Knitting 101: The Different Types of Yarn and Their Uses
What are the different types of yarn and their uses? Perhaps you want to ensure the success of your hobby and project. You want to create a handmade hat, beanie, scarf or sweater that is sure to stand the test of time.
In general, you should just start with the pattern and follow the recommendations if you want to get the best results. If you’re creating your own design, this is where the challenge will start. A good thing to do here is to buy a pattern, follow the yarn recommendation and modify the design a bit as you see fit.
Anyway, let’s go back to what are the types of yarn to choose from. Let’s briefly discuss the yarns derived from synthetics, plants and animals:
Synthetic yarns and fabric
Although there are concerns about chemicals and sustainability, synthetic yarns such as nylon, acrylic, polyester and rayon are still popular because of their affordability and durability. These types of yarns are manufactured through a polymerisation process (similar to plastics) which is why they’re very strong and durable. They resist many types of chemical reactions (including natural elements such as moisture) which can help make your sweater or scarf maintain their appearance and durability.
However, more and more people in Australia (and all over the world actually) are choosing the more eco-friendly options. It’s the responsible thing to do and you can still make durable sweaters even with natural yarns. It’s also a sustainable way to support the local industry.
Yarns derived from plants
These include hemp, cotton and bamboo. These are great alternatives for synthetic fibres because these are also durable and they are far more sustainable.
However, these natural yarns might not match (or exceed) the excellent properties of the synthetic ones. For example, cotton yarn is somewhat inelastic which can make your hand strain during knitting. In addition, you have to take precautions when washing the cotton fabric. It can “bleed” especially the pieces of clothing that are dark red or blue.
Also, you have to know if the cotton was really produced in an environment-friendly way. Many of the farming methods now use a lot of pesticides to increase yield and protect the crops. It could also be the same thing with growing cotton. If you’re conscious about the environment, this is one important thing to look at.
Yarns derived from animals
Yarns derived from animal covering are also getting popular because it’s sustainable. In fact, Australia produces tonnes of wool yarn for different purposes. In addition, yarns from animal covering can be superior compared to plant-derived ones. For example, wool yarn is known to be more elastic and more durable than cotton yarn.
Other animal-derived yarns such as alpaca also have excellent properties. For instance, alpaca fibres are lightweight and yet strong. They are also highly waterproof which makes them resist sagging (your sweater or scarf will maintain its good quality even after repeated washing).
Different types of yarn and their uses
Your choice depends on your project and where you will use your craft for. If it needs repeated washing (e.g. regular clothing such as socks and sweaters), you should choose the type of yarn that resist water and sagging.