The Different Types Of Fiber & What Projects To Use Them On

Hello everyone! Tara here—

Let’s talk about different types of yarn.

If you walk into a local craft store, you’ll find yourself faced with more yarn options than ever before. With the rise in popularity of knitting and crocheting in the past few years, yarn companies have stepped up their game and come a long way from the old, scratchy acrylic my grandmother used to use.

And that’s just the yarn you can find at local box stores—the types of yarn you can find in local yarn stores and in online shops are mind-blowing!

Here are some of the most common types of yarn you can find:

#1- Acrylic

I think acrylic may be the most popular fiber at any big box store. It’s certainly once of the cheapest options to use and you can find it in a lot of different sizes, from super bulky to sport-weight. You can get it in the classic acrylic-feel, like Red Heart Super Saver, but you can also find that it can be silky smooth like Caron Simply Soft, or a little fuzzy like Red Heart Brushed. You can even play with Premier Anti-Pilling Everyday, which will keep your project looking new for longer than a regular acrylic or Red Heart’s Heat Wave, which boasts that it gets up to 12 degrees warmer in the sun than any other acrylic yarn!

Acrylic yarn is good for a lot of different projects. From hats and scarves to blankets and home décor items, there are very little items you can’t use it for. It is one that you want to keep away from heat, so potholders and trivets are a no-no.

#2- Polyester

Like Acrylic, this is also a fiber that can be used for a range of different projects, but one you want to keep away from heat. It is so incredibly cozy and it’s affordable.

These are the yarns that just scream “touch me.” They’re the blanket yarns, the velvet and “fleece” yarns, the chainette yarns and the chenille-type yarns. You can find a lot of recycled polyester yarn too.

There are a lot of times when you’ll see a yarn that will be a blend of some type of fiber and polyester. Polyester makes the yarn stronger and more durable and, because it’s cheaper, a blend of cotton and acrylic will be cheaper than a yarn that’s all cotton.

#3- Cotton

Cotton yarn is incredible. It makes beautiful garments for the spring and summer months and makes some of the best home décor items. It’s easy to clean, which makes it a favorite for anything that has to do with the kitchen.

Lily Sugar’N Cream and Peaches & Crème are always the first brands that come to mind when I think of cotton yarn for projects that are going to be used hard (scrubbies and dishcloths and projects like that). For garments, Patons Grace is silky and soft and a favorite for summer projects that should drape beautifully on your body.

#4- Bamboo, Rayon, Lyocell & Tencel

This is where things can get a little confusing.

MOST yarns that claim to be bamboo are made of a type of rayon. Some are made from bamboo, but it’s more common to see yarn that isn’t.

Rayon is made from wood pulp (sometimes bamboo pulp) so it’s semi-synthetic and semi-natural.

It’s also heavily processed, so if you’re looking for an eco-friendly yarn, this one isn’t it.

Lyocell (which is Tencel) can be made from either bamboo or eucalyptus trees, and is a little better for the environment because it’s not processed as much. The chemicals used to make Lyocell are usually recycled, unlike the chemicals used in the Rayon process.

Bamboo, Rayon, and Lyocell are all breathable and absorbent like cotton is, and will give any garment a beautiful drape and a light sheen. Lion Brand and Premier both have some incredible (and affordable) Bamboo, Lyocell and Rayon yarn options available.

#5- Wool

There are so many different kinds of wool yarn, blended and unblended, and it’s a favorite to work with for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Wool yarn is durable and ideal for most projects. It doesn’t mind heat like the synthetic yarns do, it can be soft and silky with an incredible drape for lighter tops, or it can be thick and chunky to really keep you warm during the winter. It holds its shape well (especially after you block it), and it doesn’t have to be washed as often as other yarns because it doesn’t hold odors.

You can also felt your wool, which can make your piece more water-resistant than it would be otherwise.

It’s great for just about any project, though it can be a bit on the expensive-side compared to the other fibers, so using it for a home décor item like a basket doesn’t make the most sense. It’s do-able, but wool is better for something you’ll have your hands on on a regular basis.

#6- Nylon & Spandex

Like with polyester, there are a lot of times when you’ll see a yarn that will be a blend of nylon/spandex and another fiber. There’s a reason for it.

A lot of sock yarns have nylon blended in because the nylon gives the yarn strength. It will make your projects last longer and it will make them easier to take care of!

Yarn that is blended with spandex is a lot harder to find at local stores, but a must-have for projects like bathing suits and wonderful for other garments and accessories that you want some stretch in. The elasticity stops the fiber from relaxing too much, so it stops bathing suits/skirts from falling off and/or showing more than you want them to.

A really great yarn with spandex is Cascade’s Fixation. It’s a DK weight yarn that’s 98.3% cotton and 1.7% spandex, so it’s wonderful for a variety of projects.

Do you have a question for us? Let us know in the comments below!

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

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