Tips, Yarn

Know your yarn: Acrylic

Continuing with our occasional look at the different yarns and fibres we can use in our knitting and crochet, we take a look at acrylic yarns which are particularly good for homewares and items that need to be durable

Where does this yarn come from?

Acrylic yarns are made of man-made fibres which are created from petroleum-based polymers – in other words acrylic yarns come from oil.

The fibres are created by drawing long strands of the polymer through small holes. The strands are cut to particular lengths depending on how the final yarn is to behave and is washed and stretched before it is ready for spinning.

Acrylic yarn is produced in both ecru which is dyed later and in coloured forms.

It can be used on its own for knitting yarns or combines with wool or other fibres.

Clockwise from top left: King Cole Riot DK (70% acrylic, 30% wool) http://www.kingcole.com/knitting-wool/riot-dk/: DY Choice Basics DK Spray (100% acrylic) http://www.designeryarns.uk.com/yarn/basics-dk-spray/ : Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed (77% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 3% viscose) http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Alpaca+Tweed/0_caea525_CAFA092.htm : Wendy Festival Chunky (100% acrylic) http://www.tbramsden.co.uk/catalog/yarns/wendy-fashion/wendy_festival_chunky : James C Brett Top Value DK (100% acrylic) http://www.jamescbrett.co.uk/yarn/top-value-dk : Rico Melange Chunky (53% wool, 47% acrylic) http://www.rico-design.de/en/hand-knitting/winter/creative-melange-chunky.html:  Sirdar Crofter DK (60% acrylic, 25% cotton, 15% wool) http://www.sirdar.co.uk/yarns/classics/dk/Crofter%20DK
Clockwise from top left: King Cole Riot DK (70% acrylic, 30% wool): DY Choice Basics DK Spray (100% acrylic): Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed (77% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 3% viscose): Wendy Festival Chunky (100% acrylic): James C Brett Top Value DK (100% acrylic): Rico Melange Chunky (53% wool, 47% acrylic): Sirdar Crofter DK (60% acrylic, 25% cotton, 15% wool)

Properties

  • Lightweight compared to wool, so you can make a garment from fewer balls of yarn
  • Durable and machine washable. This makes it a great choice for homewares and kids knits, because dealing with spills and stains is not a big issue
  • Non-allergenic (if not in a blend) because it has no animal
  • Can be blended with any natural fiber resulting in the best of both worlds
  • An acrylic garment will retain moisture more than a wool which makes 100% acrylic yarn less suitable for garments and accessories exposed to some weather conditions

Tips for working with acrylic yarns

Think about what sort of projects you want to use acrylic for and consider wool and acrylic blends. In particular use it for kidswear, homewares and blankets, all of which will benefit from its strengths.

Some people prefer to use wood or metal hooks and needles with acrylic yarn rather than plastic ones.

What is your favourite pattern for acrylic yarn – please tell us in the comments below.

 

 

 

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