Thursday, July 26, 2012

5 tips for knitting with bamboo yarn

Bamboo yarn is good. It's hard to argue with this statement - bamboo is soft, hypoallergenic, antibacterial yarn with amazing drape and luster. Bamboo knits will keep you dry, comfortable and odorless in hottest of summer days and will protect you from harmful ultra-violet light at the same time. Tops, tunics, sweaters, dresses, shawls and shrugs - anything will look beautiful if made with bamboo yarn. So get your needles and start knitting, but remember that bamboo is different from wool, acrylic and most other fibers. Here are some tips you need to consider when knitting with bamboo:

Bamboo yarn is heavy. Weight creates beautiful drape bamboo yarn is famous for. But it also creates additional problems for knitters.

Mesh Tunic made of Knitca Bamboo yarn
1. Try to always work with patterns designed specifically for bamboo yarn. If you are adapting pattern designed for a different fiber (cotton, for example), make sure you have enough yardage of bamboo. If you look at wool or cotton and bamboo yarn of similar thickness and weight (like 50g skeins of DK weight yarn) you will see that bamboo has less meters/yards. So when you shop for yarn don't look at number of skeins / balls / hanks recommended in the pattern, look at yardage.

2. Because bamboo yarn is heavy, length of the knitted fabric increases when you put your knitted garment on. Keep that in mind when you knit and hang knitted pieces before measuring them. That will give you a better idea of the actual length of the finished garment.

Bamboo yarn is sleek and slippery. That quality adds to the softness and luster of bamboo but it also adds several issues we, knitters, have to remember about.

Bamboo needles
3. It's hard to cope with bamboo yarn on metal needles. It behaves much better on bamboo or wooden needles. When you shop for yarn, get a pair of bamboo needles right away and save yourself from frustration of constantly picking slipped stitches.

4. Once you've knit a bamboo garment it definitely becomes your favorite :-) That means you'll need to wash it once in a while. It's good to know that bamboo can be washed in washing machine on delicate cycle. You can even wash it on normal cycle but it will shrink by about 10%. This feature is useful in case your garment turned out a bit bigger than you expected. Just wash it on normal cycle and it will shrink enough to make you happy.

5. Never dry bamboo knits hanging unless you want to make them longer. Because of the weight issue we discussed before, length of bamboo fabric increases a lot when hang to dry. To avoid this "side-effect" dry bamboo knits flat.

As you see working with bamboo yarn is not that hard once you have a pattern, enough yardage of yarn, bamboo needles and measuring tape at hand to measure your WIP every now and then.

Happy knitting!


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