Posted on 23-9-2022 by Muriël Blom
Choosing the right yarn can sometimes be tricky. There is so much choice today and the lists of fibers on yarn labels can often be bewildering. Some terms are a mouthful, and some fibers you will never have heard of or worked with before. Polyamide, mohair, elastane, the list goes on. So, what do all these terms mean? What effect would cashmere wool have on your project, for example? Learn all about it in this blog post!
Elastane is a synthetic fiber that distinguishes itself by its highly elastic stretchability. If yarn were to be made purely from elastane, it would be able to stretch up to 6 times its original length. Of course, no one wants a hand-knitted sweater that can stretch up to 6 times its size. That is why you usually find only a small percentage of elastane in your yarn; just enough to give the yarn a little, helpful stretch. Yarns made with elastane are therefore ideal for crocheting summery, sporty tops or knitting soft, comfortable pants.
GOTS is not a fiber, but it is (hopefully) something you will encounter more frequently on yarn labels. It is a quality mark that certifies that the yarn you are buying is organic, sustainable, and fair trade. To pass the certification, a yarn must meet very strict standards. For example, the fibers must be sourced from organic agriculture, the people producing the yarn must have good working conditions, and the entire manufacturing process must have as little impact on the environment as possible. A GOTS-certified yarn is therefore always a great choice!
Cashmere wool does not come from a sheep, but from a cashmere goat, also known as the capra hircus. As these goats need to withstand many changing weather conditions, Mother Nature has seen fit to provide them with thick, soft undercoats. Only the undercoat is used for making cashmere wool as the outer layers of the coat are very stiff. Cashmere’s key properties are that it feels extremely soft, provides excellent insulation, and retains its shape well over a long time, making it highly durable. However, the demand for this rare fiber has increased dramatically in recent years, making it one of the more expensive fibers that you will encounter in your yarn.
Merino wool is not just any sheep’s wool; it comes from the merino sheep. Normally, virgin wool tends to be quite itchy, but that is certainly not the case with merino wool. This wool is much softer and more flexible. Other advantages of merino wool are that it wicks away moisture, leaving your skin nice and dry, and that garments made with merino wool are less likely to smell. As if that wasn’t enough, merino wool is also naturally antibacterial, retains its shape well, and is 100% biodegradable.
The Angora goat is a remarkable sight. This animal has long curly hair that sometimes hangs fully in front of its face. The mohair yarn that this goat produces is incredibly soft and comfortable. It also has a beautiful gloss to it, making it ideal for luxurious garments and chic home accessories. The finest mohair, better known as kid mohair, comes from a kid’s first shearing.
Nylon was first developed as a synthetic alternative to silk, owing to the scarcity of this natural fiber. During the Second World War, almost all nylon was used in the manufacturing of parachutes. Nowadays, nylon is better known for its use in the textile industry. The most important properties of nylon are that it is elastic, water-repellent, and dimensionally stable. Additionally, it dries quickly and does not crease.
Polyester is actually a collective name for different types of materials made with polyester fibers. One advantage of polyester yarn is that it can withstand heat reasonably well compared to many other fibers. This means you don't have to worry about polyester yarn discoloring in the sun. Similar to nylon, polyester is also elastic, repels moisture, and is wrinkle-free.
Viscose is a semi-synthetic fiber. This means that while it is a manufactured fiber, the raw materials used are natural (wood or bamboo pulp). The main advantages of viscose are that it is comfortable to wear and that it has a luxurious look. This material is therefore widely used in the fashion industry. Other properties of viscose are that it absorbs moisture, feels cool in warm weather, retains its shape, is wrinkle-free, and holds dye well. Yarn made from this fiber is therefore ideal for crocheting chic tops and knitting luxurious blankets.
This is a fiber that you don't often see in yarn. Yak wool is made from the fine undercoats of this Asian highland ox. The main properties of yak wool are that it breathes well, provides great insulation, repels odors, and is very strong. As a result, you will be able to enjoy blankets and garments made with this wool for a very long time.
Looking for more handicraft inspiration? Read more of our blog posts here. Explore yarn with different fiber contents here at Yarnplaza.com.