Whether you need cotton yarn for crocheting dishcloths or faux fur for knitting fashionable scarves, there’s a variety of yarn types available to match your needs. Synthetic yarns, such as acrylic are usually slightly elastic which make them ideal for beginners. Many synthetics are also available as basic worsted-weight yarns, which are suitable for most types of knitting or crochet projects.
More expensive wool and cotton blends tend to be a little trickier to use, while specialty yarns like boucle yarn have their own unique challenges. Still, the extra flair makes these specialty yarns highly popular. Whether you’re looking the best yarn for a project, or just looking for something new to try, the different types of yarn here offer you some great options. If terms like “worsted weight” or “boucle” have you shaking your head in confusion, check out our helpful buyer’s guide below.
Caron Simply Soft Worsted Weight Yarn
Lion Brand Homespun Yarn
Bernat Softee Baby Yarn
Lily Sugar'n Cream Worsted Weight Yarn
Cebelia 167G DMC Crochet Cotton
Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Worsted Yarn
Plymouth's Galway Worsted Yarn
Cascade 220 Yarn
Patons Classic Wool Worsted
Lion Brand Alpine Wool Yarn
Lion Brand Yarn Wool-Ease Yarn
Patons Silk Bamboo Yarn
Cascade Baby Alpaca Lace Yarn
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby
Lion Brand Chenille Yarn
A classic yarn, the Caron Simply Soft brand offers one of the softest standard-weight acrylic yarns. Along with the gentle texture, the yarn’s loose feel can make some projects sag, especially ones with a more open crochet stitch. For afghans and some other projects, though, the yarn can have an extra soft quality that makes it similar to a thicker baby yarn. The yarn comes in over 50 colors with a great selection of solids, while the Simply Soft Paints has an additional dozen variegated yarns. The skeins weigh either 4 or 6 oz., with around 208 to 315 yards per skein.
Homespun yarn is just one Lion Brand’s large selection of yarns. The Homespun yarn is one of the more generic blends, made of acrylic and a small amount of polyester, but it’s a specialty boucle texture with a soft, curly feel. The yarn comes in over 60 colors, from vibrant solids to lightly-patterned nature colors such as Abalone or Sand Dune. It has a bulky feel that makes it a good choice for afghans, scarves, and other winter wear. With a small hook or tight tension, the loose yarn challenging to work with, but its soft feel makes it a nice choice for working with and for using. The yarn comes in 6 oz. skeins, each with about 185 yards of yarn.
Baby yarn isn't exclusively for baby-related projects – it's simply a lighter-weight yarn that’s good for any number of crochet projects from afghans to baby outfits. Bernat has a number of great worsted and chunky-weight yarns, but the Softee Baby brand offers a light-weight yarn in fun range of solid and variegated baby pastels, as well as some brighter colors. Even with a sturdy tension, this yarn gives projects a soft, almost cloud-like feel. It’s 100% acrylic, making it machine washable and fairly durable. Each solid-color skein has 5 oz. or 362 yards of yarn, while the variegated skeins are slightly smaller with 4.25 oz. or 310 yards.
Many standard easy yarns are a synthetic blend, but this yarn is a 100%-cotton worsted-weight. The yarn is fairly firm, though it can soften after washing, and it’s a great choice for blankets, garments, or kitchen gear. Sometimes the colors bleed if the yarn isn't wash properly before using it, but being cotton, it’s more absorbent than other yarns, making it the go-to yarn for dish cloths. It also resists heat, so that it also holds up well when used for pot-holders or hot-dish-mats. Sugar n’ Cream skeins come in a mix of solid and variegated colors, with 3 or 4 oz. per skein or 200 yards of yarn. The yarn is available in 14 oz. cones as well, which work nicely for large projects such as baby blankets.
This brand is famous for its embroidery thread and has recently introduced a line of Italian designer yarns, but it also produces a beautiful cotton thread. The product is 100% cotton and comes in a fine, double-mercerized thread that gives it a harder, stronger feel compared with other cotton threads. The pearly texture makes this thread great for delicate projects like doilies or lace. DMC’s other lines of cotton thread offer a wide range of sizes for different projects, but Cebelia comes in the most common range of sizes 10, 20, and 30. It’s also available in 22 solid colors, wound into balls of 50 grams. For size 10 thread, that’s 284 yards, while the smaller sizes have more yards per ball.
The Brown Sheep company produces several lines of good quality yarn, many of them 100% wool or other natural blends, but the Lamb’s Pride is one of the company’s most popular yarns and an all-around favorite among felters. The yarn is a loosely-twisted single ply that looks similar to a roving wool, and it comes in either worsted or bulky weight. It’s a blend of 85% wool and 15% mohair, available in nearly a hundred unique, beautiful shades for an amazing color selection. Be careful with some of the lighter colors, though, since the brand warns that a few light-colored yarns will not felt properly. The worsted-weight skeins each contain 190 yards, while the bulky-weight yarn comes in 125-yard skeins. The brand is a relatively moderate good price for wool yarn.
Another popular felting yarn, Plymouth Galway Worsted yarn is made by a family-owned company and sold by a large number of local shops. The yarn is 100% worsted-weight wool. With just over a hundred colors, the yarn offers a wide selection of subtle, colorful hues to work with. The yarn is sometimes compared to Cascade 220 in quality and is similar in feel in price, but trades the extra color choices for pre-wound skeins that are easier to use. Plymouth offers The yarn comes in 210-yard skeins, while a second, chunky-weight version of the yarn comes in 123 yard skeins.
A widely-used felting yarn, this yarn is made of 100% Peruvian Highland wool and is sometimes compared to Plymouth Galway Worsted yarn. Some people find the yarn difficult to felt and recommend it for projects when the felter wants the stitches to remain visible, but others find that it felts normally. The yarn is also a little more difficult to use, since it comes in hanks that should be re-wound, and it’s important to avoid any of the superwash versions of this yarn. At the same time, the yarn has one of the largest color selections available with over 150 colors and a sturdy mid-weight feel. Like the name suggests, Cascade 220 comes in 220-yard skeins and usually comes at a reasonable price for good-quality wool.
Patons Classic Wool yarn is one of the more standard brands available and can be found in craft stores as well as specialty yarn shops. It’s a 100% wool, worsted-weight yarn that comes in around fifty shades of variegated and solid colors. And, while it doesn’t have quite the range of colors as some of the other brands, it still has a good selection and a variety of interesting multicolored patterns available. For both solids and variegated yarns, the skeins are 3.5 oz. and 210 yards, making them slightly larger than some of the other brands, though similar in price.
Alpine Wool offers a slightly different option for felters with a 100% wool chunky-weight roving yarn. Unlike normal 3 or 4-play yarns, roving yarn is only loosely twisted, which makes it an easy choice for felting projects. As a chunky yarn, this yarn is also heavier and works well for projects that need a thicker yarn. Most craft stores carry this brand, and the yarn might be considered a bargain brand, along with Lion Brand’s Fisherman’s Wool yarn. Unfortunately, the brand is only available in a limited number of colors, and two colors--oatmeal and barley—do not have enough wool to make a good felting yarn. The yarn comes in 3 oz. skeins, but each skein has only 93 yards, so be sure to get enough for the entire project.
Lion Brands Wool Ease yarn offers knitters a popular wool blend at a reasonable price. This yarn is worsted-weight, giving it a fairly average weight suitable for most garments or afghans, though the brand also offers chunky and super-heavy versions of this yarn for even heavier projects. Wool-Ease comes 36 different colors. Even better, with its blend of wool and acrylic, the yarn is super warm, but still machine-washable, making it easy to use and care for. The exact blend of fibers varies from color to color, along with the size of the skein. Solids come in 3 oz. skeins, while most other colors come in 2.5 oz. skeins, with between 162 and 197 yards to each skein.
A specialty material manufactured by one of the larger brands, this yarn combines silk and bamboo for a super-soft feel. Its slightly lighter than the standard worsted-weight, but the Silk Bamboo brand comes in a medium-weight yarn and can be used in a variety of patterns and styles from scarves to sweaters and jackets. Each skein comes with 2.2 oz., or 102 yards, of yarn, so most projects will require a number of skeins to complete. For the size, its more expensive than Patons other wool, cotton, or synthetic blends, but it gets high ratings and offers a range of vivid colors. For a unique combination and an eco-friendly fiber, knitters might find the brand worth a try.
This yarn comes from a less-common, but still highly-rated brand. Cascade Yarns produces a number of good-quality blends in cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic fibers. The Alpaca Lace is Cascades 100% baby alpaca blend. It comes in around 50 beautiful colors, many of them recent additions, and the brand provides an excellent range of bright, subtle, and variegated hues. With its pure alpaca fiber, the yarn is also very fine, with a light fuzziness, and it is recommended for hand washing only. The skeins are 1.75 oz. and have around 437 yards each of fine, light-weight yarn ideal for lacy shawls or other delicate styles.
A popular specialty brand, this yarn offers an interesting blend of merino wool, acrylic and cashmere. The yarn is sport-weight, slightly lighter than Debbie Blisss worsted-weight Cashmerino yarn. It has a soft feel, is a great light-weight yarn, and works well for more delicate projects. The yarn comes in small skeins of 2.5 oz., with an estimated 137 yards per skein. In addition the Baby Cashmere line, Debbie Bliss offers a good selection of other product lines as well, in various weights and textures, but it is relatively expensive compared to some of the more common brands.
Need a bulky-weight yarn with a plush feel? Lion Brands Chenille yarn is a fairly popular version of this specialty material, great for heavy-weight projects with its semi-stretchy, fuzzy feel. The yarn is an acrylic blend with a small amount of polyester and nylon. With that blend of materials, its machine-washable and just a little stretchy. The yarns ability to give makes it easier to work with than most cotton or non-synthetic blends. Its bulk makes most projects go faster as well, though knitters may need some time to adjust to the yarns texture. The yarn comes in fairly small skeins of 2.5 oz., or 100 yards, but its still relatively inexpensive for a specialty yarn.
Yarn Buyer's Guide
While yarn is a very simple material made of fibers spun to create a long strand, describing it isn’t always so simple. Besides color, people tend to use certain terms to describe yarn’s weight, its texture, and even its source. This guide should help you understand the basic terms you will find on a package of yarn or listed within a set of instructions.
Natural vs. Synthetic
Many crafters prefer to work with natural fibers both for their texture and that they’re also a renewable resource. How the product will be used is another important consideration since cotton can be highly absorbent making it a good choice for washcloths or towels; keep in mind it’s also highly flammable and can be an allergen for some people.
Synthetic materials are generally less flammable but may melt if exposed to high temperatures. Ultimately, the best material will be one you’re most comfortable working with while meeting any requirements you have for your specific project.
For most projects, you want to avoid yarn that pills or turns fuzzy after you wash it. Felting yarn is different since felting intentionally mats the yarn fibers to create a solid block of material. Crafters have used a wide variety of yarns for felting, including synthetics, but loosely spun yarns made from animal fibers are generally the easiest to felt.
This is a rather broad term encompassing any unusual type of yarn, particularly when the fibers are spun to create a pattern or texture in the yarn. Boucle yarn and eyelash yarn are a couple of the most common types of specialty yarn, with tight loops or curls added to the former and long, loose strands threaded through the latter.
A skein is an individual package of yarn. Most instructions will list the number of skeins you need to complete the project. Be careful, though, because the amount of yarn in a skein varies widely. Using a different yarn or a different size of skein could mean you run out too soon.
Generally this describes how thick the yarn is. Using a yarn that’s too bulky or too fine can change the size of your project. Weight can also be measure in ply, as in 2-ply, 3-ply, or 4-ply yarn, but using standard yarn weight is considered a more reliable measurement.
In this system, yarn is divided into six categories. Crochet thread is the finest, followed by fingering-weight or sock yarn, then baby yarn and sport yarn. Light or light worsted yarn is a bit heavier, while medium weight is known as worsted weight. Bulky yarn is significantly heavier and good for thick projects like rugs, and as the name implies, super bulky is the heaviest yarn available.
Ply is an older standard for measuring yarn weight. A ply is a twisted strand of fibers that can either be used on its own as singles yarn or twisted again with other plys to form 2-ply, 4-ply, or even 8-ply yarn. The more plys a yarn has, the bulkier it will be, but not all plys are the same weight to start with. In the US, the Standard Yarn Weight System may give you a better idea of the yarn’s actual thickness.