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All About Knitting:

Types of Yarn


One of the best things about knitting is working with lots of beautiful colors of yarn!

Yarn has come a long way from when the only option for knitters was plain 100% wool. This was warm, but it definitely wasn’t very exciting. Lucky for us, these days there is a huge variety of yarn, some natural and some man-made. So what makes these yarns different and how can you tell?

Sheep’s Wool - This is the most common and easiest to find. Keep in mind that there are several different types of wool because they are made with the coats of different kinds of sheep. For example, merino wool is super soft and great for anything that’s going right up against your skin, or the skin of a child, but other types can be warm though scratchy.

Mohair – Mohair comes from goats and has the pro of being super warm but can also be a bit scratchy so it’s probably best for things that go over other items, like shawls or cardigans.

Cashmere – Cashmere is expensive and probably the nicest yarn out there. It comes from the bellies of cashmere goats and is soft, and warm, and great for a special project. A great way to use cashmere without going broke is to look for a blend with another type of yarn, like a cashmerino, which blends cashmere with the merino wool mentioned earlier. That makes a really great yarn for clothing.

Alpaca – Alpaca is probably the warmest yarn available. In fact, it’s so warm that an alpaca sweater would be too hot to wear. This yarn is soft and best for small items like scarves or super warm throws and blankets.

Cotton – Cotton is a lot of fun to knit with, though it lacks the elasticity that other yarns have. Cotton knit items are great for summer, they’re lightweight and easy to clean. They’re also usually cheap and can make great household items like placemats and table runners.

Angora – Angora comes from rabbits and while it’s soft and luxurious, it also tends to shed a great deal. When using angora, it’s best to use it on accent pieces. If you wanted to make an angora sweater, your best bet would be to use some easy to find angora – wool blend. This will help to keep the yarn from slowly disintegrating.

Acrylic – Acrylic is probably the yarn you’ll use most, at least when you’re still learning to knit. It comes in a wide variety of quality, with some yarn so cheap you’ll be able to tell just be touching it that it won’t hold up well. Other acrylic yarns are really well made and have the bonus of being washable. You also have a wider selection to choose from, with acrylic yarns being everything from synthetic wools to ribbon yarn, which is exactly what it sounds like, to eyelash yarn, a yarn popular for scarves.

Angora sheep make beautiful soft yarn for knitting.

Here is a photograph of three angora sheep that were gathered together at a neighbors farm. Many times they were shed and their hair was used for knitting projects. Old barn wood was used for the frame. The artist took the photograph and put it through a process where the end result looks like a beautiful painting.

by Sarah Carbone






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