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What are the Best Uses for Polyester Yarn?

By Greer Hed
Updated May 16, 2024
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Polyester yarn is yarn made from man-made polymers, usually sold as acrylic or novelty yarn. Acrylic yarns are inexpensive, warm, sturdy, and usually machine washable, but also tend to pill and to lack the breathability of natural fibers. Novelty yarns boast a wide array of unusual textures, from yarns that resemble fake fur to ladder or ribbon yarns with spangles or sequins woven into the fiber. Due to its warmth and durability, polyester yarn is often used as a substitute for wool by knitters and other fiber artists who are allergic to animal fiber. It is also often used to knit projects that require frequent washing, such as household goods or clothing for babies or children.

A good use for polyester yarn is a knitted or crocheted blanket, throw, or afghan. Most commercial polyester fiber comes in a wide range of colors that can be combined into crocheted granny squares or colorful knitted patterns. Polyester yarn also does not usually have dye lots, so a knitter may purchase as much as necessary to complete a blanket without having to worry about subtle shade or hue variations in the yarn. Since polyester fiber can be safely machine washed, a blanket knitted with it can be thrown in the washing machine whenever it gets dirty.

The ability to machine wash polyester yarn also makes it a good choice for a wide range of other housewares that tend to be easily soiled through everyday use, such as cushion covers. Small amounts of leftover yarn can be used up by knitting projects like coasters, dish cloths, bath scrubbers, and gift bags. Since polyester fibers absorb heat, teapot or cup cozies knitted with polyester yarn will help hot beverages retain their heat longer.

As babies and young children grow out of clothes quickly, relatively inexpensive polyester fiber is a good choice for knitted baby garments and accessories. Knitters also frequently use polyester yarn for children's clothes because children can be hard on clothing and polyester is an easy care fiber. Toys for babies, children, and adults are also often knit or crocheted from polyester fibers.

Given the unique textures of novelty yarns, they are often difficult to manipulate. Furry or nubby novelty yarns often snag or split on knitting needles, and their textures make complex stitch patterns almost invisible. The best way to show off a novelty yarn is to knit it plainly in stockinette stitch. Novelty yarns make eye-catching scarves or boas, unique toys, and may also be used as trim on a garment or blanket.

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Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Dec 13, 2014

@Vincenzo -- That is all true, but I've got to point out that you have to wash the heck out of anything made out of polyester yarn or it will be too itchy. Run that afghan through the washer about five times and it will be awesome.

Even then, polyester yarn always feels a bit itch to me on bare skin. That means an afghan is fine (you'll usually have pajamas or something on under one), but a sweater might not be great unless you keep your skin separated from it by wearing a long sleeved tee shirt.

By Vincenzo — On Dec 12, 2014

My wife has made around 25 afghans with this stuff over the years and I can't imagine her using anything but polyester yarn for them. The colors do not fade, the afghans do not shrink and the blankets stay warm. Plus -- as the article mentioned -- the colors are wonderfully consistent, so you don't have the colors change when new yarn is added.

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