Yarn Composition

Yarn can be made out of pretty much anything!  From the standard wool and cotton, to artificial acrylic and polysester to the strangely wonderful rabbit wool and eco-friendly wood chips!


  • Mercerized Cotton (aka Pearl or Pearle): cotton processed to a shiny finish
  • Egyptian Cotton:  longest cotton fiber, smooth & soft
  • Pima Cotton:  cross between Egyptian & American Cotton
  • American Cotton:  medium-long fiber, easy to dye

Other Plant-Based Fibers

  • Linen:  Made from Flax
  • Bamboo


Yes, silk is an animal fiber!  The silk worm spins itself a cocoon, and this cocoon is then boiled, separating the cocoon into a long string of very fine silk.

  • Mulberry Silk


Wool is made from the fleece of sheep.  When most people think of wool, they think of sheep and itchy sweaters.  Short-fiber wool is itchy, but Long-fiber wool isn’t!  (I myself get a severe allergic reaction to short-fiber wool and pre-spun wool fibers, but I can work with, and wear, long-fiber yarn!)

  • Lamb’s Wool:  from a lamb’s first shearing
  • Merino Wool:  finest of fine breeds
  • Shetland Wool:  the small and hardy native sheep of the Shetland Islands (Scotland)
  • Icelandic Wool:  rustic, strong, somewhat scratchy


  • Alpaca:  Alpaca fleece is hypoallergenic.
  • Mohair:  From Angora goats
  • Cashmere:  from Kashmir goats
  • Angora:  From the hair of Angora Rabbits

Artificial Materials

  • Acrylic
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Rayon:  made from purified cellulose, primarily from wood pulp.  Varieties include Viscose, Modal, & Lyocell

Novelty Yarn

  • Ribbon
  • Boucle
  • Chenille
  • Thick-thin
  • Railroad Ribbon
  • Faux fur


  • Tweed: background color with flecks of differently colored fibers
  • Heather:  Blended from a number of differently colored fleeces, then spun
  • Marled (Ragg):  Plied yarn, plies are different colors
  • Variegated:  dyed in several different colors or shades.


Want more Info?  Check out these articles:

“Choosing Knitting Yarn” Martha Stewart

“Fiber Forever! A Discussion About the Fibers in Our Yarns” Craftsy