Whether you knit or you crochet, choosing the right yarn can make the difference between a perfect project and a complete failure. There are several factors that you need to consider when shopping for yarn. First, there is the fiber from which the yarn is made. Secondly, there is the weight of the yarn. Last but not least, you also need to consider the color and the dye lot. Keep on reading to learn how each one of these factors will affect the quality of your knitting project.
There are two main categories of yarn fibers, each one with several fiber choices.
Natural fibers are either plant based or animal based. There are dozens of fibers to choose from, but we will focus on the most popular ones.
- Cotton – This fiber breathes extremely well, it does a great job absorbing humidity and it has a great feel. It is suitable for any projects, and for all season garments.
- Silk – Silk is a luxurious fabric with a very soft feel. It is usually used for summer garments, but you can also find worsted silk yarns that can be used for basically any type of project. You can find some great silk discount yarn at darngoodyarn.com.
- Wool – This is the most common yarn used by all knitters. It is usually used for winter clothes. Wool is durable, non-allergenic and easy to knit. However, it is prone to pilling, and it needs to be washed at low temperatures, otherwise it will shrink.
- Cashmere – Silk and soft, cashmere is one of the most luxurious fibers. It has great moisture absorbing properties and a great elasticity.
Synthetic yarn is usually more affordable than natural yarn. In the past, synthetic yarn used to be of poor quality, but nowadays you can find synthetic fibers which are very similar to natural fibers, and there are even some projects where synthetic yarn can work a lot better. Moreover, since most synthetic fibers are smooth and elastic, they are rather easy to work with, so they are ideal for beginners. Here are the most popular synthetic fibers:
- Nylon – This fiber has an amazing elasticity, it is highly resistant to abrasion, it is static resistant, it is non-absorbent, and it can be cleaned with ease.
- Acrylic – This fiber is very cheap and it is machine washable. It is also non-allergenic so it can be used for baby cloths.
- Rayon – This is actually a combo between natural and synthetic fibers. It breathes well and it does well in high heat and humidity, so it is a good choice for summer clothes.
- Polyester – This fabric is stain resistant and resistant to bleaching, so it is ideal for knitting white garments.
The weight expresses the thinness of the yarn. Very thin yarn is used for delicate projects and light garments, whereas thicker yarn is used for warm winter garments or bulky projects like blankets or carpets.
- Lace – for dollies and lace projects
- Fingering – for lace projects or socks
- Sport – for blankets, baby clothes or cardigans
- Light worsted – for most types of garment
- Worsted – for winter garments or blankets
- Bulky – for thick scarves, blankets or carpets
Color and dye
You can find yarn either dyed in a specific color, or undyed. You can use undyed yarn as it is, or you can dye it at home with special yarn dye. Dyed yarn be plain or it can come in a specific pattern such as:
- Tweed – it features randomly colored fibers in a similar hue
- Ombre – The yarn color fades from dark to light, within the same color hue
- Self-stripping – two different colors are used in the same yarn to create a stripe effect when knitting
Aside from the color, it is essential to also consider the dye lot. It is not uncommon for knitters to run out of yarn during a project, and it can be very hard to find the same yarn shade if you don’t know the dye lot.