Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Heading into warmer weather, you may be considering knitting or crocheting with cotton yarn.
There are probably a few things you should know about working with cotton yarn ahead of time.
In this guide, you’ll learn 10 secrets about cotton yarn to make working with it easy and fun.
You’ll get the answers to questions about cotton on many crafters’ minds such as: Is it different than working with other fibers? Can it be blocked or felted? What is the best cotton yarn?
COTTON YARN GUIDE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
#1. WHY IS COTTON YARN POPULAR?
Cotton yarn is soft, breathable and so versatile for knitters! This natural plant based fiber one of the oldest known materials and remains a staple in the knitting industry today. Mass production began in the 1700 with the invention of the cotton gin.
Many knitters who live milder climates enjoy knitting with cotton year round. Cotton is also a fabulous alternative for those with wool allergies.
#2. WHAT ARE COTTON YARN PROPERTIES?
This fiber is so popular because of it's soft and versatile; it accepts dyes beautifully providing bright, rich shades.
It's breathable so it's perfect to wear three seasons out of the year. And most of all, it's extremely absorbent, providing comfortable knits that wick moisture from the body. In other words - cotton keeps you cool!
#3. WHAT IS THE BEST COTTON YARN?
The best cotton fibers are Pima or Egyptian cotton. Both yarns are made from long staple fibers providing a smooth finish to the yarn.
The main difference between the two is the location in which they are grown. Pima cotton is grown in the Southern US and South America while Egyptian cotton is made in Egypt.
Cotton is also available in MERCERCIZED AND ORGANIC
#4. WHAT CAN YOU MAKE WITH COTTON YARN?
Because of it’s absorbency, softness, vibrant colors, and care, cotton is a go-to fiber for many knitting and crochet projects.
Around the House
Cotton yarn is great for knitting household items such as towels, rugs, pillows, market bags, wash cloths, pot holders, and by far the most popular dishcloths.
Best for Baby
Cotton is an excellent choice for babies because it is easy care, soft, and available in vibrant colors. Enjoy cotton yarn for knitting or crocheting baby blankets, baby clothes, booties, and layettes.
If you’re knitting spring, summer, or early fall clothes consider using cotton yarn. It’s soft, breathable, and wicks moisture away from the body. Use it to knit tanks, tees, tunics, shells, pullover or cardigan sweaters.
Cotton yarn is available in a wide variety of weights, textures, and colors so you aren’t limited with what you can create.
#5. WHAT IS THE BEST COTTON YARN FOR DISHCLOTHS
As I mentioned above, crafters love to make dishcloths using cotton yarn. There are hundreds of patterns available for dishcloths. Look for cotton yarns such as kitchen cottons. These yarns provide a bit of texture for scrubbing ability. They also hold the color well and are easy to clean.
#6. CAN COTTON YARN BE FELTED?
Felting is the process of tangling and interweaving fibers to create a tightly locking finished fabric.
100 percent cotton is not a yarn that felts. Instead, use animal fibers such as wool, alpaca, or mohair for best results.
#7. IS COTTON YARN STRETCHY
One of the downsides of cotton is that it’s not particularly stretchy. That can make it a bit more of a challenge to knit if you are expecting bounce to your knitting. Know that when you knit with cotton, you may need to go down a needle size or two to get the same gauge as when knitting with wool.
Cotton yarn may shrink a bit when washed, but it will also stretch some when worn. Take this into account when considering the projects you choose to make with cotton.
#8. COTTON YARN CARE
Cotton yarn is fabulous because it is easy care. If you are wondering how to wash cotton yarn, you can machine wash most cottons. You can also hand wash and lay flat to dry.
Ironing Cotton Yarn
You can iron cotton yarn. Just take special care when ironing so that you don’t flatten the stitches. A better alternative to ironing is to set your iron on steam and lightly go over the garment without applying pressure from the iron.
Cotton is a fiber that responds well too blocking. You can steam block, modified block, or wet block your cotton projects. Use a blocking set for best results.
#9. CAN YOU USE COTTON YARN FOR SOCKS
Since cotton is not a fiber with a lot of spring or bounce, it’s not the best option for sock knitting - unless you want really loose, slouchy socks that slide right off.
Choose a yarn such as a Merino Superwash with a hint of nylon for best sock knitting results.
#10. COTTON YARN WEIGHTS
Cotton yarn comes in a wide variety of yarn weights. It’s also available in various put-ups such as balls, skeins, hanks, cakes, and cones.
Lace Weight: Schachenmayr Fashion Tahiti
Fingering: Mandarin Petite, Regia Cotton Tutti Frutti, Meilenweit Solo Cottone,
Sport: Fixation, Nova Shimmer
DK: Super 10 Mercerized, Cotton Supreme Seaspray, Ella Rae Sun Kissed Speckled, Ella Rae Denim, Rowan Recicled
Worsted: Rowan Cotton, Mirasol Pima Splash, Cotton Supreme Batik