Types Of Knitting Yarn And How To Use Them

There are many types of knitting yarn and most of them are suitable for use in knitting. Choices differ in fiber content, texture, weight, and ply.

Here is a list of the most frequently used yarn chosen for knitting. Cotton yarns are also used for knitting, but more often for crochet work, so I haven’t included them here.

In addition to these yarn types, manufacturers often produce synthetic and blended yarns of their own design and label them with their trade names. You will get more familiar with these types as you visit your yarn stores more often.

Types Of Knitting Yarn

The three main types of yarns are as follows:

  • Animal fiber-based yarns include wool, silk, and cashmere.
  • Plant fiber-based yarns include hemp, cotton, and bamboo.
  • Synthetic fiber base yarns include nylon, polyester, and rayon.

Knitting Worsted

This type of wool is normally 4-ply, and it is the most versatile of wool yarns. It is heavy and can be used for bulk and to add warmth to articles. Worsted yarn is normally used in sweaters, hats, and afghans.

types of knitting yarnKnitting Worsted Weight

This wool is the same weight as knitting worsted, but it is made of Acrylic. It has a heavy feel and is used just as knitting worsted yarn.


Rug is a very heavy yarn made from wool or acrylic. This yarn is used to make pillow covers, rugs and tote boutique items like bags.


Sport can be wool or acrylic and is usually 4-ply. It has a medium weight and is used for hats, shawls, sweaters, gloves, socks, and vests.


This yarn is also wool or acrylic and usually 3-ply. The weight is light and it is used for items such as bed jackets, shawls, and baby garments.


This is similar to fingering yarn but slightly bulkier. It normally comes in pastels colors only. The wool is very light and is used for making babywear.


This yarn is made from the fluffy hair of an Angora Goat. It is sometimes blended with other fibers. It is light to medium weight and used for hats, sweaters, shawls, and suits.


This type of knitting yarn is very soft and comes from the Angora Rabbit. It is lightweight and used just like Mohair is.


This yarn is loosely twisted wool from Shetland Sheep. It has a medium weight and is used for sweaters, hats, and mittens.


Fisherman yarn is unbleached wool and is heavy. Usually a worsted weight and used for Aran-style garments.


Cashmere is one of the softest wool types. It is 6x softer than human hair. It comes from the Cashmere Goats and several other types of goats. The word Cashmere comes from the old spelling of the old State of Kashmir in South Asia. It has a luxurious feel to it and is used for jerseys, hats, suits, and scarves.


Alpaca is soft and silky but doesn’t hold its shape as well as wool does.

Alpaca is a natural wool that comes from the South-American Alpaca. There are two types of Alpaca yarn, Huacaya, and Suri. It is used mainly to make jerseys.


This yarn is homespun from the mountain sheep of Iceland. It is very heavy and used for sweaters, ponchos, and blankets.


This type of yarn is a novelty yarn and made of any fiber type. It is usually one thick and one thin yarn strand twisted together.


This type of yarn is also novelty and usually made of cotton or synthetic fiber. It has short and fluffy tufts entwined with long, thin strands. It can be light to heavy and is normally used for sweaters, suits, dresses, and hats.


This is another Novelty yearn and is a blend of metallic strands with wool or synthetic fiber. It is normally light to medium and used mainly for evening garments.


Hemp, a relative newcomer to the knitting world is a delightful natural fiber. Hemp is surprisingly soft to the touch. It’s hard wearing and has great stitch definition.

Hemp is ideal for boot socks, fisherman type sweaters, and coats.


Bamboo is a natural fiber. It wears well, is soft and is often considered to have natural antibacterial properties. It feels very soft and has a wonderful drape.

Bamboo is great for knitted garments that need drape. As the bamboo yarn is quite breathable and cool it’s perfect for summer tops and sweaters.

Yarn Weights

Yarns are made from many fibers and come in different thicknesses. These are known as Yarn Weights.

Jumbo Yarn, a relatively new member of the Yarn family is very thick and used in Arm knitting.

The other end of the scale is Lace yarn which is one of the thinnest yarns you can find. Often used for delicate shawls with Lacey patterns.

Checking the right Yarn weight for a knitted project is important.

The thickness of the yarn determines the dimensions and look of the final result.

What Is Ply?

When you see the terms 2 ply, 4 ply, 8 ply, etc, it simply means 2 or more single strands have been twisted together.

To ply yarn, individual singles are spun together with the twist worked in the opposite direction from how the singles were spun.

The number relating to ply doesn’t determine how thick the yarn is. You can have a very bulky two-ply yarn or an extremely thin four-ply yarn depending on the thickness of the single strands.

In conclusion, there are so many types of yarns you can use. The best thing to do if you are not sure is to knit a swatch to get an idea of what the final item will look like.

I hope this article has been helpful in finding out what types of knitting yarn are available to knitters. With so much to choose from, you will always find just the right thing for your project.

Gorgeous Wool Items To Purchase Online

Simply click on the products you would like to find out more about. I will make a small commission if you decide to purchase anything at no extra cost to you.

and last but not least, this gorgeous mohair blanket.

Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions on types of knitting yarn.

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