There are many constants in the arts and crafts world. However, there’s one true variable when it comes to just about any pattern or design: choosing the best yarn for the project at hand.
There are quite a few mixed opinions when it comes to yarn. While some will always reach for wool regardless of the pattern, there are other knitters who know how to apply the different strengths and textures of various fibers to create truly flawless projects every time.
Wool is the default option for the greater majority of those who knit or crochet and there’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing wool as a go-to yarn. It offers a heavier weight than other materials and that makes it a particularly good option for clothing in the cooler months.
It’s also highly durable and available in just about every color under the sun, which makes it arguably the most versatile yarn option available on the market today.
When it comes to wintertime knitted hats, then wool is a tough choice to beat, but it shouldn’t be your only option. The true skill in knitting is becoming proficient with yarn selection. There are dozens of options available to you today and it can seem rather inundating to choose the right material for a hat.
So what are the best yarns for knitting or crocheting hats? The most popular yarn choices are wool, cotton, mohair, and alpaca. However, yarns can vary and synthetic yarns especially can be manufactured with different properties, so nylon and acrylic/acrylic blends can also be good choices.
For a hat, you need a warm, but breathable yarn out of a material with a fair amount of structure – you want the hat to hold its shape. You would do well to choose one of these fibers before crocheting your next hat.
Best Yarns For Knitting or Crocheting Hats (And When To Use Them)
Here are our top yarn recommendations when it comes to knitting or crocheting hats:
|1.||Cotton||Lily Sugar 'n Cream|
|2.||Mohair||Artilin Mohair-Cashmere Wool|
|3.||Nylon||Red Heart Nylon Crochet Thread|
|4.||Alpaca||Alpaca Warehouse Baby Alpaca Yarn|
1. Cotton Yarn
An increasing amount of knitters are reaching for cotton yarn today. It is a lightweight, inexpensive material that is relatively easy to clean and holds its shape well.
These reasons make cotton an excellent choice on the surface, but there is one drawback that you must take into consideration before buying cotton in bulk: it is very inelastic.
If you’re completely new to the knitting process, then using cotton yarn can quickly reveal just how many mistakes you’re making along the way.
It is also very easy to damage during the knitting process because of this. It is far less forgiving than wool when it comes to the stress and strain of being stretched out over crochet hooks.
That doesn’t mean cotton doesn’t have its place though. You’ll find it makes an excellent option for summertime hats thanks to its very light weight and ability to withstand machines washes at usual household settings.
Cotton is also a natural fiber, which makes it a great choice for those who are concerned about their impact on the environment.
Cotton is a staple domestic crop grown in many countries around the world, so buyers are helping to contribute to their own economies when they choose domestic cotton over other yarns that may be imported from elsewhere.
While cotton is available in all colors imaginable, it is important to note that cotton yarn isn’t the most colorfast material on the market.
You’ll be able to throw your cotton hats in the wash with the rest of your clothes, but you’d be wise to use a color-catching washing sheet for the first few washes.
Cotton yarn does have a tendency to bleed and fade during the earliest stages of its life. Once you’re past this stage though, then it’s clear sailing ahead and your cotton hat will retain its final color for the rest of its usable life.
Suggested Product: Lily Sugar ‘n Cream
This is by far my current favorite cotton yarn, especially if you are knitting or crocheting a hat!
It is a worsted weight, so good for all around projects, but feel free to get a cotton yarn in a bulkier weight if you’re looking to knit a warmer cozier hat, or go for a DK or lightweight yarn if you’re looking to make something a bit dressier!
2. Mohair Yarn
Knitters tend to reach for mohair when they want something that has the comfort properties of cotton and wool but also wants a more glossy sheen to give their hats a bit of a lustrous “pop”.
Mohair is a fiber made from the hair of Angora goats, which are typically farmed between West Texas and South America.
It is a truly glossy material that gives incredible fade-resistant shine to any pattern, which makes it a great choice for hats when knitters want their wearers to stand out from the crowd. What’s more, is mohair is virtually stretch resistant and very few materials are able to boast this property.
When it comes to hats, then choosing mohair is an excellent option to withstand years of wear without losing the original fit that’s been with the wearer since day one.
Mohair isn’t typically delivered as a colored yarn, but it does hold dyes well. You’ll likely find it fades and bleeds in a machine wash more readily than cotton, which is why it is best to handwash mohair hats.
Knitters will typically find mohair in black, grey, and navy hues as standard.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find mohair as a pure product though.
It is often sold as a blended product with a variety of different yarns to decrease its light-grabbing shiny finish. Mohair is typically blended with up to 20% merino wool when sold commercially, but it isn’t unusual to find mohair blended with cashmere, silk, or even some acrylic blends.
Suggested Product: Artilin Mohair-Cashmere Wool
This is what I’ve used in the past, and I absolutely love it (especially for the price).
100% mohair is expensive and kind of difficult to use, so I like this because it’s a really nice blend. It’s 52% mohair, and 48% cashmere wool. So you get many of the fantastic knitting and crocheting benefits of mohair, with the consistency and reliability of wool.
The colorfastness is fantastic, and overall this is just a great mohair wool if your looking to knit a hat.
3. Nylon Yarn
Some knitters might want to avoid synthetic materials in their entirety, but it’s hard to ignore nylon. This ultra-versatile material has been the powerhouse of our lives since the 1930s and can have applications in just about everything in our homes and lives today.
You’ll also find it’s a great option for hats thanks to it being incredibly light, durable, and waterproof. It’s a great competitor to wool in these departments that offers these same properties in natural fiber, but at a much higher price point than nylon.
For inexperienced knitters wanting to try their hands with a material that’s incredibly forgiving, then nylon is usually the default recommendation.
Nylon’s resistance to the abuses of daily living comes from its origins as a plastic. Derived from petroleum, nylon started its life as a competitive material to silk during the Great Depression.
The end result was a material that wasn’t just inexperience for people, but also strong enough to withstand just about anything life could throw at it.
It is still widely used today in hosiery and swimwear, but it also makes an excellent option for hats that are going to be worn year-round in various weather conditions.
You’ll find knitting with nylon to be an enjoyable experience thanks to its stretchy nature, but commercial blends using wool and other natural materials can make it a far more malleable material by taking away some of the elasticity for crocheting more advanced patterns.
Nylon itself makes an excellent option on its own for simple projects, but you’ll probably want to lean towards a blend if the pattern you’re using is in any way complex.
Suggested Product: Red Heart Nylon Crochet Thread
Now, Nylon isn’t always the easiest thing to use, and honestly I don’t do much crocheting or knitting with it. However, I do have a friend that has done quite a bit of crocheting with Nylon for some projects, and she swears by this product.
So, I suppose if I were going to pick the best Nylon for knitting or crocheting, it would have to be this one from Amazon.
4. Alpaca Yarn
Alpaca fiber is a material that was once reserved for royalty. It’s easy to see why. One touch of alpaca fleece will immediately reveal just how soft, rich, and luxurious this material is.
While it does come with a price tag to match, alpaca fiber is easily one of the most durable materials that you can stock in your yarn selection today. Alpaca is rated as having three-times the insulating properties of standard wool, which makes it an exceptional choice for hats that are going to see the fall and winter seasons more regularly.
Alpaca is also an interesting fiber thanks to its moisture wicking properties. Alpaca is somewhat waterproof in that moisture will not penetrate through the material.
Instead it will simply wick any wetness away and allow you to remain completely dry and comfortable during a wet patch. Alpaca also stays warm when it is wet, which is something that other natural and synthetic fibers cannot claim.
You’ll be able to find alpaca fiber in 23 natural colors, which makes it a great choice when colorfastness is a primary consideration.
It is also one of the few naturally hypoallergenic fibers and is an excellent choice for asthmatics seeking a natural hat without the itch or sneeze of other materials.
Suggested Product: Alpaca Warehouse Baby Alpaca Yarn
Our favorite alpaca is actually this ultra-soft baby alpaca yarn from Alpaca Warehouse. Baby alpaca yarn takes all the best properties of “regular” alpaca and turns it up a notch where softness is considered.
It is slightly bulky, but since it is an alpaca, you can likely still treat it as a thicker worsted weight. It’s worth playing around with the gauge.
This batch comes as a set of 3 skeins, which is enough to make hats for yourself and a loved one, maybe two if the hats are small. You could also use the leftovers to create a pair of fingerless gloves to match your hat.
So, what actually is the best choice to make when it comes to one of these options for hats? Well, that depends entirely on the project at hand.
If you’re looking for a material to use on a light summertime hat that’s able to breathe in the hot weather, then natural cotton yarn is a hard material to beat.
It is readily available and isn’t all that expensive, so you won’t have to look far and your wallet will certainly thank you for choosing this versatile fiber during the warmer months.
Cotton doesn’t make the best option when it comes to the fall or winter though. A later season hat is best made using nylon or alpaca depending on your personal preferences for synthetics or natural fibers.
They’re both incredibly durable materials and can withstand all of what Mother Nature can throw at it. Alpaca is also a luxury fiber with a visual presence to match.
Your head may be crying out for this ultra-luxurious material during the winter, but your bank balance may not be able to accommodate the true richness of the material as willingly as your head.
Mohair makes an excellent bridge in less financially-forgiving circumstances. It is a black-tie-friendly luxury hat material with a glossy sheen that screams luxury without the added price tag of alpaca.
Choosing a blended mohair fiber further reduces its cost to you without sacrificing on all of what makes the fiber a great choice for year-round wear.
Choosing the right material will yield the right result in the end, so take the time to consider these options and how you intend to wear your hat. The right option is certainly here!
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