Yarns are spun from natural or synthetic fibres. Natural fibres include wool, silk, linen, cotton, cashmere and alpaca. Synthetic fibres include polyester, acrylic, viscose, rayon and nylon. Yarn can also be a mixture of each, for example, wool and acrylic, or wool and cotton.
The following list describes the most common fibres used in knitting yarns:
Alpaca hair from the alpaca (llama)
Angora hair from the angora rabbit
Cashmere hair from the cashmere goat
Cotton plant fibre, from the boll of the cotton plant
Lambswool sheep's first shearing, usually the softest
Linen plant fibre, from the stem of the flax plant
Merino wool from the fleece of the merino sheep
Mohair from the angora goat, the softer and finer kid mohair is from the kid goat
Shetland wool traditionally from Shetland sheep Silk continuous filament secreted by the silkworm larva Wool from the fleece of a sheep
Acetate, rayon and viscose chemical treatment of cellulose fibres from wood pulp
Acrylic, polyester and nylon made from petro-chemicals. nylon is the strongest textile fibre, elastane is an elastic fibre
A ply is a single twisted strand and. as a general rule, the more plies that are twisted together, h. the thicker the yarn but, confusingly, the plies from different manufacturers can be different thicknesses themselves. A tightly spun ply will be thinner than a loosely spun one. In order of thickness they are: I ply which is used for gossamer lace knitting like traditional Shetland shawls Baby and fingering (UK 2ply or 3ply)
Sport (UK 4ply) Worsted (UK DK - double knitting) the most widely used weight which is suitable for most garments without being too bulky for indoor wear. Fisherman or medium weight (UK aran) Bulky (UK chunky) Super bulky (UK super chunky) and Big yarns are even thicker
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