Meet the Yarn: For Better or Worsted, part 2

Hi. I’m Penny. I’ve crocheted for over 30 years. My knitting experience is different—the technique only made sense to me in 2005, and I began to spin two years later. I’ve improved both skills at the same time—how yarn is made and how yarn becomes knit. Crochet wasn’t forgotten and I continued to choose yarns that echoed the characteristics of those I’d always used—smooth thread or fine weights. If I did venture into different yarns, my results didn’t meet my expectations based on my experiences with them knit. I wasn’t able to find an accessible resource explaining how yarns work in crochet.

When Jill began her “Meet the Yarn” series in Anzula yarns, I realized that here was an opportunity to answer my crochet questions. I am delighted to explore how each of Anzula’s yarns work from a crochet perspective.

In this new series, I’ll explore how the different construction of each yarn—the fiber composition, the structure (how it is spun and plied), and the weight—create specific results in crochet. While I am not diving deeply into specific gauges, I plan to answer how the yarn behaves as it is worked-up. Does it split? Is it easy to rip out and rework? Does it shine as one stitch and underwhelm in others or is it one that works with a variety of textures and motifs? Are there projects where I think it works best? I plan to explore the stitches in general, not focusing on gauge, though I may return to explore how extremes may influence a yarn. I believe that rules can be broken, I urge you to explore these yarns on your own and make your own discoveries.

We’ll begin with a powerhouse yarn for knitting—For Better or Worsted. This 4-ply yarn features super-wash merino, cashmere, and nylon. It’s a knitter’s dream, as Jill mentioned, this yarn is yummy, cushy, and soft. So, how is it for crochet?

Traditional crochet projects are often worked in thin, smooth thread. In knitting, the loops form the face of the fabric, so a yarn of this weight is appealing to modern knitters. It will work up quickly and the fabric isn’t burdensome in its bulk. However, by contrast, crochet stitches are stacked, the sides of each loop form the front and back of the fabric, creating a thicker denser fabric when worked in the same yarn.

A swatch of For Better or Worsted in stockinette with a garter stitch border (left), next to a single crochet swatch (right).

A swatch of For Better or Worsted in stockinette with a garter stitch border (left), next to a single crochet swatch (right).

We can see this when we contrast a stockinette swatch with a garter stitch border next to a single crochet swatch. This thickness and density is not necessarily a negative against For Better or Worsted, it is something we need to keep in mind when we choose a project. I think it is also why I personally lean toward lighter weight yarns for many of my crochet projects, though there are circumstances where this is a desired characteristic.

I found For Better or Worsted lovely to work-up, due to the worsted spinning of the yarn (not to be confused with the worsted weight). The four plies combine to add both strength and loft to the yarn and the ten percent cashmere adds a touch of luxury that made it a delight to both knit or crochet. There was no splitting or difficulty working any of my chosen stitches, even if I hard to rip them out more than once.

A swatch of For Better or Worsted beginning with single crochet and progressing through half-double and double crochet.

A swatch of For Better or Worsted beginning with single crochet and progressing through half-double and double crochet.

First is the swatch progressing from single crochet to half-double and ending with double crochet. While it’s worked at 16 stitches over 4in (10cm) I found that even the dense single crochet stitches have a beautiful drape after a light steam blocking.

I find it works in any of these basic stitches and looks great next to knitting too.

A swatch of For Better or Worsted in stockinette and garter stitch border (left), next to a crochet swatch of single crochet, half-double crochet, and double crochet (right, bottom-to-top).

A swatch of For Better or Worsted in stockinette and garter stitch border (left), next to a crochet swatch of single crochet, half-double crochet, and double crochet (right, bottom-to-top).

Next is what I think of as my default crochet motif, a granny square. It was very difficult to stop this one and break the yarn! It is super soft and squishy and begs to be used in accessories. I’d love to explore it in other motifs too.

A granny square in For Better or Worsted.

A granny square in For Better or Worsted.

The same is true for this texture. I was concerned that it might be extremely dense but, like the granny square, it shines.

Textured crochet stitch pattern in For Better or Worsted.

Textured crochet stitch pattern in For Better or Worsted.

Personally I am not a fan of even a mildly bulky net fabric, but this has grown on me. This swatch has only received a light steam block; I’m sure if I pinned it out the fabric would drape and create an accessory that would work during transitional seasons or an overactive air conditioner.

Net crochet stitch pattern in For Better or Worsted.

Net crochet stitch pattern in For Better or Worsted.

Now about that machine-washable characteristic: I am going to get over my fear and toss in all of these swatches the next time I do laundry. They’ll experience my normal choice, a warm wash and cold rinse. They’ll then be laid flat to dry. I’ll report in soon to let you know how they fair!

Crochet swatches in For Better or Worsted.

Crochet swatches in For Better or Worsted.

I could see a beautiful warm jacket with a textured stitch crocheted with this yarn. It is my opinion that it works best for accessories; warm mittens and hats come to mind. Shawls and wraps would be great too. I would love a cozy blanket to curl up with a book and my cats. As an example, Miriam Felton's Granny Log Cabin Blanket highlights the beauty of both knitting garter stitch and crochet; while she’s suggested Squishy or Dreamy I would love to work this up in For Better or Worsted!

This yarn is one that crocheters shouldn’t ignore.

All For Better or Worsted swatches were worked in Keola colorway.

Penny Shima Glanz spends her days spinning yarn and code into memorable projects. Small businesses rely on her for smart technology decisions. Designers rely on her to sample, test, and edit their hand-knit and crochet patterns. She loves muddy trail runs, fosters kittens, and lives in Westchester, NY with her husband and two resident cats.

Meet the Yarn: For Better or Worsted

Jill Wolcott

For Better or Worsted is so yummy to knit!  Again, we find that 10% cashmere, blended with 80% superwash Merino and 10% nylon.  This yarn is cushy and so soft a couple times I had to actually look at my hand to make sure I had the yarn tensioned in my fingers!


As I look at the yarns on my yarn shelf, there isn’t much in the way of worsted yarn.  I love DK, sport, fingering, lace.  I think of worsted as being best for hats, mittens, and other accessories. Because I like stitch patterns, worsted is sometimes just a touch too large for what I want to accomplish, but really, I have nothing against worsted; one of my favorite projects is done in a worsted weight!  When I make something out of worsted I wonder why I don’t use it more, but for me it is primarily best in accessories.  

For Better or Worsted is a 4-ply yarn, with a WPI of 11.  If you look at the other other yarns I’ve introduced here, the WPI is between 13 and 23, and this is the first 4-ply yarn.  It isn’t the first round yarn, but I don't believe it would be as round and cushy without that fourth ply. 


This got me really curious about plies.  It isn’t easy to find information on more than 3-ply yarn, so I appreciated the concise information I found here on

Four-ply plus

The more plies in a yarn, the stronger, more durable and more rounded it becomes, giving good structure to textured stitches and cables. The more plies you add, the more dense the yarn becomes, as all available space within the column of yarn is used up.

I was also  curious about twist per inch.  I count 14 or 15 TPI in For Better or Worsted. Comparably, Cricket has 11 TPI and Lucero (washed) has 10 TPI.  Here’s some information on twist which is useful, even if it is related to thread/yarn for textiles:

Twist may be defined as the spiral disposition of the components of a thread which is usually the result of relative rotation of the two ends. Twist is generally expressed as the number of turns per unit length of yarn, e.g. turns per inch (tpi), turns per metre (tpm), etc.

What exactly does twist do a yarn?

  1. The twist in a yarn binds the fibres together and helps to keep them in the respective positions. It thus gives coherence to yarn.

  2. Twist gives sufficient strength to the yarn.

  3. Twist is also used to bring about novel effects that are prominently visible when the yarn is converted to fabric. This is achieved primarily by having a combination of yarns with different twist levels and twist directions in the fabric.

As I finished my first swatch I grabbed my yarn tail and attempted to break the yarn as I always do (unless fiber content tells me it won’t).  That was not possible and I had to reach into my knitting box for scissors.  This is a strong yarn!

Here are the results from my exploration swatches and my project swatches.  I got curious about the garter stitch because there was so little row change.  I put my swatch up with a small amount of weight on the blocking wire and left it to hang for the weekend.  The Garter/Dressed numbers in the Blocked and Difference columns tell the result.  The difference is from Unblocked.

Garter Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Garter Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Garter Stitch Dressed

Garter Stitch Dressed

Stockinette Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Stockinette Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Seed Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Seed Stitch Blocked vs. Unblocked

Double Seed Stitch with 1x1 Rib, Unblocked

Double Seed Stitch with 1x1 Rib, Unblocked

Cross Stitch

Cross Stitch

I made my long-time favorite shawlette, Taos, in For Better or Worsted.  Taos in its original design is easy to wear as a flat small rectangular shawl or with the drawstring at the neckline pulled up.  I always wear it with it drawn up just enough to bring the ends to the front of my shoulders so I don’t have to worry about Taos staying in place.  While working on another design in worsted weight yarn I became enamored of making large buttonholes by increasing, so I did a version of Taos with that option, which will be added to the pattern soon.

Taos by Jill Wolcott

Taos by Jill Wolcott

The problem with buttonholes in knits is 1) finding the perfect button, and 2) getting the buttonhole to the right size and having it do its job without gaping, pulling, or coming undone. The buttonhole can be used with a shawl pin too!  The buttonhole closure option gives a little different feel to how Taos is worn. 

Taos with buttonhole by Jill Wolcott

Taos with buttonhole by Jill Wolcott

Notice how the roundness of the yarn works with the tonal coloration and what high relief there is in the garter, the eyelets, and the cross-stitch pattern.  Whatever you make in For Better or Worsted, these are things you can easily take advantage of in your knitting.

Keep up on all things Jill Wolcott:
Twitter: @jillwolcottknit
Instagram: @jillwolcottknits
Pinterest: Jill Wolcott Knits 

Pattern Spotlight: Jesse's Girl by Kate Oates

Thank you so much Anzula for having me as a guest to talk about one of the designs in my new book, Grown.  I'm honored to be here!  In addition to design details, I'd also like to share some modification info that could be of interest to knitters who prefer cardigans :)

This is Jesse's Girl.  It was inspired by Jesse Half-Zip, a sweater that was part of my Knits for Boys book and is also now available as a single pattern. My husband and my oldest son share the name Jesse. My son is the 4th generation actually, so the name has been in the family for quite a while. He modeled the Jesse Half-Zip, of course.  And so, I decided it was fitting for me to wear the Grown version.  I openly admit that I made Erica spend WAY more time shooting this piece than the others because I knew I was going to have trouble looking at these photos of myself, ha!

Both sweaters share a central cable pattern and utilize Anzula For Better or Worsted.

I can't help it.  Sometimes I accidentally have a favorite and from Grown, Jesse's Girl is it.

It has all of the things I love. Squishy yarn with incredible color and depth. Textured fabric with cables that pop.  Flattering lines. A scoopneck that I can accent with big sparkly jewelry. Purple.

I had a "knitting disaster" with this sweater.  I knit the entire body and then realized I needed to make an adjustment to the cable pattern.  For a day or two I sat on it, trying to figure out a way around ripping the whole thing out.

NOPE. I had to do it. Frogged the entire thing.  It was painful. So painful. I had been petting those cables for several weeks.  I forced myself to get right back on the horse and reknit it quickly before I had time to get more frustrated. As has happened every time I have made this kind of decision, I don't regret it.  All in the name of perfection!

This sweater is worked from the bottom up with raglan-style seamless sleeves. Shaping at each side flatters.  I am a mom of four.  These things are important. The shaping occurs outside of the underarm stitches in a sweet spot that works whether you are trying to create some curves or nicely accent those that are there without messing with either of the stitch patterns in the body.

I have already had several comments from folks who would like to see this design in a cardigan version.  I don't have any immediate plans to do that, but I am happy to share a few instructions on how you can accomplish this modification!  It is really nothing fancy.  It will be easiest to follow along with the Jesse's Girl pattern while reading these notes, but the principles are definitely applicable to other designs as well.

First, adjust the cast-on to remove width for the buttonband. For this design, I suggest you CO 6 fewer stitches.  This removes the center front cable only while providing for 2 selvedge stitches (one at each edge).  The selvedge stitches make it easy to pick up for your buttonband.  In this design, it is important to set up the Ribbing properly, so that your side Ribbing matches with the hem. With this in mind, set-up your Ribbing like this:

Row 1 (WS): P1, k1, *p2, k2; rep from * to last 4 sts, p2, k1, p1.

Row 2 (RS): K1, p1, *k2, p2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k2, p1, k1.

After you work the hem, and this is the only tricky part, map out your cable set-up row since the end-of-round for the pullover is not in the center front.  The easiest way to do this is to draw yourself a little picture like so:

Using the information in the existing pattern, fill in stitch count numbers for each section.  During the following row, you should be able to establish the stitch patterns properly and then you can knit back and forth for a while without thinking too hard. Do not forget to leave your first and last stitch as selvedge sts (that is, work them as knit on the RS and purl on the WS throughout the entire project and don't include them in your cable set up). You won't need to modify the sleeves or the sleeve join.


Next, determine your new center front neckline numbers. Subtract 6 sts (for the width you left out in your CO) from the total front neck stitches that are slipped to hold in the pullover  and divide the remaining sts in half.  The example below shows the smallest size. 22 stitches are slipped to hold for the front neck in the pattern.  After subtracting 6 and dividing by 2, 8 stitches should be put on hold for each side.

Work the remaining shaping just like for the pullover, taking into account that your end of row does not match the patterned end of round.  Your stitch counts both in total and in each section should match up at this point.  When you're all finished, pick up a multiple of 4 stitches plus 2 along those neckline stitches and use the same Ribbing pattern I provided for the hem.

Finish up with your buttonband, once again picking up a multiple of 4 sts plus 2, including along the vertical edge of the neckline.  This time, establish your Ribbing slightly differently...

Row 1 (WS): *P2, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, p2.

Row 2 (RS): *K2, p2; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2.

Your buttonband should be about 1.25" wide; place buttonholes as you like, with the top and bottom buttonholes about an inch away from each edge.  If you need help placing the buttonholes, use the Scholar Cardigan instructions as a guide. Buttonhole instructions are included in the Technique section of Grown.

I hope that sharing some of these notes with you is helpful! Grown is full of lots of tips and tricks to help you personalize your knits. After all, if you're making your own clothes, they might as well be just right.  For more details about the entire collection, check out this post. Click here to buy it now.

All the sweaters from Grown will be touring around in a Trunk Show next year, which is wonderful but kind of a downer for my closet.  I would really really REALLY like to knit myself this sweater.  Along with several others.  But I've already admitted this one is my favorite so yeah...  first up!  Before I say goodbye, here's a photo of the other Anzula sweater in Grown, shown on my guy. This is is the Eli Cardigan.