Wednesday, 16 November 2016

How to Crochet with Fluffy Yarn

When I first began to crochet, the mention of fluffy or fuzzy yarn in a pattern made me cringe. It wasn't that I hadn't tried crocheting with fluffy yarn. I tried it. I failed. I tried again. Failed again. It felt I had reached this point of stalemate with my crochet. If I couldn't master this yarn how could I progress as a crochet designer? Well, I knew I had to give it another go. I was not going to let fluffy yarn get the better of me. It's because I like the look of it so much too that I wanted to master it. I adore the wonderfully unique texture and the use of this yarn opens up so many more possibilities for creating projects, especially cute little Amigurumi fluffy bears or cats.

Well after doing much research and through my own trial and error I found there are a few different ways that you can master working with fluffy yarn. Along my journey I also discovered a new method which I think is absolutely fool-proof! I guarantee you will see every stitch with this technique.

In my next post, I will share with you this new method of working with fluffy yarn along with a free crochet pattern. But firstly, in this post I would like to cover a few basics when crocheting with fluffy yarn as well as discuss two current methods on how to crochet with fluffy yarn.

Fluffy, Fuzzy, Feather Furry, Eyelash Yarn...they're all the same right?

The first thing to keep in mind is that not every fluffy yarn is created equally. There is a great variation in the make-up of fluffy yarns. Simply put, fluffy yarns can vary, in well, fluffiness. There are wispy yarns, often referred to as eyelash yarn while other yarns, are more closely woven; fuzzy like. It is not really the name that matters here, each person will have their own opinion on whether a yarn is more fluffy or fuzzy or eyelash, but what is important is to understand how the makeup of your yarn can affect your ability to see the crochet stitches. What I have found when crocheting with all these yarns (be it fluffy, eyelash etc) is that all the yarns have a base ply, or strand, from which the fluffy or fuzzy fibers branch out from. I also found this base strand will give you a good indication of how difficult it will be to crochet with the yarn. The thinner the base strand and the longer or thicker the fluff, the harder it will be to see the stitches. To show you what I mean here is a photo of different fluffy and fuzzy yarns that I have in my current stash.

This first yarn is a Spotlight yarn (Australian craft store) called Slumberland Moroka. It's a polyester yarn. You can see in the picture below, that the base strand is a very fine ply, and the fluffy section, has very long, thick wisps. On it's own, this is a difficult yarn to work with as you will very quickly lose sight of that fine base ply and will only see fluff.

This next yarn, pictured below, is by Panda, Minky Plush. (a gorgeous yarn!) It has quite a thick ply base (about dk weight) and very light wisps. It's not as fluffy as the Panda yarn above but the thick base strand makes this yarn very manageable to work with on it's own.

This yarn below is also by Spotlight, called Moda Vera Parade. You can see this yarn's fluffy section looks more dense than the other two. I guess it's a bit more of a fuzzier yarn than fluffy. It also has a very fine ply base strand (so fine it's difficult to see in this photo) which I found made this yarn on it's own quite difficult to work with.

So as you can see, from this tiny selection here, there is a lot of variation in fluffy/fuzzy/eyelash yarns. So keep this in mind when purchasing your fluffy yarn as this may affect how you want to crochet with the yarn.

At this point I should introduce the two ways to work with fluffy yarns that I currently know and have read online, and in my next post will teach you a new way to work with fluffy yarn with a free pattern included.

How to Crochet with Fluffy/ Fuzzy Yarn - Method 1

The first technique, obvious really, is to simply crochet with the yarn as is. This method can be difficult as the stitches are hard to see. However, this is where yarn choice can really benefit you, as for example the Panda yarn (image above) the base is quite thick and obvious to see. The other two yarns that have a very fine ply base and very thick fluffy section will be difficult (though not impossible) to crochet with. I won't delve too much into this method as it has been written about before. If you like you can pop over to Planet June where she lists a few great tips when using fluffy yarn on it's own.

With this pattern for a Fluffy Amigurumi Bear (pictured below) I crocheted with Minky Plush on it's own. I found it relatively easy to work with for the reasons mentioned above. I thought the fluffy yarn matched against the regular yarn for the snout, added a nice textural change and interest . You could easily use method 2 on this pattern also, as gauge is not important for this pattern.

How to Crochet with Fluffy/ Fuzzy Yarn - Method 2

This is a popular way to work with fluffy yarn and one that I use quite regularly. This method involves using a second ball of yarn alongside your fluffy yarn. so you hold the two strands of yarn together. The key point here is that the 2nd yarn must not be fluffy! So you crochet with one fluffy yarn and one regular yarn. That accompaniment yarn will work like the base strand to help you see your stitches. Remember, I mentioned earlier, the thicker the base strand of fluffy yarn the easier it will be to see your stitches?! So really, with this method you are creating a base strand, by adding a 2nd regular yarn to crochet with. Remember to keep this in mind when choosing your 2nd yarn. You don't want to choose a very fine ply yarn to match with a super fluffy yarn as it probably won't be beneficial and you still may struggle with the stitches.Really, this is a time to experiment, to go through a bit of trial and error to see what works for you. Ultimately, you want to find the balance between maintaining the desired fluffy texture with stitches that are manageable.

With this method, I usually want to find a yarn that blends well with the fluffy yarn, so I like to take my fluffy yarn out with me when I shop for the accompaniment yarn, so that I can find a colour that matches well. However, you don't need to restrict yourself by using matching colour. In fact, using a stark contrast colour can help you see the stitches as the contrast yarn will really stand out against the fluffy yarn. But of course you will need to keep in mind that using a contrast yarn, will completely change the look of your original fluffy yarn, so it depends on what kind of look you want to create. Remember it's all about experimenting! Here is the Parade yarn above matched against a contrast colour yarn.

Here below is my crochet pattern for a Seamless Pixie Hood. With this pattern I used the Parade yarn again held against 2nd yarn of similar shade. As you can see the yarns blended very well together and it's not obvious to the eye that two different yarns were used.

I hoped that I have given you some insight on ways you can work with fluffy yarns. Please, stay tuned for my next post where I will share with you a new way to work with fluffy yarn with a free pattern included. Meanwhile, feel free to share any comments, or ideas, or let me know your favourite fluffy yarns. Now I have overcome crocheting with fluffy yarn, I feel I can't get enough!

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