What is Persian Yarn?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Persian yarn, also called Persian wool, is 3-strand yarn with a loose twist that is generally assumed to be wool, although there is evidence of one company having sold Persian yarn of 100% Orlon acrylic in embroidery kits in the 1970s and ‘80s. Each strand is 2-ply. Persian yarn is sometimes misidentified as 3-ply, possibly because the strands have been mistaken for plies.

Persian yarn may be used for cross stitch.
Persian yarn may be used for cross stitch.

Persian yarn is offered in hundreds of colors, and there is a culture around the types of uses various colors are put to, so that some of the colors may be identified by sellers as “background colors” – those likely to be used in a great many designs, as well as in larger quantities. Most of the colors available are solid, but a few are variegated.

Persian yarn may be used to create sweater vests.
Persian yarn may be used to create sweater vests.

Persian yarn is the yarn of choice in a narrow range of crafts. Cross-stitch, huck embroidery, and needlepoint are some of its frequently recommended uses. In needlepoint, the three strands of Persian yarn make it useful, as its thickness can be modified to fit the particular situation demanded by the canvas size and stitch by decreasing or increasing the number of strands used. Plies are generally not separated. Depending on the project and the craft type, you can substitute Persian yarn with pearl yarn, tapestry wool, or embroidery floss.

Another use of Persian yarn is for felting. While one felting process uses barbed needles and another uses wool roves – the drawn out, slightly twisted wool fibers prepared for spinning – one can also felt a finished product, such as a sweater, a handbag, or a vest. Instructions for various kinds of felting are available both on the Internet and in publications.

Like crewel yarn, Persian yarn is sold in individual packs as well as prepackaged kits. These yarns may be purchased in 33-inch (~84 cm) strands; 8-yd. (~7.4 m) and 40-yd. (~36.6 m) skeins; ¼-lb (113 gm) hanks, which vary in length by company due to differences in yarn thickness; and 1-lb/688-yd (.45 kg/629-m) cones. Crafters can save money by purchasing the larger offerings for background colors, and the smaller packages for detail work. When Persian yarn is sold as part of an craft kit, you often receive the following items: fabric with a printed design, a needle, instructions, and all the Persian yarn and other fibers needed to complete the project.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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