Around 5 years ago or so I was introduced to my first chainette-construction yarn. I was so surprised by it because it was a thicker yarn (in terms of the actual size of the strand and gauge it created) but it was light as a feather. How can a yarn be both light AND bulky at the same time? It’s all about that chainette construction! And if you have hesitated to knit bulky-weight gauge garments in the past due to the heaviness of bulky-weight yarn, then you may be especially interested in learning more about this type of yarn because it allows you to knit bulky-weight gauge garments that feel as light as a cloud.
What is chainette yarn?
Let’s take a closer look at chainette construction – here is a close-up shot of Berroco Dash and Woolfolk Luft:
A good explanation that Webs provides about chainette yarns is this:
Chainette Yarns have a chained ply that provides a hollow core. This increases the weight of the yarn without increasing the heft of the fabric knit or crocheted with it.webs.com
This hollow core is what gives the yarn it’s lightness. Chainette yarns also tend to have a lot of elasticity as well as strength. Chainette yarns aren’t just found in bulky-weight – you’ll find them available in lots of different types of weights, but they are quite popular in the bulky-weight category because of the lightness it provides.
What are some bulky-weight chainette yarns?
Here are just a few yarn ideas I’ve either worked with or seen lately:
Some interesting observations…
Since I’ve knit with chainette yarns a few times now, I wanted to share some of my personal observations that may be helpful:
- They can work for a wide range of gauges. You can knit with them loosely or tightly and the fabric often looks great either way.
- They can have a tighter row gauge than you would expect from the particular weight. For example, I’ve knit with several bulky-weight chainette yarns and with each, I’ve gotten stitch gauges of between 3-3.5 stitches per inch. And in both cases, my row gauges were in the 5.75-6 rows per inch. This row gauge is a tad tighter than you would find in typical wool yarns. I realized this must be something to do with that hollow core of the yarn and the way it knits up. It’s just something good to keep in mind if you are using this type of yarn in a pattern that doesn’t specifically call for it (i.e, you may need to work more rows/rounds to achieve the right length).
- Stitch gauge often grows/loosens up after blocking. Especially when working garments, it’s important to swatch and block your swatch to see what the fabric will do after-blocking. I have found that this type of yarn will often loosen up quite a bit after blocking!
- Less piling. Typically the softer the yarn, the more likely it will be to pill. But I’ve noticed that garments I’ve knit in chainette yarns don’t seem to have that same problem. I assume it must have something to do with the fibers being chained together in the ply.
Want to try one out? Check out my new pattern!
Just released today is my Airplane Mode scarf/shawlette. It uses Berroco’s new Dash yarn and would be a perfect opportunity to try out chainette-construction because it only calls for 2 balls of yarn and is super quick to knit too!
Chainette is not just for bulky-yarns
I highlighted bulky-weight chainette-construction yarns in this blog post (since it provides a way to lighten-up bulky-weight yarn), but they come in lots of different weights! Another great example I wanted to share comes courtesy of Yarn Refuge yarn shop in Reno, Nevado – some of their staff and customers have knit my Stevie design in Juniper Moon Cumulus – a worsted-weight chainette-construction yarn:
How fantastic do they all look? Cumulus (whether Dappled or the Solid Colors), is a great option for Stevie because it will feel so light-weight (despite the heavy-worsted-weight gauge). Thank you Yarn Refuge for allowing me to share your wonderful photo and inspiration! And if you like that longer-sleeve version, you can check out my blog post here for info on how to do it.
Ready to try out chainette yarns?
Whether it’s bulky-weight or some other weight, knitting with chainette-construction yarn can be so fun. Give it a try and let me know what you think!