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How long is a piece of yarn?

This week we have focused a lot on our patterns over on Facebook and Twitter and to round it off we are running a 10% discount on all Ravelry downloads from today until the end Of Monday the 1st of December. Just use discount code ALPACA to claim your 10% off!

So, you have the pattern, now you want to knit it! But what yarn to use?
Alpaca is a lovely yarn to work with and we take care in selecting only the finest fibre to go in the mix. Did you know that wool is a sheep specific term and should not be used when talking of alpaca, cashmere and other fibres? This is why we use the word yarn when talking about our lovely product!

All our patterns are designed specifically with our yarn in mind, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use other yarn. There are just a few things to keep in mind when choosing your substitute yarn.

The dreaded tension square is your best friend. We know it can be a pain, but trust us, it is so important to make sure your end result will be fabulous! By tension we mean how many stitches and how many rows fits into a 10×10 cm square.

Looking at the length of the yarn to how many meters in a ball can tell you a lot about the qualities of the yarn. If there are 200 meters in a 50 g ball you know it is going to be a fine yarn. If you only get 50 meters in a 50 g ball it is probably a thicker yarn. One thing to take into consideration here is the weight of the fibre. Is the yarn composed of silk fibres it is likely to be a heavy yarn and hence have fewer meters per g, as opposed to alpaca which is a lightweight fibre.

When talking of the weight of fibre it is also important to consider drape. By drape we mean how the finished knit will hang and move once worn. A heavy fibre will have a heavy drape and might weigh a piece of knitwear down. When substituting alpaca yarn with other fibres, it is important to choose a yarn that isn’t too heavy.

So – the conclusion is, check how many meters you get per 50 g. If it is in the proximity of the yarn you are substituting, check the tension. Does it come out similar to your requirements? Does the fibres used in the yarn have similar qualitites to the yarn you are substituting? If the answers to these questions are yes, go for it!

Purl Alpaca Designs Fine Yarn 
Our fine yarn is an American Sportsweight and lies somewhere on the scale between 4-ply and DK and can be substituted with a lot of finer DK yarns.  Check the tension on 4 mm needles.  It should be close to our tension which is 20 sts and 29 rows to 10 cm square over Stocking Stitch.  One ball of Fine weighs 50g per ball and has 126 yards/116 metres of yarn.

Purl Alpaca Designs Medium Yarn
Our Medium yarn is slightly thicker and is comparable to a worsted weight, which is between DK and Aran yarn.  The tension on 5 mm needles comes up as 17 sts and 24 rows to 10 cm square over Stocking Stitch.  One ball of Medium weighs 50g and has 84 yards/77 metres of yarn.

Our Chunky yarn is available in Ecru, the natural white colour.  It is thicker than our other two and knits to the tension of 12sts and 16 rows on 7 mm needles.  This is ideal for your bulky knit projects and will knit up very fast.  One ball of Chunky weighs 100g and has 81 yards/74 metres of yarn.

Need some inspiration as to what yarn to use? Pop over to Ravelry where you can find all our patterns and other people’s projects. Click on the project you would like to make, then click on the tab called yarn ideas, and voila, there are all the yarns other people have used to make this design!
P.S. This is also where you can get the 10% discount!

If you would like to know more about how we make our top quality alpaca yarn, you can see our blog posts on fleece selection: fleece-harvestfashionable ladies at work and dirty pleasures.  For more information on processing, The Natural Fibre Company has many interesting fact sheets such as greasy fleece to finished productsspecifications and gauges and the different descriptive names used within the manufacturing industry such as YSW.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Tracy and Kari-Helene

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