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Yarn Brand & Knitting Buyer's Guide

Interesting Facts on Yarn

pink yarn ball

I’m a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could 
possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There’s something inspiring about yarn 
that makes me feel I could never have enough. 
-- Debbie Macomber, author and novelist

Yarn is a textile usually made from wools, cotton, or acrylic. Commonly used for weaving into a thick textile through crochet, knitting, or embroidery, it comes in a single long strand that are rolled into balls (called skeins), that make it easier for handcrafts.

Whether you crochet or knit, yarn is the main material used in this craft. With yarn, you are able to create your wraps, sweaters, hats, blankets, pillows, and more. All it takes is a little imagination and patience. With Out of Milk you can cast on to the best deals at local art supply and fabric stores (Jo-Ann, Walmart, Michaels, and Target), for cheap yarn, discount yarn, specialty fibers, and save big on your next creation.

Things to Consider When Shopping for Yarn

  • Yarn weight

    What season is it? 
    What will this knit be used for? 
    What functions will it have?

  • Yarn fibers and texture

    How often will I use this item? 
    Is this for a baby? 
    What sort of care will it need? 
    Will I want to wash this item frequently?

  • Yarn color

  • Budget and price

    How much do you want to spend?
    Weigh the options between luxury versus budget friendly and cheap yarns

  • Fulfillment

    Knitters should really enjoy the yarn they interact with. A project takes time, patience, and everything from the color, to the weight, texture, and feel are important components to a successful and beautiful handmade project.

Yarn is primarily used for knitting, and the whole point is to make wonderful handcrafted items for yourself, family, friends, and other loved ones. Using raw materials you like is vital and makes better crafts!

yarn junkie with yarn balls for knitting

Yarn Weight

Yarn weight is determined by the yarn's thickness and is divided into different categories, spanning from very fine to super bulky.

The general rule of thumb is for quicker projects, use thicker yarn. The thickness decreases the amount of stitches per inch and it becomes faster to knit up. One of the quickest projects you can make is a simple scarf from thick, chunky yarn that is warm and cozy for the cold weather. Knitting socks made from fine yarn takes much longer, requires patience, and is more challenging.

  • Superfine yarn (also known as sock yarn, fingering yarn, or baby yarn) is mostly used for lightweight items like socks, baby clothes, lace and decorative trim. Fine yarns (or sport yarn) is slightly heavier, although it is used for many of the same applications as superfine yarns.

  • Lightweight yarn is a popular choice for lighter pieces of clothing, accessories, and decor. Also known as light worsted weight yarn or DK for double knitting yarn. Suggested projects include airy sweaters, summer tops, and ultra light throws.

  • Medium weight yarn, or worsted weight yarn is the most commonly used weight of yarn. Most varieties come in this weight and can be use for heavier knits such as sweaters, ponchos, pillows, purses, bags, and hats. Since it is the most popular weighted yarn, there are unlimited colors and texture variations, which diversify any knitter’s collection.

  • Bulky and chunky yarn is the heaviest weight of yarn (next to bulky weight). It is heavy and used primarily for winter accessories and clothing. Bulky yarn is perfect for warm sweaters, scarves, and cold climate weather. Because of its durability and thickness, it is also used for making rugs and thick baby blankets.

balls of textured wool yarn

Knitting is clothing made in spare moments, or round the fire, whenever women gathered together... 
It's something to celebrate-clothes made in love and service, something women have always done.”
Anne Bartlett, author of Knitting

Yarn Fibers

You can knit almost any material that comes in a long string form, however, the most common yarns are made from cotton, wool, and acrylic fibers.Silk, mohair, and exotic fibers like cashmere and pashmina are also used but are usually only found at your local fabric store or craft stores nearby.

The easiest way to find your favorite yarn is to knit swatches of various yarn fibers, textures, and weights -- simply experiment! Each yarn has its own special properties and is used for different purposed projects, so ask your knitting friends or the local craft store for advice on the best types of yarn for your next knitting project or look at the recommended yarns noted in a pattern.

  • The number one choice amongst knitters, wool yarn, is an incredibly diverse fiber that can be spun in many ways that make it wearable all year round. Wool naturally provides warmth while retaining lots of water, making it ideal for hiking socks or a winter sweater. But, be sure to read labels about washing your woolen projects -- wools tends to shrink in warm water with agitation. New treatments have been applied to wool fibers, such as superwash wool, to resist felting. Usually, wool is sold under the name of the type of sheep they come from -- most widely known is merino wool. Other types include lamb’s wool yarn, shetland wool.

  • Cotton yarn is very flexible and is heavier than most wool yarns, however it tends to lose its shape when stretched. It is usually cheaper than wool yarn, but similar to wool, is susceptible to shrinkage if washed in hot water.

  • Acrylic yarns are synthetic fibers that imitate wool yarns. The majority of cheap yarns are made from this material and skeins of acrylic yarn tend to be relatively inexpensive, on top of being machine washable. This type of yarn comes in all hues of the rainbow, tons of textures, and yarn weights -- plus they are more versatile than natural fibers due to their synthetic base.

  • Others:hemp yarn, angora yarn, rayon yarn, mohair yarn, nylon yarn, polyester yarn, yak yarn, linen yarn, silk yarn…

Popular Colors and Dye Selection

yarn organized by color

Yarn is available undyed and untreated for a more natural look or home dye project. The color selection of yarn is so diverse and can be found in every single color, multiple colors, and in a mixture of rich fibers.

  • Heather or tweed: randomly placed flecks of a different colored fibers.
  • Ombre: color that fades from dark to light shades of the same hue.
  • Multicolored: variegated yarn with two or more different colored fibers.
  • Self-striping: yarn that’s dyed with specific lengths of two different colors so that when knitted or crocheted, a stripe pattern forms.
  • Sock Yarn: a very thin material with variegated colors spaced out to create a faux pattern for socks without having to change colors.
  • Shimmer: yarn with flecks of tinsel woven in to give a slight or bright shimmer effect.
  • Self-striping: dyed with specific lengths of two different colors that when knitted, create stripes.

woman knitting yarn braid crafts

Every ball or skein of yarn holds something inside it, and the great mystery of what that might be can be almost spiritual.
-- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot Unravels the Mysteries of Swatching, 
Stashing, Ribbing and Rolling to Free Your Inner Knitter

Favorite Yarn Brands

  • Red Heart Yarn
  • Premier
  • Patons
  • Purl Essence
  • Lion Brand

Use the Out of Milk app or website to discover the latest deals on yarn, so cyou can create your own special projects, whether it be as a gift or for yourself.