made poor choices.
I’ve always been drawn to alpaca yarns because they’re so soft, but I never thought about how its drape compared to wool’s and its lack of elasticity until this book spelled it out for me. I also never thought about how much warmer it was. The second sweater I ever knit was not only incredibly ugly but unbearably warm to wear because it was knit from Rowan Plaid, a super bulky alpaca and wool blend. The third sweater I knit was also an alpaca and wool blend, but by pure chance, I picked a good pattern to go with it. Thankfully, before I had another alpaca disaster, I found this book and discovered that there’s more to substituting yarn than just matching gauge.