Natural Fibers and What You Should Be Using Them For

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

This week, we’re going to talk about yarn that’s made with natural fibers: specifically natural fibers that aren’t from animals.

Last time, we spoke a bit about cotton, rayon/bamboo, etc., which you can check out HERE, but today we’re really going to crack down on fibers that are considered to be more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

#1- Linen

When I think of linen, I think of really light summer fabrics. I’m usually picturing a white or a soft sand color and a very coastal grandma aesthetic.

Linen yarn is made from plants, the flax plant specifically, and shares a lot of traits with cotton yarn. They’re both moisture-wicking and dry quickly, making them ideal for summer projects. They soften the more you wash them too. Linen is also anti-fungal and antibacterial, so it won’t start to smell the way a synthetic fiber would.

Unlike cotton, you’re really going to want to use linen yarn in garments and accessories more than you would home décor projects like baskets. It does do well for projects like placemats and dish cloths, but it really shines in tops and shawls.

#2- Hemp/ Jute

When I think of hemp and jute, I usually think of them together because they have similar textures in my opinion. They’re also very similar in that they’re incredibly strong, completely bio-degradable and recyclable, making then incredible for the environment and a great choice for a project that’s going to get a work out.

Jute is typically spun into coarse threads to make rope, but you can find yarn like Scheepjes Mighty, which is a blend of cotton and jute. The cotton helps soften the yarn, while the jute adds a punch of strength that makes this yarn perfect for home décor like rugs, baskets, bags, placemats, etc.

Hemp yarn is easier to find and occasionally blended with cotton, but you can find yarn that is 100% hemp fibers. It won’t shrink as easily as jute will when it’s wet, so it’s not just great for home décor projects, but it’s perfect for dishcloths, soap cozies, and other projects that may get wet. Lion Brand’s Just Hemp is also a favorite for light accessories and cardigans.

#3- Nettle

Like jute and hemp, nettle is incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable and it’s quickly becoming a favorite to replace nylon. It’s incredibly strong, making it a favorite for projects like socks, which usually require a blend of wool and nylon to ensure the yarn can stand up to being worn as roughly as socks do.

Nettle yarn blends are usually paired with wool or superwash wool and are really great with garments and accessories, and, as mentioned earlier, for socks especially.

#4- Silk

While this one doesn’t come from one of the animals we usually think of when we think of yarn fibers, silk yarn is typically listed under the animal category when it comes to fiber because it comes from caterpillars. So why is it here? Most people don’t consider caterpillars to be animals.

Silk is fun to use and makes a luxuriously soft and surprisingly strong yarn. It’s warm, drapes beautifully and, like wool, it’s mildew-resistant. It doesn’t pill like an acrylic yarn would either. But, collecting silk from caterpillars is a lot, so this one is expensive. It’s why most yarns that contain silk are blended with other fibers as well.

Projects made with silk are delicate and you have to be careful when you get it wet. Because of this, you wouldn’t want to make anything for your kitchen or bathroom with this. Silk yarn is perfect for tops, scarves, shawls, and projects like that. You could use it for home décor, but it’s much better suited for something you’re going to wear.

#5- Soybean Fiber

Soybean fiber is known for being a lot like silk. It is so soft and stronger than most would expect, with a stunning drape. Like cotton and linen, it’s moisture-wicking and breathable, so this one is ideal for summer garments and accessories. It can usually be found blended with cotton yarn as well, like Stitch & Story’s Daydreamer yarn, and yarn made with this fiber is becoming easier to find in the marketplace.

With many industries looking into more and more ways to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, we’ve been seeing more natural fibers making their way into the market. One such fiber that seems to be trying to make its way is actually made from corn! It’s not widely available as yarn yet, but it may be something we’ll be seeing in the nearby future.

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

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

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New Technique: 2 Colors, 2 Row Repeat

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Years ago I stumbled across the book Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting by Anna Maltz. It was such a fascinating concept: holding two strands of yarn together at the same time but then to work the patterning, you sometimes only use one of the yarns in the row. It was a completely new idea to me and it made for such a cool interesting effect.

Two-by-Two Poncho

Then not that long ago, low and behold, I stumble across one of our Annie’s books, Two-by-Two Crochet: 2 Colors; 2 Rows. It is a very similar technique but in crochet! I never would have thought about it translating over. And then to make such cool patterns using just a 2 row repeat made the concept even more intriguing.

Close up of 2 color, 2 row repeat

So I approached the designer, Bendy Carter, about working up something for the cable section in the latest issue of Crochet World (October 2022) and the Two-by-Two Poncho was born.

Versatile Styling

To make this even more interesting we paired a variegated color, Premier Spun Colors in canyon, with a solid color, Premier Ever Soft in parchment. This creates a color changing background for the solid cable stitches to pop off of. Once you master the odd abbreviations, which are completely explained in the pattern, that direct you where to place the stitches as well as which color to use, you will be rolling.

Options Galore!

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It’s just two large rectangles of repeating patterning so it will fly once you get the hang of things. And the other great thing about this poncho is the myriad of ways that it can be worn. If you need more how to information on this technique be sure to head to AnniesCraftStore.com and pick up the book!!

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—Britt Schmiesing, editor

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

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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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Spotlight on: Caramat Cabled Set

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Caramat Cabled Set

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The October 2022 issue of Crochet World is packed with some amazing cable projects. We have given you several patterns with helpful videos, how to photos and diagrams all to assist you on your cabling journey. But if you want a good starter cables project, I suggest the Caramat Cabled Set. It’s not a huge project. The cables repeat in the same manner and Bonnie Barker, the designer, has made some videos to help you visually work through the pattern! Everyone loves working through a pattern with video assistance. Just remember to compare to the text as you go so that you become accustomed to how this type of pattern is written. Then you can transfer that knowledge to some of the more advanced patterns in the group.

Caramat Cabled Set

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I wanted to make it easy for you to find the links to the videos so I am providing them here for easy “click-ability”. Bonnie has created both a right-handed and left-handed tutorial for working the hot pads.

Click here for right handed.

Click here for left handed.

Now go grab some all cotton worsted weight yarn and follow along. Like Bonnie’s patterns and want to get your hands on some more, and yes, she does have more videos to accompany them, head on over to our catalog site!

—Britt Schmiesing, editor

P.S.: Don’t forget to visit this post for the GIVEAWAY!

 

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Quick & Easy Projects–Perfect For a 3-Day Weekend!

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

I love being able to start a project and finish it in a weekend. There’s something just so wonderful about quick and easy projects, and I love making them to take breaks from any larger project I may be working on.

And 3-day weekends make it that much easier to sit down and whip out a new project.

Since this weekend is Labor Day weekend here in the USA, let’s look at some designs you can make in a flash:

# 1: Lovely Leaves Headband  

Tied Ecru Headband

Lovely Leaves Headband

This one will be done before you know it. Make a couple and hide them away to give to your friends and coworkers for Christmas!

# 2: The Chunky Speckled Neck Warmer

Chunky Speckled Neck Warmer

Chunky Speckled Neck Warmer

This cowl is perfect for chilly mornings and it stitches up quickly. It goes with any outfit and can be made with plain yarn, tweed yarn, or sparkly yarn, which will make it a favorite for you and your loved ones.

# 3: The Gold Medal Crochet Hat

Chunky White Hat Gold Medal

Gold Medal Hat

This one is a favorite! It stitches up quicker than you would think because it’s made with bulky-weight yarn and looks incredible in any color.

# 4: The Red Scarf

Red Textured Scarf

Red Scarf

Make this scarf in this bold red or a rich green and anyone can wear this scarf with any outfit for a beautiful pop of color!

# 5: The Rugged Tote

Tan Rugged Tote Bag

Rugged Tote

This bag is perfect for any outing or even just storing your current projects! It’s quick to make and the neutral color makes it perfect for anyone.

# 6: The Pastel Ribbons Baby Blanket

Pastel Ribbons Baby Blanket

Pastel Ribbons Baby Blanket

While blankets can take a while to make, baby blankets come together so much quicker and this one is no exception.

# 7: Into The Woods Baskets

Gray and Yellow basket set

Into the Woods Baskets

Is there such a thing as too many baskets? Fill these with snacks, yarn, plants and other little trinkets and this will be a projects you’ll use all the time.

# 8: The Rustic Stripes Pillow

Rustic Green and Blue Striped Pillow with Pom Poms

Rustic Stripes Pillow

You can never have too many pillows, and there’s no reason to spend $45+ on one when you can make it yourself! This one adds calming color to any home, but it could easily be made in pinks, blues, and yellows to add a brighter and more vibrant pop.

# 9: The Big Book of Dishcloths, Pot Holders & Scrubbies

Big Book of Dishcloths

Big Book of Dishcloths

Everyone loves dishcloths, pot holders and scrubbies. They’re so quick to make and something you and your loved ones can use again and again.

Enjoy your next 3-Day weekend!

 

What is your favorite thing to make that’s quick & easy?

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

Need more inspiration? Check out Annie’s Craft Store for more incredible crochet patterns! 

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