What fabric are you trying to create?
One of the things I love about knitting, is that as the knitter, you’re literally making the fabric, (and manipulating it at the same time).
Unlike in sewing, where you start with a flat piece of fabric and remove parts of it to create a garment (or bag, or whatever). Knitting starts with thin air, and some string – you get to create the fabric from scratch.
Each time you knit, you’re creating fabric that has never been created before.
This means if you don’t think about & plan your fabric, you get a (not always awesome) surprise.
I love lace weight yarn, I knit shawls in it, and I knit sweaters in it, but that doesn’t mean I want the same fabric for both types of projects.
I like my sweater fabric open and airy. I like my shawl fabric a little denser, with excellent stitch definition. And I like both my sweaters and my shawls to be drapy – which is why I use lace yarns (but that’s a whole other post.)
For a sweater, I knit lace weight yarn on fairly large needles.
For a shawl, I knit that same yarn on much smaller needles.
A lace weight yarn I’d knit on a US 2 (2.75mm) needle for a shawl, I’d knit on a US 4 (3.5mm) or US 5 (3.75mm) needle for a sweater.
“Ordo” is a lace shawl, knit with 2 strands of lace weigh yarn held together, on a US 5 (3.75mm) needle, while my No So Straightforward Basic Purple Pullover is also knit with 2 strands of lace weight yarn held together, but I knit that on a US 9 (5.5mm) needle.
“Tumbling Deco” is a lace shawl, knit with 1 strand of lace weight yarn, on a US 2 (2.75mm) needle, while my Boring Black Sweater is knit with 1 strand of lace weight yarn, on a US 4 (3.5 mm) needle.
This is because I want my shawl fabric denser than my sweater fabric.
Denser stockinette = crisper lace work.
And I want my shawls need to show off intricate lace patterns.
When you’re creating your fabric, do you want…
dense fabric? drapy fabric? loose fabric? flowing fabric? chunky fabric? thin fabric? textured fabric? smooth fabric? open fabric? etc. etc.
Basically, it all boils down to:
What do you want your fabric to feel like?
(It’s *so* hard to communicate what I’m trying to say with only words and photos. I wish I could hand you the pile of swatches & projects so you could feel the difference. I hope this all makes some sort of sense, and if nothing else, inspires you to go pick up two pieces of fabric and feel the different qualities they exude.)