I was recently asked by a friend who is new to knitting, “Zowie, why do you use different yarn for different projects?” The question at first stumped me, I just know what would work for different projects. The question lead to a great chat that covered the following areas:
– Yarn is made from strands of fibres.
– Each of fibres have their own properties.
– Different fibres are great for different uses.
– There are two types of fibres – Natural and Synthetic
– Fibres are blended to use apply properties of two or more fibres to a yarn.
After the conversation, it lead to me to think… is it the properties of the fibre changing what I will make with the yarn? I never realised but the first thing when I look at a yarn is that I check is the fibre composition on the ball band!
When starting out, reading words like “wool” or “polyester” on a ball band could lead to some confusion. So here is a quick general guide on the properties of the main fibres in you may stumble upon in a yarn aisle at your local Lincraft.Synthetic fibres – Acrylic
• Amazing colour choices.
• Machine washable and quick dry
• Usually cheaper in price.
• Mildew resistant
• Comfortable to wear due to its wicking ability (picking up moisture)
• Heat sensitive
• Can cause irritation to the skin.
Acrylic yarn is great for socks, sweaters, cushions, blankets. Lincraft has a wide variety of Acrylic yarn in stock. My favourite is Lincraft DK yarn. Great choice of colours for a good price,
• Amazing colour choices and colourfast
• Wrinkle resistant
• Easy to wash and quick dry
• Usually soft to the touch
• Moths do not like to nibble this yarn.
• Resists stretching
• Does not breathe and can feel warm/sweaty to wear.
Polyester is great for toys and blankets. Lincraft has a wide variety of polyester yarn in stock. Lincraft Esther is a great yarn that comes in an amazing range of colours.
Natural Fibres – Wool
• Drapes well
• Great in winter to keep body warm
• Breathable so it keeps the body cool in summer.
• Repels moisture (to a point)
• Retains shape
• Resists wrinkles
• Felting, shrinking or stretching can occur if not washed/dried correctly
• Moths do like nibble holes into wool – so remember to store it so they can’t sneak in!
• Super soft yarn can pill more
• Some people have wool allergies
• Wool dries slowly
Wool is great for many knitting projects and is well loved by most knitters. Lincraft has a wide variety of wool yarn in stock. I am currently in love with the Bio Lana Yarn. It is organic, natural colours and is a dream to knit!
• People are less likely to have allergies to plant-based fibres
• Good variety of colours.
• Comfortable against the skin
• Drapes well
• Non static
• Holds a lot of water when wet
• Can be affected by mildew.
Cotton yarn is great for dishcloths, bags, garments, and blankets. Lincraft has a wide variety of wool yarn in stock. The cotton 8ply is currently on my needles. It is lovely to knit, lovely appearance and comes in great colours.
What if they are many fibres listed in my yarn?
Fibres are blended together to create yarns with better properties than if it was a single fibre yarn. Have a look on the ball band of a yarn to check out the percentage breakdown. Blends bring the best of the properties of the fibres together!
• Improves the properties of the yarn.
• Different percentages of fibres can be mixed.
• Usually, cannot be recycled.
Blended fibre yarn is great for all different types of projects. Lincraft has a wide variety of wool blends in stock. Lincraft Bounty is super soft and my favourite of the blends.
When it comes to making my own projects, I do prefer wool. Yet when I am knitting for a certain person/baby/time of year, I do make a conscious choice on what fibres I will use. After some brainstorming, I realised that there are questions that I ask myself for picking the perfect yarn for a project.
What am I making?
Will it be worn? Will it be worn close to the skin or with a shirt?
Who is it for?
A baby or an adult? Do they have allergies?
What time of year will this be worn?
What season? Just winter or all year round?
Where will it be worn/used?
How much yarn will be needed to complete this project?
Do I need 100m? Or 1000m? How much will that cost?
What colours does the yarn come in?
Does it come in the correct colour?
The answers to these questions help me figure out what properties I need to have the yarn to make sure my project ticks all the boxes. This narrows down my choices from a large selection to a few yarns. Then picking the yarn becomes less overwhelming plus I am no longer risking using the wrong yarn!
For example, I am currently knitting a few baby blankets for some new arrivals expected Mid December. One family lives up in QLD so I am using cotton because it is breathable so could be used all year round. The other family is based in Melbourne so I am using a wool blend so it could hold warmth while remaining breathable throughout the crazy seasons.
What is your favourite fibre to knit with? How do you choose yarn for projects? Am I the only one that over thinks the process? Let me know by leaving a comment below.