By United Capital Innovation

All about Yarns

Yarn Size

Different yarn types have varying “weight” or thickness that is determined by the Standard Yarn Weight System. They use a 6-number symbol system to define various sizes/thickness/weight of yarns:

1 = Super-fine 2 = Fine 3 = Light 4 = Medium 5 = Bulky 6 = Super-bulky

Size 1 is the largest size for a strand of fiber. A pound of size 2 yarn will contain two times more yardage than a pound of Size 1, but will offer 50% of the diameter of Size 1. Size 3 yarns will have almost thrice the yardage of Size 1, but will be 1/3 the diameter of Size 1.

It is important to read the yarn label, as that contains valuable information about the yardage (amount) of yarn each ball or skein contains. To calculate the Size of the yarn, read the label to get the Yarn Count, Yards Per Pound and Piles, and then use the following formula to calculate Size:

Yarn Size = Yards Per Pound divided by Count multiplied by Piles

Yarn Properties

The core properties of yarn are infused into it during the manufacturing process. The twisting process, either low or high twist, determines what properties the yarn will unlimitedly end up inheriting. Consequently, those properties will then determine what use a particular yarn is best for:

  • Look & Feel: The aesthetics of a low twist yarn include a hairy, soft and low-luster and poor ¬†resiliency product. High twist yarns are much more resilient, firmer and smoother and are more lustrous.
  • Comfort factor: A yarn produced with low twist results in great absorbency properties, and excellent insulation characteristics. However, these yarns have poor elasticity properties. High twist yarns are much more elastic, but feature less insulation and absorbency properties.
  • Ruggedness: If you are looking for a yarn to use in a high-durability application, choose one manufactured with high twist. These yarns are very strong, and feature excellent abrasion resistance. Low twist yarns have poor resistance to abrasion, and are often weaker in strength.
  • Application: High twisted yarns are great for sewing projects, work wear or as warp yarns. Knitting applications are best with low twist yarns, as are applications for curtaining and soft furnishing.

Fibre Types

There are different types of yarn available, and each one lends itself to special applications, including sewing, knitting or crochet. Generally speaking, Yarn is classified into 3 major categories, including Staple Spun, Monofilament and Multifilament. Various sub-types within these broad classes include:

  • Wool: Sourced from sheep fleece, this is known as the Queen of yarns, and is most often favoured by knitters. Sub-types included in Wool are Lamb’s Wool, New or Virgin Wool, Merino Wool, Icelandic Wool, Shetland Wool and Washable Wool.
  • Fleece: These types of fibre includes Cashmere and Mohair, which is sourced from goats in Kashmir (a region bordering India/Pakistan) and Angora. Fleece is also harvested from the hair of rabbits from Angora.
  • Other Natural Fiber: There are also a variety of natural fibre that are smooth, shiny and slippery in nature, and include types like Cotton and Silk.
  • Synthetic Fibre: These types of fibre include Nylon, Polyester and Acrylic.
  • Hybrid Synthetic/Natural Fibre: These are cross between natural and synthetic fibre, and include Corn, Soy, Bamboo and other fibre produced from plant-based raw materials.
  • Specialty Fibre: These are special purpose yarns that are used to produce unique looking knitted products, and include fibre like Tweed, Marled, Heather and Variegated fibre.

How To Choose Yarns

Just as not all garments or handicraft products are created alike, so too are not all yarns. Yarns must be chosen depending on a number of factors, including the product that needs to be created, shape of the product and the stitching pattern chosen. Here’s what you should consider when choosing yarns:

  • Yarn and Stitch go together: The general rule of thumb is that simple shapes and patterns go with wilder yarn. Plain yarns go well with shapelier and more textured patterns.
    Remember, your choice of yarn can either hide or highlight the effect you are aiming to produce with your stitch.
  • Piles and Twists: The general rule of thumb here is that twisted and piled yarns go well with classic and sophisticated looks, while a more relaxed and rustic look can be produced from single pile yarns.
  • Inelastic yarns: Yarns such as Soy, Cotton or Silk are great for patterns whose fits are not dependant on ribbing. These types of yarns are great for projects where the drapes of such yarns are highlighted with straight-hanging patterns.

Often, you may not find the yarn specified for your pattern. You can substitute, but be very careful in choosing appropriate substitutes. Using inappropriate weights, or mixing fibres can end up damaging your project beyond salvage!