When you are new to the craft and art of knitting, crochet or any other yarn medium, because of the huge variety of types of yarns used, it can be confusing which type of yarn to choose for a particular project. Yarn can be natural fiber, synthetic or a combination of both. They can vary greatly in weight and use in practical application. Sometimes the weight of yarn is called by different descriptions including:
There seems to be disagreement among top artisans the specific dimensions of each type of weight of yarns used, but some weavers use the measurement known as wraps per inch or wpi. It’s determined by how many times the yarn can be wrapped around a ruler and the count of those wraps that fit within an inch.
Another aspect concerning yarn is gauge, or tension. This measurement usually is indicative for how many stitches and rows fit per inch on a specific size knitting needle or crochet hook.
Usually when doing a yarn project, the directions will give recommendations of types yarn is recommended for that pattern.
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Types of Yarn
Here you will find a general break and of different types of yarn that can be found. They may be purchased from a favorite supplier, and some may be hand crafted.
Wool – made from the fleece of various types of animals, most commonly sheep. Other natural fiber yarn from animals can be made from alpaca, angora rabbits, Cashmere goat, yak, buffalo, mohair, llama and silk. Even feathers from turkey or ostrich can sometimes be used in yarn. My personal favorite is baby alpaca yarn, it is extremely soft, cozy and warm.
Other Natural Fibers – sometimes used in making yarn is cotton and linen. Newer forms may also include hemp, corn, soy and bamboo plant fiber. I especially like bamboo, and it offers excellent drape qualities in finished work.
Synthetic – there are many other types of yarn from synthetic sources such as nylon, acrylic or polyester. Honestly, I struggle with most of the synthetic yarns. I guess I’m a yarn snob, preferring the super soft, natural fibers.
Novelty – These can add great variety to knitted or crocheted projects because the yarn itself can look for different, much less the finished product. These may include ribbon, boucle, chenille, railroad ribbon, or faux fur.
Specialty – These yarns bring a specific type of style to a yarn type. They consist of: variegated, marles, tweed, or heather.
Some yarns will come in several types combined to make a unique style and feel. Part of the creativity of your project will be in your ultimate yarn choices.
Buying Your Yarn
Don’t quickly buy whatever yarn for your project. Spend the time necessary to research exactly what you want in regards to fiber type, weight, color, etc. The bottom line finished product that you make, will reflect greatly on what the raw yarn you began with was. For all your time and effect to make a hand crafted piece, (that is an art form in itself), you don’t want the cheapest material. You want what will work properly and showcase your work.
Be sure to purchase enough yarn in the same dye lot as you’ll need for your whole project. You don’t want to run out, and then have to get a little extra to finish and the dye lot doesn’t match exactly.
Enjoy the process. Once you’ve narrowed down what you plan to purchase, do some comparison shopping for those specifics to get your best price.
For additional craftsmanship, you could opt to learn to spin your own yarn. Check out this video that gives a demo.
Alternatively, in addition to spinning your own yarn, beyond knitting or crochet, weaving is also a masterful art form. Beautiful tapestries, rugs, runners and more can be made. Check out this introduction to weaving on a loom video.
By Valerie Garner
Awesome book I really loved.