Many weavers have additional yarn-related hobbies like knitting or crocheting, and it’s a given that we all get curious at some point as to whether one craft’s material can be used for the other. This begs the question: can Gist's yarn lines be used for knitting? Well, Christine knit us a few swatches to road test four of Gist’s in-house yarn lines, so let’s take a closer look at Duet, Beam, Mallo, and Ode and what they’re like on the needles.
The more you knit or weave, the more you’ll begin to learn about your materials and the different ways the they’re made and how they behave when finished. Not all yarn is created equally—beyond the basics of color and material, yarn can be spun differently, materials can have long or short fibers, and then there’s twist and grist and a whole bunch of other things that we don’t usually spend a lot of in-depth time thinking about.
Even if the knitty gritty (pun intended!) of yarn make-up isn’t your thing, it’s worth knowing about the differences between weaving and knitting yarn so that you can make good choices for your project. Generally speaking, weaving yarn is a bit stronger and a little less stretchy than knitting yarn—the yarn needs to be strong enough to resist the abrasion of the reed and heddles, as well as withstand being tensioned onto the loom. Knitting yarn is usually spun to be softer, loftier, and with a looser twist, qualities which make for better garments.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use weaving yarn for knitting (or vice versa)—you just have to plan your projects to work with the yarn’s characteristics, not against them. We made this chart to help, which you can also download as a PDF to print at home.
Duet is a beautiful and strong yarn with an appealing fibre make-up for summer garments or housewares like kitchen towels or dish cloths. Our Duet samples were knit on a US 3 / 3.25mm knitting needle, which gave a crisp, clean cloth. It would be a great substitute for a knitting project that suggests a fingering-DK weight yarn (a Super Fine/1 to Fine/2 yarn, if you prefer the Craft Yarn Council measurements).
Beam is a workhorse cotton yarn that would work in many knitting or crochet projects. Because of its tighter twist and thickness, I see it being great for market bags or 3D projects. Beam is a very regular yarn, which knits into a smooth surface. Our Beam samples were knit on a US 7 / 4.5mm needle. Use Beam for knitting patterns that suggest a worsted weight yarn (Medium/4).
Mallo’s thick and thin texture make it ideal for knitting projects where a bit of surface interest is needed. As you can see in our photograph of the Mallo sample, its texture gives a subtle effect across the surface — no need for fancy stitches here! Because this texture would feel great in hand, I think Mallo would make lovely dishcloths, or a fun textured tee-shirt. Our Mallo samples were knit on a US 5 / 3.75mm, but I think it would be fine to use anywhere from a US 5-7 / 3.75mm-4.5mm. Use Mallo for knitting patterns that suggest a DK-worsted weight yarn (Light/3 to Medium/4 yarn).
Perhaps the most natural choice for knitters is Ode—100% silky, soft and smooth alpaca is a lovely fiber to wear! This alpaca yarn will make warm and squishy garments and its drape is just as lovely knit as it is woven. Sweaters, scarves, and even hats would be a good way to use Ode, which was knit on a US 7 / 4.5mm needle. Use Ode for knitting patterns that suggest a worsted weight yarn (Medium/4).
Cones! We love them! Knitters haven’t yet figured out that us weavers have the best yarn delivery method—there are three primary benefits that I can think of for knitting with Gist Yarns.
The first benefit of knitting from a cone is that there’s no need to wind your yarn—the yarn rises smoothly from the cone, which stands on a sturdy base. Winding skeins takes time and is easiest to do using special equipment (like a wooden swift), which may be a big expense if you’re just starting out. It’s also nice not to have to worry about your ball rolling away from you!
The second benefit of knitting from cones is that there are fewer joins and ends to weave in when you’re done with your knitting. If you’re never pleased with how tidy your joins are, knitting from a cone can eliminate that problem.
Cones are also an economical way to purchase yarn, since there’s generally more yards on a cone than a similar amount of skeins or balled yarn. Cones are approximately 2-3 skeins worth of yarn—did I mention no joins?!
Canadian weaver Laura Fry recently wrote about the differences between Gist's Array wool yarn and a Harrisville wool yarn, which I consulted when writing this article (even though we didn’t knit with Array this time around). After decades of experience as a professional weaver, she’s very knowledgeable about yarn and weaving and what makes a good yarn. She’s currently teaching at the School of Sweet Georgia (one of Gist's stockists!), and recently gave a presentation for them on this very topic. You can read Laura's blog post here.
If you’re curious about trying one of Gist's yarn collections for a knitting (or crochet!) project this summer, go for it! Christine knit our samples for this blog (thanks!) using straight needles in stockinette stitch with garter borders.
While we don’t have any knitting patterns on the Gist website, there are two places I can suggest that you look for project inspiration. Ravelry is a huge website that has thousands of knitting patterns for free and for sale. I like using the advanced search function to narrow down my options by choosing project types, yarn weights, or suggested needles.
Another yarn store with beautiful products is Purl Soho in NYC. They have designed a range of free knitting patterns using their in-house yarns, and I think some of their housewares patterns would be great to try in Duet, Beam or Mallo.
Knitting with our yarn is a great opportunity to sample and try something new. If you are a knitter using our yarn, we’d love to know! Tag us on Instagram or send us an email to let us know how it turned out.
Amanda Rataj is an artist and weaver living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and has developed her contemporary craft practice through research-based projects, artist residencies, professional exhibitions, and lectures. Subscribe to her studio newsletter or follow her on Instagram to learn about new weaving patterns, exhibitions, projects, and more.