Frequently Asked Questions
- What is yarn made from?
Yarn is made from many different fibers -- animal, plant and vegetable. Animal fibers include wool, mohair, angora, silk, cashmere, llama, alpaca and qiviut (musk ox) and are made of mostly protein. Cotton, linen and ramie are vegetable fibers. Synthetic (man-made) fibers include acrylic, nylon, polyester, metallics and microfibers. Each fiber has its own qualities, and they are often blended to take advantage of the best properties of each.
- What is gauge?
Gauge is the number of stitches per inch and the number of rows per inch a crocheter or knitter gets when stitching with a particular size of yarn and a specific crochet hook or knitting needles.
Gauge varies from stitcher to stitcher, even when they are using exactly the same yarn and hook or needles. It is very personal. One person may get 4 stitches to the inch with a worsted-weight yarn and a size G crochet hook, while another gets 3.5 stitches to the inch. This may not sound like much, but that half stitch per inch can make your finished garment several inches too big or too small.
- How do I measure gauge for knitted patterns?
Most knitting patterns and some crochet patterns will tell you to make a swatch (test piece) using the stitch pattern called for in the project. For instance, some knitting patterns may say to cast on a certain number of stitches and work a certain number of rows in the specified pattern. When bound off and smoothed out on a flat surface, the piece should measure the size specified in the pattern.
The pattern may say "20 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches stockinette stitch." To make this test piece, use the size needles the pattern directs you to use and cast on 20 stitches. Work 20 rows in stockinette stitch (alternating knit and purl rows). After 20 rows have been completed, bind off. Lay the piece flat on a table and measure the width and length. If you knit to the designer's gauge, your piece should measure 4 inches wide and 4 inches tall.
If your pattern instructions don't say to knit a test swatch, you can measure the stitches and rows by using the method below for measuring crochet gauge.
- How do I measure gauge for crochet pattern?
Many times, a crochet pattern will not tell you to make a gauge swatch. It may say instead "4 stitches and 4 rows = 1"."
To make a swatch (test piece), use the yarn and hook size called for and chain enough to measure about 6". Work in the specified pattern for about 6", then fasten off. Lay the piece flat on a table. Place a small ruler (here's where a sewing hem gauge with a moveable pointer comes in handy) with the 1" mark at the beginning of one stitch. Count the number of stitches between the 1" mark and the 2" mark on a horizontal row. If there are partial stitches in between this inch, count the stitches in between two inches or three inches, until you have the number of whole stitches. This is your stitch gauge.
Next, place your ruler so that the 1" mark is at the bottom of a vertical row. Count the number of rows between the 1" mark and the 2" mark. Again, if you have partial rows, count another inch or two until you have the number of complete rows. This is your row gauge.
- How much yarn will I need to purchase?
The pattern should provide the total yardage for each size. Divide this number by the number of yards per skein on the yarn you plan to use. This will give you an approximate number of skeins. It is a good idea to buy a little more than you think you need to ensure that your skeins will work well together in your finished piece.
- What does drapability mean?
Drapability refers to the stiffness or softness of the finished project.
A project crocheted or knitted with a heavy yarn and small hooks or needles will not drape well -- it will be very stiff. Conversely, a project crocheted or knitted with large needles or hooks and very fine yarn will be very limp -- fine for shawls, but not really good for sweaters.
- What knitting needles should I use with a type of yarn?
Needle size will vary from person to person and with the type of fabric you are attempting to create. Socks are usually knit at a very tight gauge, with small needles; sweaters are typically knit with a nice medium gauge to balance drape and sturdiness in the garment. Generally, you will use a US #1 -5 for lace weight yarn, US #1 – 5 for fingering yarn, and US #5 – 7 for DK weight. Worsted weight yarn calls for US size 8 needles on average and with Bulky, needle size ranges from 10 up through 13.
- Do you keep track of dyelots?
We don't number dyelots at DFF because each skein is hand-dyed in small batches. However, we try to match multiple-skein orders as best we can -- we know it's important for your projects and want to get it right for you.
- Do you dye cotton or linen?
We dye animal fibers only (wool, silk, cashmere), although we do work with blends including nylon, bamboo and sea cell.
- I want a custom order. Is this possible?
Absolutely -- sometimes custom orders during show season can take a while to process. Simply contact us and let us know what you want -- we'll let you know if we have the base and give you an estimated timeline for delivery.
- The yarn I received isn't what I thought it would be from the picture. Can I return it?
Unfortunately, not everyone's monitor shows color the same way! But if you're not happy, we'll
accept returns within 30 days of purchase; see instructions here.
- What is the schedule for updates to the web shop?
When we are on schedule, we update the shop Tuesday afternoons at 2 pm EST. Stay in touch, though, as this tends to change based on other events.
- I'm in town and would love to see the studio. Can I just drop by?
We have Open Studio hours on Thursdays from 8 am-2 pm. For other times, please contact us by phone or email and we'll do our best to make it work.
- My LYS doesn't carry Dragonfly Fibers, and I would love to put the owner in touch with you. Who should they talk to?
Our wholesale manager is Tiger Causby; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at the studio: 301.312.6883.