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What is Crochet Yarn?

By Britt Archer
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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There are so many different types of yarn to choose from that it can be overwhelming for the beginning crocheter to pick the right one. Picking the correct crochet yarn depends upon the project at hand. With the exception of crochet thread, there is no one yarn that is exclusive to the art of crochet. A finished project won't look complete or polished if the wrong yarn weight, also called yarn gauge, and fiber is chosen.

There are natural yarn types, such as organic, cotton, silk, bamboo, and angora yarn. There are yarns made from synthetic fibers, such as acrylic, rayon, nylon, and viscose yarn. Specialty or novelty yarns cater to crocheters seeking to make unusual finished projects. Denim yarn can be made from recycled blue jeans, while some yarns are made from exotic fibers such as animal hair, such as dog yarn or llama yarn.

Crochet yarn comes in different weights. Thin crochet thread is typically made from cotton or nylon and is used for delicate lace edgings or smaller projects like baby socks. Fingering weight crochet yarn is used for socks and baby items. Worsted or medium weight crochet yarn is used for sweaters and blankets. Bulky weight yarns work up quickly and can be made into all but the smallest or most delicate projects.

Some crocheters have a favorite type or style of yarn to work with. Others find joy in experimenting with different fibers, weights and colors. Handspun yarn is made into crochet yarn from raw fibers. Hand painted yarn can be handspun or commercially spun, but is individually dyed and colored by an artisan. These are all factors to consider when choosing a crochet yarn.

Each yarn has a different texture and feel. Some work up with more drape, while others are stiff and rigid when crocheted into a project. The colors of a yarn display themselves differently if a project is knit or crocheted — some dye patterns form large pools of color when used with one craft and not with another. All of these characteristics contribute to how a project appears and behaves when finished.

Crocheters also consider how a yarn is spun — whether the yarn is plied or twisted and how many individual threads make up the finished yarn. These attributes can make a yarn hard to crochet. If a yarn is too hard to work with, crocheters may consider it better suited to another fiber art, such as knitting or tatting.

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Discussion Comments
By StarJo — On Feb 04, 2012

@lighth0se33 - I use crochet yarn when making bookmarks. I was inspired to do this by a bookmark I bought as a child that had crochet yarn tied around the hole in the top. It was pink and purple with a unicorn and clouds on it, and soft, pink crochet yarn about four inches long helped me find where I had placed the marker inside a book.

I design the bookmarks on my computer. Then, I print them out on thick card stock. I use a single hole punch to make a round hole near the top of the marker in the center, and this is where I thread the crochet yarn.

Sometimes I tie a couple of pieces together and knot them near the end, leaving a bit of fringe. Other times, I like to braid them together to make it thicker.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 04, 2012

Though I don’t knit or crochet, I like to use crochet yarn in various craft projects. Its thickness and softness make it great for making tails and mane for stuffed animals, which is one of my hobbies.

I stuff the animals with cotton to make them cushy. I use a variety of fabrics to cover them with, but I always use crochet yarn to make the hair. All I have to do is cut several pieces and sew them into the body, letting them hang down to a certain length.

Does anyone else have crafty ideas for crochet yarn? As someone who will probably never learn to crochet, I am open to other ideas for its uses.

By seag47 — On Feb 03, 2012

I know nothing about crocheting, but my grandmother is an expert at it. She recently sent me to the fabric store to buy some yarn to crochet a blanket with, and she left the color up to me. The blanket was going to be my housewarming gift, so I wanted to get a color that would match my decor.

I was overwhelmed by the variety of colors and textures of yarn available. I have only ever seen my grandmother use thick, plush yarn, so I stuck to that when looking for a color. I figured that a blanket should be soft and fuzzy, and this type of yarn would be ideal for that.

I found some yarn that faded from one color to another. It went from light pink to peach to white, and this would go great with my bedroom colors. It would also make for a really interesting blanket.

By KaBoom — On Feb 02, 2012

I always feel like there is this weird competition between knitting and crochet in the fiber world. And sometimes that spills over to yarn. I knit, but I have a good friend who crochets.

My friend went to a knitting store to buy some yarn to crochet with. She happened to mention to the store owner she was going to crochet with the yarn she was buying and the store owner refused to sell the yarn to her. She insisted the yarn was only for knitting and wouldn't work with crochet afghan patterns!

The whole thing was so bizarre I've never forgotten it!

By JaneAir — On Feb 02, 2012

@SZapper - I'm a crafter too, and I agree that you can knit or crochet with most yarn. I think the only yarn I've really come across that says it's meant only for crochet is that thin, cotton crochet yarn. However, I saw a knitted lace shawl made out of that yarn awhile ago, so I know you could knit with it also.

I've found that if you're having trouble with a yarn, it's probably not because of the craft you're using it for. You're either using the wrong tools or crocheting to the wrong gauge.

For example, silk yarn is very slippery. If you use a slipper metal hook with such slippery yarn, you're going to have problems! You should use a wooden hook instead. But that doesn't mean you can't crochet with silk.

Also, if the yarn is working up into thick, stiff fabric, you're probably crocheting to the wrong gauge. You might need a larger hook to make a slightly looser fabric!

By SZapper — On Feb 01, 2012

I'm a knitting (I sometimes dabble in crochet too), and I have to say that for the most part, knitting yarn and crochet yarn are the exact same thing. Yes, there are a few types of yarn that are more suited to one craft or the other. For example, chenille yarn is much better for crochet. But instances like that are few and far between.

I think people sometimes think crochet yarn is somehow different from knitting yarn because of a myth that was popularized years ago. I have no idea how this got started, but someone once told me that crochet yarn is spun in a different direction than knitting yarn.

However, I did a bit of research and found that this was a myth. So knit/crochet on with whatever yarn your little heart desires!

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