Yarn Glossary

Impress your elders and your cool friends by learning the yarn lingo

Alpaca + Blends YarnsAlpacas

This catch-all collection features alpaca yarn as its dominant attribute. If you haven't experienced it yet, alpaca yarn llooks and feels like you would expect a luxury yarn to - warm, durable, silky and light. Alpaca is a shorter staple yarn, and so it has a halo, somewhat reminiscent of the mohair halo effect. 

Fun fact: alpacas originate from the Andes of Southern Peru, Western Bolivia, Ecuador, and Northern Chile. They are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be working animals but were bred specifically for their fibre.

Mixtape Merino Yarns

Merino wool is regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep [mic drop]. Seriously though, this particular fibre is a joy to work with. Bouncy, light, ridiculously soft and a dream to dye, it's a classic. Our 100% superwash merino wool comes from New Zealand, and is spun in Ontario, Canada or the UK. 

Zebra Swirl Merino Yarns 

Zebra yarn is a fun yarn that plies two contrasting colours together (in this case, black and white). Also known as "barber pole yarn," this yarn ends up looking like a barber pole due to the dark fleece. What I love about this yarn is the pop created by the black ply (which is inconsistent through the entire skein), and how awesome it performs as a weaving yarn.

Slub Merino Yarns

This yarn is so. Incredibly. Fun. One ply of sproingy superwash merino wool is spiral-plied with one ply of nylon to create a gorgeous, textured yarn with fun little fuzzy bits (the slubs, they are called). This yarn is milled in the United Kingdom.

Boom Box Merino Blends

This yarn is a blend of 80% superwash merino wool sourced from New Zealand and 20% nylon, and is spun in Ontario, Canada. It is fantastic for toques and chunky hats, scarves and mittens. The nylon makes it durable and yet it is surprisingly lightweight, making it useful for blankets and snuggling also. 

Rustic Handspun Jumbo Merino Yarns

This yarn is lovingly handspun by me using merino combed top sourced from New Zealand and milled in Ontario, Canada. The resulting yarn is a jumbo weight, thick-and-thin-ish yarn with a bit more twist than my other jumbo weight Mixtape Merino base (which is milled in Ontario), to minimize pilling.

The great thing about jumbo weight yarn is that it works up very quickly, and is fantastic for chunky hats and scarves. I call this my "hero" yarn, because it allows you to whip up a mindful and gorgeous gift in around an hour (a hat at least).

You could add a section of it as an embellishment to a project using my Jumbo Merino. It is also a lovely addition to weaving projects also.

Tweed Merino Yarns

Tweed yarn is a type of yarn that features contrasting flecks of colour mixed (either rainbow or black/brown) in to the yarn. The flecks of color are often small pieces of short fibre leftover from carding spun together with plies of another fibre. It makes for an interesting yarn with a pop of extra colour! This superwash merino yarn also comes to us via a mill in the United Kingdom.

Pima Cotton

Pima cotton plant

Pima cotton yarn shimmers. Truly - is a gorgeous luxury cotton. Why? Because pima cotton has a longer staple length than conventional cotton, resulting in an ultra-smooth (shiny!) fabric that is soft to the touch. And breathable. And durable. And moisture-wicking. Sigh. 

I just love this yarn for weaving, and I carry it in DK weight for weavers like me who prefer working with anything but lace weight. I've noticed more cotton and linen patterns for crocheters and knitters out there, and if you are allergic to wool, this is a great alternative to wool yarn. Just note that it lacks the elasticity of wool, so be prepared for a different experience when knitting or crocheting with it. You may have to go down a needle/hook size or two, and prepare for it to stretch when wearing.

Which size knitting needles and crochet hooks to use with your yarns?

First and foremost, you should look to your pattern instructions to determine which weight of yarn is needed and which size of needle or hook to use. And then make a gauge swatch. Because I do it all the time obviously...

If there are no such instructions, the Yarn Craft Council has an excellent Standard Yarn Weight chart that you can check out. 

I'm sooooo not the person to ask. I still sometimes use pattern recommendations loosely. And usually regret it, but I haven't learned my lesson yet.

Superwash vs. Untreated Yarn

Superwash yarn has been treated with a coating to prevent it from felting. The scales in protein fibres are responsible for felting, so super washing prevents this by either removing the scales or coating the entire thread. What this means is that unlike untreated wool, it is machine washable. However, excess heat can still damage superwashed yarn. 

Untreated yarn is just that – it has not been treated once it is washed and spun. It requires more care when blocking and washing. It is environmentally friendly as no chemicals are used, and had a much lower carbon footprint as less transportation is required. Untreated yarn takes dye differently, and often requires more time in the dye pot.

Fun fact: Although it is a protein/animal fibre, alpaca does not have scales, and is thus not superwashed. Thanks to my master Booj Woven for this tidbit of wisdom!

Caring for hand dyed yarns & handwoven pieces

Superwash & Cotton wool/scarf/wrap
Although superwash yarns and cotton are, in theory, washing-machine safe, I still suggest you hand wash in cold water and lay flat or rinse and spin and then lay flat/block to dry. A wool soak like Eucalan is highly recommended.

Non-superwash wool/scarf/wrap
If exposed to heat and agitation, your wool/scarf/wrap will felt, so be sure to hand wash gently in cold water (a wool soak like Eucalan is recommended) and dry flat.

Bottom line: Given the time that goes into handmade items, I recommend hand washing gently in cold water and blocking to dry regardless of superwash treatment or not.

Although all of the yarn is washed, and then rinsed and soaked in Eucalan after it is dyed, it is recommended that you wash the yarn/finished product separately, as colours may still bleed on first wash.


Due to the nature of the hand dyeing process, each skein is unique. I have endeavoured to dye colorways as consistently as possible, but there will be variation between each skein and batch.

Your monitor/device also may display colours differently, so please allow expect some variation between what you see on your screen and what you see in real life. 

If you are concerned that the transition between the skeins will be visible, your options are to alternate skeins, or to use two strands of yarn together.

Please, please, buy one more skein than you think you need. My bases are pretty consistent, but dye lots vary. Just do as Angela says.

Neatnik Yarns are dyed in a cat-loving, tobacco-free home.