Unraveling the Different Types of Yarn

Unraveling the Different Types of Yarn

Yarn has been an integral part of human history for thousands of years. From ancient civilizations to modern crafters, the art of spinning yarn has endured, creating an endless array of textures, colors, and fibers. If you've ever strolled through a craft store or knitting boutique, you might have been overwhelmed by the sheer variety of yarn. Let's unravel the different types of yarn and see how you can pick the best option for your crafts.


What Are the Different Types of Yarn?

Each type of yarn brings different characteristics to the table, and choosing the best yarn depends on the project's requirements and your personal preferences. While wool and acrylic are excellent options, exploring different fibers can open up a world of possibilities for your knitting, crocheting, and weaving endeavors.


The 7 most common types of yarn are:

  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Mohair
  • Linen
  • Bamboo
  • Silk
  • Acrylic


Which yarns are made from natural fibers?

Wool yarn is one of the oldest and most popular choices and is made by spinning sheep's fleece. It is celebrated for its warmth, elasticity, and natural water resistance. Wool yarn is available in various forms, including:

Sheep’s wool is well known for being fire-resistant, anti-bacterial, and for having memory.   There are many varieties of sheep wool, from coarse Romney to soft, silky Merino, with perhaps lesser well-known Blue-Faced Leicester, Corriedale, Cheviot, Polsworth, Romney, Icelandic, Highland, and scores of other sheep brands in between.  Most popular today is  Merino for soft shawls and sweaters.


Alpaca: Alpaca yarn is luxurious and soft, hailing from the fleece of alpacas. It is warmer than sheep's wool and hypoallergenic, but doesn’t have the memory of sheep’s wool, meaning if it’s stretched, it won’t necessarily return to its former shape.


What Can You Make with Cotton Yarn?

Cotton yarn is lightweight, breathable, and ideal for warm-weather projects. Cotton and linen both are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.  Cotton is derived from the cotton plant and comes in various thicknesses, from fine to chunky. Organic cotton yarn is perfect for crafting light garments, dishcloths, and baby items, beside which its production doesn’t involve the heavy use of pesticides

Linen yarn and linen blends are also natural fibers with valuable properties of breathability in warm weather, besides the other virtues associated with cotton.  Linen (derived from the flax plant) is coarser than cotton, but softens with washing.   Flax uses less pesticides than nlon-organic cotton, and does not require irrigation to grow.


Is Mohair Yarn Soft? 

Mohair is derived from the long, silky fibers of the Angora goat. Angora yarn is known for its fluffy appearance and softness. It adds a unique halo effect to projects, making it popular for creating cozy sweaters and scarves.  We also love to carry it along with a coarser yarn, giving the finished garment a luxurious softness it wouldn't otherwise have.


What Is a Breathable Yarn? 

If you're looking for something lightweight and breathable, linen is a great option. Linen yarn is derived from the flax plant, producing a durable and airy material. Although it can feel coarse when first used, It softens with each wash, making it suitable for summer clothing and home décor.  There are also excellent linen-cotton blends.


Environmentally Friendly Yarn Choices

If you're conscious of your impact on our beautiful planet, you may be looking for environmentally friendly yarn. Your best options are wool, alpaca, organic cotton, tencel, and bamboo, all  of which are made from plants.

Wool and alpaca have been used for making garments for thousands of years.  Sheep and Alpaca in the wild shed their heavy coats in the spring, human use of the fiber began with collecting the discarded wool; today the animals are professionally sheared when the weather warms, thereby  helping out Nature's process!

Bamboo yarn is made from, well, you guessed it: bamboo. It offers a sustainable and eco-friendly option. It has a silky texture and is antimicrobial, making it great for baby items and garments worn close to the skin.

Soy yarn is a newer eco-friendly option made from soybean proteins. It has a soft and smooth texture, similar to silk, and is hypoallergenic.


What Are Examples of Luxury Yarns?

There are a few premium options when it comes to luxury yarns, with the two most popular being:

  • Silk
  • Cashmere

Silk is a luxurious and lustrous yarn made from silkworm cocoons. It has a smooth texture and drapes beautifully, making it suitable for elegant garments and accessories. However, silk yarn can be more expensive than other types of yarn. There are also options for specialty yarns such as vegan silk.

Cashmere yarn is a premium choice, known for its exceptional softness and warmth. It comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats and is often blended with other fibers to enhance its durability.


Other Types of Yarn

Acrylic yarn is a fossil-fuel based synthetic derived from petroleum.  It is flammable, and can cause deep burns .  It is environmentally unfriendly, since it sheds microplastics when it is washed.  However it is an option that has gained popularity due to its affordability and versatility. It is soft, easy to work with, and available in a vast array of colors.

Finally, you'll also find a few types of yarn that don't fit into the categories above. These are novelty yarns and include things like ribbon, sequin yarn, bouclé, chenille, and ladder yarn, among others. These yarns add texture and visual interest to projects such as felting and embroidery kits.

The joy of working with yarn lies not just in the end result but also in the journey of creating something beautiful with your own hands. Whether you're knitting a hat or crocheting a blanket, using the right type of yarn is essential to ensuring your project is successful.

Apples to Oranges offers a full selection of yarn for everything from beginner knitting to crocheting, felting, tatting and beyond. You’ll also find a fantastic selection of knitting needles, crochet hooks, and other supplies. For whenever inspiration strikes, Apples to Oranges has what you need to show off your creativity.