When you have a knitting project and are in the process of buying your needed yarns, chances are, there are a lot of yarns, like the malabrigo yarn, which you will have to choose from. The skeins may look all the same, but the truth is, it is not.
Before anything else, a yarn is by definition, a type of textile that is commonly made out of either animal-based fibers like sheep’s wool, mohair, or angora, or from plant-based fibers, like cotton, hemp, or silk, or from synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon or rayon.
These interlocked fibers, also known as plies, are being spun together to become thicker strands. The number of the plies, like a single-ply or a two-ply yarn, will also affect the drape, the stitch definition, and of course, the general feel of the yarn.
The ply count factors into the categories below:
The weight categories
1. Category 0 or the Lace
This is approximately equivalent to a one-ply. This category is the lightest weight of yarn that is being used in making doilies and other beautiful lace designs. Thus, one has to treat it gently so as to avoid entangling or breakage.
2. Categories 1, 2 and 3 or the Super Fine, Fine and the Light
This is approximately equivalent of a two to five-ply. This category is suited for making small items like socks, gloves, hats, or garments used for babies and children. It casts on and off loosely. The yarn, to be more specific, is also commonly referred to as sports weight.
3. Category 4 of the Medium
This is approximately equal to 8 to 10 plays. This category is also known as the worsted, this weight is popular among the knitters of basically all skill levels because this provides a great stitch definition in the sweater, scarves, hats, and mittens. The chunky stitches that are knitted on traditional Aran yarn with this weight can also help import the warmth of the fiber.
4. Categories 5 and 6 or the Bulky and the Super Bulky
This is approximately equivalent to 12 to 14 ply and the materials of this weight produce fast projects using big needles. This is like the chunky scarves, throws, and blankets. This kind of yarn is also good for beginners because this produces projects quickly and is also good for advanced knitters who are also searching to create something that is unique with novel yarn. The knit loose and large stitches are for an optimal loft. The unevenly spun yarn like the boucle, or chenille, or slubby yarn will also produce uneven knots and a diminished stitch definition.
Now that you have known a different kind of plies, we will now look into the common fibers of the yarn
This fiber is spun from the fleece of sheep and is, of course, one of the most popular types of yarn. This is also conveniently priced and is also easy to handle. This works well for knitwear garments both for the winter, because of its durability and resistance to moisture, as well as for summer, because of the breathability and moisture-wicking.
Wool is often mixed in a blend with the other fibers so that its durability is improved. By nature, the wool is a creamy white cloth, thus it can be dyed in a wide range of colors. But, wool is also prone to pilling as time goes by. So, in taking care of this cloth, it must be hand washed gently in tepid water.
This is a fluffy and luxurious fiber that is known for its soft sheen and lightness even though this is one of the warmest against the other animal fibers. This is also more expensive than wool because mohair is very elastic. The stretching and springing back to its shape resist the wrinkling and sagging of the cloth.
And because the cloth is so fluffy, it can also be hard to knit it, especially if you want to have defined stitches. This is often blended with silk or wool in order to add weight. This can also irritate the skin which can cause itchiness even though this has a low-allergenic risk.
In taking care of this cloth, this must be dry-cleaned or machine-washed on a gentle cycle.
Cotton is a natural plant fiber and is one of the most common fibers. This is also fairly inexpensive. And because this is so smooth, then it is great for showing off some complicated stitch work. This also has a great drape, but, it is inelastic and is prone to splitting in the middle of your knitting. In taking care of this cloth, you can have this machine-washed.
Cashmere has a superb quality, thus making it a true luxury yarn. The softness also actually improves with the wear. And the superior insulation makes this well-suited for winter cardigans and accessories. This is also a beautiful fiber that is being associated with a fine cloud-like halo.
Cashmere is typically blended with other fibers so that the cost will be more accessible. This, however, does not breathe well with other fibers, but, you can stitch it loosely to accommodate this, and cashmere is also prone to pilling. Cashmere should also be dry-cleaned.
This fiber is spun from the fleece of alpaca, and it is dense and hypoallergenic, which makes this a good option for those who have sensitive skin, especially for baby knitwear. This fiber also has a strong tendency to over drape, so it is also being blended to other natural fibers to strengthen the tension. To take care of this fiber, it is recommended that it is dry-cleaned by gentle hand wash.
This fiber is, of course, silky, smooth, and lustrous. This is one of the most accessible in the fine plies because it is a more expensive fiber. And while this is great for knitting lace, this is also susceptible to static cling and catching.
So to counter this, it is recommended that you choose a variety that is to be spun tightly with a higher ply. Silk is also often blended into other fibers to add some luxurious softness. In taking care of this fiber, this should also be dry-cleaned or by gentle hand wash.
This fiber blends with natural fiber to be able to produce easy-care yarns. This type has good draping, together with wicking and breathable qualities, thus, making this fiber appropriate for any season in the year. But, this can feel scratchy against your skin and does not show the stitch definition very well. This fiber can be machine washable when taking care of it.
Ultimately, you will need to choose the yarn that is best fitted to your project, you will just have to consider the points above so that you can have the optimum result with your knitting project.