Yarn Typology

Photograph by Paul Esson (via Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0]

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a yarn for your next knitting project. Do you go for a soft King Cole chunky merino blend or a hypoallergenic alpaca yarn? The answers to questions like these are often dictated by the type of project which you’re going to undertake or the texture and distinct properties that you want a kitted item to embody once completed. This short guide will have a brief look at some of the kinds of yarn available and in what areas each excels.


Merino is a common wool on the knitting market due to its incredibly high quality. This wool is so popular because of the soft textures offered by the microfibres and its distinct wicking properties. Wicking is the process of drawing moisture away from the surface of the skin when worn as a lower level. As a result of this breathability and the fact that when the wool does get wet it has the ability to retain warmth, Merino has become a huge success within the sports clothing market and is currently completely unmatched by any man-made alternatives.


Alpaca are a herd animal found in South America. For hundreds of years their wool has been a prized possession with the inhabitants of the continent. The unique qualities offered by alpaca yarn have made this yarn popular throughout the world, leading to a rise of alpaca farms across the world but especially in the USA and Europe. Alpaca could be the perfect yarn to use for a baby project as it is hypoallergenic, meaning the likelihood of the yarn causing any irritation or allergic reaction is minimal.

Alpaca yarn is warm and soft, softer than cashmere in most people’s opinions, making it an appealing choice for any knitted project going.


Cashmere is goats’ wool, from the Cashmere breed. This wool has been used for thousands of years by the peoples of Kashmir and Nepal and has since spread, being able to be found worldwide today. High quality luxury knitted or woven items are most likely to have Cashmere included either as the main material or as part of a blend. The desire for Cashmere is due to the light weight of the material, offering an excellent insulation to weight ratio. Another reason may be the time and effort that goes into gathering Cashmere as the Cashmere fibres need to be extracted from guard hair, as the Cashmere goat produces a double fleece with guard hair covering over the finer fibres that we associate with Cashmere as a material.

Guest blogger:  Thanks to our guest blogger, Nathan Stevens.  For a fabulous selection of king cole chunky yarns head to the wonderful online knitting world of Yarnfest.