Apologies for the delay with this penultimate post in the A-Z of crochet, I was faffing too much to get the photo I wanted!
I’m going to begin by saying the word ‘yarn’ does not come naturally to me as a Brit, and I definitely don’t say it out loud (especially in the company of my mum, who would probably laugh!) The word ‘wool’ is more commonplace in my vocabulary, despite the fact that it is technically incorrect as I use very little pure wool. However, I could talk about yarn/wool all day if I was given a chance!
Anyway, moving on, yarn is of equal importance to hooks when it comes to crochet. There are so many different types you can buy, from fancy synthetic yarns to all natural wool or plant based yarns (such as cotton and bamboo). As well as different materials, the different weights of yarn are important to consider when making a project. A lot of easily available yarn seems to be double knit and my ‘stash’ reflects this. The cotton I have is much thinner and needs a 3mm hook to work it up, whereas the chunky yarn which I bought 400g of )with no idea what to make) needs a 6mm hook. There are also infinite colours of yarn, including variegated (my favourite!) I’m going to focus my post on the types of yarn and what they can be used for.
A really popular yarn type because it is cheap and comes in many colours and weights. It’s a pretty versatile yarn type for toys and things like blankets, which use up a lot of yarn and require regular washing. It is also (depending on the brand and quality) quite a soft yarn for baby items, and it’s durability also makes it ideal for these. It’s often the first yarn people work with because it is so cheap and easily available. I personally if desired hat when used for garnett sphere size matters, e.g. hats or cardigans, it can be a little prone to stretching in the wash.
Wool and wool mix
I’ve lumped these together even though they have slightly different qualities. Pure wool comes in many weights and (from my limited experience) is easily dyed to any colour. It can be really soft and is super warm. It has to be treated carefully when washed otherwise you risk felting it (been there, done that, ruined hours of work). A cool wash is usually best and I always reshape woolen things when they are damp (I only have a cardigan now, but when the children were little I made them both pure wool soakers to go over cloth nappies and the wool was actually magical-it didn’t leak even overnight!) Because wool is something which needs to be treated carefully, it can be preferable to use it mixed with other fibres such as acrylic which make it slightly easier to care for. I have used both, and I really loved using pure wool. Having read up on how some wool is collected (from animals other than sheep) I am going to be carefully considering the wool I use in future and making sure it comes from sources which don’t harm the animals. (I hope Coggies and Cuddies doesn’t mind me mentioning this after reading her post.)
I’ve combined all of the fancy yarns, from the fluffy to the boucle to the eyelash yarns, as there are so many to consider! One of the things with fancy yarns is that they often don’t give good stitch definition so they aren’t always suitable for patterns where the stitches are the focus, e.g. lace. I think they are quite good for textured patches, such as on baby blankets, or fabrics where you are making a solid area and want the texture, e.g. red fluffy yarn for Christmas stockings. They can be tricky to use as the actual yarn ‘thread’ is sometimes quite thin, despite all of the fluff giving the impression of a much thicker yarn. You might need to experiment with hook size a lot here to get the effect you desire. They are usually man made and their washability can vary, one wrong move with the spin cycle and ‘fluffy’ can become ‘knotty mess’. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to all fancy yarns, but I wouldn’t choose them for projects which are likely to be well used or require a lot of washing, they are best saved for decorative things, at least in my house!)
Plant based fibres
Of the various plant based yarns, I only have experience of working with cotton. As opposed to fancy yarns, cotton gives excellent stitch definition. It is also quite stiff compared to acrylic and can easily split if you aren’t used to it. I have used cotton to make Christmas decorations such as snowflakes and it responds really well to blocking and starching. It also seems to be a popular choice for projects such as bags, and loose tops like beach tunics as well as things that need to be absorbent such as dishcloths. I’ve never used it for any of those things, but I have recently dabbled with making cotton scrubbies. I have heard wonderful things about bamboo yarn, and it’s on my ‘would like to try’ list.
I could talk for ages more about yarn and what to avoid (sometimes cheap isn’t best!) but I’m going to leave it there as my next post covers a bit to do with colour and variegated yarns.
I hope this post has been useful, and maybe given you an insight into types of yarn. There’s not much more to say, apart from I love yarn (wool!)
What is your favourite yarn type? Have you ever regretted your choice of yarn for a project? Why?