Let’s talk about… Fibers, or more important the ones that make Yarn!

According to Wikipedia

“Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibers, suitable for use in the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, or rope making.”

But did you know there are hundreds of different types of yarn created from natural and synthetic fibers? Each type of fiber has a specific quality and some are better than others depending on the project you are creating. Most crafters only know the yarns that are sold at big box stores like Joann’s & Michaels and have never tried merino superwash wool, cashmere or silk (which are my go-to yarn blends). Now I will be honest, when I started crocheting I didn’t know what cashmere felt like or that it was goat hair. And I definitely would not have tried anything that had wool on the label since I was “allergic” to it. What I didn’t know was that I am not allergic to wool, I am sensitive to yarns that still had guard hairs, lanolin, heavy dyes or even cleaning chemicals that were used in the manufacturing of the yarn. Another unknown fact was that if I washed and blocked the finished project a lot of these “sensitivity” issues would be taken care of. Now I know you are probably wondering why I would want to buy yarn, create a stunning new cardigan, wash it and wait a painful amount of time for it to dry just to find out if it is wearable or not. Well, luckily I now know which yarns I can use and which ones to stay clear of. When I find a new squishy silky yarn the first thing I do is rub it on the back of my neck. If the yarn can pass the neck test the next step would be to start working with it, I will start itching within the first 10 yards. On the very rare case that the yarn passes all of my tests, the garment is complete and I find that I can not wear it, I will graciously gift it to a friend or family member who will love it just the way it is.

Here is a list of the top fibers sold at yarn shops and even some more exotic choices. I know you will check some of these because I never would have thought some were actual fibers that could be used to create a project.

Natural fibers includeWool, Merino wool, Pure new wool/virgin wool, Shetland wool, Mohair, Cashmere, Angora, Llama, Yak, Alpaca, Camel, Opossum, Musk Ox, Wolf, Buffalo hair, Cat, Dog, and Turkey or Ostrich feathers. Silk, Cotton, Linen, Rayon, Soy, Hemp, Nettle, Bamboo, Jute, Corn, and other unusual yarns made by using plant-based materials

Synthetic fibers Include: Nylon, Acrylic, Vinyl, Viscose, Polyester and even Plastic shopping bags!

Now I know that cost is a consideration for many of us, but over the years I have learned that “you get what you pay for”. If I am spending my time creating a garment or gift, I want it to be made with the best quality yarn possible. I will research which will have the best drape or which manufactured the softest for a baby. Of course with the large about of fibers on the market, there will definitely be pros and cons for each. Here are a few of the ones you should consider when purchasing your next skein.

Natural fiber Pros:
*Warm even when wet
*Fire retardant
*Versatile
*Takes dye well and resists fading.
*It’s a natural, renewable resource.
*It has antibacterial properties.
*Holds stitch definition better

*Can be blocked to hold shape

*Generally soft and nice to wear against the skin.


Synthetic fibers Pros:
*Easy to care for

*Usually can be machine washed and dried.
*Costs less than natural fiber yarns.
*Easy to find in stores.

*Water resistant

Natural Fiber Cons:
*Most wools need to be hand washed, unless you get a superwash blend.
*Some find it itchy and uncomfortable.
*It can felt if accidentally washed
*Generally can cost more.


Synthetic Cons:
*Can not be dyed easily.
*Does not breath well.
*Will not keep you warm when wet.
*Is not fire resistant, will melt when it comes into contact with a heat source.
*Can be squeaky when you are working with it.
*Will not wick away moisture.
*Can not be blocked, must be ‘killed’ with an iron in order to shape the piece.

I know most of you have a favorite brand or blend to work with but I have a challenge for you. Google your closest local yarn shop and go there, feel the different fibers, even smell them. A friend recently had me smell the yarn she was buying and I stated it smelled like a farm! That was a good quality for her, (since she is a fiber spinner) it meant that the fibers were not overworked in the cleaning process. Now, I don’t really smell my fibers but I definitely feel to see how soft they are.

Whether you want to try a fancy blend or a simple skein, please try something new. Feel free to comment below with your new favorite finds, I am always in the market to add to my collection.

Till next time!

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Testing…

Testing 123, can you hear me? Wow, yes I am doing this!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jen and I am a crochet creator, designer, teacher and lover of all things yarn related.

Let’s go back just over 9 years… I was a wife, mother, 40 hour a week employee and definitely a social butterfly. I loved being able to share my love of jewelry and explaining the 4 c’s of diamonds while learning about my customers and meeting/making new friends. I loved my life and had a great balance between home and work.

I always joked with my husband that when I turned 30 I would fall apart (I even had non refundable engraved on the inside of his ring) Of course I was joking but I must have known something was wrong.

Two weeks before my 30th birthday I started having difficulties doing basic things like cutting my food or thinking of the right word to describe a headache. That morning I woke up and I knew things were not right and I needed to go see my doctor right away. Well that visit led to me going to the hospital to rule out a stroke, who has a stroke at 29? Thankfully I did not have a stroke but I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Once again I was asking myself, who gets MS at 29? I only knew 1 person who had it and she was much older.

For the next 3 years I fought hard to keep the balance between home, work and my health but it could not be done. I was unable to continue working and was no longer the social work butterfly.

After reading an article about how crocheting was good for mental health, I decided to take a class at Joann’s. I needed to find a hobby and be able to socialize with others out side of my house. Unfortunately I was the only one in the class so I was not as sociable as I planned but that meant 2 hours of one on one instructions. My teacher was amazed with how fast I was learning but kept on telling me I had to hold my yarn a certain way and that I was crocheting to tight. Remember when I was explaining my MS above? Well I am left handed and my MS affects my left side. This was a struggle at first but I loved the look of the dense stitches. I would not give up and I definitely would not change what was working for me. Ha! yes I am a stubborn one like that.

Over the years I went from crocheting dense blankets, fashionable scarfs and soft stuffed animals to studying the anatomy of the stitches and how to use smaller hooks, thinner yarns and creating garments with drape.

About 3 years ago I started teaching crochet at my local yarn shops (Yes a lefty can teach the right handed majority) and even played around with pattern designing. Last year I went to CGOA, Crochet Guild of America conference in Chicago and again this year in Portland Oregon. I met with publishing companies, took classes with the top crochet gurus and gained amazing friendships.

Fast forward to now… Sitting here looking back and writing about the last 9 years has brought up alot of wonderful memories and a few emotional ones also. But I would not change a thing! I am very blessed to have a wonderful support group with my family and friends.

I have had 2 patterns published in Crochet World magazine and have self published a few on Ravelry. I am still learning how to use Ravelry so it might be a bit longer before the others are listed there.

I normally do not post about my self or even have my picture taken but I figured you would need to know me and my journey in order to follow my posts. I will be sharing tips and tricks that I have discovered these past 3 years. I’ll let you know about the new yarns and crochet related accessories that my favorite small business owners are carrying. And last but not least I’ll share my newest crochet patterns with you.

I admit am new to the blogging world and there will be some typos, misspelled words, or even grammatical errors. Its not going to be perfect but I promise that I will be putting 100% of my heart into it.

Thank you for joining this journey with me, for reading about my life, supporting my love of yarn and being open minded about learning some new things.

Until next time,

Jen