As you might have noticed we at SKEINO love to encourage knitters to experiment and leave the safe harbor of instructed knitting. In this post we’ll be talking about needles and using the right size for the yarn weight of your project. Be a knitting rebel and throw over board those rigid guidelines! Here’s how:

Over the years the yarn industry created charts with yarn weights and the right Gauges. However these charts are a guideline and not set in stone.

Over the years the yarn industry (I guess that includes us as well) created charts with yarn weights and the right Gauges for them. However these charts are a guideline and not set in stone. We won’t be repeating these charts, because at SKEINO we believe that it’s the knitter who has to make the decision about the Gauge.

Gauge Ruler

Knitting gauge ruler

So how can you do this? To start with, if you like a yarn and you have a project or pattern in mind it’s always a good idea to knit up a swatch. Spend a good amount of time to do so. Try different needle sizes and you will figure out, which Gauge is pleasing you. Feel free to ignore the recommended Gauge, take it just to get started!

As you change the Gauge your piece becomes what you like, your decision will be the anchor of your work, because YOU are knitting and not the industry.

For example if you like lace knitting and you just bought a thin brushed Mohair Yarn, there is no need to knit it up with a small needle according to the lace weight as you’re told in the pattern! Try a much larger needle and you might love the loser texture it creates. This way you will end up knitting with a lace yarn but using the worsted weight Gauge.

A scarf, shawl and also an afghan needs to be fluffy. As you change the Gauge your piece becomes what you like, your decision will be the anchor of your work, because YOU are knitting and not the industry. You’ll end up with a piece to cuddle up with and you’ll love to use a larger needle to create a more open texture. This is easy to do and you won’t have any trouble so look at it as your first work as a knitting rebel!

Get active and ask for help in your knitting community to see what other knitters’ experience is.

Now let’s increase the level a little for our more experienced knitters who like to knit garments that come in different sizes. With a garment piece you have to consider how your Gauge change will affect size the garment. Since you’ll need to keep its shape your knitting will also need to be tighter in order to prevent the piece from “growing”. Otherwise you’ll end up with a Size-S Knitting kit that will come out as an XL with a too loose texture – unless your goal is just to achieve that effect.


Find your favourite yarn and Gauge


Even if a pattern provides the Gauge, try knitting a swatch and find out if the gauge is your Gauge. Often it’s good to spend some time to do the math accordingly to your swatch and find out for yourself. Also get active and ask for help in your knitting community to see what other knitters’ experience is. You can use your local knitting groups, friends or family and of course Ravelry. We hope that this will encourage you to start experimenting and be a knitting rebel. Remember that knitting is a creative hobby and you are the person who decides what is done.




Alpaca sheep in their natural habitat

Alpaca sheep in their natural habitat

In this blog post we are giving you some insight on how to determine the quality of the alpaca yarn you just bought. Everybody loves Alpaca yarn and we as a yarn company are opening our treasure chest of knowledge to you today:

Alpaca is a soft, silky and durable fiber with unique thermal properties due to microscopic air bubbles found inside the hair. These bubbles allow the user to “breathe” through the fibers on hot days and in much the same way, to retain body heat in cold climates. Alpaca wool is also elastic and not inflammable.

Alpaca Fibers

Alpaca Fibers

Alpaca fibers are produced in around 15 natural shades, making it an attractive option for designers around the world ever since. The versatility of Alpaca fiber allows it to be readily transformed into all kinds of knitted garments, accessories or handcrafted products, either by machine or by hand.

This results in the fact that there are many Alpaca Yarns on the market.

In the western world we can see the cute animals here and there, even sometimes in a front yard – but they belong in a much higher elevation to create the best quality.

The only way to know the quality of the yarn is to have it professionally tested. This is what yarn producers should do before a yarn enters the market. We here at SKEINO always ask for a yarn certificate provided by the Spinning Mills to be sure of what we are providing to our customers.

Having a Histogram available helps us to understand the full picture of the quality. A histogram measures the fineness and the evenness of a single hair in micron. The lower the number the finer the fiber. However, the histogram does not take into account the age of the animal, environmental factors, density, luster and color.

Alpacas running

Running to be sheared?

Alpacas are being sheared the first time usually at around 12 months of age and the second shear at two years of age. At this time the fibers will give you a good indication of the quality.

Also, the Environment plays a major part in determining the quality of the fibers. Most Alpacas in South America have the finest fibers because they live in the Andes, right where they belong.

Here are some microns for the different Alpaca Yarn Types:

Super Baby Alpaca           19-20 micron

Baby Alpaca                      21.5–22.5 micron

Adult Alpaca                      25.5–26.5 micron

Coarse Alpaca                   30+ micron

For comparison: SKEINO’s Extra Fine Merino Superwash yarns are spun from 19.5 micron fibers

The Alpaca is indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, where they have been domesticated ever since the time of pre-Incan cultures. There are estimated to be approximately 3.5 to 4 million Alpaca in South America, 95% of which can be found in the regions of Southern Peru.

Alpacas are bred at altitudes varying between 11,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level, where temperatures can range from anywhere between -4°F and 86°F in a single day, surviving on a low protein diet based on natural grasses.

It is here where they grow the best quality.

If an Alpaca from the Andes would be “imported” from its habitat into the Western World, in a matter of months the fleece will “blow-out” by 10 micron or more. This is because of environmental factors and feed quality. If the Alpacas would be put on a lush, good quality pasture, the fleece would coarsen immediately.

Therefore, if you buy Alpaca yarn, try to find out where it is coming from in order to have the best quality for your money.

If you want to try Alpaca Yarn, take a look at our VENICE yarn or at our Baby Alpaca Kit that comes with 7 FREE patterns.

SKEINO Venice Yarn

SKEINO Venice Yarn

We hope you found this read enjoyable and found out some interesting facts “behind the scenes” about Alpaca yarn. As always please use the comments section for questions or comments.

Photos Stitches West 2015

On February 17th, Amie & Steve headed straight to Santa Clara / CA with a carload full of yarns, patterns and finished pieces. The show was super-busy and there was rarely time to eat. However many customers also means a successful show. We are always so happy to receive direct feedback from our customers and so each day ended with a big smile on our faces as our work is being appreciated by so many people now. This is really wonderful! Here are a few photos of our booth taken early in the morning before all the buzz started:

SKEINO stand at Stitches West 2015

SKEINO stand at Stitches West 2015

Finished pieces and socks

Finished pieces and socks

Harlequin Yarn Balls

Our Harlequin yarn comes in 7 friendly colors

Table with Harlequin yarn balls

More Harlequin yarn balls and Lacy Shrug knitting kits

The fabulous Tencel Merino Superwash Yarn tower!

The fabulous Tencel Merino Superwash Yarn tower!