I think every crocheter or knitter has a favourite yarn. In my stash I’ve got acrylic, alpaca, cotton, sheep and even ‘natural’ yarns like nettle and soy (the shine on the soy yarn is so beautiful). More than once Hubby as asked if I *really* need more yarn and is always answered by maniacal laughter – of course I do!
My preference for yarn depends on what I’m making. A lot of testing and making has taught me that you definitely need the right yarn for the project, and the recipient. One of the first things I made for the Lamb was a knitted rabbit created out of a basic square. I made it from alpaca wool because it’s incredible soft and perfect for little fingers to snuggle. It was one of the first projects I attempted and I remember struggling to knit, but the soft yarn felt lovely as I worked with it. In contrast, my soap bags are made from ‘craft cotton’ a slightly rougher type of cotton yarn than the cotton/acrylic blend I use in amigurumi but it’s what makes them really great as keeping you clean in the shower.
When I learned how to crochet I really started to learn the intricacies of different types of yarn. For example, cotton holds its shape better than acrylic which is more stretchy. There’s also a very slight size difference as you can see in these kokeshi style dolls. Both have been made using a 3.5mm hook but one has a cotton yarn head (on the left in the photo below) while the other is made from acrylic wool (on the right in the photo below). Knowing there’s likely to be a difference allows me to make modifications to patterns if necessary.
You can also see in the close up below the difference between cotton and acrylic yarns – the acrylic is a little more ‘fuzzy’, which is great if you’re creating something with texture but if you want a smooth look, for example for skin, then cotton would be better.
Knowing that cotton is likely to hold its form is also useful when creating clothes for my dolls. My flower girls all have flared skirts so I use cotton yarn to keep its shape but I wanted Princess Leia’s skirt to be more flowing so I used acrylic.
I haven’t yet decided which is my favourite when designing hair, although brushing our acrylic wool makes it more ‘fuzzy’, perfect for Hades flames but I like the individual strands seen in Captain Marvel.
There’s also the issue of price. A ball of acrylic DK wool is generally less than £1.50 whereas the same in cotton can be around £3-6 so it’s definitely a consideration when I’m making dolls for commissions. To make a doll such as ‘Ariel’ might take at least a third of a ball of skin colour, then her hair took about half a ball. While the materials for my dolls aren’t that expensive, they can rapidly add up.
So, the cotton vs acrylic debate continues and I’ll be keeping my stash topped up with both.