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Best Yarn for Sweaters - Crochet & Knit

A sweater is one of those items you’ll likely find on the to-do list of almost anyone who’s ever been into knitting and crocheting. Although they are a craft staple, knitting or crocheting a sweater is no easy feat. And the first step to learning how to do it is figuring out what the best yarn for sweaters is. So to make this task easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to choosing the right materials for your knitted or crocheted sweater.

How to Choose a Yarn for Your Sweater Project

When choosing the best yarn for a sweater, it is important to consider a number of factors, such as the type of sweater you’d like to make, the fiber content you’re going for, the cleaning and care instructions, and, of course, the cost of the yarn.

1. What Kind of Sweater You Would Like to Make

Before we jump into the types of yarns at your disposal, it is important to decide exactly what kind of sweater you’re knitting or crocheting. Are you going for a thick, winter sweater or a lighter, fall-season cardigan? Do you want to make an everyday garment that can endure wear and tear or a more luxurious, more delicate piece of clothing? All of these decisions will factor into your choice of yarn for the sweater.

2. Fiber Content

The fiber content of your chosen yarn can make a world of difference in your final product. The look, texture, durability, and ease of care will all depend on the exact material you choose. So let’s take a closer look at the available options and their pros and cons.

2.1. Animal Fibers

Generally, animal fibers tend to be a good choice for sweaters, especially when it comes to wool. Here are some of the best options:

- Lambswool — Wool is likely the most commonly used sweater material. It retains temperature well, making it a good choice for winter garments. Still, it is breathable and generally easy to work with.

- Silk — Another natural fiber, silk is produced by silkworms and is considered a more luxurious material. It is quite dye-adsorbent, which means that it comes in an array of vibrant colors. However, silk tends to be more expensive than other options and is generally not a durable sweater material.

- Alpaca wool — This soft and drapey material is, much like silk, usually reserved for more delicate and luxurious pieces. It is lightweight, yet quite durable, and comes in a wide variety of color options.

- Cashmere — Cashmere is a luxurious wool alternative produced by cashmere goats. It is a very delicate fiber that comes at a high price tag, making cashmere a good choice for more expensive garments.

2.2. Plant Fibers

Animal fibers are far from the only option when it comes to sweaters. Materials such as cotton and linen can also do the job:

- Cotton — This natural, plant-based material is the go-to option for many projects, especially when it comes to clothing. It is breathable and highly absorbent, along with being quite easy to care for. However, cotton doesn’t provide the best insulation, making it a better option for mild-weather garments.

- Linen — Linen is a material derived from the flax plant. It is similar to cotton in its absorbency and breathability, making it a good choice for summer. However, linen can be challenging to work with, especially for beginners.

- Bamboo — Bamboo is quite stretchy and, on its own, would not make a good sweater material. However, there are many blends out there, such as the Premier Bamboo Fair Yarn composed of 60% bamboo and 40% cotton, that are great for sweaters.

2.3. Synthetic Fibers

Last but not least, synthetic fibers are man-made fiber alternatives that usually come at lower price points than natural materials. The two most common options include acrylic and polyester:

- Acrylic — This fiber is often used as a more affordable alternative to cotton or wool. It is soft to the touch and easy to care for. However, acrylic tends to pill easily and doesn’t look brand new for too long.

- Polyester — Lastly, polyester is another cheap alternative to natural yarns. It is quite durable, unlike acrylic. However, it’s far from breathable and is notorious for the synthetic feel it gives.

2.4. Blends
Blending two or more fibers together can help you get the best of both worlds. For instance, blending wool and silk can create a natural, soft, but luxurious material. Additionally, mixing together wool and cotton will create a yarn that is easier to handle than 100% cotton, yet creates a more pleasant garment to wear than 100% wool.

3. Ease of Care
The ease of care of your chosen material will determine how your sweater should be washed, dried, and stored. So when looking for the best yarn for your sweater, make sure to check the label for washing instructions.

Overall, cotton is the best material in this respect as it can endure washing and drying in a machine. This is also one of the main advantages of acrylic yarn.

If you decide to take a more traditional route and make a wool sweater, you’ll have two options to choose from:
- Superwash wool is easier to care for as it is washing machine-friendly. However, it tends to be stiffer and less water-resistant than your regular wool.
- Non-superwash wool will produce a more delicate garment that probably shouldn’t be thrown in the washing machine, but it has more of a natural feel to it.

Lastly, if you decide to go for a more delicate material, such as silk or cashmere, you will have to adhere to very strict care instructions, as both of these fibers tend to be quite fragile.

4. Thickness of Yarn (Weight)
The thickness, i.e. the weight of yarn you choose for your sweater project is another important factor to keep in mind. If you’re using a sweater knitting or crocheting pattern for your project, it will likely come with instructions for the best yarn weight to use. If not, you will have to pick the weight based on preference:

- Lace — #0, the thinnest of all yarns
- Super fine — #1, also known as fingering yarn
- Fine — #2, also known as sport yarn
- Light — #3, also known as double-knit (DK) or light worsted yarn
- Medium — #4, also known as worsted yarn
- Bulky — #5, also known as chunky yarn
- Super bulky — #6, also known as super chunky yarn
- Jumbo — #7, also known as ultra or roving yarn

In general, the thicker the yarn, the thicker (and warmer) the sweater. However, you should also keep in mind that thicker yarns require fewer stitches per area but also tend to be stiffer and less drapey.

5. Yarn Construction

Aside from yarn weight, yarn construction is another factor to consider when picking your fiber. This term encompasses the number of fibers yarn is made from:

- Single-ply yarn — This is a thin, drapey type of yarn made of a single strand of fiber. It is usually less expensive than multi-ply yarn, but also less durable.

- Multi-ply yarn — This yarn is made by twisting together multiple fibers. The more fibers you use, the stronger the yarn will be.

6. Color

The color of your yarn will depend solely on the sweater design you decide to go with. However, keep in mind that different brands and types of yarn come with different color variations. In other words, if you’re planning to create a complex, colorful design, you should choose a yarn with a wide variety of colors.

7. Cost

Lastly, the cost of your chosen yarn might play a part in your decision. In this area, acrylic yarn will definitely be your best bet. Depending on the design and size, sweaters can use up a lot of yarn and cost quite a bit. Luckily, there are many affordable options available, even with natural yarns.

Best Yarns for Sweaters That We Love & Recommend

Now you know how to pick the best yarn for sweaters. Let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations, whether you’re knitting or crocheting:

- Lion Brand Coboo Yarn — This natural fiber blend consists of 50% cotton and 50% bamboo, making it a good choice for anything from clothes to home decor. It is both washing machine- and dryer-friendly. Give Lion Brand Coboo a shot with this free waffle stitch cardigan pattern.

- Lion Brand Heartland Yarn — Another Lion Brand product, this yarn is 100% acrylic, making it an affordable choice for your sweater project. If you want to test this yarn out, we suggest going for this free Lancaster pullover pattern.

- Premier Spun Colors Yarn — This multi-color blend consists of 65% acrylic and 35% merino superwash wool, making it quite easy to knit or crochet with. It is a great option for all kinds of winter wear


Hopefully, we’ve made the task of choosing the best yarn for your sweater project somewhat easier. But just in case you still have some doubts, check out the frequently asked questions — and their answers — that we’ve compiled below.

What kind of yarn is best for sweaters?

The best yarn for sweaters is one made of natural or blended fibers such as wool and cotton. While synthetic fibers tend to be more affordable, they don’t have the same qualities as their natural counterparts. If you want to get the best of both worlds, look for fiber blends such as wool-acrylic.

Is 100% cotton yarn good for a sweater?

Yarn made of 100% cotton is good for crocheting or knitting a sweater, since it is breathable and durable. However, cotton can be somewhat heavy and difficult to work with, so you might want to consider getting a blend, such as the Bernat Softee Cotton Yarn, made of 60% cotton and 40% acrylic.

What is the best yarn thickness for sweaters?

The best yarn thickness for sweaters is DK, worsted, or bulky, depending on the type of sweater you want to make. In general, using higher-thickness yarn will result in thicker, stiffer sweaters that work better for colder temperatures, while going for a thinner yarn will create a thinner, more fall weather-friendly garment.

What is the softest yarn for sweaters?

The softest yarn for sweaters would likely be a fiber blend that contains cashmere or alpaca wool. These can often be found blended with acrylic or nylon to improve durability and sturdiness. For instance, the Mary Maxim Natural Alpaca Tweed is a blend of alpaca wool, acrylic, and viscose, making it a good choice for sweaters, socks, and afghans.