Types of Yarn and Their Uses

There is a huge range of yarns that are all perfect for different projects. These can be broken up into two categories: the type of yarn indicates what the fibres are made of, and the weight of yarn indicates the thickness of it. Combining different types and weights of yarn can make unique effects. 


Yarn types:

Wool – The most common yarn out there, it is taken from sheep. It is great for keeping you warm, but it can be very itchy to wear, and some people can have an allergy to this material. 

Merino – Another type of wool, this time taken specifically from merino sheep. This is a non-allergenic alternative to normal wool that is very soft. Unfortunately, merino is prone to pilling (fibres creating small fuzzy balls on your work). 

Alpaca – Warmer than wool, this yarn is great for winter projects, and this is also a better alternative to wool if you have sensitive skin. However, be warned, this type of yarn doesn’t block well. 

Cashmere – Although it has a higher price point, this yarn is a great choice. It is both soft and fluffy, but it lacks in strength. 

Cotton – A light and breathable yarn to use, this type is great for garments you plan to wear during the warmer months. This yarn is strong, but this also means that it doesn’t block well, and it can easily highlight mistakes and irregularities in your work. 

Acrylic – The best yarn for beginners. This yarn type is cheap due to its man-made fibres. If you know your work may go through a lot of wear and need to be washed often, this is a good yarn to use, but natural fibres are always a better alternative. 

Silk – A strong and shiny choice, this yarn can be great for summer items. However, it is very expensive and won’t keep you as warm as other yarns can. It is also quite a slippery yarn to work with, so is not ideal for those with little to no knitting experience. 


Yarn weights:


Lace – This is one of the thinnest yarns you can get, best for shawls and intricate designs. These yarns are typically coupled with size 1.5 - 2.25 mm needles.


4ply / Fingering – Typically used for making baby garments and socks, this is slightly thicker than lace. These are best paired with size 2.25 - 3.75 mm needles.


DK / Sport – Double the thickness of fingering, this yarn weight is usually used for making garments like tops or making blankets, these yarns are thin but still create a substantial fabric. This yarn can be paired with size 3.75 - 5.5 mm needles.


Aran / Worsted – Universally the best weight of yarn for most projects, Aran and Worsted are slightly different in weight but serve almost the same effect. These yarns work best when making jumpers, blankets and scarves as they are thicker than the previous yarns, therefore are warmer. These yarns work best with size 4.5 - 5.5 mm needles


Chunky / Bulky – This weight is thick and great for keeping you warm. If you want to make something quickly this weight is perfect, however it isn’t suitable for intricate work. These are best used with size 7mm - 12.75 mm needles


Some yarns can be made up of mixes between different types, an example of this is silk – it is often mixed with merino wool to get the best of both while eliminating their weaknesses. Choosing the right type and weight is the foundation of every project you create. 


Now you have a better insight into the different yarns that are out there, you can create the perfect work for yourself or a friend. What will you create?