Yarn 101: Fiber

Ah, fiber content. It’s both a little thing and a BIG thing! What you knit or crochet with can make a huge difference in your project both in terms of how it wears, how it lasts, and how it blocks. Let’s quickly break down the most common fibers for knitting and crochet.

WOOLwool yarn

  • The classic. It will wear well, it will hold stitch definition, and it will show off colorwork.
  • Warm and breathable even when wet.
  • Superwash or not? Superwash has some great benefits (washability, vibrant colors), but not everyone is in love with the chemical-intensive process that produces it. Also, projects made with superwash yarn can grow when washed.
  • Non-superwash wool (a.k.a. wool) can be felted! Hopefully on purpose...
  • Shown here: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight

ALPACAalpaca yarn

  • Warm and drapey are some of the biggest characteristics of alpaca.
  • It is naturally water-resistant and water repellent.
  • Depending on the quality and your skin it can range from super soft to kinda itchy…
  • Less elastic than wool - garments have a tendency to grow and stretch out.
  • If you are lucky enough to live around Portland, there are lots of local alpaca farms you can visit and enjoy alpaca from start to finish!
  • Shown here: Berroco Ultra Alpaca

CASHMEREcashmere yarn

  • Soft, warm, and drapey, cashmere can be dreamy to use and to wear.
  • Because of its expense, it is often found in blends with other fibers.
  • Fun fact - it comes from goats!
  • Shown here: Jojoland 4-Ply Cashmere

SILKsilk yarn

  • It can be devilishly slippery to knit or crochet, but that means your finished garment will drape like a dream.
  • Most often seen as a blend with other fibers. This helps with both the expense and makes it easier to work with.
  • It not only adds warmth to your project but it takes dyes vibrantly, which means the colors are often amazing...
  • Shown here: Blissful Knits Platinum Sock

LINENlinen yarn

  • Linen is a plant fiber that doesn't have much natural bounce or elasticity, though it does soften up as it is worked, washed, and worn.
  • Lightweight and drapey, it's a great choice for summer projects.
  • It's quite durable, which also makes it a great choice for bags and washcloths.
  • Shown here: Quince & Co. Sparrow

BAMBOObamboo yarn

  • Drapey, glossy, and soft.
  • It's washable and durable and gives a lovely sheen to fabric somewhat like silk.
  • It's plant-based and, on its own, vegan!
  • It absorbs more water than cotton which means it's also a great choice for washcloths.
  • Shown here: HiKoo Sueno Sport

MOHAIRmohair yarn

  • Fluffy as all get out!
  • Adds warmth but, be warned, it's incredibly feltable...
  • Hard to knit and crochet because the fluff makes it difficult to see your stitches, it tangles easily, and it is hard to tear out if you make a mistake.
  • Shown here: Knitted Wit Fairy Floss

COTTONcotton yarn

  • Lightweight and non-stretchy, it has been a washcloth standard for decades!
  • Does not hold its shape for colorwork very well.
  • Many find it easy to learn to crochet with cotton but, conversely, it’s not recommended to use when learning to knit.
  • Shown here: DanDoh Cotton Fine

SYNTHETICacrylic yarn

  • Oft-maligned, synthetic fibers like nylon and acrylic can still make a great yarn. Acrylics have come a long way in recent years and can add needed washability and durability to your yarn if it is blended with other fibers.
  • If you are making something for babies or kids, it's a great choice!
  • It's vegan!
  • Shown here: Berroco Comfort Worsted

And fiber blends? Well, when done correctly, they can combine the best qualities of all the component fibers and overcome each others shortcomings. This is one reason you'll see so many fiber blends on your LYS shelves.

We hope this quick review of common yarn fibers is helpful. If you need specific recommendations for your next project, just ask a Twistedista!

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