How do I Choose the Best Chenille Yarn?

Britt Archer

Chenille yarn is soft and fuzzy, making it perfect for projects that need a lot of weight or bulk. You can knit or crochet with chenille yarn, and it is also possible to combine it with other types of yarn to create unique or interesting finished projects. Choosing the right chenille yarn for your needs requires looking at the yarn weight, the yarn gauge and the fiber, color and feel of the yarn.

Chenille yarn is usually fuzzy and soft.
Chenille yarn is usually fuzzy and soft.

Yarn weights range from super fine to super bulky. Most chenille yarns are worsted weight, bulky weight or super bulky weight, though exceptions exist. Both the weight and size of the needles or hooks contribute to the yarn gauge — how tightly the yarn works up and whether it drapes or feels stiff. These attributes are of particular importance when following a pattern or set of instructions.

Chenille yarn is ideal for knitting and crocheting.
Chenille yarn is ideal for knitting and crocheting.

A large number of yarns in this category are synthetic, made from acrylic, rayon, nylon, or viscose yarn. Natural yarn options do exist for chenille yarn, though they are the exception and not the rule. Luxury silk chenille or cotton chenille yarn is sometimes seen. Different fibers affect whether a yarn is machine washable and dryable or not. Some manufacturers classify chenille yarn as a novelty yarn, while others consider it a standard yarn type. The classification and composition of a chenille yarn is largely up to the manufacturer and distributor.

Crafters can achieve interesting effects by using handspun, hand-dyed, or hand-painted yarn. These yarns are individually created by artisans to give the fibers a different look. Some handspun yarns look rustic while others look professional. Hand-painted and hand-dyed yarn produce color patterns and combinations not found in commercially available yarn.

To choose the right chenille yarn for a project, examine the project itself. If it will be worn next to the skin, opt for a softer, more natural-feeling yarn. If it needs to be warm, consider a synthetic bulky yarn. If it needs to hug the body and drape gracefully, consider a thinner chenille yarn. Also take into account your personal preferences — if a yarn is not fun to work with, the project can take longer to complete or may not be completed at all.

If you have problems selecting the correct chenille yarn or are unsure how to begin, speak to an employee of your local craft yarn store. They are trained to help customers choose the right yarn and are well-versed in each yarn's advantages and disadvantages, as well as the yarn's properties and characteristics. Some crafters find it helpful to spend time feeling each yarn and comparing them to select the right one.

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