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.
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