Even if you have just learned how to crochet, you probably know the basic choices when it comes to yarn fiber: wool, cotton and acrylic are the most well-understood yarns. However, when you go to shop for yarn, you’ll see that although you can certainly find 100% wool (or 100% cotton, or 100% acrylic) yarn, there are also many, many yarn skeins that are made with a blend of fibers. For example, the Asana Bulky yarn shown above is 50% superfine alpaca, 50% Peruvian highland wool … so it’s a wool blend made of a particularly kind of well mixed with alpaca fur. This unique blend gives it specific qualities including soft texture, light weight and extra warmth. Each blend of yarn is created to highlight specific features that make it useful for different types of projects. Knowing about yarn blends can make it a lot easier to choose the right yarn for any project.
Wool Blends for Crochet
Typically, although not always, at least 50% of the fiber is going to be made up of either wool or cotton. This gives you all of the features that you want from either of those fibers. For example, people select wool because it is a natural, durable, flame-resistant yarn that is warm and has a nice stretch for wearable crochet items. These are the features that people tend to seek when selecting a wool blend, combined with the additional features of the fiber it is blended with.
Wool yarn that has been blended with silk retains the properties of the wool but gains the soft, smooth feeling of silk. One of the complaints people may have about 100% wool is that it’s itchy (although this varies greatly by yarn brand), a feature that is mitigated when you select a silk yarn blend. People who really enjoy working with silk but find it expensive may choose a silk-wool blend as a more affordable alternative.
Technically, wool refers only to animal fur that comes from sheep. Yarn from other animals is referred to, typically, by the animal itself. A very popular choice second to sheep wool is alpaca yarn, especially baby alpaca yarn, which is very very soft. People who want that softness but who want a fiber closer to wool texture than a silky feeling may select an alpaca-wool blend. Notably, you can also find blends that combine these other animal fibers with silk (such as the super soft baby alpaca / silk blend shown above); and you can find blends that combine more than two fibers (such as a wool, alpaca, silk blend).
Cotton Blends for Crochet
In contrast to wool, people select cotton yarn when they want a fiber that is more “summery”, smooth, and without so much stretch. It is also perfect when you want to crochet an item that will get wet, such as a dishcloth. There are different cottons, such as pima cotton and organic cotton, and you can also find some cotton blends.
The most popular cotton blend is a cotton-acrylic, often in the proportion of 50% of each yarn. This gives you the benefits of cotton with a little bit more stretch and often better washability. It is also typically a more affordable option than a 100% cotton yarn. Additionally, cotton is heavy, so a cotton-acrylic blend is a more lightweight choice.
Rayon is another popular choice to blend with cotton. Once known as “the poor man’s silk“, rayon adds softness to the yarn. Additionally, rayon holds dye colors well, which means that you can get some really beautiful yarn out of it.
Other Fiber Blends for Crochet
In addition to these core fibers, there are many other fibers that can be blended in countless combinations to create unique yarn choices. Often, only a small percentage of a special fiber will be incorporated into the blend to get a specific trait. For example, the Kismet yarn shown above comes in a blend that is mostly superwash merino with 16% of Stellina, a metallic fiber.
The Kismet yarn also comes in an alternative blend, which is 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon. Nylon adds some strength and elasticity, which is particularly helpful when making garments. Nylon may help prevent a wool yarn from felting.
Tencel is an eco-friendly fiber similar to rayon that can be combined with a variety of other fibers to add softness to yarn, as well as making it more lightweight, cooler and absorbent.
It is possible to actually spin a small amount of fine silver into yarn for a beautiful metallic sheen.