Types of yarn Fibres

All types of yarn for knitting or crocheting are made from natural or synthetic fibres. Different types of yarn fibres have specific qualities — some good, some not so good. Often, manufacturers blend different types of yarn fibre to offset an undesirable characteristic.

When choosing a yarn type for your knitting project, consider the following:

Wool: Wool (made from the fleece of sheep) is the queen of yarns, and it remains a popular choice for knitters. Here are some of your wool yarn options:

Lamb’s wool: Comes from a young lamb’s first shearing.

Merino wool: Considered the finest of the fine breeds.

Pure new wool/virgin wool: Wool that’s made directly from animal fleece and not recycled from existing wool garments.

Shetland wool: Made from the small and hardy native sheep of Scotland’s Shetland Islands.

Icelandic wool: A rustic, soft yarn.

Washable wool: Treated chemically or electronically to destroy the outer fuzzy layer of fibres

Fleece: Examples include mohair and cashmere, which come from Angora and Kashmir goats, respectively. Angora comes from the hair of Angora rabbits.

Silk, cotton, linen, and rayon: The slippery, smooth, and often shiny yarns.

Synthetic: Including nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Straddling the border between natural and synthetic are soy, bamboo, corn, and other unusual yarns made by using plant-based materials.

Novelty: Novelty yarns are easy to recognize because their appearance is so different from traditional yarns:

Ribbon: A knitted ribbon in rayon or a rayon blend.

Bouclé: This highly bumpy, textured yarn is composed of loops.

Chenille: Although tricky to knit with, this yarn has an attractive appearance and velvety texture.

Thick-thin: Alternates between very thick and thin sections, which lends a bumpy look to knitted fabric.

  • Railroad ribbon: Has tiny “tracks” of fiber strung between two parallel strands of thread.

  • Faux fur: Fluffy fibre strands on a strong base thread of nylon resemble faux fur when knitted.

    Tweed: Has a background color flecked with bits of fibre in different colors.

  • Heather: Blended from a number of different-colored or dyed fleeces, and then spun.

  • Marled (ragg): A plied yarn in which the plies are different colours

  • Variegated: Dyed in several different colors or shades of a single colour

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