Distinguishing the difference between yarn types.
Yarn is very broad term. Like most things, yarns can have many different characteristics. This is an overview of the different types of yarns used to make sweaters, knit fabrics and woven fabrics.

Ends: 1 thread or strand of yarn. Usually a yarn will have at least 2 ends to form a plied yarn.

Ply: Refers to the number of ends that make up a yarn. Yarns can be 1 ply (single ply), 2 ply, 3 ply or 4 ply. Most yarns are 2 ply.

Yarn Count: Refers to the size of the yarn including the ply. A typical sweater yarn can be 2/30. This means it is a 2 ply and the size of the yarn is 30. This is a fairly fine yarn for sweaters. A 2/20 yarn count is bigger than 2/30. Both are 2 ply, but 20 is a larger yarn size than 30. It works the same as wire gauges, the higher the number the smaller the size.

When analyzing the yarn count, the ply and yarn size are import. 2/30 is bigger that 1/30. 2/30 is 2 ply of 30 yarn size while the 1/30 is only 1 ply of 30 yarn size. 2/30 is twice the size of 1/30.

Twist: Yarns are “z” twist or “s” twist. This refers to the direction of the twisting. All yarns are twisted to keep the fibers together. A 2 ply has 2 ends twisted together. Yarns can have a high or a low twist. High twists have more twists per inch than a low twist yarn. A high twist yarn generally is smaller than a low twist yarn.

Solid or Clear Color: Yarn is 1 color.

Pre-twist Marl Color: A 2 ply yarn with each ply a different color. Each ply is dyed a color, then twisted to form a 2 ply yarn. The 2 colors from a distinguished pattern.

Heather or Mélange Color: Different colors of fibers (usually at least 4 colors) spun together 1 for 1 end. This differs from a pre-twist marl in that the colors do not appear in a distinguished pattern. The heather or mélange has an irregular color pattern.

Double Dye Color: The yarn must be a blend like cotton / acrylic or cotton / nylon. The cotton and the acrylic ends are twisted together to form a 2 ply. The yarn is dyed using 1 process and chemicals for the cotton, and a different one for the acrylic. As a result, the cotton can be dyed 1 color, and the acrylic a different color although the colors will bleed a little. The colors won’t be as clear as a pre-twist marl.

Single Dye Color: The yarn must be a blend like cotton / acrylic or cotton / nylon. The cotton and the acrylic ends are twisted together to form a 2 ply. The yarn is dyed using 1 process to either dye the cotton or the acrylic. If the cotton is dyed a color, the acrylic will be the natural white color of the fiber.

Union Dye: The yarn must be a blend with each fiber using the same dye process and chemicals like polyester / rayon. The polyester and rayon ends are twisted together to form a 2 ply. The yarn is dyed using 1 process, but each fiber will take the color differently.

Boucle Yarn: This is a blended yarn like cotton / nylon. The cotton is spun and the nylon thread is wrapped around the cotton end. The nylon becomes tight around the cotton, and the cotton puffs out in between the nylon wraps.

Crepe Yarn: Yarn that has a high twist that creates a crinkle texture.

Core Spun Yarn: A blended yarn usually with lycra or elastic. The basic fiber like cotton surrounds the lycra or elastic.

Eye Lash Yarn: Yarn is fringe (the eye lashes).

Chenille Yarn: A corduroy yarn. Looks like a pipe cleaner.


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