After you choose a new knit or crochet project to tackle you will likely spend some time selecting an appropriate yarn. Your local craft store will have a wide selection of yarns that include several types of fibers, weights, and colors. It is important to understand these different variables in order to achieve the best results for your project.


The number of different yarn fibers that are available can be overwhelming. Some of the yarns are actually synthetic while others are produced from certain animal hairs. In some cases the fibers may even be derived from a plant.

Synthetic yarns include acrylics, polyesters, and nylons. This type of yarn is generally offered in lots of fun colors and soft textures. Most synthetic yarns are rather durable and can be machine washed. Unlike natural fibers, synthetic yarns do not perform well when exposed to heat and the fibers can actually melt together.

There are several different types of animal fur that are used to create yarns. Included in the long list are alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, silk, and wool. Yarns created from animal furs are great for making winter clothes due to their ability to insulate better than most other types of yarn. The disadvantage of these types of yarns is their cost and care requirements. Most can't be machine washed and may need special care in order to keep them clean.

Yarns that are created from plants include bamboo, cotton, hemp and linen. A number of plant-based yarns are not particularly stretchy. This is particularly true for both linen and hemp. If you are starting a project that needs to maintain its shape both are great selections.


Look on the package of any yarn and you will likely find a number between 0 and 6 that is associated with its weight. Thicker yarns have higher numbers assigned to them. In some cases you may hear words like worsted and chunky used to describe the yarn. Follow the simple chart below to get a better understanding of how these words relate to their yarn weights.

0 – Fingering

1 – Sock

2 – Sport/Baby

3 – DK/Light Worsted

4 – Worsted/Afghan

5 – Chunky

6 – Bulky


You will find yarns in every color of the rainbow and then some. Most varieties of yarn will come in a selection of solids that range from bright to pastels. Another popular yarn option is the ombre which is actually a fancy name for multicolored!