Yarn can be made from a large number of natural and synthetic fibers. DROPS carries mainly yarns made from wool, cotton, alpaca, linen, mohair and silk. Each fiber type has its own qualities, and they are often mixed to take advantage of the best properties of each one. Coarse yarn has the advantage of being stronger and more durable, and finer fibers offers more softness and comfort. Here a bit about the main fibers we carry:
Alpaca fleece is the natural fiber harvested from an alpaca, and it is similar in structure to sheep wool fiber. Its softness comes from the small diameter of the fiber, similar to merino wool. It is a soft, durable, luxurious and silky natural fiber. Yarn made from alpaca fibers does not felt or pill easily, and it can be light or heavy in weight, depending on how it is spun. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpacas come in 22 natural colors, with more than 300 shades from a true-blue black through browns-black, browns, white, silver and rose-greys.
This fiber comes from the Angora goats, and its considered a luxury fiber. Mohair yarn is warm as wool, but much lighter in weight; it is durable, dyes well and does not felt easily. Mohair fibers have also a distinctive luster created by the way they reflect light. Despite being a hard fiber, mohair is usually spun into a very fluffy yarn, resulting in airy and lustrous garments.
The wool fibers comes from the skin of sheep and are relatively coarse fibers. Two striking characteristics of wool are its susceptibility to heat and its felting property, which is caused by the scales on the surface. Depending upon the breed of sheep, the appearance of the wool varies.
Wool from Merino sheep is considered the finest type of wool, having as characteristics that is finely crimped and soft. All the Merino wool in the DROPS yarns has its origins in South America, coming from sheep that have not been subject to Mulesing.
Pure new wool is wool made directly from animal fleece, and not recycled from existing wool garments. Machine washable wool is wool treated chemically to minimize the outer fuzzy layer of the fibers, and be therefore fitable for machine wash (see Superwash).
The silk fiber is a fine continuous fiber produced from the cocoon of a moth caterpillar known as the silkworm. While silkworm is cultivated, the wild or tussah silk is obtained from uncultivated silkworm cocoons. Silk fiber is one of the strongest natural fibers and makes a wonderful knitting yarn. It blends really well with other fibers, especially wool. Silk also dyes beautifully with natural dyes.
There are several varieties of vegetable fibers, found in the cell walls of plants or vegetables. Of all the varieties, two are recognized as major knitted or textile fibers. They are cotton and linen.
Cotton is the fiber surrounding the seeds in a cotton pod, and it is almost pure cellulose. Cotton is usually white in color but there are green and brown varieties as well. The cotton fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile that is good for summer clothing and accessories, making a weaker yarn than silk or linen but stronger than wool.
Mercerized cotton is cotton that has been through a mercerization treatment. This treatment gives cotton fabrics and threads a lustrous yarn that is more lustrous than conventional cotton. It is also stronger, takes dye a little more readily, makes the yarn more resistant to mildew and reduces lint. It also may not shrink or lose its shape as much as "regular" cotton.
Linen is a fiber derived from the stalk of the flax plant that is durable and stronger than any other fiber. The linen fiber is relatively soft, straight and lustrous and becomes more beautiful with age. Linen is more comfortable to wear in hot temperatures than cotton, due to the fact that it absorbs moisture better and dries more quickly.
Other materials used in our yarns include synthetic fibers such as acrylic, viscose, polyamide (nylon) and polyester.
The polyamide fibre, commonly known as nylon, is very strong, durable, lightweight, easy to care for (can be machine washed and dried), and elastic, which makes it perfect for blending with other fibres to produce hard-wearing yarns like sock yarn.
All DROPS yarn labels include information about fiber content (wool, cotton, etc.), weight in grams and ounces, length in meters and yards, washing instructions and symbols (explained here), color number, dye lot number and yarn group information.
All DROPS yarns are classified into 6 different thickness groups (A to F). Yarns in a same group have similar knitting tension/gauge, and can therefore be interchanged in patterns; however the length may be different, so when substituting always calculate the amount of meters/yards needed for the pattern to know the amount of yarn you need to get.
Yes, as long as the yarn can be worked on the same knitting tension/gauge. Always swatch to make sure you get the same number of stitches in width and rows in height as given in the pattern.
Remember that different yarns with different textures, will give the garment different looks. The yardage/length may also be different, so when substituting always calculate the number of yards needed, in order to know the amount of yarn you need.
Here's an example of how to calculate the amount of an alternative yarn needed for a pattern:
The pattern requires 300g of yarn X.
Yarn X runs 170m per 50g, which means 6 balls (of yarn X) x 170 m = 1020 m of yarn needed.
You want to use yarn Y. This yarn runs 150m per 50g.
1020m / 150m = 6.8 = 7 balls of yarn Y needed to replace yarn X.
A superwash wool is a special wool product that has been treated or processed in a way that allows it to be machine washable. Many people are afraid to work with wool because it is so easy to shrink (though some shrink wool on purpose) and superwash wool can allow them to work with great fibers without worry. (Read more here).
The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 was introduced at the beginning of the 1990s as a response to the needs of the general public for textiles which posed no risk to health. The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is a globally uniform testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of production. The test for harmful substances comprise substances which are prohibited or regulated by law, chemicals which are known to be harmful to health, and parameters which are included as a precautionary measure to safeguard health.
For more info go to www.oeko-tex.com
You can read about where all DROPS yarns are produced in each of the yarns shade cards and in our pricelist.
As Northern Europe's largest brand of hand knitting yarns and designs, we have unique opportunities to work with the very best raw materials and make savings that benefit you. That's why you can buy DROPS yarn 20-30% cheaper than similar products!
When obtaining images for the shade card, we do our best to achieve the highest level of color accuracy. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee how images will appear on your computer screen. Every monitor displays color differently, some colors might look darker than they really are, and some colors might be more saturated on some screens. If you experience that many of the yarn colors looks different on your screen than the actual color of the skeins, you can adjust the setting on your monitor.