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Mystery KAL - yarn choices

If you enjoy surprises, the fun part of a mystery knit-along is not knowing what you're making before you start. However, this leads to the most challenging part of a mystery KAL: how do you choose the right yarn, if you don't know what you're making?

Specifically, the yarn you choose for the main toy will make a big impact on the finished look and other qualities (softness, texture, how cuddly the toy will be). I've tried to provide some tips within the pattern notes, as well as a gauge to aim for. I also shared the yarn I'll (maybe) be using to knit a sample to use for photos of the weekly clues. Of course, all this advice depends a lot on what yarn you can get where you live. I had some trouble sourcing yarn myself, but I do have a few options to show you. In this post, I'm going to expand on these suggestions, in the hopes that you'll be able to make the best yarn choice for your project.

four knitted swatches of four different yarns and yarn combinations, with tape measure
Four possible yarn choices for the Mystery Knit-Along. All of these swatches are 16 stitches wide and 17 rows tall.

Starting with the swatch from the bottom left of the above photo, this is the yarn combination shown in previous photos for the KAL. This swatch is knit with one strand of Knit Pick's Swish Bulky yarn, in the Squirrel Heather colour, and one strand of Knit Pick's Aloft yarn, in the Oat colour. I added the strand of Aloft yarn so the knitted fabric would have a soft, fuzzy halo. The Swish Bulky yarn is a bit finer than what I'd really like for the toy, and I had to knit the swatch on 5 mm (US size 8) needles, in order to get a dense-enough fabric. The gauge for this swatch is 4.25 sts and 5.5 rows per 2.5 cm (1"). So, if I use this yarn to knit the toy, it will turn out a little smaller than the expected 40 cm (16"). However, the knitted fabric is very soft, and the colour will be easy to photograph (something I need to consider).

knitted swatch in taupe and light caramel coloured yarns
Swish Bulky yarn plus Aloft Lace yarn

The next swatch is knit from one strand of plain worsted weight wool yarn, and one strand of very fuzzy alpaca yarn. Both of these yarns are old ones from my stash, and likely discontinued, but I wanted to show how to use a combination of yarns to achieve the right colour and texture for your project. This swatch was also knit on 5 mm (US size 8) needles, and has a gauge of 4 sts and 5.5 rows per 2.5 cm (1"). While the stitch gauge is good for this yarn combination, the toy might end up a little shorter than expected. One point I want to add: if you're not confident in your skills at increasing and decreasing, using two strands of yarn held together might be a challenge. But, it's also a good skill to learn if you feel ready!

a knitted swatch in caramel brown, knit from two strands of yarn, with measuring tape
One strand of worsted weight wool yarn, plus one strand of worsted weight alpaca yarn

The third swatch is knit from a fuzzy acrylic yarn: Hygge from Red Heart (Ravelry link). I couldn't get the colour I wanted (latte, a light chocolate brown), but this lavender colour will make a fun toy anyway! This yarn is affordable, easy to care for, soft, and has a texture that is perfect for the mystery toy. I knit this swatch on 5 mm (US size 8) needles as well - the yarn is a bit slippery, making the fabric too loose on the 5.5 mm (US size 9) needles. I got a gauge of 3.5 stitches and 5 rows per 2.5 cm (1"), so the finished toy will be nicely plump and just the right size. I bought 2 balls of yarn, just in case; but with 121 m per 141 g (132 yds per 5 oz), I might only need one ball.

a knitted swatch made with fuzzy acrylic yarn, in lavender, with measuring tape
One strand of bulky weight, fuzzy, acrylic yarn

The final swatch is knit from Hue+Me yarn from Lion Brand (Ravelry link), in the Spicy colour. This is the same brand of yarn I used to knit the manatee, and it's held up well to a full year of cuddling by my youngest kid. This yarn has some wool in the blend, but it's machine washable, if that's something you need to consider. I knit the swatch on 5.5 mm (US size 9) needles, and got a gauge of 3.5 sts and 5 rows per 2.5 cm (1"). Like the yarn above, this will make a big, plump toy. The only downside to this yarn is that it's not really fuzzy, and I suspect it will pill if I try brushing it to make it fuzzier. The colour is nice and warm, though, and there should be enough in one ball to knit the whole toy.

a knitted swatch made from bulky yarn, in reddish brown, with measuring tape
One strand of bulky weight acrylic/wool yarn

Two other yarns I considered, but don't have on hand to show you:

1. Brown Sheep Company Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn (Ravelry link). This is what I used to knit the Sasquatch and Yeti toys, so I know the gauge is good for the mystery toy. However, I find it a bit scratchy, so it might not be the best choice for a cuddling toy.

2. Lettlopi yarn, which comes in lots of colours, and is the same gauge as the Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn. I also find this one scratchy, but I know lots of people love it.

I'm so excited to get the knit-along started, and it will be hard to wait 3 weeks until we begin! If you're not sure about joining, I hope this post will help convince you. For those of you who already bought the pattern, thank you! I know some of you have already picked out their yarns. If you found a good one, please share in the comments.


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