The fabric of textile hobbies stretches far and is full of dynamic, creative possibilities with the thread. Weaving and knitting are two such hobbies, and they have helped several enthusiasts stitch up their own successful businesses – apart from making colorful DIY crafts for clothing and décor. There are various yarn materials to work with such as cashmere, silk, and wool. These open a full range of options for weaving your own scarves, dresses, and matching fabric purses as well as knitting woolen sweaters and caps. With this freedom of making your own fabric line, there is also the choice of dyeing your handspun creations to form unique color combinations.
Woven and knitted projects have virtually no end to the types of results they can produce. Ranging from handwoven bracelets, coffee table mats, and kitchen towels to Turkish rugs and tapestries, there is something for every hobbyist to try out. The handmade catalogs on Etsy are a great example to explore the different kinds of handwoven and handknitted pieces that are quickly disappearing off the shopping grid, with happy customers adding more items to their Etsy baskets. Various needles and accessories are used to make designs and patterns, apart from finishing edges for professional results. And while this huge world of textiles might make you feel as though you are searching for a needle in a yarn stack, it helps to remember that you only need to begin with what makes you happy. In terms of weaving and knitting, in particular, there are some core differences in styles, and this article aims to stitch some of that gap.
Weaving is used in fabric construction and employs specific techniques of interlacing the fabric yarn. Weaving yarns are manufactured to be stronger and less stretchable so that they can withstand the hefty, high-tension changes. These yarns are wrapped around cones for making it simple to wind and unwind them for weaving fabrics. The size of such yarns is expressed as a fraction, with the numerator representing the actual size, and the denominator representing the number of plies. The fraction depends on the yarn material – for example, 8/4 cotton yarn. The measuring quantity of Wraps per Inch (WPI) is also used to categorize different yarns.
Each weaving yarn is arranged either as a warp yarn for vertical lengthwise patterns or a weft yarn for horizontal patterns. By interlacing both yarns into perpendicular links, several woven fabrics can be made, and this right-angled structure is the signature look of all woven fabric construction. Moreover, a weaving yarn has a smooth feel to it because it is usually spun with oils during manufacturing stages. The yarns retain this oily surface and mainly take up an aesthetic appearance, so the oils do not actually interfere with your woven creations.
Weaving yarn materials
There are various yarn materials to choose from, depending on the styles and patterns you prefer. They can be woven into clothes, accessories, upholsteries, etc., and they are all available in different colors. Some of the most commonly-used yarn fibers come from plants, animals, and synthetic sources and include the following materials:
- soy bamboo
A weaving loom is an essential framework to support your task, as the device holds one set of warp threads under tension while you weave the other weft arrangement at right angles. A loom can be a large equipment or a small handheld tool to suit your project scale and comfort levels.
Weaving supply packs make an efficient addition to your textile studio, as these contain weft shuttles, weaving combs, tapestry needles, scissors, etc. to streamline various stages throughout the process.
A tell-tale sign of woven fabrics is that they all have a dimensional pattern due to the perpendicular interlacing of the yarns. This also means that they are not very stretchable, so this limits your options for designing loose draperies. Woven fabrics are prone to creasing, and if used as clothing or scarves, they need to be ironed to make your hard work stand out. Some of the most popular woven fabrics that we know and love include:
- buckram fabrics for shape retention in necklines, waistbands, cuffs, and handbags
- chambray for summer shirts and dresses
- casement fabric for curtains and upholstery
- chiffon for lightweight dresses and scarves
- crepe for crinkled looks on various garments
- denim fabric for the all-time favorite jeans
- flannel for shirts and infant’s clothing
- oxford fabric for shirts
Knitted fabric patterns are known for their intermeshed loops that create T-shirts and sweaters. Various knitting structures can be created by hand, and there are also machine-made fabrics that make use of different needles to achieve the desired effect. The interloped yarns offer creative possibilities for your projects. Knitting yarns are available as categorized options to suit your project scope – for example, they range from level 0 to 7 in terms of bulkiness. They are also accompanied by descriptions like Chunky, Sport, Worsted, DK (Double Knit), Sock, Baby, etc. The WPI value or Wraps per Inch is another guide to your buying choices based on the number of stitches you would like to achieve.
Knitting yarns have more stretch and are not designed to be strong like weaving yarns – which is what makes them ideal for drape-friendly results. These yarns are often purchased in skeins, simply coiled and knotted together instead of being wrapped around cones. They are not spun tightly and so develop more spring and elasticity. Unlike weaving yarns, knitting yarns lack the oily coating and are less smooth in nature.
To start any knitting project, you will need different-sized needles such as straight, circular, and double-point needles. These help in knitting specific objects like rectangular cloths, blankets, and smaller items like mittens.
Other miscellaneous tools include scissors, tapestry needles, stitch markers and holders, crochet hooks, yarn guides, and measuring tapes. On the whole, these tools allow you to loop and knit the yarns in more parallel arrangements compared to the perpendicular patterns of a woven structure.
Knitting yarn category and materials
Choosing your knitting yarn is a crucial first step as it determines how well you get to progress with your creations. Medium worsted yarns and lighter colors are preferred by beginners, whereas expert knitters tend to use natural fiber yarns. It all comes down to elasticity and material-friendliness; wool is quite stretchable and makes a good go-to choice for learning the ropes. The general categories of knitting yarn are:
- Category 0 (Lace): this is a 1-ply lace yarn for lightweight fabrics.
- Category 1, 2, 3 (Sport weight): these refer to 2-ply to 5-ply yarns that are super fine and light for socks, mittens, hats, etc.
- Category 4 (Worsted): this is an 8-10-ply medium knitting yarn for versatile uses.
- Category 5, 6 (Bulky): these are the bulkier materials of 12-14-ply yarns for heavy scarves and blankets.
- Category 7 (Jumbo): the ultimate bulky knitting yarn for home décor projects.
Bearing these categories in mind, you can buy knitting yarns to match your expectations for small-scale to large-scale endeavors. The yarns create knitwear items ranging across winter garments, cardigans, luxury accessories, belts, headbands, baby clothing, summer fabrics, scrub cloth, etc. Some common knitting yarn materials include fibers such as:
- novelty yarns like faux fur and ribbons
All knitted fabrics have a natural elasticity that makes them stretchable and loose. They feature more resilient drapes that keep their shape and texture for the intended effect. These fabrics are quite breathable and have an effortless vibe that stands out in all your knitwear creations. Usually, little to no ironing is needed, and there is a lot of scope for apparel as well as home improvement projects. Knitted fabrics may take the form of:
- pique fabric for garments
- jersey fabric for casual wear such as tank tops and T-shirts
- terry fabric for hoodies and towels
- rib-knit fabric for turtleneck shirts
- fleece-knit fabric for jackets
Hanging by a thread in the pandemic
Handmade crafts have been on an artistic renaissance during COVID lockdowns, and weaving/knitting interests are no exceptions. The designs and patterns are so focus-driven and take up so much of your attention, that there is no room for crippling anxiety to sneak in – which is what makes it a healthy hobby during this time. Rebranding themselves as “fiber artists”, these hobbyists find the art and skill of weaving and knitting to be a very relaxing activity. Support groups and community recreation have encouraged people of all ages to grab a chair and indulge in some soothing, repetitive, and unrushed stitching pursuits. With the passion of giving back as much as they can, families are learning to weave and stitch fabric face masks by attending virtual classrooms.
Lockdowns and quarantines have pushed people indoors and far away from a once-normal life. While time seems to slow down to a sluggish crawl when you are stuck indoors, handcrafts are quite the lifesavers cheering you out of your paralyzing reluctance at home. Yes, not all hobbies need to convert into something lucrative. It is just a way of going with this unexpected pandemic flow and doing something you enjoy, at least till whenever things get back to normal.
Unless you are a Madame Defarge fan who loves knitting and committing the names of your enemies to memory, we highly recommend taking some time to explore the world of Etsy. Hobbyists have built their own crafty portals that open doors to inspiring home-run businesses, and it is a great way to showcase your talents online. Handwoven tablecloths, embroidered capes, knitted shawls, wool beanies, ethnic-inspired bags, and festive accessories are just some examples of the endless talent pool. With weaving and knitting yarns lining your shelves in colorful potential waiting to be unleashed, you have the perfect creative freedom to keep your hands busy – and keep your virtual aisles flooded with inspired customers.