Different Types of Yarn: Explained
There are many types of yarn that you can choose from when you are crafting with yarn, be it crocheting, knitting & more. Yarn can be made of different fibers, weights and textures, as shown below.
When you are crocheting a project, it is essential to make sure you are picking the right yarn for the type of project you are making.
For example, if you crochet an acrylic potholder it will melt once it comes in contact with heat, so you will need to use 100% cotton instead, so it will hold up to the heat.
This is just one instance of why knowing about all the various types of yarn is important.
Scroll on down to learn about the types of fibers yarn can be made in such as animal, plant based and acrylics. All yarns are a different since they can be spun and mixed with different properties to create a unique blend as well as different weights of yarn.
You can look at the list below as well as a more detailed explanation.
What are the Types of Yarn Fibers?
Most fibers can be broken down into two categories: natural and synthetic.
- Natural fibers come from animals such as sheep or alpacas or are plant derived, such as cotton or bamboo. Different still, silk yarn is also a natural fiber yarn, but instead comes from the silkworm. Yarn made from animal fiber typically has much stricter care instructions.
- Synthetic fibers are those that are made up of various plastics. These plastics can range from the very common acrylic, to polyester, rayon or nylon. Synthetic yarns are easy to care for, including hassle-free washing and drying requirements.
There are also blended yarns that include a bit of both natural and manufactured. One of the more commonly found blended yarns is the acrylic & cotton blend. How much of each is up to the brand and manufacturer of the yarn, but they can range anywhere from 90/10 acrylic or 90/10 cotton.
Blended yarns are popular because they get to take advantage of each of the qualities of the different materials.
Yarn Fiber Types
- Merino Wool
- Cotton Threads
Types of Yarn Weights
Yarn thickness is used to determine the weight of the yarn. Use the yarn weight chart below as a guide to determine how and when you should use each type of yarn.
The yarn weights explained below are based on the CYC Standard weight System.
Weight #0 or Lace includes yarn type fingering 10-count crochet thread. This weight of yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook size of 6/7/8 (steel) and B-1 of regular. The metric equivalent is 1.6-1.4 mm for steel and the regular metric hook size of 2.25 mm.
Weight #1 or Super Fine includes yarn types of sock, fingering, and baby. This weight of yarn is typically crocheted using the US hook sizes of B-1 to E-4 and the metric sizes of 2.25 – 3.5 mm.
Weight #2 or Fine includes yarn types of sport and baby. This weight of yarn is typically crocheted using the US hook sizes of E-4 to 7 and the metric sizes of 3.5 – 4.5 mm.
Weight #3 or Light yarn includes the yarn types of DK and light worsted. This weight of yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook sizes of 7 to I-9 and the metric sizes of 4.5 – 5.5 mm
Weight #4 or Medium yarn includes the yarn types of worsted, afghan and aran. Worsted weight yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook sizes of I-9 to K-10 1/2 and the metric sizes of 5.5 – 6.5 mm.
Weight #5 or Bulky yarn includes the yarn types of chunky, craft and rug. This weight of yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook sizes of K-10.5 to M-13 and the metric sizes of 6.5 to 9 mm.
Weight #6 or Super Bulky includes the yarn types of super bulky and roving. This weight of yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook sizes of M-13 to Q and the metric sizes of 9 to 15 mm.
Weight #7 or Jumbo includes the yarn types of jumbo and roving. This weight of yarn is usually crocheted using the US hook sizes of Q (and larger) and the metric sizes 15 mm and up.
Types of Yarn Fibers
Learn even more about each fiber that is used to make yarn below.
Merino wool is from merino sheep and is one of the softest wools. It is perfect for any type of project that will be next to the skin such as scarves, mittens, hats, and sweaters.
Two popular merino yarns are LB Collection Superwash Merino Yarn from Lion Brand and Swish Worsted from Knitpicks.
Merino wool yarn is washable, and able to withstand machine washing easily, so it’s perfect for everyday wear.
Wool yarn is made with the hair of sheep. Wool is warm as well as durable during use. It makes great sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves. Some wool is rough or itchy at first, but gets softer with washing. Yarns made from an acrylic and wool blend are also very popular. It combines the softness of wool and the ease of use of acrylics.
Two of the more popular wool yarns are Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool and Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks.
Alpaca yarn is made with the hair from an Alpaca. This fiber is cozy and has a luxurious feel to it which makes it perfect for anything you create that will be close to the skin. It is one of the warmest fibers available and can also be blended with other fibers easily.
Two of the more popular Alpaca yarns are Simply Alpaca from KnitPicks, and Sugar Bush Nanaimo Yarn Alpaca Blend.
Bamboo yarn is made from bamboo plants and can be harvested without killing the plant which means it is eco-friendly. It is made from bamboo grass that has been extracted into cellulose and then spun into a silky smooth yarn.
This fiber is sheen and lightweight, which makes it great for Spring & Summer projects. The bamboos fibers are naturally silky soft and smooth – which makes the yarn incredibly soft for shawls, cardigans and more. It is often blended with other fibers for more texture and variety.
A favorite Bamboo yarn is Truboo Yarn from Lionbrand.
Fabric / T-Shirt
Fabric and or T-shirt yarn can be bought or made yourself using old cotton t-shirts or fabric scraps. Since this yarn will vary depending on the fabric it was made with, you will need to test out different crochet hooks to see which one would work best.
A favorite fabric yarn is Bernat Maker from Yarnspirations or if you’d prefer the DIY route take a look at this tutorial on how to make t-shirt yarn.
One of the most common fibers used to create yarn is acrylic. Acrylic yarn is made with chemicals such as petroleum, which means it is a fossil fuel-based fiber. Learn more about how acrylic fiber is made and see if it is a good choice for you.
Since acrylic fiber is easily produced, it is usually inexpensive. You can find this yarn at most stores without any trouble. A few easy to find ones are Red Heart Soft and Red Heart Super Saver both of which are budget-friendly.
Cotton yarn is 100% cotton and is perfect to use for washcloths, dishcloths, and anything that will require durability.
A couple of favorites of cotton yarns are 24/7 Cotton by Lion Brand and Lily Sugar’n Cream yarn by Yarnspirations, both of which are easy to find online and in store.
Cotton thread fiber is commonly used for lace projects and filet crochet patterns. It is a superfine 1 weight yarn that is inexpensive and can be found at most local craft stores.
A favorite cotton thread Aunt Lydia’s Classic Cotton Thread that is available from most local craft stores and online.
Natural & Acrylic Mixes
Natural and acrylic fiber blended yarns are great to use in projects such as socks and gloves. The blend of fiber makes it durable and easy to wash!
A good example of this type of yarn is Wool-Ease Thick & Quick from Lion Brand. It consists of a 20% wool and 80% acrylic mix.
Common Questions About Yarn Types
What is the Softest Type of Yarn?
With so many fibers to chose from, picking the softest yarn can be tough. You can find many acrylic yarns that are extremely soft such as Feels Like Butta by Lionbrand as well as natural fibers as well. Take a look at this post about the softest yarns, so you can pick your favorite yarn.
What Type of Yarn Should I use for Hot Pads?
When crocheting a hot pad, dishcloth or anything that may be exposed to high heat, you should always use a 100% cotton yarn. A cotton yarn I recommend is Lily Sugar’n Cream by Yarnspirations which is perfect to use for washcloths, dishcloths and hot pads!
Is Yarn Different for Knitting vs Crochet?
Nope! There is no difference between knitting yarn and the yarn used for crochet. Every type of fiber can be used in both hobbies.
What is Faux Fur Yarn Made of?
Faux fur yarns are made from synthetic materials, and mimic the feel of real fur without using any animal fibers. These yarns are a great ethical way to get that fur look without harming an animal in the process.
How is Self Striping Yarn Made?
Self striping yarn can be made from any fiber, and it gets its unique color from the dying process. Short sections of the yarn are dipped in vats of dye, with the next section getting a different color.
What Type of Yarn is Best for Crocheting Blankets?
A nice, sturdy plus soft yarn is important when deciding what one to use for blankets. I put together a post of some of the softest yarns for blankets that you can use to determine which yarn will be the best for your blanket project.
Now that you know why all these types of yarn exist, and the differences between them, why not make something? Check out a few of my favorite patterns below.
Free Crochet Patterns
- Rainbow Crochet Blanket Pattern
- Easy Crochet Afghan Pattern (8 Sizes)
- Mountain Pine Crochet Tree Blanket
- American Flag Crochet Patterns for Blankets
- Free C2C Crochet Graphgan Patterns
Free Knit Patterns