Yarn is so called because it isn’t strictly always wool.
The great thing about knitting is that as long as the material you are using can create a thread you can knit with it.
These days even plastic bags have been knitted with! (But that’s probably another blog post in the making.)
In this post however I plan on running through the more traditional yarns that can be used for knitting:
Pure wool can be expensive so it is not often used.
As it is a natural fibre it is a great insulation: warm in winter & cool in summer.
It is also very soft making it comfortable to wear.
Some pure wools are treated which means they can be machine washed, but the majority that I have come across are hand wash only, if that.
Acrylic yarn is good to use as a novice knitter.
It is cheap to buy so can be used to practice with.
As it is a manmade fibre it can easily be machine washed & dries very quickly.
(As nylon is also a manmade fibre it is similar to acrylic yarn.)
Most yarns these days are a blend of wool & acrylic.
This helps to create a yarn that has better properties than acrylic on its own but is more easily cared for than pure wool.
Blending yarn also means that different textures can be created.
Some companies add silk or linen to their yarn.
Cotton does not have much of a natural stretch so knitting with it can create relatively firm material.
I have often seen it used for baby clothes & household items such as dish clothes.
Technically any yarn that is finer than fingering weight can be called lace weight.
Basically lace weight yarn is very fine.
Used for: Delicate, web-like patterns for shawls & scarves.
Fingering Weight (14 wpi)
Sometimes called “baby yarn” fingering weight yarn is about double the weight of lace yarn.
Used for: Baby items, socks, Faire Isle patterns & lace shawls with substance.
Sport & DK Weight (12-11 wpi)
These two weights often get grouped together as they are practically the same. For those who want to get technical the sport weight is ever so slightly finer than DK.
Used for: Socks, accessories, shawls, wraps & sweaters.
Worsted & Aran Weight (9-8 wpi)
These weights are said to be the most widely used & are grouped together due to their closeness in weight.
Used for: Practically anything you can imagine!
Bulky Weight (7 wpi)
Bulky weight is approximately double the thickness of worsted yarn.
It is quick & easy to knit with.
Used for: Sweaters, felted pieces & home decor items such as throws.
The related wpi (wraps per inch) to a weight is helpful to know as this can help you to identify the weight of yarns in your stash that you may have lost the label to. Wrap the yarn around your finger & count the number of times it wraps round in an inch.
All the above is useful to know but don’t be limited by what each yarn weight is ‘supposed’ to create. It can be interesting to try knitting bulky yarn on smaller needles as this can create a very sturdy structure or alternatively fine yarn with larger needles for a more loose ‘holey’ effect.
You are after all only limited by your imagination so feel free to experiment with knitting ‘outside the box’.