A quick word of Fibers (dec 3)
Alpaca is the softest yarn and I love to knit with it. albeit pricy it is worth every penny. This fiber is so comfortable to wear against the skin, one is constantly in danger of looking like a cat as you cuddle against the garment. I can always find alpaca in a multitude of colors, but it is also lovely in its undyed state. This fiber has a lovely drape, in other words, it can tend to sag, so I don't usually use it on big heavy items.
Alpaca fibers lend themselves to heavy garments that are meant to hang, and smaller items that are meant to be worn very close to the skin, like cowls
Some people swear wool makes them itch. I have never had this problem, and it is such a pity that people do. I find wool to be a perfect yarn to knit with for springy and warm clothing peices. wool seldom needs to be washed which makes caring for your garment very easy. Wool is so accessible, and it can often be found in a super-wash, which is great to use for warm children's clothes. I like to use wool for all sorts of garments, especially skirts. Wool has the perfect cling and hang for a skirt, is not to heavy and can be worn as a stand alone piece of under another skirt for extra warmth. Clothing made from sheeps wool is warm and will keep you dry. I find if I am not wearing wool in the wisconsin winter climate, I am in a sad way. Wool can be found in just about any gauge yarn, and always does the trick for me!
Cotton is a fine yarn, I especially appreciate organic cotton. always washable and often times cotton yarn is spun in such a delightfull way, it has this bricka brack effect to it. (see photo) Cotton is so practical for summer knit clothes because it breathes and wicks away heat on hot summer days. I love organic cotton for children's clothes because I feel as comfortable using it as they do wearing it. I can use cotton to make a variety of garments in a multitude of colors. and it is surprisinly soft! Cotton is great for making stuffed animals because babies are so enraptured by their toys, and are excited to put them right into their mouths. needless to say- organic cotton is a must have.
Merino wool; the better white meat.
I am wild about merino wool these days. it has all the benefits of regular wool, but is the softer, kinder cousin to regular sheeps wool. My fiance will wear nothing but merino wool because of his sensitive skin. Merino gives a great bounce to garments and so is warm and cozy that you can wear it around your neck, and on your hands and wrists. I like it for both small items because it is somewhat pricey, but am always excited to wear my favorite luxury sweater . Merino wool also comes in superwash, retaining its softness, and performing at peak practical level.
I love wool alpaca mix especially cascade's cloud. it has the perfect amount of bounce from the wool, with all of the soft and cozy advantages of the alpaca.
And, Alas, Acrylic. sometimes people ask me to knit with this yarn- I am happy to do it if that's what you're into. some poeple have a problem with natural fibers, but if it were me, I would not choose to wear acrylic. It is great for making toys, and for making dishcloths. actually for making dishcloths it is much preferable to the usual cotton dishcloths you see out there. The reason being that the acrylic yarn is somewhat scratchy and produces a scrubbing effect on dishes. It works very similar to one of those green scrub pads, but for clothing, I think it gives off a strange vibe, and is to me, like wearing a plastic bag- just uncomforatble.
That being said, wool Acrylic mix, not bad. it does allow for breathing, and is washable and dryable. a plus. it can keep you warm, and looks great for accessories, because yarn made from acrylic usually has a color that pops!
if I don't have to, I wont knit with silk. silk is so tiny, that's really the only reason. it takes FOREVER! to complete something with pure silk. but boy is it delicious. some of the silk mixes like noro's silk garden can be a pleasure to work with, but just plain silk. boy, would that be expensive, time consuming, and GORGEOUS.
That's all for now, maybe some more on the more obscure yarns at a later date.