Yes, all yarn can be used for both knitting and crochet. There is no such thing as knitting or crochet specific yarn. It’s a common myth & marketing can be misleading.
When you first start to knit or crochet, it is natural to wonder about knitting vs crochet yarn and what the differences are between them. Choosing yarn can be so confusing.
Rest assured, you can both knit and crochet with any yarn. However there are certain types best suited to either knitting or crochet.
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Wool & Acrylic
All natural wool fibres can be used for both knitting and crochet. Synthetic acrylic is often called “wool” or “knitting wool”, especially when sold in general or discount stores, and this also works just as well for crochet and knitting.
Wool and acrylic are great choices for beginners. Look for smooth yarns as these will be easier to work with and rip back and reuse as needed.
Acrylic is usually cheaper than wool & is easy to wash & care for. This is also a great option if you are sensitive or allergic to wool.
Start with worsted weight or aran yarn which is medium thickness, with a 5mm (H) hook size (unless your yarn ball band says otherwise). Use 5mm or size 8 needles if knitting.
If you are in the UK, Double Knit (DK) is the most common yarn weight. This is also good for practising with a 4mm (size G) hook or 4mm / size 6 knitting needle.
Recommended Merino Wools & Acrylic Yarns
I find merino wools especially nice for both crochet and knitting. Most are very smooth and springy. I can personally recommend Drops Merino Extra Fine (DK) and Drops Big Merino (aran/worsted) as good value merino wools that are easy to work with.
UK brand Stylecraft make high quality, soft acrylic yarn. Stylecraft Special DK (also available in aran and chunky weights) comes in nearly 100 shades. I’ve also tried their Bellissima DK which feels super springy and smooth just like fancy merino wool.
Cotton is the yarn type most associated with crochet. It’s perfect for crocheting everything from summer tops to homewares to cute toys. Cotton is also widely used by knitters too.
While certain cottons are marketed for crochet, you can use all types of cotton for both crochet and knitting. There is a huge range of cottons available, especially during the warmer months, with something to suit all projects, budgets and palettes.
TIP: I recommend new knitters and even crocheters start with wool or acrylic as they are more consistent, easier to work with and can easily be ripped back and reused.
Once you are confident hooking basic stitches, cotton is ideal for crochet. I prefer working with soft cottons that are either matte or have a subtle sheen. They have great stitch definition and produce a lovely end result you can be proud of.
Keep in mind that 100% cotton yarns are not elastic like wool or acrylic. But cotton makes also tend to grow and lose shape over time. A good idea for a first cotton project is a small item where size is not important e.g. a toy or a dishcloth. You can quickly make something useful while getting used to working with cotton – win win!
If you like the look and feel of cotton, but prefer it to behave more like wool, you can try a cotton blend which also includes other fibres like wool or acrylic.
Cotton varies a LOT
I find cotton yarns vary more than any other type. Some cottons are smooth with a sheen due to their mercerised finish. Others have a natural matte look and feel. There are super soft cottons that feel amazing next to skin and hard, scratchy cottons that make great dishcloths. You have fine stringy cottons which can be a bit slippy to use and loosely plied or even wavy cottons that split as you hook or knit them.
Recommended Cotton Yarns
Because cotton yarns differ so much, it’s best to buy in person if possible or ask the store to recommend a suitable cotton for your project. You could also look at yarn reviews online or past projects on Ravelry.
I can personally recommend Rico cotton yarns for crochet. There’s even a special Ricorumi DK range especially for crocheting amigurumi toys. It is available in cute little 25g balls in all the colours of the rainbow. It also comes in multicolour 20 ball boxes which are to die for. 😍
But Ricorumi DK is also perfect for knitting, or for crocheting things other than toys e.g. accessories or homewares. So don’t let the marketing stop you using it to make whatever you like.
You don’t need to buy special cotton to make amigurumi either. For example, Rico’s popular creative cotton aran yarn works just as well for crocheting toys. It’s just a bit thicker than Ricorumi DK. That’s actually a bonus if you find making amigurumi toys with fine yarn and a small hook fiddly.
Despite being labelled an aran yarn, I find Rico creative cotton aran equivalent to DK wool or acrylic. I made my Playstation icon shapes and Halloween ghost crochet pattern with it. I find it easy to crochet with and love the end result. It has a matte appearance and my crochet makes always look better in this than wool or acrylic.
I’ve also knit a couple of summer sweaters with Rowan summerlite 4ply and dk cotton yarn. It’s quite expensive for cotton, but it’s a dream to knit with. It feels more luxurious than other cottons I’ve used, as if there could be some silk in it, even thought there isn’t.
I’m not as keen on Drops Safran cotton. While it’s very affordable, I found Safran quite splitty to crochet with and the cushion cover I made quickly sagged and lost shape.
Bouclé & Novelty Yarns
As well as the usual wools and cottons, there is a wide range of modern textured yarns available.
These include bouclé yarns which have a looped appearance, chenilles which look like soft pipe cleaners and furry eyelash yarns. Novelty yarns like this can create interesting and unusual fabrics.
Soft teddy yarns are fantastic for knitting toys & slipper socks. Your plain garter stitch knitting transforms into a super fluffy fabric that looks nothing like hand knitting. It’s like magic!
Novelty yarn types can be more challenging to knit with, particularly for beginners. This is due to their unusual textures and often thick & thin consistency. Stitches can be harder to knit cleanly and you often can’t make out the stitches and rows clearly. But this becomes easier with practise. Plus, these textured yarns are far more forgiving. If you make the odd mistake, nobody will see it – even you!
Crocheting with Bouclé Yarns is Tricky
While technically you can crochet with bouclé, teddy & other novelty yarns, I don’t recommend it.
It’s often not possible to make out your crochet stitches at all. So you need to feel your way along. It can be easier to crochet between stitches instead of into the tops of them. It’s not much fun and don’t get me started on ripping back!
If you are new to crochet, steer clear of unusual yarn types until you are confident with the basics. You could be easily put off when it’s not you – it’s the yarn!
Never say never of course. Novelty yarns differ widely & some may be ok to crochet with. Crochet a few short rows as a test. See how you find working with it & like the fabric it creates.
Bouclé yarns can also work well for crocheting small decorative touches. I made a small Christmas stocking crochet decoration in red wool and added a furry trim by crocheting a few rows of white Sirdar Snowflake chunky teddy yarn on top.
Crocheting the first row of a novelty yarn into a standard yarn is easy, and if you only have a few rows to crochet overall, the effect can be well worth the bit of hassle.
One last tip: if you are going to crochet with teddy yarn, pick a light shade to save your sanity.
Crochet thread is extra fine cotton yarn used for very fine crochet work like lace doilies.
Traditionally, knitting and crochet were quite different crafts. Crochet meant ornate lace work made with fine crochet thread and tiny steel hooks.
Modern crochet and knitting have much more in common, with people using the same yarns to crochet and knit similar items. So the term thread crochet is now often used to differentiate traditional fine lace crochet work from regular crochet.
Crochet thread is still widely available. It comes in numbered sizes up to 100. The lower the number the thicker the thread.
Size 10 crochet thread is a common weight suitable for making lace bedspreads and tablecloths etc. It’s still very fine yarn though, so needs a small hook – typically 1.5-2mm or smaller. Yikes!
You can use Crochet Thread for Knitting too
Despite its name, you can also knit with crochet thread, again usually with around 2mm needles. Knitters can use crochet thread to make knitted jewellery or in lace weight patterns for shawls or summer tops.
Crochet Thread held double
If you prefer to use larger hooks & needles 🙋 , you can use crochet thread held doubled. Using 2 strands of size 10 crochet thread together approximates to thicker size 3 crochet thread. Try a 3mm crochet hook or knitting needle with this and then size up or down if needed.
Crochet Thread Ideas
If you are looking for crochet thread project ideas, how about crocheting a string shopping bag with the yarn held double?
Or you could try your hand at fine lace work with a small project. A snowflake decoration is one simple idea to get started with. If fashion is more your thing, knit or crochet a choker or other jewellery, or even embellish your fave top with a lace collar.
Crochet thread is hard wearing and usually good value. You get a lot of yards to a ball too (300-400 yards, 274-365m approx) so it’s worth picking up a ball to experiment with & see if you like it.
I hope this post has helped explain that there is really no such thing as knitting yarn or crochet yarn. There is just yarn. 😀 However, bouclé and novelty yarns are usually best left to knitters. If you’re new to knitting or crochet, wool or acrylic is the best place to start. After that, a whole world of yarn awaits. Enjoy!