Yarn Terminology and Types

Greetings and apologies for the long delay. Life, Covid-19, and general chaos have been keeping me busy.

Before I get into the types and definitions of the more common types of yarns, I want to go over some of the more common terms used when describing yarns. You may be familiar with these terms already, but for those who aren’t, I’m going to list them anyways.

Absorbency: How well a fiber holds water. A fiber’s absorbency is used to determine it’s sweat absorption and it’s suitability for warm weather wear.

Breath-ability: How well air passes through a fiber.

Dye-ability: How well a fiber accepts and then holds dye.

Hand/Handle: This refers to any tactile descriptions, i.e. softness, resiliency

Loft: This refers to the amount of air in between the fibers.

Elasticity (aka Resiliency): How well, and how quickly, it resumes it’s natural shape after being stretched.

Thickness: The diameter of the fiber, measured in micrometers.

Now that that’s been taken care of, onto the Yarn types.

I’m going to start with the plant-based yarns.

Plant Based Yarns:

Cotton: Usually dull in sheen, has almost no elasticity unless blended with another fiber type. Pure cotton is good for utilitarian type items, such as purses, tote bags, wash clothes, dish clothes and place mats. Egyptian Cotton has the longest fibers among the cotton types, it is also the smoothest and the softest. Pima Cotton is a cross between Egyptian and American Cottons. American Cotton has medium-long fibers and readily takes dyes. American cotton is also available is the largest array of colors.

Linen is a good, strong fiber. It is also good for warm weather items.

Bamboo Bast which should never be confused with Bamboo Rayon, has an elegant sheen. It is also not as common as the bamboo rayon.

Animal Based Yarn:

Wool: A special note about wool. It is not recommended for children under the age of 3 as due to the sensitivity of their skin it can cause an allergic reaction. I’m only going to cover the 2 most common types of wool yarn here. Merino Wool is softer than cotton, but it does tend to pill. Icelandic Wool: is a strong wool, but it is scratchy feeling to most people.

Mohair is lofty and luxurious, though it is best used as an outer layer as it may feel scratchy to some.

Cashmere is very soft, very luxurious and it tends to be one of the most expensive yarns on the market when it’s pure cashmere.

Alpaca is a very warm yarn and is best suited for accessories such as scarves and hats.

Angora yarn is very soft. It also tends to shed. It is bested used as an accent or blended with other fibers if you plan on using it in a larger project.

Silk is exceptionally strong. It is also lustrous and shiny. It is good for summer wear as it tends to be light weight.

Synthetic Yarns

Note: synthetic yarn is, generally, any yarn that is made through, primarily, artificial means.

Acrylic yarn washes very well, is inexpensive, and is good for beginners. It is also good for anything for babies and pets. I would however like to point out that acrylic yarn, and items made from acrylic yarns, should not be kept near anything that gives off large amounts of heat, as speaking from experience, this causes the yarn to change color.

Nylon yarn is strong, very elastic, and washes well. However, it is not ideal for garments unless it is blended with other fibers.

Rayon yarns are made when processed cellulose (i.e. wood pulp, bamboo, seaweed) is extruded into threads. It is, most of the time, inexpensive. It is also highly absorbent and has a natural sheen.

What I have listed is a general list of yarn types and, on some recommended uses. I do not use most of these for a number of reasons. Feel free to experiment with them to see what kinds you prefer and which ones you don’t.

My next 2 posts will be on hooks, because I feel there is enough info out there to devote an entire blog to crochet hooks, and novelty yarns. The novelty yarns may take longer, just because I don’t really use them personally, as I don’t have the patience for them.

Everyone stay safe out there.