There are many yarn types you can pick from when crafting, whether it be crocheting, knitting, or something else. Yarn can be created with various fibers, weights, and textures, as displayed in the chart below.
Choosing the appropriate yarn is important when working on a crochet project to fit the type of item you’re making.
For instance, while crocheting an acrylic potholder, it will melt when exposed to heat. Instead, you’ll want to use 100% cotton to withstand high temperatures.
Knowing the various types of yarn is important before starting a knit or crochet project, making this just one example among many.
Scroll down to learn about the various materials from which yarn can be made such as animals, plants, and acrylics. All yarns are different owing to their unique blend spun with different properties, as well as their varying weight.
Consult the list below, as well as a more detailed explanation following.
What are the Types of Yarn Fibers?
Yarn fibers can be categorized into two groups: natural and synthetic.
- Natural fibers are derived from animals like sheep or alpacas as well as from plants such as cotton or bamboo. Silk yarn also belongs to the natural fiber category; it is produced by the silkworm. Animal fiber yarns usually require more specifically detailed care instructions.
- Synthetic fibers consist of diverse plastics. Some of these plastics include commonly used materials such as acrylic, polyester, rayon, and nylon. Artificial yarns are straightforward to take care of, and they have uncomplicated washing and drying needs.
Note: there are yarns that combine both natural and synthetic fibers known as blended yarns. A commonly found blend is the mixture of cotton and acrylic fibers. The percentage of each fiber used varies depending on the manufacturer; however, they can range from 90% acrylic and 10% cotton or 90% cotton and 10% acrylic.
People like blended yarns because they can utilize the best of each fiber’s characteristics. You may find wool mixed with acrylic and other types of blended yarns.
Natural Fiber Yarn Types
Merino Wool: Merino wool is a type of wool that comes from the Merino sheep, a breed that is highly prized for its fine, soft wool. Known for its superior quality, Merino wool is considered one of the finest and softest types of wool.
Wool: Wool yarn is a type of yarn made from cashmere. It is a natural fiber valued for its warmth, softness and durability.
|Advantages of Wool||Disadvantages of Wool|
|Durable: Wool yarn is known for its durability and can last for a long time.||Can be expensive: Wool yarn can be more expensive compared to other types of yarn.|
|Warmth: Wool yarn is great for making warm and cozy garments and accessories.||Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to wool, causing skin irritation or other allergic reactions.|
|Softness: Wool yarn can be very soft, making it comfortable to wear.||Shrinkage: Wool yarn can shrink if it’s not handled properly, such as being washed in hot water or put in the dryer.|
|Elasticity: Wool yarn has a natural elasticity, which means it can stretch and then return to its original shape.||Requires special care: Wool yarn requires special care when washing and storing to ensure it maintains its quality and shape.|
|Breathability: Wool yarn is breathable and can wick away moisture, making it great for active wear.||Felting: Wool yarn can easily felt if it’s exposed to hot water or agitation, which can make it difficult to work with.|
Alpaca: Alpaca yarn is a type of yarn that is made from the fleece of alpacas. Alpaca yarn is valued for its softness, warmth, and hypoallergenic properties, and is often compared to cashmere or silk in terms of its luxurious texture.
|Advantages of Alpaca||Disadvantages of Alpaca|
|Softness: Alpaca yarn is known for its softness and is often compared to cashmere.||Can be expensive: Alpaca yarn can be more expensive compared to other types of yarn.|
|Warmth: Alpaca yarn is warmer than wool and can be used to make cozy garments and accessories.||Shedding: Alpaca yarn may shed or pill more easily compared to other types of yarn.|
|Hypoallergenic: Alpaca yarn is hypoallergenic and is less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to other types of yarn.||Lack of elasticity: Alpaca yarn doesn’t have as much elasticity as wool, which can make it difficult to work with for certain projects.|
Bamboo: Bamboo yarn is a type of yarn that is made from bamboo fibers. It is a relatively new type of yarn that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its softness, luster, and eco-friendliness. Bamboo yarn is made from the pulp of bamboo plants that have been broken down into a viscose solution and then extruded into fine threads.
|Advantages of Bamboo||Disadvantages of Bamboo|
|Softness: Bamboo yarn is soft and silky, and often compared to cashmere or silk.||Limited elasticity: Bamboo yarn doesn’t have as much elasticity as wool, which can make it difficult to work with for certain projects.|
|Breathability: Bamboo yarn is breathable and moisture-wicking, making it great for warm weather garments and accessories.||Can be expensive: Bamboo yarn can be more expensive compared to other types of yarn.|
|Sustainability: Bamboo is a sustainable material, and bamboo yarn is eco-friendly and biodegradable.||Limited availability: Bamboo yarn may not be as readily available as other types of yarn.|
|Anti-bacterial: Bamboo yarn is naturally anti-bacterial and odor-resistant, making it great for socks and other garments that may be worn for extended periods of time.||May require special care: Bamboo yarn may require special care, such as hand washing and air-drying, to maintain its softness and shape.|
- Cotton Threads: Cotton thread yarn is a type of yarn that is made from fine strands of cotton fibers that have been twisted together. It is a thinner and more delicate version of traditional cotton yarn and is often used for projects that require a lightweight and dainty finish, such as lace doilies, table runners, or delicate crochet and embroidery work.
- Cotton: Cotton yarn is a type of yarn that is made from cotton fibers. It is a popular choice for knitting and crocheting because cotton is a soft, breathable, and comfortable natural fiber that is easy to work with.
|Advantages of Cotton||Disadvantages of Cotton|
|Softness: Cotton yarn is soft and gentle on the skin.||Lack of elasticity: Cotton yarn doesn’t have as much elasticity as wool, which can make it difficult to work with for certain projects.|
|Breathability: Cotton yarn is breathable and can wick away moisture, making it great for warm weather garments and accessories.||Shrinkage: Cotton yarn can shrink if it’s not handled properly, such as being washed in hot water or put in the dryer.|
|Durability: Cotton yarn is durable and can last for a long time.||Wrinkles easily: Cotton yarn has a tendency to wrinkle easily and may require ironing or steaming to maintain its appearance.|
|Hypoallergenic: Cotton yarn is hypoallergenic and is less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to other types of yarn.||Not as warm: Cotton yarn isn’t as warm as wool or alpaca yarn, which may not be suitable for colder weather garments and accessories.|
- Silk: Silk yarn is a type of yarn that is made from the fibers of the silk cocoon of the silkworm. Silk is a luxurious and high-quality fiber that is valued for its softness, shine, and drape. It is often used in high-end fashion and home decor projects, such as scarves, shawls, and curtains.
- Linen: Linen yarn is a type of yarn made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is known for its exceptional strength, durability, and natural luster. Linen yarn is often used in crochet and knitting projects, such as tablecloths, napkins, towels, and summer garments.
- Cashmere: Cashmere yarn is a type of luxury yarn that is made from the soft and fine fibers of the undercoat of cashmere goats. The yarn is known for its exceptional softness, warmth, and lightweight feel
- Mohair: Mohair yarn is a type of yarn made from the long and lustrous fibers of the Angora goat. It is known for its softness, warmth, and silky texture. Mohair yarn is often used in knitting and crochet projects, such as sweaters, scarves, and hats.
Synthetic Yarn Types (Man-Made Yarn Fibers)
- Acrylic: Acrylic yarn is a type of synthetic yarn that is made from acrylic fibers. It is a popular choice for knitting and crocheting because it is affordable, widely available, and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. Acrylic yarn is often chosen as an alternative to natural fibers like wool or cotton, as it is hypoallergenic and easy to care for.
|Advantages of Acrylic||Disadvantages of Acrylic|
|Affordability: Acrylic yarn is often more affordable than other types of yarn, making it a great option for beginners or those on a budget.||Not as breathable: Acrylic yarn is not as breathable as natural fibers like cotton or wool.|
|Durability: Acrylic yarn is very durable and can withstand wear and tear, making it great for frequently used items like blankets and scarves.||Can be less soft: Acrylic yarn may be less soft than natural fibers like cotton or wool, though this can vary by brand and type.|
|Low-maintenance: Acrylic yarn is easy to care for and can be machine washed and dried without shrinking or felting.||Not as warm: Acrylic yarn is not as warm as natural fibers like wool or alpaca, which may not be suitable for colder weather garments and accessories.|
|Lightweight: Acrylic yarn is lightweight and comfortable to wear.||Not eco-friendly: Acrylic yarn is made from synthetic materials and is not biodegradable, which may not be ideal for environmentally conscious crafters.|
|Wide range of colors: Acrylic yarn comes in a wide range of colors, making it easy to find the perfect shade for any project.||Can be prone to pilling: Acrylic yarn may be prone to pilling, especially with frequent use or washing.|
Faux Fur: Faux fur yarn is a type of yarn that mimics the look and feel of real animal fur. It is typically made from synthetic fibers, such as polyester or acrylic, that are designed to create a soft and fluffy texture.
|Advantages of Faux Fur||Disadvantages of Faux Fur|
|Cruelty-free: Faux fur yarn is made from synthetic materials and does not require the use of animal fur, making it a cruelty-free alternative to real fur yarn.||May shed: Faux fur yarn may shed fibers, which can be messy and require extra care during knitting or crocheting.|
|Softness: Faux fur yarn is often very soft and can add a cozy and luxurious feel to a finished project.||Can be challenging to work with: Faux fur yarn can be difficult to work with due to its texture.|
|Variety of colors: Faux fur yarn comes in a variety of colors and textures, making it easy to find the perfect option for a specific project.||Can be hot: Faux fur yarn can be warm to wear and may not be suitable for projects that will be worn in warmer weather.|
- Fabric: Fabric yarn is a type of yarn that is made by cutting or tearing long strips of fabric and then winding or twisting them together to create a continuous strand. The resulting yarn is often thick and chunky, and can be used for a variety of projects, such as rugs, baskets, and bags
- Polyester: Polyester yarn is a type of synthetic yarn made from petroleum-based polymers. It is a popular choice for a variety of knitting and weaving projects due to its durability, wrinkle-resistance, and low cost.
- Blends: Blended yarns include a bit of both natural and manufactured fibers. One of the more commonly found blended yarns is the acrylic and wool blend such as Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.
- Nylon: Nylon yarn is a synthetic yarn that is made from a type of plastic called polyamide. It was first developed in the 1930s as a substitute for silk, and quickly became popular due to its strength and durability.
Note: Keep in mind, depending on brand, yarn weight and other factors, your results may be different when using the above yarns.