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With so many knitting yarns to choose from, how do you know which one is best for your project?
Fully synthetic, acrylic yarn is easy to dye, so it’s available in a variety of colors and striped patterns. Most knitters learn to knit with acrylic yarn because it’s cheap, but then move on to higher quality natural yarns. Many choose to make baby blankets, hats and booties out of acrylic yarn because it is machine washable and dryable.
Cotton yarn is another favorite yarn used for baby blankets because it’s washable, won’t stretch, and is soft. Cotton is light and ideal for knitting summer accessories. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of making knitting yarn or the number of pesticides used in growing cotton, it’s very easy to buy yarn made from organic cotton.
Woolen yarn is probably the most versatile of all knitting yarns. You can craft everything from scarves and sweaters to electronic accessory holders out of yarn. Wool is generally more expensive than acrylic, but still in the low to moderate price range. The only downside to wool is that it’s usually not machine washable. Check labels for washing instructions, especially when using knitting yarns made from animal hair.
Don’t let the fact that this yarn is made from goat hair put you off using it. Mohair makes lovely sweaters, scarves, and other types of clothing, but it can be itchy and shouldn’t be used in any project that will be worn in direct contact with your skin. Mohair makes a fuzzy, textured weave and can be combined with other yarns for a unique project.
Made from rabbit hair, angora yarn is as soft and fluffy as the animal. Angora is very expensive, tends to shed, and is not machine washable. Many knitters believe that the beauty and softness of angora outweighs its other drawbacks.
This type of yarn comes from alpacas, which are animals that look like llamas. Alpaca and wool are often used interchangeably and have many of the same qualities. Alpaca yarn is more expensive, warmer and often of higher quality. Plus, alpaca fiber is hypoallergenic, which is good news for knitters allergic to wool and other animal fibers.
This type of yarn is usually made from polyester or a similar synthetic fiber. It looks like a main strand of yarn with shorter strands coming out of it. Eyelash yarn is decorative, fun, and usually brightly colored. When using eyelash yarn, your particular points are hard to see under all the fluff. It can also be difficult to work with because the hanging pieces catch on your knitting needles. Projects made with eyelash wire usually don’t have much substance or volume. When knitting with eyelash yarn, try knitting it with a simple acrylic or wool yarn as the base. Hold the two threads together and knit as if they were one.
Although flat like any other type of ribbon, this type of yarn is specially designed for knitting and its texture is quite different from decorative ribbons. Ribbon threads can be made from any number of materials, but they are usually synthetic in origin. Knitting with ribbon yarn for the first time is a strange experience due to the flatness of the yarn. Ribbon yarn is best used for decorative trim or for scarves, but not for primary garments like sweaters.
If you want to knit socks, buying sock yarn is always a safe bet. It’s made with a fine enough gauge that your stitches won’t look lumpy on your feet. You can also machine wash and dry the sock yarn without damaging your creations. If you can’t find a sock yarn you like or want to get creative with your knitted socks, choose a yarn that contains some synthetic material (like acrylic or nylon) for stretch. Cotton and wool blends work well for socks. Cotton tends to be lighter and more breathable, and wool will keep your feet warm in winter.
How you will use, wear and care for your finished project determines the most appropriate type of yarn. The weight of the wire is also an important factor in the success of the project. Fingering weight yarn is the finest possible weight and is only used for delicate knitting projects like lace making. Sport weight (also denoted DK) is lightweight and used for socks and thin garments. Worsted yarn is the most common and can be used for anything you want to make (including winter wear). Bulky yarn is the heaviest and is used for chunky sweaters and blankets, as well as art projects.
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