Looking for the best yarn for knitting your various projects? I cover all the different types of yarn. I’ve included pictures of the yarn types too. Enjoy exploring these different types of fiber.
I updated this post on 14th of Aug 2022.
Table of Contents
- Wool Blend
The yarn images featuring balls of yarn, along with skeins and hanks, give you an idea of the texture and quality.
Choosing yarn is such fun! The photos of yarn make you want to add more to your yarn stash! Just looking at these yarn balls makes me want to knit!
With each, I explain what knitting projects best suit. As always, if I forgot anything, please let me know down in the comments. I would love you to share tips you have about the fibers you love.
In this post, I share the different types of yarn and yarn weights. There are so many types of yarn, whether they’re from an animal or a plant. The textures of each and how they knit up vary.
I often hear knitters say when they look at yarn and hold it, it speaks to them. The yarn inspires project ideas and fires up the desire to get something knitted.
Wonderful Yarn Fibers To Explore
For beginners, I suggest a natural woolen/wool blend yarn.
Acrylic yarn is a human-made, synthetic fiber and is much cheaper than most natural fibers. You machine wash it easily, and it’s color-fast and a great choice for amateur knitters.
Many acrylic yarns are worsted weight. It’s available in different yarn weights like Sport and DK (aka 8ply yarn). Sashay yarn and Caron yarn are types of acrylic yarn.
Once you’ve gained a bit more experience, though, it’s better to use natural fibers. Super bulky fibers made of this are yarn suitable for arm knitting.
Ideal for: Beginners Knitters attempting their first projects like scarves. 100% acrylic is the type of yarn for yarn braids.
Acrylic yarns often have a sheen or slight halo. Some are quite shiny. These yarns have a reputation for not being soft.
Many acrylic yarns are soft and manufacturing processes have changed over the years to create a softer feel.
- Moths, oils, chemicals, and sunlight don’t like your Acrylic yarn clothes! No more holes in your clothes!
- Heat melts this yarn, it can’t be ironed
- This yarn is perfect for multi-color yarn braids.
Alpaca yarns are a super warm fiber perfect for knitting sweaters. Alpacas are often mistaken for Llamas.
Alpaca is natural wool from the South-American Alpaca. There are two types of Alpaca yarn, Huacaya, and Suri. This yarn type is soft, almost silky, but it doesn’t hold its shape as well as wool.
It’s more expensive and luxurious than regular wool. I knitted a lace cowl from baby alpaca wool, and it was a delight to knit with and soft. Wearing the cowl was lovely as it didn’t feel itchy at all.
Unfortunately, I gathered up my laundry and placed it in the washing machine, unaware my cowl was also in the pile.
My cowl was felted. It destroyed the feature of the lace pattern. Still soft but nothing like its former glory. A reminder to always check the yarn label for care instructions.
An alpaca blend is a good choice for adding softness to a project.
Ideal For: Alpaca is soft and warmer than wool. Those qualities make it ideal for knitted winter items.
- Alpaca fiber is water repellent
- It’s difficult to make it catch fire!
- They’re the cutest fiber-producing animals
The fiber comes from the Angora rabbit. To make it last longer and hold its shape better, it’s blended with other yarns like wool or acrylic. It molts, but it’s warm, cozy, and suitable for winter.
- Knits for winter
- It’s rare and expensive
Bamboo is a natural plant fiber. It wears well and is often considered to have natural antibacterial properties. It feels soft and has a wonderful drape. Most Bamboo yarns are rayon.
To create rayon, bamboo wood pulp is chopped through a chemical process to separate the useable cellulose fibers. These are then turned into filament strands and then spun into yarn.
The surface of a finished bamboo yarn project can pill. It can also stretch, be careful when washing it. Bamboo yarn tends to split which can be annoying when knitting.
Ideal For: Knitted garments requiring drape. Bamboo yarn is breathable and cool. It’s perfect for summer garments such as summer tops and sweaters.
Fun Fact: Bamboo is softer than silk when spun into yarn.
Bison fiber is lightweight, durable, soft, non-shrinkable, and non-felting. It’s expensive but for a good reason!
- Lace patterns
- Small accessories
- It’s hypoallergenic
Cashmere is one of the softest wool and yarn types around. It comes from Cashmere Goats. The word Cashmere comes from the old spelling of the old State of Kashmir in South Asia.
This luxury yarn is among the softest and woolliest on this list. It makes a great Christmas gift for knitters if the receiver is someone special! It’s not as strong as sheep fiber, and it’s also expensive.
Why? Cashmere Goats shed their undercoat once a year. The undercoat is closer to the skin and must be separated from the outer hair. It comes from the animals’ mid-side and back.
Unlike sheep who are shorn, the goat’s undercoat is combed and collected, which is labor-intensive. The yield of fiber from one goat is about 4 ounces once processed.
It takes the fibers collected from four goats to make a sweater. A knitting yarn to be treasured.
Ideal For: It’s 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 is produced in China, Mongolia, and Tibet.
It’s a velvety and smooth synthetic fiber that’s tricky to knit with. It has a wonderful feel, though!
- Baby blankets
- Cuddly knits
- It’s made from a mixture of natural and synthetic fiber
- The feel is achieved with a special weave
Cotton comes from the cotton plant. It’s grown in warm climates, the biggest producers being India, the USA, and China. It’s light, breathable, and strong.
There are different types of cotton yarn, some fine, some heavier. It doesn’t hold its shape, and your stitches won’t look as uniform. It has little elasticity and has an amazing range of colors.
Knitting or crocheting cotton creates lovely fabrics, a good choice for baby blankets. Summer projects knitted with a cotton and linen blend have a lovely drape.
To learn new knitting stitches, I have created lots of dishcloths using cotton yarn from different countries I have visited. They have been super fun to do.
The knitting practice gives me the confidence to take on bigger projects with interesting designs. The finished knitted dishcloths also made the perfect gifts to the wonderful people I’ve met.
- Cotton absorbs up to 27 times its weight in water! Watch out if you have a knitted cotton swimsuit!
- Cotton is the best yarn for amigurumi
Hemp, a newcomer to the knitting world, is a delightful natural fiber. Hemp is soft to the touch after multiple washes.
It’s hard-wearing and has a great stitch definition. It’s strong and sturdy but with flexibility. Certain hemp has an appearance like twine. Known for its use in macrame.
It can be rough on your hands and the finished fabric won’t have an even texture. When blended with other yarns such as wool or cotton it adds strength.
Ideal For: Boot socks, Fisherman type sweaters, coats, scrubbies and dishcloths.
Fun Fact: Hemp plants produce 250% more fiber than cotton. Hemp is mildew resistant and was used for paper in the past.
Llama fiber is a lightweight yarn that can be used to create clothes and accessories. It has no natural oils or lanolin, which means it’s easy on your skin! The fibers also shrink very little when washed.
- Llamas are often confused with alpacas
- They’re super strong pack animals
Linen is a luxurious yarn made from flax fibers. Linen garments keep you cool in hot weather because they’re highly absorbent. One of the world’s oldest textiles is linen.
Ideal For – Summer knits, lightweight tops, wraps, or shawls.
- It comes from the flax plant
Lurex is a registered trademark of the Lurex Company for a type of metallic yarn. It’s a synthetic film vaporized with metallic aluminum, silver, or gold layers.
Ideal For – Fun knits and adding a splash of bling to garments.
- It looks super flashy
Merino Wool Yarn
Merino Wool Yarn is popular in extreme knitting. Knitting big chunky items. It also comes from sheep, but from a specific breed, called the Merino Sheep.
This wool is unique because it’s soft and doesn’t cause allergic reactions. Merino Wool knitted fabric keeps its shape well when blocked. Merino pills, which is a little annoying.
If you have a chance to use Merino wool, though, such as Cascade Yarn – 100% Superwash Merino Wool, go for it! Roving is often used in full arm knitting.
Merino wool varies in yarn thickness and is packaged as a skein.
Ideal for: Merino Wool is great for making winter woolies for that special someone. Perfect for knitted socks, a soft yarn for scarf and baby clothes. Jumbo Merino Yarn is for extreme knitting.
Fun Fact: Merino Wool fibers withstand being bent back on themselves 20,000 times without breaking! The yarn structure is impressive.
Metallic yarn is a synthetic yarn with a metallic appearance. It contains metal elements, which create its gloss and stability.
Ideal For accessories and home décor.
- AKA alu-metallized polyester yarn
Looking for the best place to buy yarn online? See my guide.
Mohair is soft and made from the hair of the Angora Goat. It’s durable, resistant, and shiny. Not to be confused with the Angora Rabbit, which the wool Angora wool comes from.
Mohair has excellent insulating and moisture evaporation properties. It is a season all-rounder. Mohair is a luxury fiber, making it more expensive than ordinary wool.
Ideal For: Mohair is for summer and winter. Some people find it to be itchy.
- Did you know Mohair Fiber’s nickname is Diamond Fiber? This is due to its high luster and sheen.
- Mohair is a good yarn for dyeing!
Novelty Yarn comes in a variety of colors and textures and adds interest to a knitted garment. Yarns are made of synthetic fibers, these yarn blends. Novelty yarns provide texture and interest.
Common types of Novelty Yarns:
- Bouclé: Loopy and bumpy. The loops are large or small.
- Thick-thin: A finished knitted item using this yarn have thick and thin sections, which gives a bumpy look.
- Faux fur: Super Fluffy fiber strands on a strong base thread of nylon. The finished knitted item looks like faux fur.
- Railroad ribbon: As the name suggests, this yarn has tiny “tracks” of fiber strung between two parallel strands of thread.
Ideal For adding interest to your knitted projects.
Not So Fun Fact: Novelty yarns are difficult to knit with.
Many natural fibers can be mimicked with synthetic nylon yarn. Since silk became harder to obtain, nylon was created. Generally cheaper than natural fibers, it’s strong and stretchy.
Ideal For socks and lightweight accessories.
- They were used for parachutes in WW2
Organic yarn is produced from wool free from chemicals. Sourced from sheep with no synthetic inputs. The livestock has not been through dips, drenches, back lining, or antibiotics.
The cleaning process of Organic wool yarns includes using hot water and detergent.
Ideal for: Many organic yarns are from the Merino Sheep. This wool is excellent for winter knitted garments.
Fun Fact: Organic Yarn means it comes from healthy, happy sheep, and it’s good for the environment.
A knit bowl is a wonderful idea to keep your yarn from rolling around.
Qiviut refers to the soft underwool beneath the longer outer wool of the muskox. Ideal for winter knits and warm garments.
- The same word is used to describe the down feathers of birds in Inuinnaqtun
It’s made from the synthetic fiber derived from natural plant cellulose. It’s cool, soft, and lightweight like bamboo or linen.
Ideal For tops, singlets, and summer knits.
- It’s half natural, half synthetic
It’s made from anything from rayon and nylon to cotton, but it looks and feels like a craft ribbon.
- It twists and spins when being knitted
Ideal For accessories like belts, bags, and headbands.
A knitting tool is essential for carefree knitting.
Self Striping Yarn
Self-striping yarns have multiple colors spun together in unique ways for different effects. The manufacturing process for dyeing yarns has evolved, so the yarn is dyed in patterns.
“Self-striping” yarn, also known as “painterly” yarn colors, change color as you knit or crochet. The result is a knitted project with stripes of color.
Depending on the self-striping yarn used, the color changes are subtle or bold. For example, some may knit up to look like a Fair Isle pattern. I loved knitting socks with wool with patterning.
When using this yarn, it looks like you’ve changed colors. The colorful striped effect comes from one continuous strand of yarn. Stitches and patterns work the colorways differently.
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 have an appealing stripy effect. Takes the guesswork of whether or not colors go together when buying yarn on the internet.
- Some work is required to find patterns and stitches to suit the self-striping yarn you’ve chosen.
- When comparing prices, the self-striped yarn is more expensive than buying different solid color yarns.
- Lack of control of where the color changes fall. Sometimes the stripy look is 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 how your project ends up!
There are different types of silk yarn – Reeled silk yarn and spun silk yarn. It’s easy to work with but slippery. Know what you’re doing before commencing a project with silk yarn.
Silk is the most expensive and lustrous fiber on our list. It’s strong, shiny, and has a lovely feel on the skin. It doesn’t have much stretch.
There are some magical silk blends on the market, such as merino, silk, and cashmere.
Ideal For: Strong, shiny, and cool, the perfect yarn for summer items.
Fun Fact: Strong as steel in the tensile sense, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to humans!
These create special looks in knitted items.
- Tweed: Has a main color, 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 are any number of plies—two, three, four, etc.
Ideal for: Adding texture and interest to your knitted projects.
A yarn with multiple plies and accent colors. “True” tweed yarns are dyed in separate colors, then carded or spun with accent colors.
Ideal For knitted clothes, and accessories like cowls and socks.
- It was originally called tweel
Wool yarn is great for winter garments. It’s warm, and it lasts a long time. A popular natural yarn fiber out there in the craft world. It’s itchy for people if they have allergies to kinds of wool.
Wool is easily cleaned and keeps you warm even in the rain!
Types of Wool Yarn. There are four different types.
- Wool Type Fine
- Wool Type Medium
- Wool Type Long
- Wool Type Double – coated
Types of fine wool yarn such as merino which yarn fibers are soft. Wool’s warmth is a praised characteristic by knitters.
Pure new wool/virgin wool is made from animal fleece yarn fibers and not recycled from existing wool garments.
Shetland wool comes from the small and hardy native sheep of Scotland’s Shetland Islands.
Icelandic wool is a rustic, soft yarn ball. Washable wool is treated to destroy the outer fuzzy layer of fibers.
Ideal for: Winter and Summer. It’s great for making scarves, sweaters, gloves, hats, socks, other clothes, blankets, an excellent yarn for baby blankets, and an afghan.
Looking for the best sock yarn? Read more.
- Wool has many great properties, but one of the best is it keeps you cool in even the hottest of climates.
- Every major league baseball contains wool grown at a small mill in Massachusetts.
- Wool yarn fibers has natural fire extinguishing properties, hence why it’s included in fire blankets. Other different types of yarn don’t have this property.
Wool Blend Yarn
Wool Blend Yarns as the name suggests, are blended yarns of wool and other yarns. Blends include cotton and silk or synthetic. (Cotton acrylic yarn blend and Wool cotton blend yarn.)
Wool manufacturers blend to combine the best features of each type of yarn included in the blend.
Ideal for: cozy knitted items.
Fun fact: 50% Wool and 50% Cotton Blend is a great wool blend because each has qualities complimenting the other.
Vicuña wool comes from South American camelids that live in the high alpine areas of Peru’s Andes mountains. Vicuñas produce a soft, light, cinnamon-colored wool.
Ideal For small accessories.
- It’s the most expensive yarn in the world
In conclusion, there are so many different types of yarns. I hope this article has helped you find 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!
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