Are you looking for the best yarn for knitting your various projects?
In this article, we will cover all the different types of yarn. We've included Types of Yarn with Pictures of them.
Our yarn images, balls of yarn images, and photos of yarn will make you want to add more to your yarn stash.
Just looking at yarn balls makes me want to knit!
You will get to meet all the categories in the Yarn Weights Family.
We share the types of yarn for knitting with pictures of each one and tell you what projects are best for that type.
As always, if we forgot anything, please let us know down in the comments. We would love to share any tips about Yarn you may have too 🙂
Thanks for visiting 🙂
In this post we share all about different Types of Yarn and Yarn Weights.
Looking for something specific? See our table of contents below.
In a hurry? Check out our Key Takeaways at the bottom of this post.
Something we forgot? Leave a question or comment at the end.
Updates - This post was last updated on 29 September 2018.
Table of Contents
Wonderful Fibers To Explore
Wool is very warm and it lasts a long time. An extremely popular natural yarn fiber out there in the craft world. It can be slightly itchy for some people if they have allergies to kinds of wool. Wool can be easily cleaned and keeps you warm even in the rain!
Types of Wool Yarn:
There are 4 different types of Wool Yarn. Wool Type Fine, Wool Type Medium, Wool Type Long and Wool Type Double - coated. Types of fine wool yarn such as merino are wonderfully soft.
Pure new wool/virgin wool is wool that’s made directly from animal fleece and not recycled from existing wool garments. Shetland wool is wool from the small and hardy native sheep of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Icelandic wool is a rustic, soft yarn ball. Washable wool is treated chemically or electronically to destroy the outer fuzzy layer of fibers.
Ideal for: Wool is ideal for Winter and Summer. It is great for making scarves, sweaters, gloves, hats and other clothes.
Wool has many great properties, but one of the best is that it keeps you cool in even the hottest of climates.
Every major league baseball contains wool grown at a small mill in Massachusetts.
Wool has natural fire extinguishing properties, hence why wool is included in fire blankets.
Learn About Types of Yarn
KnitPicks Felici Yarns are made of soft superwash Merino blended with nylon that gives this yarn strength and durability. Perfect for making socks that last. Easy to wash as you can put your handmade socks in the washing machine.
Cashmere comes from the Cashmere Goats and several other types of goats. The word Cashmere comes from the old spelling of the old State of Kashmir in South Asia. Cashmere yarn is among the softest and wooliest yarns in this list. However, it’s not that strong and is also quite expensive.
Ideal For: Cashmere is soft and not itchy, so it’s ideal for knitting clothing. (Jumpers, socks, gloves, etc.)
Cashmere fiber is six times finer compared to human hair.
60% of the world's cashmere produced in China, Mongolia, and Tibet.
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Alpaca is a natural wool that comes from the South-American Alpaca. There are two types of Alpaca yarn, Huacaya and Suri. It is quite soft, almost silky, but it doesn’t hold it’s shape as well as wool does. It’s usually a little more expensive and luxurious than regular wool.
Did you know that Alpaca fibre is water repellent?
It is also difficult to make it catch fire!
Ideal For: As mentioned before, Alpaca is soft and a little warmer than wool. Those such qualities make it ideal for knitted winter items.
Merino wool also comes from sheep, but only from a specific breed, called the Merino Sheep. This wool is special because it’s very soft and doesn’t cause allergic reactions. Merino Wool knitted fabric keeps it’s shape well when blocked. Merino can create little fuzz balls known as ‘pilling’ which can be a little annoying. If you have a chance to use Merino wool though such as Cascade Yarn - 100% Superwash Merino Wool, go for it!
Ideal for: Merino Wool is great for making winter woolies for that special someone. Jumbo Merino Yarn is used for extreme knitting.
Merino Wool fibers can withstand being bent back on themselves 20,000 times without breaking!
Cotton comes from the cotton plant, that is usually grown in warm climates, the biggest producers being India, USA and China. It is light, breathable and strong. There are different types of cotton yarn, some fine, some heavier. However, it doesn’t hold it’s shape when blocking that well and your stitches won’t look as uniform.
Ideal for: Cotton is light and breathable, making it the perfect choice for that dream summer knitted item.
Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water! Watch out next time if you have a knitted cotton swim suit!
Silk is probably the most expensive and lustrous fibre on our list. It’s quite strong, shiny and has a very nice feel on the skin. There are different types of silk yarn - Reeled silk yarn and spun silk yarn. It’s quite a easy to work with, but very slippery, so make sure you know what you’re doing before commencing a project with silk yarn.
Ideal For: Strong, shiny, and relatively cool, this makes it the perfect yarn for summer items.
Strong as steel in the tensile sense, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to humans!
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Hemp, a relative newcomer to the knitting world is a delightful natural fiber. Hemp is suprisingly soft to the touch. It's hardwearing and has great stitch definition.
Ideal For: Boot socks, Fisherman type sweaters, coats.
Fun Fact: Hemp plants can produce 250% more fiber than cotton.
Bamboo is a natural fiber. It wears well and is often considered to have natural antibacterial properties. It feels very soft and has a wonderful drape.
Ideal For: Knitted garments that require drape. As bamboo yarn is quite breathable and cool it's perfect for summer tops and sweaters.
Fun Fact: Bamboo can be softer than silk when spun into yarn.
Essential Knitting Supplies
Looking for some great knitting supplies? The right Knitting needles, Beautiful Yarn, Yarn Swifts and Yarn Winders can make your knitting experience so much easier.
Acrylic yarn is man-made, and much cheaper than most natural fibers. This yarn washes easily, is colour-fast and is a great choice for amateur knitters. Different types of Sashay Yarn and Caron yarn are made from acrylic yarn. Once you’ve gained a bit more experience though, it’s better to use natural fibers.
Ideal for: Beginners Knitters attempting their first projects like scarves. 100% acrylic is the type of yarn for yarn braids.
Moths, oils, chemicals and sunlight don’t like your Acrylic yarn clothes!
No more holes in your clothes!
This yarn is perfect for mutli-color yarn braids
Mostly made of synthetic yarn blends, novelty yarns provide texture and interest.
Common types of Novelty Yarns:
Bouclé: Loopy and bumpy.
Chenille: Velvety and smooth, can be tricky to knit with.
Thick-thin: A finished knitted item using this yarn will have thick and thin sections which gives a bumpy look.
Railroad ribbon: Like the name suggests, this yarn has tiny “tracks” of fiber strung between two parallel strands of thread.
Faux fur: Super Fluffy fiber strands on a strong base thread of nylon. The finished knitted item looks like faux fur.
Ideal For: Great for adding interest and texture to your knitted projects
Glow in the dark: Companies over the years have made this yarn and then stopped making it. You can create your own and their are methods published on the internet.
Types of Polyester Yarn: Polyester Yarn is often used in wool/cotton/and blends of yarn. Many novelty yarns and bulky yarns are made from polyester.
Types of Ribbon Yarn: Ribbon yarn , a novelty yarn can be made out of various materials anything from rayon, and nylon to cotton but it looks and feels like craft ribbon.
Ideal For: Ribbon yarn is great for accessories like belts and headbands, even bags. Be warned Ribbon Yarn loves to twist and spin whilst being knitted.
Not so Fun Fact: Novelty yarns are difficult to knit with.
Learn To Do What You Love Better
No matter water skill level, there is always something new to learn. Online knitting classes means you can go at your own pace, at a time that suits you.
Mohair is beautifully soft and made from the hair of the Angora Goat. This is not to be confused with the the Angora Rabbit, which the wool Angora wool comes from. It’s durable, resistant and shiny. It’s excellent insulating properties and easy moisture evaporation properties, it’s a season all rounder. Mohair is usually considered a luxury fibre, making it more expensive than ordinary wool.
Ideal For: Mohair can be for summer and winter, can be itchy for some people.
Did you know that Mohair Fibre’s nickname is Diamond Fibre?
Mohair is very good yarn for dyeing!
Self Striping Yarn
Using this type of yarn has advantages and disadvantages.
- Excellent choice of yarn for beginners who want to knit up colorful projects.
- No need to have multiple changes of colored yarn as the colors are in the one strand.
- Each Yarn has been dyed with colors that go together and will have an appealing stripy effect. Takes the guess work of whether or not colors will go together when buying yarn on the internet.
- Some work will be required to find patterns and stitches that suit the self-striping yarn you’ve chosen.
- when comparing prices, the self-striped yarn can be more expensive than buying different solid color yarns.
- Lack of control of where the color changes fall. Sometimes the stripy look can be neat or uneven. Just be prepared to be surprised!
Ideal For: Self-striping yarns knit up colorful fun socks, scarves, cowls, afghans, beanie hats and sweaters
Fun Fact: Self-striping yarn is like magic, you never know exactly how your project will end up!
These create special looks in knitted items:
Tweed: Has a main colour, flecked with bits of fiber in different colors.
Heather: Blended from a number of different-colored or dyed fleeces, and then spun.
Marled fabric (ragg): Marled yarns are formed by twisting together plies of different colors. The result is a single strand with multiple colors winding around one another. Marled yarns can be made from any number of plies—two, three, four, etc.
Ideal for: Adding texture and interest to your knitted projects.
One Speciality Yarn is called Eyelash, a polyester yarn that resembles eyelashes!
Wool Blend Yarns
Wool Blend Yarns, blended yarns of wool and other yarns whether natural such as cotton and silk or synthetic. For example cotton acrylic yarn blend and Wool cotton blend yarn. Wool manufacturers blend for many reasons but mainly to combine the best features of each type of yarn included in the blend.
Ideal for: cozy knitted items
50% Wool and 50% Cotton Blend is a great wool blend because each has qualities that compliment the others shortcomings.
All The Goodies To Go With Knitting
No one can have too many knitting accessories. So many gorgeous items to bring joy to your knitting adventures.
Yarn Weights and Yarn Types Go Hand in Hand
Yarns are made from many different fibers and come in different thicknesses; otherwise known as Yarn Weights.
Jumbo Yarn, a relatively new member of the Yarn family is very thick and used in Arm knitting.
The other end of the scale is Lace yarn which is one of the thinnest yarns you can find. Often used for delicate shawls with lace pattern.
It is important to check the right Yarn weight for a knitted project.
The thickness of the yarn determines the dimensions and look of the final result.
The Craft Yarn Council created a system to categorize yarn weights. See their chart below:
Meet The Yarn Weight Categories for USA and the equivalents for UK and AUS/NZ:
Number #0 on the chart, Lace weight is the lightest, thinnest type of Yarn. Used in lace knitting patterns, such as shawls and scarves.
UK- 1 Ply
AUS/NZ- 2 Ply
Also known as Thread, Cobweb, Light Fingering Yarn
Number #1 on the chart, Super fine yarn includes sock and fingering yarn. Also commonly used for shawls, this weight is slightly thicker than lace. If you want your stitches to be fine, this is the weight to go for. This yarn weight is often used to make socks, hats and mittens. People who have determination and time could make a sweater knit from super fine yarn; the results are gorgeous.
UK - 3 Ply and 4 Ply
AUS/NZ - 3 Ply and 4 Ply
Number #2 of the chart, Fine yarn (sometimes confused with light weight yarn, which is slightly thicker) includes sport and baby weight yarn. A great all rounder yarn for projects such as hats, socks, scarves, cardigans and sweaters.
UK - 5 Ply
AUS/NZ - 5 Ply
Number #3 on the chart, DK weight and light worsted yarns are within this category. This type of yarn is great for sock knitting.
UK - DK
AUS/NZ - 8 Ply
Number #4 on the chart, this type of yarn includes worsted and aran. It is popular with beginner knitters and is suitable for many knitted projects.
UK - Worsted/Aran
AUS/NZ - 10 Ply
Number #5 on the chart, chunky yarns and rug yarns fall into this category. Excellent for knitting up a project quickly. As the name suggests, the end result is bulky and chunky but makes for a cozy scarf or cowl.
UK - Bulky
AUS/NZ - 12 Ply
Number #6 on the chart, Super bulky yarns make knitting up a hat, super fast! They make for very warm and have a bulky look.
UK - Super Chunky
AUS/NZ - 16 Ply +
Number #7 on the chart, the Jumbo category is a relative newcomer to the Craft Yarn Council Chart. Jumbo and Roving yarns fall in this category. Popular choice for arm knitting scarves, blankets and home decor.
UK - Jumbo
AUS/NZ - Jumbo
What does Ply mean?
When you see the terms 2 ply, 4 ply, 8 ply etc, it simply means that 2 or more single strands have been twisted together.
To ply yarn, individual singles are spun together with the twist worked in the opposite direction from how the singles were spun.
The number relating to ply doesn't determine how thick the yarn is. You can have a very bulky two-ply yarn or an extremely thin four-ply yarn depending on the thickness of the single strands.
Choosing the Right Yarn for a Pattern
Patterns almost always include the brand, weight, and color of yarn, as well as the size of knitting needle used.
If you want to use a different brand of yarn, it is important to choose the same type of fiber and weight of yarn used in the pattern.
If you choose to use a different type of fiber, consider the end result may look and feel different than the pattern.
Always make a swatch with the yarn and needle you plan to use for the pattern before starting to make sure you are knitting the correct gauge.
Some people knit tighter than others, so gauge can vary from person to person.
Adjust your needle size according to your gauge.
Patterns will also tell you the yardage or grams of yarn used for a project. Always buy more yarn than a pattern suggests in case of mistakes, knots, or gauge issues.
Looking to Get Your Yarn Stash Organized?
Yarn stashes, much as all knitters love them can sometimes get a little disorganized 🙂 Do you dream of getting your Yarn stash sorted? These ideas will help.
Understanding the Label
Each ball of yarn has a ball band (the label), which states everything you need to know, including the fiber content, weight, amount, care instructions, suggested needle size, gauge, and dye-lot number.
Fiber content: This is the material used and is often in percentages. (For example, 90% merino wool, 5% silk, and 5% cashmere.)
Yarn Weight: This is the total thickness of yarn, often measured in wraps per inch (WPI). The ply count also factors into it and ranges from the finest to the heaviest weights (usually between 1-ply and 14-ply). Currently in the United States, the categories range in accordance to the symbols numbered from 1-7 in the Standard Yarn Weight System.
Amount and weight of the ball: This is the total length of yarn, measured in yards and ounces or meters and grams.
Care instructions: This provides the necessary information on how to wash (by hand or machine and the temperature settings to use) and dry your knitted garment (whether it is to be air dried or tumble dryed). Also if the fabric can be drycleaned or ironed.
Suggested needle size and gauge: Yarn gauge is specified by the number of stitches and rows within a 4x4 inch or 10cmx10cm swatch. (Remember it is always important to check your yarn gauge. This will determine whether you have to go up a needle size or down a needle size.
Dye-lot number: This refers to the color of yarn. When buying more than one ball, be sure that the numbers match. Even when balls of yarn appear to be the same shade to your eye, the differences in color can show up in the final knitted fabric.
Things to Consider and Ask Yourself When Shopping for Yarn
What season is it?
What will this knit be used for?
What functions will it have?
Fibers and Texture
How often will I use this item?
Is the knitted project for a baby? Therefore the fiber needs to be soft.
What sort of care will it need? Will I want to wash this item frequently?
What color will best suit the person the knitted project is intended for?
What color will match your home decor if knitting rugs or throws?
Budget and Price
How much do you want to spend?
Weigh the options between luxury versus budget friendly and cheap yarns .
Knitters should really enjoy the yarn they interact with. A project takes time, patience, and everything from the color, to the weight, texture, and feel are important components to a successful and beautiful handmade project.
The whole point of choosing the right yarn, is to make wonderful handcrafted items for yourself, family, friends, and other loved ones. Using yarns you like is vital and makes better crafts!
In conclusion, there are so many different types of yarns you can use.
Hope this article has been helpful in finding out what materials are available to knitters.
Using this guide you should be able to find the right one for your project.
All the best in your knitting projects! Good Luck!
Anything we’ve forgotten? Have a crafty project to show us? Great!
Let us know in the comments.