Fibre content is one of the most important considerations in choosing the best yarn for your project. A yarn’s fibre content determines not just its care, but its appearance, its drape, and its feel – commonly referred to by knitters and crocheters as the yarn’s ‘hand’.
Although all yarns are spun from fibre, the fibre content alone does not determine how the yarn will look. The methods by which fibres are spun into yarn and the treatments the fibres receive also affect the final product. For each yarn listed at this website, we provide detailed gauge, fibre and spinning information, as well as a description of its appearance and feel.
The chart below shows 10 gauge categories. In the leftmost column, Gauge, you’ll see the gauge names we use on this website (e.g. Super Bulky, Bulky, Chunky, etc). In the same column, were applicable, you’ll also see their corresponding UK/Australian/New Zealand terms (e.g. 1-3 Ply, 4 Ply, etc.). The chart below will also show you how these weight/gauge categories correspond to Craft Yarn council and crochet gauges.
For animal fibre yarns, micron count (fibre diameter) is the single most important characteristic in determining softness and value. The micron count is the average diameter of a fleece’s fibres; generally speaking, the lower the number, the finer the fleece and relative softness of the yarn:
33-40 microns = a Coarse Wool – used for Carpets, Tapestries
25-32 microns = a Medium Wool – used for Sweaters, Outerwear, Socks, Upholstery
18-24 microns = a Fine Wool – used for Apparel
< 18 microns = a Luxury Wool – used for Apparel
Average Micron counts for familiar Merino Wool Classifications:
Merino Wool – 21-24
Fine/ExtraFine Merino Wool – 19-21
Super Fine Merino Wool – 15.5–19
UltraFine Merino Wool – < 15.5
Other Luxury animal fibres and their average micron counts:
Alpaca – 18-25
Angora Rabbit – 10-18
Camel – 15-22
Cashmere – 14-16
Mohair – 23-28
elann.com yarn labels include micron count information, so that you can be confident in the softness and value of the yarns you purchase from us.
Superwash is a patented treatment process for wool which allows it to be machine washable, effectively eliminating the fear of working with wool because it may easily shrink or felt.
Much like human hair, wool fibres are made up of scales, and felting occurs when these scales bind together. The superwash process involves applying a protective coating of silicone polymer, which prevents fibre scales from binding, and hence shrinking or felting.
Mercerization refers to a process first used on cotton fibres. The fibres are immersed in a bath of sodium hydroxide, which alters their chemical structure, swelling the cell walls of the cotton fibres, which increases their surface area and reflective properties, resulting in greater sheen and softness.
The mercerization of wool involves an acid bath to remove the scale structure from the surface of wool fibres to create a smoother fibre surface. This brings about a significant improvement in the drape, fluidity, and sheen of the wool, and gives it the equivalent feel of wool 2 – 3 microns finer. Along with improving the softness, mercerization improves next to skin comfort, brightens colors, and renders wool machine washable.
Gassing is a process applied to cotton. Using a gas burner, cotton threads are passed over an open flame, to incinerate stray fibers, improving surface smoothness and appearance.