Synthetic vs Natural Yarns

Yarns can be made from a range of fibres and come in a variety of textures. Their potential is exciting: you can knit with everything, from a ball of delicate silk sock yarn to the plastic bag in which you bought it home in. Here we will share some ideas on the differences between synthetic & natural fibres.

Yarn Fibres

A fibre can be obtained from a plant, man-made (synthetic), or animal hair. To make a yarn, the fibres are treated and spun. A yarn can be formed entirely of a single fibre, such as wool, or it can be combined with different fibres to improve its properties (for example to affect its durability or softness). Various blends are also made for aesthetic purposes, such as combining sumptuous silk with wool for a lustrous sheen. As a result, each yarn has its own set of characteristics, making it critical to select the right blend for your project.

Type of Natural Yarns

Wool

Wool from a number of sheep breeds, is spun into pure wool yarns or combined with other fibres. It’s extremely warm and durable, making it great for winter jackets, cardigans, caps, and gloves. Short, coarse fibres in rough-feeling wool can irritate the skin, so clothes worn adjacent to the skin should be knitted with gentler varieties. Wool should always be handwashed unless it is labeled “superwash.”

Merino Wool

Merino sheep have one of the finest wools of any sheep breed, and this particular wool comes from them. The long, lustrous fibres form a silky yarn that is ideal for scarves, armwarmers, and children’s clothes that will be worn adjacent to the skin. It’s frequently combined with other fibers and treated to make it machine washable.

Mohair

The hair of the angora goat is used to create this fiber, which makes a unique natural “halo” when knitted. It’s difficult to work with because of its frizzy appearance, which makes it impossible to discern the structure of the knitting and any mistakes made. Oversized sweaters or accessories made of mohair are particularly fascinating. 

It is not recommended for use as babywear since it may shed hair when new, which could be harmful if inhaled.

Alpaca

This fiber has a sumptuous feel to it and is one of the warmest natural fibers available for knitting. In brutally cold conditions, even a thin, 4-ply clothing provides adequate insulation. The alpaca and the llama are related. Alpaca yarn is ideal for ski caps, as well as thick, warm sweaters and socks. There is also baby alpaca yarn available, which is even softer.

Cashmere

This yarn is made from the delicate under-hair of a goat and is ultra-luxurious and velvety soft. It’s light but sturdy, and it usually has more meterage per gram than yarns made from other fibers. Cashmere is an expensive fiber to create, therefore it’s frequently combined with other fibers to provide softness and opulence. Scarves, snoods, and sweaters should be worn close to the skin. This fiber should only be washed by hand.

Cotton

Cotton is the fluffy substance that forms around the cotton plant’s seeds. It’s spun into a summery, breathable fibre. Cotton yarns are generally easy to wash, and when properly cared for, they may be quite durable and last for decades. As a result, it’s a great material for homewares, crocheted purses, and shoulder bags. Cotton that has not been treated is great for hand-dyeing.

Cotton yarn can be mercerized, a process in which it is compressed and transformed into an ultra-strong yarn with a reflective shine that does not shed lint, using mechanical and chemical processing. Mercerized cotton is normally more expensive, but it’s ideal for projects that demand a lot of strength and shape retention, such as a glamorous evening bag, a long summer cardigan, or a throw that needs to be washed frequently.