All yarn for knitting or crocheting is made from natural or synthetic fibers. Different types have different qualities – some good, some not so good.
These can also be blended by manufacturers to offset an undesirable characteristic – such as itchiness – as much as I love pure wool I can’t wear it.
I’ve tried to put together some of the most common.
Wool is made from the fleece of sheep and remains a popular choice. But not all wool is the same:
- Lamb’s wool: from a young lamb’s first shearing.
- Merino wool: comes from the Merino or Jackson sheep and is considered the finest of the fine breeds. It has fantastic softness, shine and breathability.
- Pure new wool/virgin wool: made directly from animal fleece and not recycled from existing wool garments.
- Shetland wool: made from the small and hardy native sheep of the Shetland Islands.
- Icelandic wool: a rustic, soft yarn and has some incredible waterproof properties
- Washable wool: treated chemically or electronically to destroy the outer fuzzy layer of fibres to prevent shrinkage during washing.
Is made from shearings of non-sheep animals
- Mohair from Angora goats
- Cashmere from Kashmir goats
- Angora come from Angora rabbits – but please be aware there have been questions raised over the methods used by large scale manufactures.
- Silk, cotton, linen – slippery, smooth, and often shiny yarns.
- Plant based: soy, bamboo, corn etc.
- Synthetic: Including nylon, acrylic, and polyester.
These are easy to recognize because their appearance is so different from traditional yarns.
They can vary from being tricky to work with to being downright difficult. Identifying individual stitches in highly textured yarns is difficult, if not impossible, making it hard to fix mistakes or rip out stitches.
However the end results can be stunning and make up for the stress of working with them.
- Ribbon: a knitted ribbon in rayon or a rayon blend.
- Bouclé: highly bumpy, textured yarn is composed of loops.
- Chenille: tricky to knit with, this yarn has an attractive appearance and velvety texture.
- Thick-thin: alternates between very thick and thin sections, which lends a bumpy look to knitted fabric.
- Railroad ribbon: has tiny “tracks” of fiber strung between two parallel strands of thread.
- Faux fur: fluffy fibre strands on a strong base thread of nylon resemble faux fur when knitted.
These usually traditional types of yarn create special looks.
- Tweed: Has a background colour flecked with bits of fibre in different colors.
- Heather: Blended from a number of different-coloured or dyed fleeces, and then spun.
- Marled (ragg): A plied yarn in which the plies are different colours.
- Variegated: Dyed in several different colours or shades of a single colour.