You can’t weave without any yarn.
But figuring out what yarn to use for weaving isn’t always easy.
The type, color and weight of the yarn will determine how the final weave is going to look like.
Moreover, not every yarn can be used for weaving.
So choosing which weaving yarn to use might very well be the most important step when weaving.
Keep reading to know what yarn to use for weaving.
Types of yarns used for weaving
If this is your first time weaving, you might be overwhelmed by all the different yarns you can choose from.
Even small art and craft stores normally have a single section dedicated to only yarn.
Wool yarn might be the first yarn that comes to mind. But yarn can be made from many different materials.
Yarns can be roughly divided into the following three categories:
- Protein fibers
- Cellulose fibers
- Synthetic fibers
Protein fibers like wool and silk come from animals such as sheep, alpacas, llamas, angoras, etc.
Cellulose fibers come from plants. The most well-known types are cotton, hemp, and linen.
Finally, synthetic fibers are made from acrylic or polyester. The properties of these synthetic fibers can easily be tunes by the manufacturer. But in general they are relatively cheap and durable.
Recently blended yarns have become quite popular, because they can give the best of both worlds. For example the cotton and polyester blend has the softness and breathability of cotton and the strength of polyester yarn.
Since all the types of yarn have their own pros and cons, let’s look at them one by one.
1. Acrylic weaving yarn
Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made from polymers. This means you can often find acrylic yarns that are much cheaper than the organic yarns.
The acrylic yarn is pretty strong and doesn’t change much when you wash them.
However, the quality of the acrylic yarn can vary a lot.
Some of the cheap ones I tried generated a lot of static and didn’t feel very good on my skin.
I personally stopped using yarn that is 100% acrylic in my weaving. Instead, I try to go for blends that contains both acrylic and natural fibers.
2. Alpaca weaving yarn
Alpaca yarn is also great for weaving. Although it’s very soft, it’s surprisingly strong. And it can be used as either weave or weft yarn.
It is similar to sheep’s wool, but it is a little warmer, softer and hypoallergenic.
Unfortunately, it also creates more static than wool. So might want to spray a little water on it from time to time.
3. Cotton weaving yarn
Cotton yarn is great for weaving. Although it’s soft, it’s also strong enough to be used as warp threads.
Moreover, cotton is one of the cheapest natural fibers you can find.
You can find cotton yarn in many grades, and since they are easy to dye you can find them in almost any color.
Personally, I almost always use cotton yarn for warping the loom.
4. Hemp weaving yarn
Hemp is a bast fiber, which means the fibers are shorter and the resulting yarn is stiffer than most other types of yarn.
As a result, hemp yarn isn’t very suitable for weaving clothing or scarves. But they can still be used for weaving other things such as placemats, towels, etc.
Also keep in mind that bast fibers (including hemp yarn) become softer and more flexible after washing them a few times.
Hemp yarn has become popular recently because it’s one of the most environmentally friendly yarns. Since unlike other plants like cotton, hemp can be grown without any chemicals or pesticides.
Besides natural hemp yarn, you can also find “cottonized” hemp yarn. This type of hemp yarn is more flexible and easier to work with. But since it’s made by washing the hemp fibers with various harsh chemicals, you can’t really call it eco-friendly anymore.
5. Linen weaving yarn
Linen is another bast fiber made from the stalk of flax plants.
Similar to hemp, it’s pretty sturdy and doesn’t stretch. This makes it a little tricky to weave with linen yarn, because you have to wind the yarn perfectly.
Moreover, pure linen can also be more expensive than you might expect for a plant-based fiber.
That’s why most weaver use a yarn blend. Especially “cottolin” which combines cotton and linen is popular, because it’s easier to use and cheaper than 100% linen yarn.
6. Metallic weaving yarn
I know what you are thinking.
How could you possibly weave with metal?!
Metallic yarn is normally made out of nylon or acrylic yarn with a very small coating of metal particles.
This make is flexible like normal yarn. But it also has the shiny look you would expect from metal.
Weaving in a few rows of metallic yarn can give an interesting look to whatever you are weaving. But I wouldn’t weave something exclusively out of metallic yarn.
7. Silk weaving yarn
Silk yarn is known for its nice feel and beautiful drape.
However, depending on the quality and source of the silk, it can be quite expensive. Silk is definitely one of the luxury yarns.
Moreover, while weaving the silk yarn can slip around a bit. So they aren’t as beginner-friendly as some of the other yarns.
If pure silk yarn is too expensive, you can also consider a blend of silk with a cheaper fiber.
8. Wool weaving yarn
I’m pretty sure we have all had a wool sweater at some point in our lives.
Depending on how the fibers are processed, the wool yarn can be either very fluffy or spun into a dense yarn.
A fluffy wool yarn are great for weaving wall hangings, clothing, and rugs. Whereas the dense wool yarn is normally used to weave coats or upholstery fabric.
Since wool can be stretched a little, it’s easy to work with and very forgiving even if you make small mistakes.
But also keep in mind that anything you make out of wool yarn can also be quite delicate while washing.
Weaving yarn weights explained
The yarn you buy can come in varying thickness, also referred to as the yarn weight.
Yarn weight can get a little confusing, because different companies can use different systems to classify their yarn.
One of the most common methods is the Standard Yarn Weight System, which classifies yarn on a scale from 0 to 7. Where 0 is very thin while 7 is very thick.
Weaving yarn chart
|Yarn Weight||Needle Size||Stitch / Inch||Yds. / Lb.|
|0 – 2||9+||2500+|
|1 – 3||7 – 8||1675 – 2100|
|3 – 5||6 – 7||1350 – 1650|
|5 – 7||5 – 6||1100 – 1300|
|7 – 9||4 – 5||900 – 1100|
|9 – 11||3 – 4||500 – 800|
|11+||2 – 3||< 500|
|11+||1 – 2||< 500|
What yarn weight is best for weaving?
Medium yarn weight is the best for making a tight weave. More bulky yarn will speed up the weaving process but might leave the warp threads visible. Combining different yarn weights is a great way to add texture and interesting patterns to your weave.
Of course, you want to make sure you are choosing the right thickness for your project.
For example, bulky or super bulky yarn would be a good choice for making a scarf to keep you warm. While fine yarn would be better for something that needs a tight weave.
Moreover, if you are hand weaving with a frame loom you probably want to use yarns that are on the bulky side. Or else it will take a very long time to finish a single weave.
What do the numbers on yarn mean?
The numbers on yarn indicate the yarn weight. The Standard Yarn Weight System uses a single digit from 0 to 7 to specify the weight. The US system uses two numbers. The first refers to the thickness of a single ply and the second refers to the number of plies.
The confusing part is that in the Standard Yarn Weight System a higher number means the yarn is more bulky. So a yarn weight of 7 is more bulky than 4.
But in the US system bulky yarn has a lower number. For example, a 5/2 yarn and a 3/2 yarn both have 2 plies, but the 3/2 is more bulky than the 5/2 yarn.
Can you use any yarn for weaving?
You can weave with almost any type of yarn you can get your hands on. Cotton, wool, and acrylic yarns are the most frequently used yarns by beginners. Other types of yarn such as silk or hemp may be more expensive or more difficult to work with.
It is best to try out different yarns and get a feel for all of them.
Also don’t be afraid of using multiple yarns in the same weave. Many experienced weavers combine yarns on purpose to add extra texture to the weave.
Weaving yarn vs knitting yarn
Although knitting yarns and weaving yarns can be made from the same fibers, they can have very different characteristics because fiber preparation and spinning process is different for each of them. Knitting yarns are normally soft and stretchy, whereas weaving yarns are designed to be stronger, more durable, and more rigid.
Of course, you can still knit with a weaving yarn, and you can weave with a knitting yarn.
However, if you are weaving with a knitting yarn, you might not be used to how stretchy it is. So you have to be extra careful when measuring your yarn.
Also knitting yarn is not always strong enough to be used as a weft threads. So make sure to check if your knitting yarn can resist some tension.
If possible, I would recommend going with weaving yarn. But the different between weaving yarn and knitting yarn seems to be less than it used to be.
What is the best yarn for warping a loom?
Cotton yarn is the best yarn for warping a loom since it’s both affordable and very durable. Don’t use stretchy yarn like wool for the warp, since your weave will shrink once you take it off the loom. Experienced weavers may also experiment with other yarns to create interesting designs.
During the weaving process, the warp threads will be under constant tension. That’s why you want to use a yarn that is strong and durable enough.
The strength of the yarn is determined by the type of yarn and the density.
Traditionally lots of different yarns such as wool, linen, alpaca, and silk were used for warping. But nowadays cotton yarn is more commonly used since it is cheaper and stronger.
No cotton yarn available? No problem!
Simply pull a string on both ends and see what happens.
If the yarn stretches, unravels or breaks it isn’t suited as warp yarn.
What is the best yarn for loom weaving?
Cotton, linen, and wool are the most popular types of yarn used for weaving. Cotton in particular is very beginner-friendly since it’s affordable, strong, and not as stretchy. However, any type of yarn can be used for weaving. Experiment with different yarns to find your personal favorite.
You want to choose your weft yarn depending on what you are weaving.
For example, for a dish towel you want to go with a sturdy yarn, whereas you want to go with something more comfortable if you are weaving a scarf.
Make sure to combine different yarns into your projects. Not only in terms of the fiber that the yarn is made out of, but also in terms of yarn thickness/weight and color.
If you are having problems finding the right colors that go well together, an online color palette generator can help a lot.
Frequently asked questions
Best yarn for weaving a wall hanging
Wool yarn and wool blends are great for weaving wall hangings. You want to use thick yarns since it will speed up your weaving, and they look nicer on wall hangings. Additionally, you want to use plenty of different colors and yarn weights to create interesting patterns and add texture to your weave.
Best yarn for weaving dish towels
Cotton, linen, and cottolin are all great options for weaving dish towels. These yarns are strong and durable, which is crucial for weaving dish towels. Make sure to use unmercerized cottons, since mercerized cotton is not as absorbent. Also use thin yarns to ensure a tight weave.
Best yarn for weaving scarves
The best yarns for weaving scarves are wool, merino, alpaca, silk, or any blend that uses two of these yarns. All these yarns are soft and feel great on your skin. If you want to use a cheaper alternative, use a blend that combines one of these yarns with cheaper acrylic yarn.
Best yarn for weaving placemats
Cotton, linen, and cottolin are all great options for weaving placemats. These yarns are strong and durable, which is crucial for weaving placemats. Moreover, these yarns also don’t change or shrink much when washed, which makes it easy to clean them.
Best yarn for weaving blankets
Cotton is the best yarn for weaving blankets since you can wash it in a machine without worries. Yarns such as wool and alpaca feel very soft and warm but often shrink when washed repeatedly, which makes them beautiful but not functional. Moreover, acrylic yarn normally don’t feel nice on the skin.