Veganism. Don’t know whether you’ve heard of it?(!) Before you say anything, I know, I know but allow me to caveat this post by informing you all of my VEGAN knitter status 😉 Jokes aside, veganism is on the rise and more and more crafters are turning away from wool, merino, alpaca and mohair in favour of their vegan friendly counterparts.
But what the frig is vegan yarn anyway?!
Generally speaking, yarn can be split into 3 categories of fibres: animal, plant based and synthetic. Naturally, animal fibres are, by definition, not vegan (although sustainable wool X veganism is a subject I must – and will- explore further at a later date) leaving us with plant based and synthetic fibres.
Plant fibres include the more obvious cotton and linen and extend to lesser known, hemp, rayon and bamboo, whereas acrylic and nylon are popular synthetic fibres.
Put simply, vegan yarn, or vegan friendly yarn, is any yarn that is made from non-animal fibres. The most popular being acrylic and cotton.
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Now, just because certain fibres have the vegan stamp of approval doesn’t mean it’s ethically pure. There is still a lot of debate around the environment and the plastic free movement which acrylic yarn does not support, but simultaneously, there are certain projects that will favour this choice. Making your own super chunky beanie is pretty impossible to be done using chunky cotton, for instance.
Acrylic yarns are extremely versatile, practical and machine washable. They’re also widely available in a range of bright and wonderful colours which is often unavailable in natural fibres. Acrylic yarns work great if you are on a budget too, enabling you to take on larger projects without the huge price tag of other options. It’s also worth noting that acrylic and synthetic fibres are a great alternative to those who have allergies to natural fibres.
However, plant based fibres, such as bamboo and cotton, lend themselves to spring and summer projects due to their lightweight and breathable nature and they are often kind to sensitive skin. These too are generally safe to machine wash unlike their animal counterparts which require a higher level of care.
So depending on the project you have in mind, there are a number of factors to be taken into consideration.
So what the best choice for me?
Winter is approaching and there is no denying that knitting season is upon us. As the colder and darker nights draw in it’s natural to hibernate at home. I know all I want is to hide away from the winter chill and knit in front of the TV on an evening.
Knitting is a great hobby all year around, but especially now that there is a genuine need for cosy knitted items. But with all the above in mind where do you start with nailing down the perfect yarn to embark on your next (or first) knitting project?
There are a huge number of yarn brands out there and, if you’re ordering online in particular, how can you ensure the quality, softness and look of your choices when you are unable to physically give the ball a good old fondle?
Luckily, I have my top 5 yarn choices for your easy winter knits:
1. Moloneymakes Super Chunky Yarn
I could be accused of bias here, but our super chunky vegan yarn hasn’t failed me since launching Moloneymakes back in 2016. Each ball of this premium 100% acrylic is super soft and squishy making it the perfect choice for cosy winter knitting projects. Its super chunky nature means it works up quickly and efficiently so it’s ideal for beginner knitters getting to grips with their needles.
Weight: Super Chunky – 10mm
Colour Selection: Available in 16 shades with Moloneymakes
Price: £3.50 per 100g (correct at time of publishing)
Great For: Chunky winter staples; think bobble hats and cosy scarves
My Favourite Pick: Graphite is a classic colour, but my hands down favourite is bronze
2. Lion Brand, Hometown USA
Lion Brand is huge in the US and for good reason too. You can choose from over 50 shades direct from Lion Brand’s website and whilst around half of that amount are available from UK sites, the colour palette is an impressive one.
Squish factor is off the charts for this silky number which works up neatly with great stitch definition. It’s also fully machine washable providing you with the possibility of a myriad of potential projects.
Weight: Super Chunky – 9mm
Colour Selection: Available in 28 shades on Love Crafts
Price: £4.79 per 115g (correct at time of publishing)
Great For: A big chunky blanket
My Favourite Pick: The mustard is rich and deeply satisfying
3. Paintbox, Simply Range
To be honest, Paintbox is a brilliant all rounder when it comes to looking for yarn to work with your chosen project, but their Simply range stands our amongst the options.
The Simply range offers a good quality acrylic yarn in a number of weights (DK, Aran, Chunky and Super Chunky) not to mention it boasts an expansive colour range that rivals most other brands.
You’ll be hard pressed to not find what you need. Your knitting needles await.
Weight: DK (+)
Colour Selection: Available in 60 shades on Love Crafts
Price: £2.25 per 100g of DK (correct at time of publishing)
Great For: Children’s clothing
My Favourite Pick: Vanilla Cream is a gorgeous neutral shade that acts as a great base to add pops of colour
4. Stylecraft Special Range
With their DK available in over 75 shades there is no denying that Stylecraft’s Special range probably has the perfect colour, or 10 for you to work with.
Whilst the colour range decreases in size as you increase in weight, the quality is universal. At an extremely reasonable price, this brand places themselves at the top for beginner knitters and pros alike.
Weight: Super Chunky – 10mm (-)
Colour Selection: Available in 16 shades on Wool Warehouse
Price: £5.95 per 200g (correct at time of publishing)
Great For: A super cosy oversized jumper
My Favourite Pick: Mushroom has my name written all over it
5. Women’s Institute, Soft and Smooth Aran
Honestly, the entire range is exceptional, but this wonderfully soft range has been created to give an anti-pill fibre which means your projects will continue to look new even after continued use.
The brand is a worldwide exclusive to Hobby Craft and with a minumum of 14p from each sale being given to the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, you can get a warm fuzzy feeling inside too!
Weight: Aran – 5mm
Colour Selection: Available in 12 shades from Hobbycraft
Price: £10.50 per 400g (correct at time of publishing)
Great For: Cardigans and jumpers
My Favourite Pick: My neutral loving self immediately goes for the grey, but the teal is a gorgeous colour.
So there we have it.
My top 5 vegan yarn picks for your next winter knitting project. The only thing you have to do is narrow down what it is you want on your knitting needles next!
Looking for inspiration for your next winter knitting project? Check out our range of quick and easy knitting patterns here. You’ll be knitting up a storm in no time.