Not all yarns make good hats

I follow several yarn manufacturers on Facebook and noticed two of them posted hat patterns this week (well more than two, but two we are going to talk about). It really frustrates me when yarn manufacturers perpetuate the myth that all yarn work for fitted hats. Yes, you can make a hat using any yarn. However, will the hat turn out how you expect it to and function like the type of hat you desired? As the cold weather hits, we are all thinking toward warm knitted and crocheted items to keep us warm outside.

Egyptian Cotton – great for towels

One manufacturer was advertising a 100% Egyptian Cotton yarn with their crocheted toque/beanie pattern. Here are reasons that a 100% cotton yarn is not going to create the beanie hat you will love. a) Cotton is not a warm fiber. Yes, covering your head with anything is better than nothing, but even acrylic is a warmer choice than cotton. b) Cotton has no memory, meaning it will stretch out and not return to shape without washing. These are the top two reasons I would not choose to make a toque/beanie or anything you want to stay true to the finished shape out of a 100% cotton yarn. It should have more wool or man-made fiber than cotton in the yarn, if you wish to have something that will not stretch out of shape.

The second manufacturer is advertising an alpaca yarn with a brioche knit hat. It is a GORGEOUS pattern but here is why you do not want to use a 100% or heavy alpaca based yarn for a toque/beanie. a) Alpaca is a heavier fiber than wool and gravity will drag it down. It will get longer and longer and will not return to its original size/shape until it is washed. b) Alpaca also has no memory and will stretch out until you wash it to have it return to its original shape. Alpaca should be at least equal in content with wool or man-made fiber to overcome its shortcomings. It is a gorgeous yarn and tremendously warm if you use it in appropriate projects.

I really wish that yarn manufacturers would help consumers learn about the properties of the fibers by suggesting appropriate patterns to use their yarns in rather than just throwing things out there and letting us create crafting disasters that do not make us happy in the long run.

Talk to your local yarn store employees to learn which yarns will give you the best finished project and will do the job you are asking them to do. We all love the super comfy, cushy, cozy yarns but be sure that you are spending your money smartly by purchasing the fiber that will do the job right.

Products I Love . . .

for Knitters and Crocheters

Having worked in the retail fiber business and being an experienced knitter and crocheter, I have had exposure to quite a products over the years and have my favorites. I decided to share some of them with you as the holiday gifting time is fast approaching. There are so many choices on the market and while every crafter finds what works best for them and that they prefer, I am the same. I am not saying that your choices of items are wrong or bad, just that these are my favorites.

For Knitters:

Needles: I love interchangeable needles. My preference is for the Knit

Knit Pick’s Options Needles

Picks Options wood needles. They have several different varieties now and they all are good, just select the set that appeals the most to you. PROS: The points are sharp enough for most of my knitting pattern preferences, they never have burrs that can catch your yarn, the joins are smooth and you can arrange your needles to almost any length. Additional tips and cables are not overly expensive and therefore easy to have multiples of the sizes you use the most. CONS: The cable joins do wear out and need to be replaced every year or two and they can be difficult to find locally and ordering online requires shipping (for orders under $70).

Second runner up is a tie between the Chiao Goo Spin needles and new Lykke Driftwood needles. They are both well-made and have the most of the same characteristics of the Knit Picks (and bonus the Lykke are interchangeable with Knitter’s Pride and Knit Picks cables). CONS: The Chiao Goo Spin cables are stiff nylon and not as flexible as the Knit Pick’s cables and the tips on the Lykke (the set I own) are not very sharp and make even a k2tog sometimes difficult.

Stitch Markers: There are so many different kinds of stitch markers out there these days, that choosing can be overwhelming. Some have charms on them, some are metal, some plastic, some round, some triangular. Really it comes down to what best suits your style of knitting. I prefer Clover’s Soft Stitch Ring Markers. They don’t bother my fingers as they sit on the needle and are easy to get my needle into when I slide them from one to the other.

For Crocheters:

Hooks: I love the Knitter’s Pride Symphonie Dreamz hooks. The shape

Knitter’s Pride Symphonie Dreamz Hooks

works well for my style of crocheting and they fit well in my hand. I can also use them for narrow Tunisian Crochet projects as the shaft does not vary in width. However they may not be appropriate for everyone as they do not offer an ergonomic style for those with hand issues. For crocheters wanting an ergonomic version, the Clover Amour hooks are a relatively low cost choice and are very comfortable to work with. CONS: Not all crocheters like the same style of hook, so this choice really comes down to what works best and feels the most comfortable for you. If you struggle to make stitches and are having problems with the yarn staying on your hook, try a different style.

Stitch Markers: I love the Clover Locking Ring Markers. They are my favorite brand of this style of marker. PROS: They are flexible and do not break. Some of the less expensive and other brands are more brittle and break after some use. I have NEVER had one of these break on me. HINT: Always store them in the open position and they will be easier to slide into your project. CONS: They only come in the mixed package of orange and green, no rainbow colors.

Please keep in mind that these are only suggestions and what I personally like to craft with. They are not meant to override your choices of crafting materials, please choose the tools that work best for you.

Welcome to The Hooker’s Guide to Needles

No, this blog does not have anything to do with prostitutes or drug habits, though most fiber arts will say that their craft is addictive. This blog is for fiber artists, mainly knitters and crocheters, who want to learn new things. I will be creating videos and photo tutorials to support the techniques I cover and will be exploring everything from beginner basics to advanced skills. I will also be developing new classes and patterns and will share the details of those here. If my teaching calendar fills up, I will add a calendar to help you all track, aka stalk, me. However for now, my official teaching is mostly limited to Fiber Fusion NW, where this year I will be teaching Beginning Crochet (Saturday morning) and Tunisian Crochet (Sunday morning). There will also be two demos, Crocheting Edges on Knitted Items and Troubleshooting 101. Be sure to check their calendar for the times and I will also share them here when I have the times.

SmartCat Studios
SmartCat Studios logo

I would like to thank both of my very talented daughters for their work on both my logos. My oldest, DragonNightArt worked my original SmartCat Studios logo several years ago. She has done quite a bit of work for myself and Mad Cow Yarn over the last few years, as well as On a Quest for Fiber and the Knitting Mama.


Hookers Guide to Needles
The Hooker’s Guide to Needles

When I was searching for a blog name, my first preference I found was already being used by another fiber artist and to avoid confusion I racked my brain for another one. I eventually went to my daughters and my youngest suggested “The Hooker’s Guide to Needles” and had an idea for the logo, so I let her run with it and was not disappointed. Her creativity certainly shows through and while she is just starting her art career, I’m sure Saphushia will be just as popular and successful as her older sister.

I hope to have many followers and that you all enjoy what I share. If you have specific techniques, stitches or skills that you would love to have me share here, please contact me using the form to the right and I’ll make every effort to meet those requests. Some class techniques will not be fully explained, as that defeats the purpose of paid classes, however I will do my best to meet all reasonable requests.