Learning the different types of yarn for knitting may seem overwhelming. There are so many weights and fibres to choose from. Choosing the right yarn for your project is not that hard once you understand the basics.
Below, you will learn about all the types of yarn for knitting. I will explain the makeup of each type and its uses.
What are the Types of Yarn for Knitting?
When picking out your yarn you may notice there are different fibres to select from. You can choose from natural fibres, synthetic fibres, or a blend of both.
- Natural Yarn
Natural yarn is made from fibres created from plants and animals. Plant fibres can be made from things such as bamboo and cotton. Animal fibres are usually made from sheep and alpacas. Silk is another natural fibre. It is made from cocoons spun by silkworms. Yarn made with animal fibres typically requires special care.
o Merino Wool
- Synthetic Yarn
Synthetic yarn consists of man-made fibres made from petroleum. The fibres are known as polymers. Synthetic yarns include acrylic, polyester, nylon, and rayon. Synthetic fibres are easier to care for than animal fibres. However, they should not be used for projects that are exposed to heat.
- Blended Yarn
Blended yarn is created using a combination of natural fibres and synthetic fibres. Blending these types of yarn fibres improves the characteristics and texture of the yarn while reducing costs.
What Types of Fibres is Yarn Made From?
Below, I have listed the most common types of yarn fibres. These include natural, synthetic, and blended.
Alpaca fibres are made from the hairs of the alpaca. They are very soft and luxurious. Alpaca hairs are extremely fine and 5 times warmer than wool. Yarn made from alpaca hair is available in 22 natural colours.
This type of yarn is a wonderful choice for knitting cold weather projects that sit against the skin. Alpaca wool is also hypoallergenic, so if you suffer from allergies, it is a great alternative to wool.
Yarn made from alpaca hair can be washed in the washing machine. It must be washed on either the wool or gentle cycle using cold water. However, I would not recommend using the washing machine because the fibres can be damaged. Instead, wash it gently by hand and lay it flat to air dry.
Bamboo fibres are made from bamboo. It seems as though they would be rough, but instead, they are really soft and smooth. And since the fibres are made from bamboo, they are eco-friendly. Unlike cotton, bamboo grows back after it has been harvested.
Bamboo yarn is a great choice for making warm weather projects. You can find patterns such as tops, shawls, scarves, and cowls.
Cashmere is a very fine and luxurious type of wool. The fibres are very fine and lightweight. Cashmere fibres are made from hairs of the Kashmir and pashmina goats. Cashmere is extremely delicate, so it is often combined with other natural fibres to give it strength. Cashmere is often used to make super soft cardigans, scarves, cowls, etc.
Supposedly, cashmere can be machine washed on the wool setting using a special detergent. I do not recommend this. Cashmere is very delicate and is easily damaged. I would not take the chance of putting it in the washer. I always recommend gently washing cashmere by hand. Cashmere must be left to dry naturally.
Cotton yarn fibres are made from 100% cotton. Cotton is one of the oldest types of materials ever used. It is durable, breathable, and hypoallergenic. Some knitters find cotton yarn hard to work with. The fibres are slippery making it difficult to keep a constant tension. Cotton yarn is frequently used to knit items like towels, washcloths, potholders, rugs, etc.
Projects made with cotton yarn are generally machine washable. You can use either cool or warm water. Cotton yarn can be dried in the dryer, on low heat. High heat can damage and shrink the fibres.
- Manmade Yarns
Acrylic, polyester, nylon, and rayon are all manmade yarns, The yarn fibres are made from petroleum-based projects. The polymer fibres are created by specially treating petroleum. Once the polymers are made, they are formed into long threads. Manmade yarns should not be exposed to heat.
A lot of knitters like manmade yarns because they are inexpensive, hypoallergenic, durable, and easy to clean. Most manmade types of yarn are machine washable and dryable. However, you do not want to use hot water or high heat.
Merino wool is made from merino sheep. It is a very soft wool ideal for cold weather projects that touch the skin. You can use merino wool to make items such as hats, gloves, cowls, scarves, and sweaters.
Even though merino wool is machine washable on a gentle cycle using cool or warm water, I do not recommend it. The washer and drier can damage the fibres and decrease the lifespan of your garment.
Silk fibres are made from cocoons spun by the silkworm. The yarn is very luxurious. Cocoons are gathered and carefully unwound into single threads of silk. After the threads are unravelled, they are bound together to create length. Then they are intertwined to create thickness. Silk yarn is used to make lightweight projects such as tops, shawls, and scarves.
Silk is a very delicate fibre. It should only be handwashed using a special detergent and left to air dry. Before washing any silk item, you should check it for colour fastness.
Wool is made from the hairs of sheep. It can be very rough and itchy. After washing, some wool may soften up. Wool is warm and durable, making it a fantastic choice for winter projects. It can be used to knit socks, hats, scarves, sweaters, gloves, scarves, and cowls. If you are making an item for a friend, make sure they are not allergic to wool.
If your washer has a wool setting, you can wash your wool pieces. However, wool easily felts. Therefore, I never recommend using the washing machine to wash these types of yarn. I always gently washed all wool articles by hand using a special wool detergent. Then I leave it flat to dry naturally.
What are the Different Yarn Weights?
Believe it or not; yarn weight does not have to do with the actual weight. Instead, it describes the thickness. If you are new to knitting, this is just one more term that can be very perplexing.
Below, I have listed the 7 most common types of yarn weights. I have broken down each category so they are easier to understand. There are descriptions of each weight as well as some examples of the projects they are used for.
- Yarn Weight 0
Yarn weight 0 is a very fine yarn. It is also known as lace weight yarn. It can be used to make dainty items such as lace, doilies, shawls, etc.
- Yarn Weight 1
Yarn weight 1 is a thin yarn. It is also known as super fine yarn, sock yarn, baby yarn, and fingering weight yarn. In most instances, yarn weight 1 can be used in place of yarn weight 0. If you do make a substitute, make sure you use the correct size crochet hook. Fingering weight yarn is often recommended for shawls, socks, baby clothes, scarves, etc.
- Yarn Weight 2
Yarn weight 2 is a thin yarn that is a little bit thicker than lace weight yarn. It is often referred to as sport weight yarn. Yarn weight 2 is a wonderful yarn for making lightweight blankets, socks, baby clothes, and more.
- Yarn Weight 3
Yarn weight 3 is the most versatile type of yarn there is. It is a medium weight yarn. It is also known as light worsted and DK yarn. Yarn weight 3 can be used in a wide variety of patterns, from blankets and pillows to scarves and hats.
- Yarn Weight 4
Yarn weight 4 is a medium sized yarn. It is also known as Aran and afghan yarn. It is one of the most common types of yarn you will find used in patterns. Some of the items you can make with yarn weight 4 are scarves, mittens, hats, and sweaters.
- Yarn Weight 5
Yarn weight 5 is a thick yarn. It is also known as chunky, bulky weight, rug, and craft yarn. Since it is thick, it is a great choice for cold weather projects. You can find a lot of projects that use yarn weight 5. Some of these include blankets, scarves, sweaters, hats, scarves, etc.
- Yarn Weight 6
Yarn weight 6 is a thick yarn. It is often referred to as super bulky yarn. Super bulky yarn works up quickly and is great for making warm, thick projects. It is regularly used to make slippers, hats, scarves, baskets, amigurumi, blankets, etc.
- Yarn Weight 7
Yarn weight 7 is a very large yarn. It is also referred to as jumbo and roving weight. Many people find these types of yarns hard to work with. You will find that jumbo yarn is normally used to make blankets.
We hope this article on the different types of yarn for knitting is useful
Picking out your yarn can be stressful for new knitters. Choosing between the different types can be overwhelming. There are so many to select from. Do not get discouraged. Once you understand the differences between the types of yarn, the hardest thing you will have to deal with is picking out the colour.
For new knitters check some beginner patterns below or follow our Facebook Page for more fun patterns:
- Easy Knitting Patterns – Perfect For Beginners
- Best Knitting Sets
- Easy Lace Knitting Patterns
- Beginner Easy Sock Knitting Patterns
- Knitting Stitches for Beginners
- Yarn Weights Categories
- How To Make Yarn Pom Poms
While making these projects, use the right types of yarn recommended by designer.