An Explanation of Yarn Types

10:26 AM

There are so many different types of yarn to choose from: fat yarns, skinny yarns, soft yarns, rough yarns, yarns made of acrylic or yarns made of wool. So where do you start? Generally, I like to categorize yarn in two ways - the fiber they are made of, and their weight or thickness.

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There are many yarn fiber types out there, but I'm only going to go over the ones you will probably come across most often. These are: cotton, wool, acrylic, polyester or blends.

Cotton is an organic, plant based fiber. It's great to make washcloths, dishcloths, potholders and market bags with. It's super durable, and washes great but generally isn't that soft. I generally steer away from it for clothing items, although that doesn't mean you don't have to!

Wool is an organic, animal based fiber. You can make sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, purses etc. from it. The possibilities are endless. It dries really quickly when wet and lasts a long time if well cared for. The only downside to wool (especially 100% wool) is the washing requirements. It does best if hand washed, and should not be put through the dryer.

Acrylic is made up of synthetic, manufactured fibers made from a type of plastic. It's the cheapest material on the market and somewhat equivalent to wool, as that it is lightweight, soft and warm. Unlike wool it is machine washable. However, it is much more flammable than natural fibers, and should not be used for kitchen items such as potholders.

Yarn blends such as acrylic-wool are becoming more and more popular. Lion brand has a yarn called Wool-Ease that is quite nice. It's 80% acrylic and 20% wool, with the luxury feel of wool and the washability of acrylic. There are other blends out there such as bamboo, cashmere and cotton, but acrylic-wool is probably the most common.


Yarn weights from heaviest to thinnest: super bulky, bulky, medium (worsted generally falls under this category), light, fine, super fine, and lace. Lace uses 1.5mm-2.25 mm; super bully uses 9mm or larger. Bulky yarns are better for blankets, hats and scarves, while thinner yarns are good for projects such as curtains or lacy table runners.

A good rule of thumb to know is - the thinner the yarn, the longer the project is going to make. Thicker yarns generally work up much quicker, but also need more material to do a project.

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