Fibers are spun together to create yarns, which are further divided based on the content, texture, and finish. Their source could be natural (animals, plants)or synthetic (man made). Sometimes natural fiber is processed with chemicals to turn it into yarn, which makes it semi synthetic.
When single type of fiber is used to create, it will be single content yarn. To create a wide range, sometimes a variety of fibers are blended together. These blends enhances attributes of the yarn based on the ratio in which fibers are blended. Durability, softness, strength, luster, each fiber has its own properties. For aesthetic reasons as well as to get various properties together in one, fibers are blended. Choosing right type and quality of yarn for the project is important, as it enhances the appearance, quality, durability, aesthetics and other aspects as mentioned above.
Above infographic is a very good handy ref to understand the source and type of yarn. You can download types of yarn and print this for your handy reference in future.
Crochet can be done with almost everything which can be used in yarn form. Besides using the readily available yarn, you can create yarn with the plastic grocery bags. Old tee shirts/ sprees / old clothes can be cut in strips and used to make variety of products.
In this post i will discuss variety of yarns which are available. Besides the fiber content, there is a lot more to the know about choosing the right yarn for the right project, which i will discuss in later posts.
1. NATURAL FIBERS –
1.1) COTTON :
Cotton is extracted from plants. Its a natural treatable fiber which is easy to wash and care. It is good for home decor items, crochet pouches, bags, etc. For exclusive personal touch to your projects, you can dye untreated cotton yarn in your choice of colors.
A) Cotton crochet threads :
These are fine threads suitable for lace, lace edging and filet crochet. Based on the project you can chose the thread size, finish from a wide range of colors available. The thickness of the thread is measured in size. Higher the size number, finer is the thread. Below image gives a good idea about different size of crochet threads. As you can see there are 4 different sizes of threads in the image – 3, 10, 20, 30. One design is made with each of the threads. Due to the fineness of the threads, it keeps shrinking in the size as it reaches size 30.
B) Fine weight cotton yarn :
This is thicker than the thread, good for garments and accessories and will show the textures of stitch patterns clearly.
C) Mercerized cotton :
Mercerization is a mechanical and chemical process typically for cotton yarn and transform it to ultra strong yarn with a lustrous appeal. It’s a fine choice for any project which needs to be strong and holds its shape. E.g. Clutch bag, summer cardigan or a throw.
D) Cotton blends :
Cotton blend yarn are available with various other fibers. These blends could be with other natural fibers or man made fibers. Cotton/linen, Cotton/modal, Cotton/Polyester, Cotton/ Wool to name a few.
1.2) WOOL :
A) Merino wool :
It is made from the fleece of the merino wool sheep. The bouncy, smooth surface fiber is a fantastic choice to wear against skin. Due to the very fine quality and softness, its durability isn’t as good as other wool. A great amount of care is needed for the products made of this yarn. It is often treated to make it suitable for machine washing. Good for scarves, arm warmers and children’s garment. Many a times marino is also blended with other fibers to get the best of the properties of both the fibers.
B) Wool :
It can be pure wool yarn or blend with other fibers, as a result very warm and hard wearing. Great for winter wear such as jackets, cardigans, hats and gloves. Organic wool contains a high proportion of lenolin, making a strong waterproof yarn.
C) Worsted wool :
Worsted wool is created with long staple fibers due to which, yarns look smooth in comparison with woolen yarns, which are much hairier, with lots of short fibers and more pokey-out bits. Where worsted wools are better at keeping out the wind and rain, woolen yarns are warmer, because they are full of air which acts as insulation.
1.3) LUXURY :
A) Silk :
It is a shiny, sleek, very delicate and expensive yarn. Silk blends are created to get the best of each yarn together. It also makes it more affordable. However, silk yarn is ideal for wedding and baptismal gifts and she garments.
B) Cashmere :
The fiber is underbelly hair of a goat, , which makes is ultra luxurious, velvety soft yarn. It is light but incredibly strong, and weighs very little by the yard. The life of cashmere is longer than pure wool or cotton, but it requires great amount of care, may be dry clean only. It is expensive to produce and is often blended with another fibers in a yarn to add softness. Cashmere is best close to the skin.
1.4) OTHER NATURAL FIBERS :
A) Hemp :
It is a versatile plant, available in single play, 2-ply, 3-ply, 6-ply and 12-ply. Available in twine and rope form, it has earthy roughness that will soften with age and wear. An environmental friendly fiber and good for making shopping bags and home ware.
B) Ramie :
It is derived from plant this fiber is called ramie. The bark is dried out into workable fibers which are then spun into yarns. This yarn does not insulate therefore desired for strength and airy quality. To improve on durability this fiber is usually blended with other fibers such a cotton and wool. The fiber is known specially to its ability to hold shape , reduce wrinkling and ass a silky luster to the yarn.
C) Linen :
It is derived from flax plant. Fibers are known for absorbency and exceptional coolness in hot weather. Fabric created with linen yarn softens with wash and wear. It is also blended with other fibers such as cotton and wool. It also gives a good stitch definition.
D) Alpaca :
Harvested from an Alpaca, its weight depends on how it is spun. Soft, Durable, luxurious and silky natural fiber. Similar to sheep’s wool it is warmer and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. It produces a firm fabric and gives good stitch definition.
E) Handspun yarn :
While choosing handspan yarn, look for fibers that you like working with and that have a tight , smooth twist if you require good stitch tension. It takes practice to produce single yarns which are twisted at the right amount for good durability.
2. SYNTHETIC FIBERS:
A) Microfiber :
Velvety softness and is common in yarn blends. These are included in yarn to reduce density and add texture and to prevent excess spun fiber from migrating and pilling on the surface of a piece. First image is to show the comparison of cotton vs microfiber yarn formation.
B) Nylon :
Polamide or nylon is an incredibly strong and light weight fiber. Good elasticity and often used to reinforce yarn blends for items that may be subjected to heavy wear such as sock and reinforcement yarn. It improves washability of the fibers. It is blended with by preventing shrinkage and felting. Below image is blend of 55% / 28% / 17% Merino/acrylic/nylon.
C) Acrylic :
Produced from Ethylene, which is derived from oil. Cheap to manufacture. Feels slightly rougher than other synthetics. It comes in bright and luminous shades that are hard to create with natural fibers. Robust and resistant to moths. Ideal for toys, novelty pieces and budget projects. It tends to accumulate static electricity.
3. YARN BLENDS:
A) Wool and cotton mixes :
The strengths and softness of cotton adds smoothness, breathability and washability to wool’s very warm and slightly scratchy qualities. Blend is good for sensitive skins and babies. Due to different absorbency of colors between cotton and wool, stranded color appearance is common in this blend of yarn. Below yarn is 80/20 cotton/wool.
B) Natural and Synthetic mixes :
Man made fibers are often blended with synthetic fibers to achieve structure, strength and washability and also to alter their appearance, e.g. sheen. They help bind other yarns such as mohair and wool together and prevent shedding; they also prevent animal fibers from shrinking. The strength of such blends makes it perfect for socks and gloves. Below yarn is 85/15 cotton/polyester.
C) Synthetic only mixes :
Mixing of man made fibers is done to create a variety of textures: e.g. furry eyelash yarn, soft and smooth baby wear yarn, rough aran substitutes. These yarns do not hold much warmth in comparison to animal fibers. Most synthetic only blends can be washed at a high temperature and tumble dried.
4. MULTICOLORED YARNS :
A) Variegated or Milange wool yarn :
Super bulky yarn. Two different colored yarn is twisted around each other. Each strand changes from dark to light and back again along its length.
B) Variegated cotton yarn :
Thin strands of different colors are twisted around a core yarn to create this fairly smooth multicolored yarn.
5. TEXTURED AND NOVELTY YARN –
A) Boucle yarn :
The curly appearance of boucle yarn results from whirls of fiber attached to a sold core yarn. When crocheted, these loops of fiber stand out and create a carpet like looped fabric. These are completely unique and often specify a deceptively larger gauge guideline as a result of their overall thickness. It’s a lovely choice for simply shaped garments.
B) Tape yarn :
It may be flat or tubular in shape and flattens when wound into a ball
C) Metallics :
Lurex and other metallic yarns make highly effective trims and decorations. These will be scratchy and therefore uncomfortable to wear but when blended with other yarns creates interesting mixes and are fun to experiment with.
D) Mohair :
This is hair of furry breed of goat. It produces a unique natural halo when crocheted. Working with it can be quite challenging. Since its fuzzy structure makes it difficult to see the structure of the crochet and any mistakes made. It is particularly interesting oversized sweaters and accessories. Not at all recommended for baby clothes.
E) Novelty yarn :
These yarns look like fur and it keep changing with fashion.
6. UNUSUAL YARN:
A) Fabric :
Fabrics from old clothes and other textiles was often made into doormats and rugs by tying strips together. The needle size will be dependent on the thickness of the strips.
B) String :
Idea for making practical household items such as bowls and boxes. Available in range of colors and used to create a very stiff fabric capable of holding its shape. While finishing the item coat the item with diluted craft glue to make it waterproof . It also helps in future cleasing easy, just by wiping with a damp cloth.
C) Wire :
Used to crocheting jewelry. Beading wire, is available in a range of colors and crochet it into chokers, necklaces, and bracelets. Strand beads on the wire before crocheting and place then as you go along in the project.
D) Plastic bags :
Recycle plastic bag by cutting them into strips and joining them together by knots to form the yarn. Depending on the width of the strips of the plastic strips, hook size can be decided. Knots will add further texture to the fabric. Good to make bags, mats and waterproof items such as toiletry bags or garden seat covers.
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