FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I put down my knitting in the middle of a row?
Always try to finish the row you are working on before putting your knitting down. This way the stitches in the centre will not be inadvertently stretched or unraveled if they fall off the needles. If you are working a patterned stitch it may be difficult to work out what your next stitch should be when you return to your knitting.
2. My needles are old and bent; can I still use them?
Always try and knit with the best quality needles you can afford. Some knitters have a preference for steel needles; others prefer plastic or bamboo. Damaged or bent needles can cause uneven knitting. Discard and replace damaged needles if you can. If you haven’t used plastic needles for a while, dip them in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. This will hydrate them and stop them from breaking. Before using a circular needle, it is advisable to dip the plastic cord between the needle tips into hot water to un-kink the plastic for smoother knitting.
3. What does ply mean?
The term ply traditionally referred to the number of single spun threads twisted together to make a finished yarn. A greater number of strands meant a thicker yarn.
Yarns are made in a variety of ways, so ply is not so relevant. For example, Patons Jet (approx 12 ply tension) is made from one thick strand, but if you untwist a length of Bluebell (5 ply tension), it is made from multiple strands. Modern knitting yarns sometimes use ply as a description for tension and thickness only.
4. If I make a mistake can I unwind and re-use the yarn?
Yes you can, but sometimes yarn can take on a crinkled or crimped appearance when unraveled.
If this happens you can lightly steam or rinse the yarn (if washable). Simply wind the yarn around a large book or chair back, tie at 20cm intervals, then lightly steam with an iron (do not touch or press with the iron) or hang in the bathroom (where there is steam) for a couple of days. If rinsing, just dunk in warm water, gently squeeze out any excess water and dry flat on a clean towel in the shade. Let the yarn rest until fully dry and then wind into a ball ready for knitting.
5. What is a dye lot?
When yarn is spun, it is usually in a natural colour (natural fibres) or white (man made fibres). For example, wool is cream in colour. To dye yarn into our various shades it goes into a huge metal vat (like a huge pressure cooker).
The amount of yarn that goes in depends on the size of the vat. At ACS, we have small, medium and large vats. We sell lots of Black, Navy and White yarn, so these are dyed in the large vats. Seasonal colours like Lime or Orange sell less in quantity, so these go into a smaller vat. However if suddenly everyone wants Lime then we quickly do more small vat lots or a large vat lot to meet the demand.
All of the coloured yarn in each vat, dyed at the same time, is issued a number; this is the dye lot number. Each new lot of yarn is issued a new dye lot number. This changing number is located on the ball band. See the example below.
Dyeing is like cooking a cake – where any slight variation in ingredients or method may give a slightly different result.
For example, the recipe for Lime may include yellow dye, blue dye, a quantity of water, heat at a set temperature and for a set time.
If any of these elements vary, a slightly different shade may result.
This is why it is very important to purchase enough yarn to complete a project especially when it is all in the one colour.
6. Should I knit a solid coloured garment using only one dye lot?
Matching the dye lot number is very important, especially in one colour knitting as a change of dye lot may be visible in the finished garment.
If you run out of yarn and need to purchase a different dye lot we recommend that before you completely finish the original dye lot, you commence using the new dye lot in a gradual process. The way to do this is to knit 2 rows from the new dye lot, followed by 2 rows from the original dye lot, then another 2 rows from the new dye lot and so on, alternating between dye lots for about 5cm or so. You may still be able to detect a subtle change in colour but it will be less striking. This is why we strongly recommend that you buy enough yarn to complete your project.
We also recommend that knitters keep their ball bands until they have finished their project. If there is a problem with the dye lot or yarn quality, the helpline staff at ACS ask for the yarn type, colour and dye lot. Our laboratory can track back through every process of a dye lot. They keep a reference sample of every dye lot in case of quality issues. This is part of the ACS product support that we offer to our customers.
7. Can I change yarns from pattern to pattern?
The team at Australian Country Spinners takes particular care in matching yarns to the style of design and then each pattern is carefully calculated and written to a prescribed tension. We take responsibility for our yarns and patterns if they are used as recommended. Changing the recommended yarn may result in a different finished look or may change the measurements if the tension is not matched.
8. I have found a knot in my ball of yarn – what should I do?
Due to the process of yarn spinning and balling, sometimes knots do occur. At ACS, we do not expect to see more than one knot in any one ball. If you have any queries we are happy to help – please keep your ball band so we can assist you.
If you do find a knot in your yarn, we advise unpicking your knitting to the beginning of the current row. Cut the knot out, then rejoin your yarn at the edge and continue knitting. Never knit a knot into your knitting as they tend to show through your knitting and they may also unravel over time. This applies to beginning a new ball as well. Ends are sewn into the edge or seam later and so become invisible.
9. Do I have to knit a tension square?
We recommend that knitters always knit a tension square before they begin their project. Even expert knitters may not be experienced in knitting every type of yarn and can expect a variance in tension from yarn to yarn. Any variation will impact on the size of the finished garment. See instructions below for how to check your tension.
10. If I’m a loose knitter should I go up or down a needle size?
First check your tension for each and every project. If you have loose tension you need to reduce the size of your stitches so try knitting on a smaller needle. If you have firm tension you need to increase the size of your stitches so try knitting on a larger needle. It is important to achieve the stated tension in the pattern as this has been used to calculate the pattern instructions. Any variation could result in an item measuring smaller or larger than stated.
11. Can I use any 8 ply with any 8 ply pattern?
Yes you can, but check your tension as a safeguard (see questions 9 and 10 above). Remember that the look of the garment may also vary depending on the type of 8 ply yarn. Also the quantity of yarn required may vary as the meterages of different types of yarn can vary according to the fibre used. For example, Patons Classic Totem 8 ply (pure wool) meterage is 91m per 50g ball, whereas Panda Magnum 8 ply (100% acrylic) has a meterage of 310m per 100g ball.
12. Should I use yarn from the outside or inside of the ball?
It depends on the yarn – many yarns can be knitted from either end but some yarns may tangle and knot if worked from the inside. Some yarns may change tension when worked with or against the pile (the direction the fibres lie along the yarn). With textured or long pile yarn, it is important to knit from the same direction for the whole garment. Our patterns will specify this if necessary.
13. What yarn should I use to sew up a garment?
Generally, to sew up your garment you should use the same yarn you have used to knit it. However, when knitting with a fancy yarn we often recommend using a matching plain yarn instead.
14. Why does the pattern say to work from 2 balls?
When yarns have variations in colour or texture, working from 2 balls can reduce unwanted and unintentional patches of colour or texture. The way to do this is to work 2 rows from the first ball, then 2 rows from the second ball, then 2 rows from the first ball and so on, alternating throughout the knitted piece. Do not break off yarn after working the two rows but carry it loosely along the edges of the work until it is used again.