Yarns and Fibres – What is it made from?

What is your yarn made from?
What is the yarn you are using made from?

So you have your hooks or needles, you know what weight of yarn you are needing to use but what about the type of yarn? The fibre content! Just like there is with most things to do with crochet and knitting, there are a lot of different choices.

There are quite a few things to think about when deciding what fibre content to use. Is what you are making a garment which will be worn close to the skin? Then you need to make sure it isn’t a little scratchy. Is it for a baby or a child? Then maybe you need to make sure that it can be easily washed. What about an item for the home? Would you need something with a fibre content that makes it a little stronger and more hardwearing?

Let’s start with Animal Fibres

Fragment of a knitted material of mohair
Close up of a knitted garment using mohair
  • Wool – wool is an amazing fibre to use. It has the ability to regulate temperature meaning it is cool in the summer yet warm in the winter. It will also retain it’s shape well and is flame retardant as well as water repellent. One drawback is that is can felt and shrink when agitated in hot water. Another drawback is that it can be slightly scratch depending on the breed of sheep used for the wool. Do some research on the wool. Ask the sellers too…indie dyers love to talk about the fibres they use and will always help you in anyway they can.
  • Angora – One of the more expensive animal fibres available but it is so soft and fluffy. It comes from the Angora Rabbit and is an absolute pleasure to knit and crochet with. Keep an eye out for Angora blends which would make this luxurious fibre more affordable.
  • Alpaca – This fibre shares many of the qualities of wool but is sometimes preferred over wool as it does not contain lanolin which many people are allergic to. It can be slightly pricier than wool as well
  • Mohair – Another gorgeously soft fibre to use but it can be quite difficult for crocheters in particular. This is due to the ‘halo’ the fuzziness of the fibre creates. It obscures stitch definition a little bit which means it can be tedious trying to find the loops to insert the hook into. If you do stick with it though you would create a super soft and light item.
  • Silk – Silk fibre comes from the silkworm and creates a stunning shine and a beautiful lightness. Silk fibres absorb dye incredibly well but be aware that it can tangle very easily
  • Exotic Fibres – There are other animal fibres that are available including yak, camel and possum. These all have their own unique qualities but do come with a hefty price tag!

The next category of yarn fibres are Manmade fibres

  • Acrylic – The most commonly used fibre among knitters and crocheters these days. Acrylic yarn boasts a host of positives, it is cheaper, highly durable, machine washable, it comes in such an incredible and vast array of colours that are colourfast and will not fade or run! However, it is a manmade fibre which cannot be made from renewable resources and is not biodegradeable. There is a lot of research out there right now which shows that acrylic yarn releases microplastics into the water each time they are washed!
  • Nylon – This manmade fibre is strong and lightweight. It is often used as a blend with other fibres such as silk or angora which makes these supersoft fibres more durable and easier to work with.

The next set of fibres, Plant Fibres, are becoming much more commonly used.

  • Cotton – This is one of my personal favourite fibres to use. It is durable, soft, strong and produces a fabulous drape to garments. So many yarn brands have produced their own ranges of cotton yarn which each have an absolutely amazing array of colours available. It is quite an elasticated fibre though which means that garments can be stretched out of shape easily.
  • Bamboo – Bamboo, an easily renewable resource produces silky and strong yarn. It is also a moisture wicking fibre which means it helps keep the body cool if garments are made from bamboo.
  • Linen – Yarn made from linen fibre is slightly more expensive than it’s plant fibre cousins. This is because linen is much harder to harvest. It does have great qualities. Not only is it strong but it also quick drying which makes it perfect for warmer climates.
Multicolored Balls of Acrylic Yarn
Multicolored Balls of Acrylic Yarn

I have by no means touched upon all the yarn fibres that are available, these are just the main ones. There is also hemp, soy, corn, ramie, banana and even milk protein which all can be used to produce yarn!

I try to include a huge range of different yarns and wools in our subscription boxes. I always try to make sure that they are suitable for the project included. Our Baby Boxes always contain yarn which is suitable for little ones. Previously there has been superwash wool, cotton, linen and acrylic.

Our newest subscription box, The Mini Box, will also contain a huge range of different fibres from acrylic to linen. This yarn subscription box is also vegan friendly!

You can check out all the crochet subscription box choices here!

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