Do you knit or crochet? Do you love to make scarves, blankets, and other items with yarn? If so, then this article will be perfect for you. There are many different types of yarn, and we will talk about the different types in detail. You’ll learn about their properties and application as well as their pros and cons. This article includes all the information that a beginner needs to know about yarn types!
Different Types of Yarn for Knitting
|Best for Knitting Winter Clothing
|Best for Shawls & Outer Clothing
||2. Merino Wool
|Best for Small Stitches
|Best for Home Decor
|Best Wool Alternative
|Best for Making Finer Fabrics
|Best for Making Scrubbies
|Best for Making Gloves
|Best for Making Luxury Garment
|Best for Hand Dyeing
Wool is available from many different animals, which can create a variety of textures for the knitter as they work on their projects. Sheep’s wool is by far one of the most common types that people use in crafting because it has such softness and versatility! It’s warm yet not too hot if used appropriately – making it perfect for winter sweaters or scarves during the cooler months without being uncomfortable while working in those adverse weathers.
Plus, these yarns can be dyed into color transitioning yarn pretty effortlessly.
Properties of Wool
- Wool is warm, soft, and durable
- Boasts a lot of elasticity, so you can create less rigid projects like scarves or blankets with ease (great for beginners!)
- Yarn made from this material usually are light and quick to dry
- It’s not recommended that you use wool yarn if you’re allergic!
This one consists of two or more differently spun fibers put together. The most common blend contains at least 50% wool, but there are also ones that contain some synthetic materials too – they’re mostly used for warmer garments such as sweaters because they keep your body heat inside them better than other yarns do.
Types of Wool Yarn
There are different types of wool yarn, and each one is suitable for a different kind of project. The most common ones according to type are:
Medium-weight, heavy-worsted, bulky yarns – these three types have a thickness that ranges between 12st/25g (superfine) and 15st/125g (bulky). These kinds of yarns can be used in the creation of either fine or thick garments with ease.
The different types of wool yarn are classified by the percentage that it contains:
- 25% Wool
This type typically has a light texture, but it’s also not very durable, so you don’t really want to use this for anything other than decorative purposes.
- 50% Wool
Usually slightly rough feeling with an uneven surface due to its low luster; it can withstand frequent usage because of its durability.
- 75% Wool
Softest kind of wool yarn, which produces a lot of heat when worn during the winter months as well as being easy to maintain due to the fact that dirt does not stick. This is a perfect yarn for knitting chunky blankets if you’ve got the big blanket knitting needles.
They possess an exceptional property, which is known as the heat of wetting. That means it can generate heat when it’s wetted.
Uses of Wool Yarn
Wool yarn is commonly used in knitting and weaving. It can be made into garments, blankets, rugs, and more! Because these provide warmth in winter and remain cool in winter, wool yarns are also regarded as the best yarn for slippers.
2. Merino Wool
This type of wool yarn is obtained from merino wool.
Merino wool is often used in clothing because of its softness and the yarn’s ability to resist shrinking. It can be difficult to work with because it does not stretch as much as other types of wool, which makes it less elastic when knitted into a garment; also, there are fewer colors available for this type of wool yarn.
Properties of Merino Wool
- More durable than silk and other natural yarns
- Easy to care for (machine washable)
- Standard weight: 100 grams/ 175 yards, Heavyweight: 140 grams / 210 yards. Light Weight: 50 grams / 104 yards
Uses of Merino Wool
- Winter clothing
- Shawls and other outerwear garments that need to be more durable because they get a lot of exposure or wear
Well, this yarn type doesn’t need any introduction, really. Cotton is one of the most popular yarn types. It’s very soft and breathable, which makes it perfect for warmer weather projects – like summer sweaters! Cotton also has a lot of drape to it as well, so if you’re looking for clothes that are flowy or loose-fitting, this would be the yarn type to go with. On a side note, you can make cotton yarns yourselves if you own the best beginner spinning wheel.
Properties of Cotton
- Soft and breathable
- Has a lot of drape to it, which makes it perfect for looser fitting clothing
- Readily available anywhere from grocery stores to yarn specialty stores
- Machine washable and dryer safe
- Holds up well in humid climates when taken care of properly
Uses of Cotton Yarn
It’s best if the cotton yarn is used for projects with short rows and small stitches such as afghans, scarves, dishcloths, heat resistant batting for placemats, etc. The loose fibers make it difficult to work on large knitting or crochet projects requiring tight stitching, which means using other types of yarns should be considered (eucalyptus being one).
This one is also a popular type of yarn. It’s very inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of colors, which makes it ideal for the novice knitter or crocheter who is trying to save money on materials. Plus, they can be an excellent candidate for the title of the best yarn for placemats. Acrylic yarns are usually not as durable as wool, but they can be machine washed and dried easily, making them great for kids’ clothes that need frequent washing (a comfy sweater for school).
Properties of Acrylic Yarn
- It usually comes in bright colors, making it great for children’s clothing projects or baby blankets.
- The yarn also can be machine washed and dried, which makes it ideal for larger items that get more wear, like sweaters.
- Acrylic yarns are not as durable as wool and should never be used on needles smaller than size 13 to avoid splitting the yarn (and creating holes).
- These types of yarn are very inexpensive, so they’re often chosen by first-time knitters/crocheters who want to save money on materials but don’t mind using something less durable since their project will not last long anyway.
- They come in just about any color imaginable
Uses of Acrylic Yarn
This yarn is perfect for making sweaters, blankets, and other wearable items.
It can also be used to make home decor such as pillows or curtains since it is not fragile like wool yarns.
Knitted Items Made with Acrylic Yarn: Sweater, blanket, scarf, shawl
Crocheted Items Made with Acrylic Yarn: Scarf, hat (with ear flap), pillow covers.
The fleece of this animal has been used for centuries by people who live in mountainous regions because alpacas are very well adapted to these climates with their thick wool coats, which protect them from freezing temperatures and also provide insulation against the sun’s rays during warmer months. Alpaca yarn can be found in a variety of weights as well as colors that mimic natural sheep’s wool but without some harsh chemicals like lanolin or acid dyes that might irritate your skin.
Properties of Alpaca Yarn
- This one is sourced from the animal just like wool. But unlike wool yarns, alpaca yarn is not itchy.
- It has a soft texture and creates a warm fabric that can be made into sweaters or cardigans for winter wear.
- Like wool, it has a tendency to felt. So, beware of the felting issue if you’re thinking about throwing it in the washer.
Uses of Alpaca
It is similar to wool yarns but costs a bit more.
Knitted Items Made with Alpaca Yarn: Scarf, sweater (cozy), shawl, blanket, mittens
Crocheted Items Made with Alpaca Yarn: Tie or belt.
This luxurious yarn comes from the coats of cashmere goats. It can be expensive, but knitted or crocheted projects made with this fiber will last longer than those created with wool. Cashmere is also softer than wool, so your finished project will feel lighter on your body. You’ll want to take care when washing these items by hand – always use cold water and dry flat; you don’t want to risk felting the yarn.
Properties of Cashmere Yarn
- Soft, lightweight fabric that is luxurious and expensive but worth it when creating a long-lasting project
- Not as durable or eco-friendly as wool yarns; cashmere has to be dry cleaned only
- Too soft for sewing because of its flimsy structure
Uses of Cashmere Yarn
Can be used for jumper, scarf, sock, etc.
This organic fiber comes from hemp plants which are grown in many different climates. It’s not just environmentally friendly – this plant can also help conserve resources since it doesn’t require much fertilizer or pesticide use while growing. Hemp is strong and sturdy but still offers flexibility when you’re knitting stitches with it, so your finished items will look good without having too stiff of a feeling against the skin. You’ll want to take care during washing with this yarn, though. It will likely shrink when put into a hot dryer or in the washing machine, and it’s not colorfast, so you might notice some bleeding of colors.
Properties of Hemp Yarn
- Very strong
- Sturdy and flexible
- Doesn’t require much pesticide or fertilizer to grow
- Won’t shrink in the washing machine. However, it will likely change size when dried over high heat since hemp is not colorfast.
Uses of Hemp Yarn
Can be used for scrubbies, coats, etc.
Bamboo yarn is usually composed of a blend of bamboo and cotton or wool.
It’s more durable than synthetic fibers, which can make it difficult to knit with because the fiber loops are really tight, making it hard to get through each stitch without pulling on the fabric too much.
Properties of Bamboo Yarn
- Fantastic drape property
- Contrary to popular belief, these yarns can be really soft, even softer than silk!
Bamboo Yarn Uses
- Different types of scarves, sweaters, hats, etc.
- Bags and purses sometimes use bamboo yarn, too, because of how durable it is without any finishing touches.
- Can also be used for scrubbies (if blended with wool), coats, anything really!
Undoubtedly, the best-known type of yarn from centuries ago if you consider the strength aspect. Silk yarn is smooth and has a lustrous finish to it. It’s not as durable as wool or acrylic, but its softness cannot be denied. Before the invention of nylon yarns, silk was the go-to choice for knitting strong and shiny clothes.
Properties of Silk
- It’s lightweight
- Soft to the touch
- Strongest natural fiber
Silk Yarn Uses
Anything luxurious! Scarves, sweaters, etc.; any fabric that needs an elegant feel. However, some people find it difficult to knit with because it can be difficult to keep track of the yarn when working quickly.
This yarn type is a product of goat hair – the Angora goat. You can already guess that this yarn should be pricier than wool since it’s sourced from a not-so-available animal.
Properties of Mohair Yarn
- Durable when knitted
- Soft and luxurious to the touch. It is also lightweight, allowing it to be used in garments that need a lot of movement or stretch as well.
- Gentle on people with skin sensitivities because it does not produce allergic reactions nor itchiness.
- Easy hand-dyeing properties
- Sports a great degree of luster
Uses of Mohair Yarn
Wall fabrics, gloves, hats, carpets, etc.
What Are Yarn Weights?
Yarn weight is how thick or thin a yarn strand is. It’s also known as yarn count. Yarn thickness ranges from heavy-worsted, which tends to be on the thicker side, to sporty and very lightweight fingering yarns. The thinner yarns are typically easier for beginners because they’re less likely to cause frustration when working with more intricate stitches.
Yarn Weight Categories
Yarn weights are divided into categories based on thickness.
Super Bulky Yarns
These yarns have a weight of heavy worsted, or heavier and generally measure between 11 – 13 stitches per inch (spi).
Yarn that falls in this category measures 14 – 22 spi. This is the yarn weight category that is used for making quick and cozy throws or more substantial garments.
Yarn in this weight range measures between 23 – 27 spi, which makes it a great choice for large projects like rugs, afghans, and sweaters.
These yarns have a weight of chunky and generally measure between 28 – 32 spi. This yarn category is best for doing large projects that require more than one skein, like blankets or sweaters.
Super Jumbo Yarns
Yarn in this weight range has a thickness heavy worsted and measures 33 – 36spi. The higher stitch per inch measurement makes it a good choice for cable and other textured patterns.
This type of yarn is generally used for medium-weight sweaters, socks, hats, scarves, or any project where the end result needs to be durable but not too heavy.
These are thinner than worsted yarns and, therefore, have more drape. This yarn category is best suited for light garments and accessories such as shawls, scarves, hats, or sweaters that require a lot of stretch to them.
Fingering Weight Yarn
These are thinner still than sport weights and work well on projects like socks, gloves, baby clothes where you need the maneuverability to achieve a lot of different stitches.
These are the thinnest, most delicate weight category and should be used only for knitted or crocheted items where you need a very lightweight fabric that will still have a body to it like shawls, scarves, lace tops.
What Does Yarn Ply Mean?
Ply is another word for the number of strands that have been twisted together. Generally, the more plies there are, the thicker and stronger your yarn will be.
Now, what does a 4-ply yarn mean? Well, that’s when you have four strands of yarn that have been twisted together.
As you can guess, the final thickness of the yarn will highly depend on the individual fiber thickness, i.e., micronaire value, and on the twist level to some degree. Therefore, it’s possible for a 4-ply yarn to be of the same resultant yarn thickness as that of 2-ply yarn.
Which Size of Yarn Should I Go For?
You might have noticed that yarns are often sold in a certain quantity or ball size. A standard knitting ball of yarn is 220 yards, and it’s enough for a single sweater using the average gauge.
To get different yardage options, you can either buy several balls at once, which will be more expensive per yard but will last longer, or you can buy yarn in different quantities.
A skein of yarn is typically 500 yards, which will be enough for a scarf on the average gauge with room to spare.
In order to get even more yardage and space, you can buy yarn by the cone or bolt. A standard yarn cone is 250 yards, whereas a regular cloth-based knitting bolt is measured around 600 yards.
A yarn spool offers a lot of space for knitting projects, containing anywhere from 1000 to 2400 yards depending on the size of the skein. The downside with this option is that it’s often more expensive than buying by cone or bolt, which can also be inconvenient if you don’t have a yarn winder.
Understanding Yarn Ball Label
The label on a yarn ball indicates the following things –
Yarn Weight and Type
The weight of the yarn and whether it’s a wool, acrylic, cotton blend, or other fiber content is mentioned on the label. Yarn weights are typically represented by numbers from 0-12, with 12 being the heaviest while anything below that is considered light in gauge.
If it’s a blended yarn, then the label will indicate what percentage of the yarn is made up from different fiber content. For example, if it says “Wool 65% Acrylic 35%,” then that means this yarn has more wool in it than acrylic and vice versa for an “Acrylic 70% Wool 30%” yarn.
The length of the yarn should also be indicated on the label. If it’s a yarn that comes in different lengths, then a simple list of all available lengths will be included and usually written something like this “100g/200m”.
Ideal Needle Size
The label will also indicate what needle size you should use when knitting or crocheting with it.
Yarn Gauge Specification
This parameter is defined as the number of stitches per inch.
The yarn gauge specification can be found in the middle or bottom edge of most balls for you to easily reference when knitting, crocheting, or any other needle art project.
The yarn’s applications may also be listed. This can include weft knitting, warp weaving, and crocheting, as well as other types of crafts like basket-weaving or macrame.
Care instructions are usually listed on the yarn ball label in addition to other information such as fiber content and weight. Whether you should machine wash the item is a major concern here.
Country of Manufacturer
The country where the yarn is manufactured or made, as well as who owns the copyright for it, should also be indicated on the yarn ball label.
Things to Look for While Buying Yarn
This will depend on your project. For example, if you are knitting a sweater for an infant with bulky yarn, then it would likely take less time to knit than if you were using worsted weight.
Naturally, different types of yarn will have different weights and qualities, so choose wisely based on what your project is. There are several different categories of yarn, and you should examine each closely before deciding on the right yarn for your project.
If you are targeting a blended yarn, then you will need to be aware of the different fibers and what they produce when spun into yarn. For example, if you are looking for wool that drapes well, then a blend with silk or alpaca is not going to work as it won’t have any elasticity at all.
The structure of yarn is just as important as what type you buy. There are three different structures to take into consideration when buying yarn: single, ply, and twisted (plied). Single-ply yarn will be heavier in weight than a plied yarn.
Texture of the Yarn Surface
The texture of the yarn’s surface can vary depending on many factors such as how it was spun, what material the fibers are made from, and even its washing process. Therefore, choose according to your desired look.
Color of the Yarn
If you don’t plan to dye your knitted items, then you need to keep in mind that the color of yarn can influence how they look. The lighter colors such as white and light gray are great for projects like baby blankets, while more powerful colors will be perfect for a trendy scarf.
Yarn Care Instructions
You must be aware of the fact that whether the yarn you are buying is machine washable or not. Otherwise, all your hard work may go in vain.
The more popular brands will guarantee a good quality product while lesser-known companies often churn out subpar products.
We hope we were able to educate you about all the yarn types, their strong and weak points, and their applications. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section. We have also dedicated an entire article covering the banana fibers. Consider checking that out, too.