Yarn 101: Texture


various yarn textures

We often hear that one of the hardest parts of shopping for yarn online is that you can't physically *touch* it. After all, how a yarn feels is a large part of how it feels to work with it and how the finished object will wear. We totally get that!

That's why we have a whole search section devoted to Texture on our site. It's worth noting that the characteristics below are not mutually exclusive. They're based on qualities that we hear customers mention most often, and that help us to describe a yarn most effectively. On our site, this axis of texture combines both subjective characteristics like fuzziness, as well as objective manufacturing qualities like ply.

Walk with us... 

fuzzyFUZZY

Mohair is the obvious example of fuzzy, but we have put other yarns in this category, too. Think anything with wispy bits wafting in the breeze like alpaca or baby llama. These yarns practically beg to be touched.

As far as uses go, fuzzy yarn is wonderful for things worn next to the skin like sweaters, scarves, and hats. Soft and fluffy blanket? Yes!

Where it isn't the best choice? If you have a pattern with a fancy stitch or colorwork, the fuzz-factor will tend to obscure your hard work.

Also, mohair is notorious for being hard to work with because all the long hairs lock together, making it devilishly hard to rip back and fix your mistakes. Pro tip: freeze your project and then rip it back!

smoothSMOOTH

Much of what you think of as "typical" yarn falls in this field. Merino, superwash wool, linen, cotton, and acrylics are all examples of what we mean by smooth. These yarns offer a refined look and feel.

Smooth yarn probably has the most uses. It is going to show stitchwork and colorwork like a dream. You can bead it and not worry about the beads getting lost in fuzz. Depending on the fiber it is made out of, things that take a lot of wear like a sock or mitten are going to hold up well with lots of use.

Potential downsides are the other side of the same coin - the lack of texture will show off your work for good or for ill. That means that a plain garment will remain plain and there's nothing to obscure mistakes.

singleSINGLE PLY

We did a whole post on what ply means. The short version is this: single ply yarns are a single strand of yarn with a twist to it. Single ply yarns tends to have a bit of a halo, but not necessarily as fuzzy as our "fuzzy" category. They are often ever so slightly uneven.

Single ply yarns are soft and their unfettered character makes for lovely shawls, hats, scarves, cowls. Their suitability for sweaters depends on you. Multiple plies add strength and durability so a single ply yarn will tend to pill much faster than other yarns.

This means this is NOT what you want to make socks or other heavily used garments out of. They just won't last and will look shabby quickly. Trust us.

chainetteCHAINETTE

Chainette yarns are a bit like knitting with a very, very, very thin pre-knit strand. The structure adds some stretch to normally inelastic fibers like cotton and linen. It can also help give a nice stitch definition to the resulting garment.

Chainette yarn can be really fun to work up. The resulting fabric has a different look and texture than traditional plied yarns. You might love it or hate it, but this type of yarn can make it possible to get results with cotton and linen that you otherwise couldn't.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The texture of your yarn can affect the final product as much as fiber or color or even weight. Keep in mind your goals and play to ever yarn's strengths!