What is Viscose Yarn?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Viscose yarn is yarn made from a cellulose base. It has a number of properties including a high tensile strength that can make it suitable for knitting and crocheting projects. It may also be labeled as rayon or viscose rayon yarn; viscose is actually the processed cellulose base used to make rayon, and is not itself a fiber.

Viscose yarn keeps its color and sheen indefinitely.
Viscose yarn keeps its color and sheen indefinitely.

Viscose rayon was the first manufactured fiber. It is not synthetic like polyester, because it is made from natural materials, but it is heavily processed. There are several production techniques used to turn viscose into rayon. The finished product has a high sheen, is very soft, and is also quite strong. However, viscose can also be brittle, is prone to pilling, and needs to be washed with care to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging the fibers.

Rayon yarn made of viscose.
Rayon yarn made of viscose.

One advantage to viscose yarn is that rayon takes dyes very well, allowing knitters and crocheters to work with a wide variety of colors. The sheen usually carries through, leaving colors deep and brilliant. In addition, the fiber retains dyes and should stay bright and colorful throughout the life of the products made with it. Crafters who want to work with bold, colorfast yarns may choose this yarn for their projects.

The lack of elasticity in viscose yarn can make it difficult to knit a specific gauge, or stitches per inch.
The lack of elasticity in viscose yarn can make it difficult to knit a specific gauge, or stitches per inch.

A key disadvantage of viscose yarn is that it doesn't have the elasticity associated with many other fibers. This can make it challenging to work with for people who are unfamiliar with the fiber. The lack of elasticity can also make gauging challenging for knitters. Crafters who have not worked with this yarn before may want to try a small test project with the yarn to familiarize themselves with it.

It is possible to blend rayon with other fibers. A number of companies produce rayon blends with cotton, silk, linen, polyester, and other fibers. Blends bring out the best qualities of the two or more fibers involved. Viscose yarn is available in multi-stranded versions that can integrate metallic threads and it is also available in the form of ribbon and other novelty yarns. As with other yarns, it is advisable to buy all the yarn needed for a project at once and to confirm that it is all from the same dye lot. This will reduce the risk of subtle color variations that might ruin a finished project.

Viscose yarn is soft, has sheen and is strong.
Viscose yarn is soft, has sheen and is strong.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon297119

Is viscose yarn a manmade yarn?

anon293476

Your explanation about Viscose yarn is useful. It is made from natural materials. Although many synthetic fibers are manufactured, the natural yarn is still popular.

vogueknit17

Viscose is not as versatile as some yarns, so you might want to try to find yarn patterns specifically for it; it won't always work well as a replacement for wool or other natural fibers.

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