As a handspinner and knitter, I’m frequently asked how to spin for a sweater and my response is usually, “It depends….”
A clear and concise answer? No. A truthful answer? Yes.
Many factors need to be considered when spinning for a sweater, not the least of which are choosing how much wool you need to spin for your project, how thick or fine you need to spin, and the yarn construction you would like.
When determining the weight of wool to spin for a sweater I always over-estimate the amount needed. Playing yarn chicken is never fun but it can be truly disastrous and disappointing when doing so with handspun. If you run out, you many not be able to get more of that special fibre or that colorway and if, by chance you do, it can be stressful trying to exactly match the spinning. Best to buy a bit extra for peace of mind. Plus, your leftovers can be used for all sorts of fun future projects.
I like to have a specific pattern in mind and choose my materials accordingly. Figure out the weight of yarn required for your intended project in grams according to the pattern details and then tack on an additional 50-100 grams as your buffer. This is usually more than enough fibre by weight to work.
I can get a fairly consistent 2 ply so I will count on that being the typical yarn construction for my sweater spin. If you prefer 3 ply or something else, by all means, spin what feels best for you 😊
When spinning my yarn for a sweater, I like to spin all the singles of a particular color first. I keep track of (and order) my bobbins, often with a small piece of painters tape that I number, and find I get the most consistent finished yarn if I ply bobbins 1 with 3 and 2 with 4. This helps to account for and even out any changes in the spinning process. Doing a ply-back test is also helpful to ensure a spin that is as consistent as possible.
Once your yarn is spun and plyed, give it a good wash to set the twist and it is gauge swatch time!
I hope these little tips are helpful if you are interested in spinning for a sweater. If you have other tried and true tips and tricks that you use for sweater spins, I would love to hear and learn!
Happy crafting! 🧶