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6 Must-Know Facts About Working with Cotton

If you’re thinking about starting projects for spring, then you’re probably leaning towards using a cotton yarn.  Cotton is an extremely popular knit and crochet yarn for spring and summer because of its durability, easy care, and breathability.  Cotton is a versatile yarn that can be used for a range of projects; but there are different types of cotton yarns, so it's best to know which one suits your project needs best.

Many people love all natural fibers, but did you know that there are some really good benefits to working with cotton/synthetic blends as well?

Cotton Plant from dnfisher Flickr(image courtesy of dnfisher)

Cotton is a plant fiber which produces an organic compound called cellulose; cellulose fibers pull heat away from the body, which is a critical component in selecting yarn for warmer climates. Cotton also does a good job of absorbing water, an important aspect for creating wash cloths and coasters.  If in a humid climate, it will take cotton a long time to dry because it will hold on to the water, making it susceptible to mold and mildew. It is extremely important to ensure your cotton is fully dry before reusing or storing away; cottons blended with synthetics will dry faster.

Pros to working with cotton:

  • Cotton (especially 100%) is extremely durable, which is why it is often chosen for kitchen or bath projects such as dish and wash cloths, soap scrubbies and market bags.
  • Cotton yarns blended with synthetic fibers creates great breathable clothes in warmer months.  The synthetic fibers allow cotton to stretch, lessens the weight, and allows it to dry faster.
  • If loosely spun, 100% cotton can feel incredibly soft and be a pleasure to work with.
  • Cotton creates great stitch definition.  If creating a garment, opt for a light cotton, or one with a synthetic blend so you can use intricate stitches that will drape nicely.

Other things to consider about working with cotton:

  • Since 100% cotton has little elasticity, it's not good at bouncing back to its original shape.  If creating a garment, it's best to choose a cotton/synthetic blend so your garment will have some "memory" and maintain its shape (see Cotton Ease information below).
  • 100% cotton is even stronger when wet; if you get caught in the rain with a crocheted/knit cotton garment, it may stretch and weigh heavily on your body.

3 Cotton Yarns and Their Properties

Cotton Ease
Lion Cotton is a traditional tightly spun, 4ply 100% cotton yarn. Due to its natural cotton properties, it is stiffer on the hand and has no elasticity- but, it's very durable.  Lion Cotton is an ideal yarn for wash and dish cloths. Nature's Choice Organic is 100% cotton that's grown and spun without the use of pesticides or herbicides. It is loosely spun, so it feels very soft and has a great handle. Nature's Choice would be a great yarn for baby items and light garments. If you want to make a garment
in cotton, I suggest Cotton Ease because it's blended with acrylic. The acrylic properties in this yarn give it the elasticity your garments need so they bounce back into shape. The stretch from the acrylic makes this yarn soft and easy to work with.

How do you feel about working with cotton yarn, have you tried any of those mentioned above? Share with us in the comments!

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