Demystifying yarn pt 1- Types of yarn

DeMystifying Yarn is a mission I have been on for many years. Have you ever started looking at indie dyed yarn and found yourself very confused by what all the options mean? Even big box chain store yarn have such a wide variety that one can get very lost.

What’s 75/25 or 80/20 or single ply, category or 6,5,4,3,2,1? How do I know which one is right for the project I wanna make!

Pssh, I have been where you are and today and over the next several weeks I am going to attempt…ahem, My goal is to help demystify some of it for you.

In Part 1 of this series we are going to discuss 3 different main types that are widely available and then in parts 2, 3, and 4 we will dig into the different weights and their application.

So let’s get started!

For simplicity sake let us categorize: acrylic, cotton, and wool

Acrylic yarn

Acrylic yarn

 Acrylic is a man made fiber formed with polymers created with petroleum products ie crude oil. 

“Acrylic yarns were first developed in the 1940s by Dupont and were being produced in large quantities less than a decade later. The polymers are created from several processes that produce long string-like strands and then turned into short, controllable lengths resembling wool hair, and ultimately "spun" into the yarn we know. I say spun, but unlike natural fiber yarns, such as cotton, wool, cashmere and silk, acrylic collections are not spun, but they are twisted into long lengths of acrylic thread that makes up the yarn.” Quote from ‘The advantages of using acrylic yarn’

It is the cheaper and more widely available, with big box stores carrying lots of different brands, colors, weights, and types all for low costs. 

This type is also quite durable and in most cases, completely machine washable. This is the yarn that many beginners will use because of its accessibility, variety and hypoallergenic properties. However, with all of these benefits there are detriments. 

Some of the cheaper acrylic yarn may split or when pulling out your work may catch on itself and create knots, it is not very breathable and can retain odors and moisture. Additionally, acrylic, unlike wool is extremely flammable. 

Moral of the story is Acrylic yarn + fire = bad!

Many yarnie folx complain that it does not hold up well to repeated washing and pilling on some types of acrylic can be a nightmare.  But look, I am not here to say which is best…. I am just giving you facts. I find that there are many projects where the use of acrylic yarn works just fine.


Cotton Yarn

Cotton is a plant based fiber which can be found anywhere from your big box chain stores to indie dyers and your local yarn shops.

It is versatile, lightweight, durable and also hypoallergenic. 

Pima Cotton is what you will find with most indie dyers because it is a high quality cotton that is very soft and takes dyes very well, has a good stitch definition, is easy to work with and creates fabric that is completely breathable. It is less-elastic-ey so it won’t stretch as much and drape is best found with a larger hook/needle.

Typically cotton does not have plastic in its composition, so it is relatively environmentally friendly.

In addition, an honorable mention here is Bamboo yarn. It creates a very strong fabric that is still lightweight and breathable. Lionbrand makes a bamboo yarn called Truboo, which is a dream to work with.

Sources for indie dyed Pima cottons are pictured above on the left and 

Here at FuzzyWhatKnots, We have plans to launch a line of Pima Cotton yarns in Spring of 2021!


Wool Yarn

Wool yarn is the last in our categorization line up. There are hundreds of variations in this category. The most common type available is Superwash Merino (SW) and various blends of other fibers with SW. 

The most common blends are 75/25, 80/20 and then just 100% SW. 75/25 means 75% of the fiber content is Superwash merino and 25% Nylon and 80/20 is the exact same 80% Superwash merino and 20% Nylon.

Why is that important? Many knitters prefer this blend, which is why it’s so widely available as the nylon adds a layer of durability.

We will dive a little deeper into the different blends later in the series.  Many wool yarns are bought from Indie Dyers online or through Local Yarn Shops. Indie Dyed Yarn is typically more expensive, but represents the hours of labor involved in making those skeins you are in love with. Buying Indie dyed yarn is a great way to support small businesses, while making sure your yarn is sustainably sourced and completely unique. 

Check out some of our yarns in the shop.

Overall, there are many types of yarn to pick from and I hope this brief overview gives you a bit more insight to what your options are.

In Part 2, we will Demystify Lace and Fingering, in big box stores this would be typically labelled as Category 1 and 2.  Thank you for reading and please pass this onto anyone you think would benefit and we’ll chat more fiber chat in the next post. Til then make loops with love!


*Please note any links in this blog are not in anyway giving me a monetary kickback. They are there for the sole purpose of educating and sharing knowledge and resources. We are yarn loving people who like to share yarn love with other people

Empower People Crochet Bandana


Owner/ Operator

Teresa is the jack of all trades behind FuzzyWhatKnots Fibers. Teresa resides in Pennsylvania with her Husband, daughter and cat. When she’s not slinging yarn or splashing dye she enjoys a scenic hike or a good book

Katie Abbott

Blog Researcher/writer

Katie is a highschool Senior who resides with her family and dogs in Georgia. She is bistitchual (both crochets and knits) and in her spare time does research and co-writes for FuzzyWhatKnots Blog

Posted by

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.