I see this question quite a lot being asked on social media. Many crocheters have never used cotton yarn before having been used to using acrylic which is much more common to find stocked in stores. So when you do come across cotton yarn, the question is always – what can I crochet with cotton yarn, can I use it the same way as my usual acrylic?
Cotton is my favourite yarn fibre to work with. I prefer the feel of it over wool and acrylic – the 2 most common fibres used in yarn.
But it seems to be a common misconception that you can’t do much with certain fibres or you can only use them to make certain things.
In this article you will find:
- Some ideas of what you can make with cotton
- What projects cotton is best suited for
- The types of cotton yarn you can find
- Why cotton is becoming more popular
Different fibers have different properties which can make them better for particular projects.
Cotton is heat resistant, it doesn’t stretch, is breathable and is absorbent. These properties make it the best fiber to use for hotpads, bags and anything you plan to get wet such as cotton pads and bath puffs.
You shouldn’t really use acrylic for hotpads or trivets as it can melt. Wool would be avoided for shower puffs as it shrinks when wet and would start to felt over time with use.
But these are special examples. Most things we crochet don’t get such extreme use as these items. So special considerations don’t usually need to made when it comes to selecting which fibre to use in your project.
If you’re making blankets, mug cosies, clothing, scarves, hats etc then you can use any fibre you like, it all comes down to personal preference and what you prefer the feel of. Just bare in mind that different fibres weigh more than others, and cotton comes in as being pretty heavy, while acrylic is very light.
But if you want to make the most of cottons special properties, what can you make?
As cotton doesn’t stretch, it is the perfect material for anything that is going to bear a lot of weight such as market bags. Bags made from acrylic can stretch over time and become misshapen, made from cotton the bag will hold its shape.
Reusable cotton pads, shower puffs, washcloths and bath mitts are all include here. Anything that you are going to get wet. Cotton is really absorbent and gets stronger when wet, so it can take a lot of heavy usage while getting up a good lather.
This is my pattern for a shower puff. It’s easy to make and is done in just 3 rounds
Wraps and summer clothing
Cotton is very breathable meaning it allows air to circulate through the fibres. You won’t get hot and sweaty in a cotton garment. This makes its the perfect choice for a summer top, or a wrap to keep the spring chill away.
Hot pads and Trivits
Cotton absorbs heat brilliantly well, so is perfect to protect your hands and counter tops from pans and trays fresh out of the oven. I would still use a double thickness design, but I wouldn’t be without my handy hot pads in the kitchen now.
You can find my free pattern for a really easy double thickness hotpad here
Types of Cotton Yarn
Just like other fibres, you can find cotton in a variety of thicknesses. But it also comes in either mercerised or non-mercerised.
Mercerisation is where the cotton strands are twisted tightly together to form a rope like texture. Mercerised cotton is less likely to split as you’re using it and gives more stitch definition than non-mercerised cotton which is much more loosly twisted and settles after use so doesn’t give as much stitch definition especially if you crochet with a loose tension.
Sirdar DK cotton is my mercerised cotton of choice. It is a beautiful silky yarn, with a rich variety of colours, perfect for clothing and bags. Stylecraft Cotton Classique is a great non-mercerised cotton and I love to make reuseable cotton pads out of this to replace plastic filled cotton wool for my makeup removal.
Popularity of Cotton Yarn
Cotton is becoming more and more popular, with new lines of cotton yarn being brought onto the market all the time. Part of the reason for this is that the world is becoming more eco-conscious, and moving away from acrylic which is spun plastic. Yarns that are natural are becoming more in demand, and manufacturers are providing more eco-friendly yarn options.
You can see the sheer amount of cotton options here at LoveCrafts
Cotton blends are also popular as they mix the breathability of cotton with the lightness and easy to care for properties of acrylic. Scheepjes Whirls are a great example of a quality cotton blend, but there are many others available too. Cotton blends can be easier to work with as they don’t usually split as much as pure cotton can.
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