Synthetic yarns

These include rayon, acrylic, polyester, lycra and nylon. They are sometimes blended with plant fibres to make them more elastic and help them retain their shape when knitted. Synthetic yarns tend to be cheaper than those made from natural fibres because they cost less to manufacture and are often machine washable. Viscose rayon is actually manufactured from wood pulp and yarns have also been developed in recent years from recycled plastic bottles, textiles, milk and bamboo.

Each strand of fibre used to make yarn is called a ply, and different types of yarn are made from different numbers of plies. The type of fibre, number of plies and method of spinning all affect the thickness and weight of the finished yarn. Traditionally, there were standard thicknesses of yarn, such as 4-ply and chunky. However, as technology has developed and more fibres are blended to create a broader range of unusual yarns, these terms have become less standardized and the term chunky may be used for different weights of yarn from one yarn spinner to another.

The weights of yarn used in this book are:

Light- Very fine yarn designed for crochet work and used in this weight book for embellishment.

4-ply Fine yarn generally knitted on 3mm or 3.25mm needles.


Chunky This can be anything thicker than Aran and may be knitted on 8mm to 20mm needles.


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