What is Acrylic Yarn?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
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  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2018
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Acrylic yarn is made from synthetic, or human-made, fibers. It's 100% acrylic fiber, which means it has no natural animal hair or cotton materials. Like other yarns, acrylic is formed into a continuous piece and wrapped into a ball, or skein, for sale for use in knitting, crochet, rug making, and other craft projects. Unlike natural fiber yarns, such as cotton, silk, bamboo and wool, acrylic varieties aren't spun, but rather are twisted into long lengths.

Some acrylic yarns can be rather rough and scratchy. This is in contrast to the lighter, softer, airier natural yarns — especially the kinds made from hand or machine-spun animal hair. Other acrylics are made to be more like the soft, natural varieties, but they still don't have their elegant, expensive look. The appearance of the yarn can rarely be mistaken for natural types, although sophisticated, softer textures and colors help make acrylics look more genuine.

A strong benefit of using this type of yarn is that people with allergies to wool or natural materials can still wear knitted garments. It's also a very inexpensive material that's ideal for beginners to practice with and make simple, durable project items. Acrylic yarns are often sold in economical large balls big enough to knit or crochet a sweater or afghan blanket, although smaller balls are also sold. Some yarns don't stay flat when knitted or crocheted due to the rough, twisted texture of the synthetic materials.


This yarn is available in colors from subdued to bright and natural to multi-colored. There are shades to fit every taste and project. Fun, bright yarn colors make great, durable kids' crocheted or knitted sweaters. Neutral or natural colors, such as browns and grays, can be used to make rustic, rugged blankets.

Designer colors, such as muted mauves or variegated balls of assorted shades, can be knitted or crocheted into blankets, pillows, scarves, hats, sweaters, and many other pieces. Scraps of acrylic yarns leftover from projects can be made into dishcloths or be used by children to create simple crafts. The yarn's relatively low cost and versatility makes it a popular seller in craft stores, and even some grocery stores that don't normally carry yarn sell some varieties. Acrylics are sold in different weights, or thicknesses, from fine baby and sock yarn to bulky or chunky varieties used to make rugs and heavy blankets.


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Post 5

I actually made a scarf as well as an afghan with Loops and Threads Charisma yarn which is 100 percent acrylic; it is incredibly soft and warm! So yes you can totally use it for a blanket. You just have to get some that is soft to the touch before washing.

Post 4

Is it okay to use acrylic yarn to crochet a blanket for a baby?

Post 3

Acrylic yarn (such as Red Heart brand) can start out a bit rough, but the trick is to wash your project when it is complete. All of the clothes, hats, blankets and slippers I've made have become incredibly soft after a normal washing and drying cycle. I love that it won't shrink in the dryer!

Post 2

@widget2010, I agree. Not all acrylics are of good quality. I personally really like blended acrylics, however; wool acrylic yarn is especially nice for sweaters and other garments that are soft and warm but still durable.

Post 1

Not all acrylic knitting yarn is created equal. While I have used some kinds that were soft and durable yet also inexpensive and available in attractive colours, I have also come across brands which only came in neon or other unnatural shades, or that felt nothing like a natural soft yarn, making it seem a poor choice for knitting things that I want people to love.

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