It’s well known that different clothing is made from different types of fabric. However, the actual yarns that knitwear manufacturers utilize are not nearly as well known as the finished products that are created from their use. As such, we typically don’t pay much attention to them.
However, it is important to be mindful of the various types of yarns that are out there, just because such knowledge will allow you to have a more intimate understanding on the functionality of an article of clothing that goes beyond the realm of merely looking good. If you are looking to join the ranks of the knitwear manufacturers or if you are just looking to make something nice for yourself or for someone else, having a grasp of how a particular yarn can provide a measure of functionality can be a pretty important part of the overall knitwear design process.
Wool: The King of All Yarns
The most famous yarn on the market is wool. Made from the fleece of sheep, this particular yarn is well-known for being cozy and comfortable, which is why it is such a popular yarn for knitwear manufacturers that create sweaters.
While wool is a well-known commodity in the knitting world, people may not realize that wool as a whole is actually representative of a pretty sizable group of subcategories that invariably showcase the textural versatility of the yarn. Some of these subcategories include:
- Merino wool – This is wool that is derived from a breed of sheep that were originally from Turkey and Central Spain. It is considered to be the finest wool in the world, and its roots as a high-end yarn can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages. It is commonly used in high-end performance athletic wear, such as clothing meant for hiking, skiing, and cycling.
- Shetland wool – This is wool that is made from the sheep that is native to the Shetland Islands of Scotland. They are often used in their natural color, meaning that they are not dyed prior to their usage. The coarser style of this wool is often used to make tweed.
- Virgin wool – This is wool that is made directly from the fleece of an animal. It is not recycled from any other pre-existing wool garments.
- Icelandic wool – As the name suggests this is wool that is made from sheep raised in Iceland. Because they are on an island and therefore have been isolated from the rest of Europe for centuries, they are considered to produce wool that is purer than other mainland breeds. They are known for having long, glossy outer coats and fine, soft inner coats.
- Lamb’s wool – This is lamb that comes from a young lamb’s first shearing – typically around seven months after the sheep’s birth. It is known for having soft, elastic properties, and is often used for high-grade textiles.
- Washable wool – This is wool that is treated either electronically or chemically in order to destroy the outer fuzzy layer or fibers that may otherwise develop.
Each of these wools brings a different dimension to the table; something that may not be readily apparent amongst those that don’t possess much knowledge on the various wool subcategories.
Other Types of Yarn
Of course, wool is not the only well-known fabric that knitwear manufacturers will utilize in order to create their clothing. These other fabrics help to broaden the scope of clothing options that a person can utilize.
Arguably the most common yarn that is utilized by knitwear manufacturers is cotton. It is utilized as much as it is because it is a very durable yarn, which makes it a popular fabric for use in kids’ clothing. It is also very breathable, making it very comfortable to wear particularly when the temperature rises. Its highly washable qualities also make it a low-maintenance fabric to tend to.
Silk resides on the opposite of the yarn spectrum, as it has a well-deserved reputation as being extremely luxurious in nature. While it is rather ironic that such a fine fiber is produced by silkworms or moth caterpillars, it has nonetheless built up a sterling reputation as being a precious commodity. From a practical standpoint, silk has high absorption properties which makes it a comfortable fabric to wear while active or during warm weather. Plus, its smooth and shiny appearance gives it a sleek, elegant appearance, thus making it a popular fabric to utilize for formal shirts, blouses, and ties.
Another popular natural fiber is linen. This particular textile is made from the fibers of the flax plant and has a reputation for being rather tough to manufacture. However, it is highly valued for its reputation as being exceptionally cool and fresh during hot weather. It is also one of the more versatile fabrics that can be produced, as linen can be made into bags, towels, bedding, tablecloths, and napkins in addition to clothing.
Of course, one does not even need natural products in order to produce clothing for the masses. Synthetic yarns such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester have various advantages over their natural counterparts in that they can be treated to have qualities that are simply not possible with fabrics that are created organically. For instance, synthetic fabrics can be made to be waterproof, wrinkle-free, stain resistant, flame resistant and moth repellent. They can also be manufactured to have heightened elastic properties. The downside to these synthetic fabrics is that they tend to have a negative impact on the environment. Most synthetics are non-biodegradable, which means that they do not break down in the soil when they are no longer useful. What’s more, the chemicals that are used to manufacture the products can also escape into the environment at this particular stage.
Each yarn that can be used in order to produce clothing contains various pluses and minuses that can only be truly understood when you scrutinize them closely. Getting a better understanding on what these yarns can and cannot do can ultimately prove vital in you determining what kind of clothes you wish to make.