Category Archives: Yarn

Advantages of Knitting with Alpaca Yarn Banner

8 Advantages of Knitting with Alpaca Yarn

South American Alpaca Wool has many of the benefits of sheep's wool and more. The two are very different animals that have evolved in different environments and thus, gives rise to the unique qualities of the alpaca fiber.

This elegant yarn has increased in popularity over recent years, and in this article we will explore the reasons behind its admiration, how to care and maintain it, and under what circumstances, alpaca wool is the go to yarn.

Introduction

An alpaca is a South American camelid that resembles the llama, but is smaller and has a much thicker, softer and luxurious fleece.

They are bred specifically for their fiber, adored for millennia because of its soft feel, strength, and warmth. In fact, one of the key economic bedrocks of the Incan civilization was it's textile industry, based on the wool of the Alpaca.

An awesomely cute alpaca

They traditionally were bred in the heights of the Andes (mainly in Peru), but also Chile and Bolivia. That was until the arrival, and colonization of South America by the Spanish. The Spanish saw the Alpaca in a direct land competition with sheep and proceeded to slaughter them for meat, nearly to the point of extinction.

Thankfully, the Alpaca survived with the population now totaling several million in the altiplano of the Andes. In recent years, with the world rediscovering the wonders of this fiber, Alpaca farms have been popping up in the US, Australia, and the UK.

However, due to the smaller populations of Alpacas, compared to sheep or goats, alpaca wool yarn is a more expensive than that most other types of yarn. The annual worldwide supply of Alpaca Yarn currently totals around 4000 tons with nearly 90% of the production from Peru.

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Advantages of Knitting with Cotton Yarn Banner

5 Advantages of Knitting with Cotton Yarn

It likely doesn’t come as a surprise that cotton yarn is the most widely used fiber in the world. After all, it is comfortable to wear, especially during the hot summer months; it’s very durable; and comes in a multitude of different colours.

In our article we'll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of knitting with cotton, which knitting projects are most suited to cotton yarn and how to maintain them.

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Advantages of Wool Yarn banner

9 Advantages of Knitting with Wool Yarn

Wool yarn is an excellent type of yarn to knit with due to its great stretch and has been used to keep us clothed for thousands of years.

In this article, we will explore the origin, benefits, disadvantages, and maintenance of sheep wool. We go through this natural fibers incredible powers and amazing abilities and advise you on how to treat your wool garment.

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Advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn Banner Title

5 Advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn

Cashmere has for many, many years been the yarn of high fashion and chic.

We will go in depth with the crème de la crème of wool, from its amazing features to the drawbacks you should keep in mind and how to maintain your Cashmere projects in good condition.

This is the Hollywood Grace Kelly of yarns, learn why in this article.

Introduction

Cashmere wool yarn originates from soft, fine undercoat around the neck and underbelly of the cashmere goat, that lives in the Himalayan mountains in Mongolia, China, India, and Pakistan. Around 6,500 tons of cashmere is produced worldwide, the vast majority from Mongolia.

Cashmere goats in Wales, UK

Its origins as a textile can be traced back 5000 years in Asia where it was particularly popular with Indian royalty and the rich. Its first arrival in Europe in the 1300s may be traced to the trading expeditions of Marco Polo.

With the colonization of the Indian subcontinent by the French, Portuguese and British, more of this fiber was exported back to Europe and the development of the European Cashmere spinning industry.

Through the 20th century, this yarn gained its international diamante-like status through fashion designers like Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. It became the modern woman's go-to cardigan and the men's casual but stylish pullover.

Through this period of the early 1800s and up until the 1990s, one Scottish company was responsible for processing two-thirds of the world's raw cashmere (around 2,000 tons at its peak). Thus, making Scotland the world center for Cashmere finishing, knitting, and weaving.

Around this time China imposed substantial export tariffs on raw cashmere, extended their processing facilities and reduced the export regulations on finished cashmere yarn.

As a result, the flow of cashmere onto the market markedly increased – this has led to some lowering of prices, but has also resulted in an overflow of poorer quality Cashmere entering the market. Today the quality varies, but 100% cashmere is still perceived as the richest fiber of them all.

5 Advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn Title

5 Advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn

#1 - Excellent Insulator

Cashmere knitting yarn is up to eight times warmer than ordinary wool yarn. The fine fiber structure prevents air from going through the garment, and therefore holding on to your body heat.

Unlike other types of yarn, the cashmere wool can be used in warm summer conditions as a light cardigan or scarf along with the summers thin skirts, shirts, and dresses.

A high moisture content allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air. This makes cashmere wool ideal for wearing in all types of climates.

That is how the cashmere goat survives the conditions of the Himalayan mountains, where the winters are icy, and the summers are roasting hot.

This form of variation in temperatures forces the cashmere goat to produce a naturally delicate, soft and warm under fleece. Therefore, cashmere is not labeled to either a winter or summer type of yarn, but will be a comfortable garment throughout the year.

Cashmere Goats, and sheep in the Kashmir region of India

Cashmere goats (and sheep) in India

#2 - Soft

The hairs from the cashmere goat are seven times thinner than sheep wool, which makes it finer and softer.

#3 - Easily Dyed

You can buy cashmere yarn for knitting projects with the cashmere’s natural color, which are white, brown and gray.

Cashmere can be dyed any fashionable color with ease and without compromising the quality.

Yarn being Dyed

Yarns being hand dyed.

#4 - Lightweight & Elegant

100% cashmere is very lightweight and not bulky or chunky in any way. It is one of the reasons why it is such a favorite material for the fashion industry. It is very feminine and comfortable without being overly bulky.

#5 - Elastic

When knitting with cashmere yarn, it is flexible and stretchy making it a beautiful textile to knit.

Disadvantages of Cashmere Yarn

Disadvantages of Cashmere Yarn

#1 Expensive

Due to the small volumes of Cashmere Yarn produced annually, it is a rather expensive yarn to knit. As such, you should carefully examine its benefits and drawbacks against other yarns and the qualities you expect your knitting project to have before purchasing.

The price has begun to come down with the increase in Chinese exports, but with the increased volume, also comes in some instances a decrease in quality.

You can find cheap cashmere with a cashmere yarn sale but do your research as the poorer quality yarn can pill, shed and sag within a couple of days.

#2 Environmental Disaster

Unfortunately, due to the demand in the West, the goat population in Mongolia has quadrupled over the last twenty years. This explosion in the population has led to the chronic destruction of the vegetation due to the goats appetite (and their tough hooves).

As a result, nearly 90% of the country is now at risk of turning into desert, putting the environment of the region and livelihoods of the Mongolians at risk.

This video from M.A.D. Investment Solutions looks into the story of Mongolian Cashmere production & the environment.

#3 Fragile

Cashmere does not have the same strength as wool or alpaca wool, which can cause it to shed a little – or a lot, depending on the quality of the cashmere. The softer it seems, often, the poorer and more fragile the cashmere is, a sad fact.

It's hard to care for and stretches quickly lowering the cashmere garment’s utility and duration. Cashmere, like wool, is sadly a delicatessen for moths, therefore, protect your cashmere garment or extra yarns of your cashmere well. Proper storage is of the essence. Places like attics and packaging in a card box are like sending out a Christmas dinner invite to clothes moths.

#4 Pills & Sheds

If you go out and buy an expensive bulk of cashmere yarn, do not get alarmed if this suddenly starts to pill too – due to the short nature of Cashmere fibers, it is quite common even for the expensive and genuine quality cashmere to pill in the beginning.

At the start, after cashmere knitting project has been completed, the cashmere will tend to shed a bit.

#5 Poor Stitch Detailing

Knitting stitches in a cashmere garment are not as detailed as with e.g. cotton yarn. This is because of the fibers from the cashmere has its thin, soft hairs almost covering the details of the stitches.

Cashmere Yarn Knitting Projects Banner

Cashmere Yarn Knitting Projects

This lightweight and so very soft yarn is an incredibly popular choice when it comes to knitting cardigan, sweaters, and soft, light scarves. For one regular adult size sweater wool from three to four cashmere goats are used.

Stylish Man With Cashmere Sweater

It is certainly still today a popular choice in the fashion world, for it's lightweight, feminine elegance.

On the flip side, I would not recommend it for projects that could see some wear and tear, or requires regular washing. You can instantly grasp that a cashmere sweater for a small child may result in a lifespan that is shorter than that of an average mayfly.

How to Care for Cashmere Yarn

Cashmere Maintenance

A cashmere garment requires even more meticulous care than that of wool or alpaca. You should be prepared to go the extra distance if you want to maintain your item in good condition for as long as possible (especially considering the cost of Cashmere).

  • Many labels in cashmere garment will tell you only to dry clean. However, if you wash it gently, by hand it can get softer with time. It, of course, depends on how stained your cashmere has gotten. Use some gentle detergent e.g. baby shampoo and lukewarm water. The procedure is much like with other wool.
  • Be very gentle and do not rub, twist or wring the cashmere.
  • You can use a towel to dry your item. Place it on a towel and roll it up softly to get the last water out. It is always a bit heavier than normal as it still contains some water.
  • Do not hang your item to dry as it could distort the shape or form of your item due to the heavier weight of the water. Leave it lying on your bed or an even surface to dry and breathe.
  • Cashmere can take a few days to dry fully, so always wash it in a timely manner and patience if you plan to have your cashmere sweater on anytime soon.
  • When your cashmere is finally dry, try to avoid folding it in squares. Vertically fold left and right side by a third, place the arms down the side of side and then fold horizontally in half.

Conclusion

Still considered by many in the fashion world as the gold-standard of yarns, Cashmere is a soft, luxurious and light-weight fiber. However, due to increased production, and a lowering of quality, be careful when selecting your Cashmere Yarns to ensure you don't buy an inferior product.

We wish you all the best with your cashmere project, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask us, or if you wish to share your Cashmere project with us, please do so by using the "Contact Us" page or write in the comments below.

Happy Knitting!

5 Advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn Infographic

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eKnitting Stitches Guide to Yarns Title
eKnitting Stitches Guide to Yarns Title

Selecting the perfect yarn

Whether you are looking for inspiration to start a knitting project, or you are searching for the best yarn to match your chosen knitting project, choosing the right yarn may be the difference between a good project and an excellent one.

Do you want a cardigan with detailed stitches, a sweater that will keep you warm while being comfortable to wear or start knitting small garments fitting the needs of babies? Are you a beginner and wish to get knitting practice while creating useful items? .

For whichever purpose some types of yarn are more fitting than others, and the selection of the yarn that fits your vision the best is an important part of any knitting project.

I plan to write a full-length article on the subject of choosing the correct yarn for the right project in the very near future, including both the type of fiber and the weight. In the meantime, you can read about yarn weight here.

Additionally, we have gathered some useful information about the different type of fibers along with some good-to-know information about their origin, production, and maintenance.

eKnitting Stitches guide to yarns banner

The five main types of yarn

The following five types of yarn all have their benefits and drawbacks and some are more appropriate for specific projects than others.

Wool Yarn

Wool Yarn is a great type of yarn to knit with due to its great stretch and has been used to keep us warm for hundreds of years. In this article we will explore the origin, benefits, disadvantages and maintenance of sheep wool.

Wool yarn has a range of options and benefits, not only to keep warm, but actually also to keep cool. We go through this natural fibers great powers and amazing abilities and advise how to treat your wool garment.

9 Benefits of Knitting with Wool Yarn title

Cotton Yarn

Advantages of Knitting with Cotton Yarn

Cotton Yarn exceeds the usage of the general yarn as it can be applied to not only garments, but also handy kitchen and furniture items. Cotton is a fantastic natural fiber, and in this article we will not only focus on the pure cotton yarn, but also the various cotton blends, which all open the doors to so many different knitting project opportunities.

If you are looking to learn more about the strength of cotton and cotton blends, this article aims to provide the answers.

Alpaca Yarn

The originally South American Alpaca Yarn has many of the benefits from the sheep wool, however as they are two very different animals the alpaca wool is something of its own.

This very soft, fine and elegant wool has increased its popularity the recent years, and in this article we will explore the reasons behind its admiration and what the alpaca wool yarn are excellent for. Learn more here.

8 Advantages of Knitting with Alpaca Fiber Title

Cashmere Yarn

The advantages of Knitting with Cashmere Yarn

Cashmere Yarn is the product of goats from the Kashmer region of the Himalayas.

Do not worry; we will go in depth with the crème d’la crème of wool, from its truly amazing features and great garment use, to the factual drawbacks you have to keep in mind before purchasing this rather expensive yarn. This is the Hollywood Grace Kelly of yarns, learn why in this article.

Acryllic Yarn

You either love it or hate it. Acrylic Yarn is man-made, and therefore not a natural fiber like cotton or animal wool. But even if it has not been sheared from the back of a four legged creature, it still has some benefits – not to mention strengths – that are worth to look into when deciding what type of fabric to use for your knitting project.

We will go through the benefits and drawbacks of the acrylic fiber – even if you are not an acrylic fan, you may be brought around to its benefits.

7 Advantages of Knitting with Acrylic Yarn title

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Article by Katrine

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