Welcome to the world of cotton yarn, where warmth meets breathability and style intertwines with comfort. As we gear up for the (hopefully!) sunny months ahead, it's time to celebrate the wonders of this fantastic fibre and explore its vast potential in our knitting projects.
From lightweight tops to functional dishcloths, from charming baby garments to stylish accessories, cotton yarn holds a treasure trove of possibilities, ready to be transformed into your very own masterpieces. But while cotton boasts an array of benefits, it's important to note that it may not be the perfect fit for every pattern, but fear not! By harnessing cotton's advantages, we can create projects that allow it to shine, even when the sun isn't.
In this post, we'll explore the advantages of working with this fantastic fibre, while also giving you a heads-up on a few things to keep in mind and cotton knitting tips. We'll take a closer look at the types of projects where cotton truly excels, and empower you to choose the perfect yarns that will bring your creative visions to life. Let’s take a look!
The advantages of cotton yarn
Soft and Comfortable: Cotton yarn is known for its softness, making it a popular choice for garments, baby items, and accessories. It provides a comfortable feel against the skin, which also means...
It's Allergy-Friendly: Since cotton is a natural fibre, it is generally hypoallergenic and less likely to cause allergic reactions or irritate sensitive skin.
Breathable: Cotton is highly breathable, allowing air to pass through the fibres. This property makes it ideal for warm-weather garments as it helps to keep the body cool and prevents overheating. Think flowing summer tops and wraps.
Absorbent: Cotton yarn has excellent absorbency, making it suitable for items like dishcloths, towels, and bath accessories. It absorbs moisture well, making it a practical choice for functional projects.
Stitch Definition: Cottonis not elastic, which gives it fantastic stitch definition and really makes stitch patterns pop.
The Colours: Cotton takes dye beautifully and you can always find your favourite hue to work in. Just check out the colour palette of Krea Deluxe Organic Cotton.
Things to keep in mind:
Lack of Elasticity: As mentioned above, compared to other yarns like wool, cotton has less elasticity. This can make it harder to keep an even tension and put more strain on your hands and wrists, so if you struggle with mobility or discomfort in those areas it's worth starting with smaller projects, such as a dishcloth.
Lack Of Memory: When a yarn is described as not being elastic, this can mislead makers into thinking it won't stretch, but that's not true. Cotton will stretch, but the lack of elasticity means it won't spring back again, so you want to avoid patterns that need a yarn with memory to keep their shape. Think form-fitting tops with negative ease. Cotton is much more suited to tops that require a loser fabric, such as the Ola Top by Irene Lin or Hermaline by Audrey Borrego.
Drape: Cotton is a little tricky when it comes to drape. As the fibres are short, they have to be spun fairly tightly creating a yarn that can feel a little stiff and will not easily drape. But then it’s also a heavy fibre, so depending on the size of the project and the stitch pattern it uses then drape is not impossible. That’s why it’s really important to knit up a swatch at least 6x6 inches first.
Consider Cotton Blends: If you're concerned about the lack of elasticity or drape of pure cotton yarn, consider using cotton blends. Blends that incorporate other fibres, such as wool, silk, or linen can add softness, elasticity, and drape to your projects while retaining the benefits of cotton.
Tension and Gauge: Due to the lack of stretch in cotton, it's important to achieve the correct tension and gauge for the pattern. It's always important to swatch, but cotton will be far less forgiving if you have gauge issues, so make swatching a priority!
Longer Drying Time: Cotton has a high absorbency rate, which means it can take longer to dry compared to other fibres, especially if you live somewhere that is humid. Wearing cotton garments when they are damp or wet may cause them to stretch and sag*, resulting in them losing their shape, so always allow them to fully dry before wearing.
*If you only take one thing away from reading this blog post let it be this; Don't use 100% cotton to knit your summer bikini or swimsuit! Unless that's a look you are going for, and if so, we support you all the way. (But your bikini won't!)
Cotton Yarn Care: The good news is you can speed up the drying time by using a dryer as cotton won't felt, but did you know that it can shrink when exposed to high heat? Be mindful to keep temperatures low when using a washing and drying machine and lay flat to dry if you can.
They Can Be Slippery: Due to the smoothness of the fibre, cotton yarns can be slippery making them tricky to work with at first. Try working with wooden needles if you find metal ones are causing problems.
And there you have it! Working with cotton yarn is as simple, just remember to honour its unique qualities and select patterns that let them shine. Whether you adore the softness, breathability, or absorbency of cotton, there's a world of projects waiting for your creative touch.
Now, it's your turn! We would absolutely love to hear about your own experiences with cotton yarn. Share your tales of triumph, your tips and tricks in the comments below.