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Fiber Content of Yarn

Updated on November 10, 2012

Fiber Content of Yarn

Yarn can be used in so many types of craft projects. But, when one thinks of yarn, crocheting and knitting are the first thing to come to mind. Most people who practice these hobbies seldom think about what is in their yarn, beyond making sure they get the yarn their pattern is calling for. But, for those who have wondered, it will be interesting to find out.

Yarn can be made of animal, plant, or synthetic fibers, or even a combination of any of them. If your yarn is made from animal fibers it will be made of silk produced by worm, wool from sheep, alpaca from alpacas, quiviut from the musk ox, angora from rabbits, or mohair from angora goats.

There is a larger selection of plant fibers that are used to make yarn. They include cotton from cotton bolls, linen from the flax plant, and ramie from an Asian shrub. Or the yarn can also be made from soy, bamboo, pine and other plant fibers.

There are several types of synthetic, or man made, fibers that yarn is made from, as well. These fibers can include Lyocell (Tencel), and rayon, which is man-made fibers that are made from cellulose. The cellulose is a natural material, but the ending result of rayon is not. There are also metallic yarns that have a shiny synthetic fiber spun in them that is synthetic.

When a yarn's fiber content is being described, there are some characteristics that are commonly discussed. The absorbency of a yarn describes how much water the fiber can take in. The ability of the fiber to allow air to pass through it is known as breathability. If a fiber can accept and hold dye, this is known as dyeability. And, the way that a fiber feels, is known as hand or handle. Words that may be used to describe this characteristic are soft, fine, harsh, stiff, or resilient. This will have an impact on the fabric the yarn is made into.

Knowing the fiber content of the yarn you are working with is important for several reasons. It is very important when giving laundering instructions. You want the person who ends up with the finished product to know how to get the item clean without ruining it. It also helps to know how the yarn will stand up to wear and tear if the item is going to be made into a garment. A nice soft alpaca afghan is a lovely choice for your aunt. But, if you are making an afghan for a four-year-old, it needs to be able to be thrown in the washing machine repeatedly and still look nice.

No matter what type of project you are working on, you will need to know the fiber content of the yarn you are using. Be sure and read the label on the ball of yarn before you choose it for a project. It is better to take a bit of time, than to waste money on yarn that is inappropriate for the current project.

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