No two fiber hoarders are created equal. I have a friend who swears by a yarn that I hate, and I’m happy to work with acrylic blends while another friend usually won’t touch acrylic at all! Every maker, I’ve found, has that one yarn (or group of yarns…) that they turn to as the “work horse.” They know exactly how it feels, how easy it works up, the colors available, the price, and they are able to envision what the finished product will look like. Every project with that yarn is a success, forever and ever, amen.
Nobody’s work horses are the same, either!
In this post, I’m going to talk about my top five work horse yarns, in the order that I use them, and give you a little bit of an explanation as to why they’re my go-tos.
But first, a note. Generally speaking, my yarn choices can be somewhat limited. I’ve had an allergy since childhood that can cause me to get quite sniffly and develop hives around some types of wool. This is obviously an impediment, as some of the most gorgeous yarn can be 100% wool (and thus a bad idea for me). I’m also allergic to mohair, which renders some of those beautiful, super-fluffy fibers totally off-limits, too. You’ll notice that most of the yarns I talk about here (and on the blog in general) are wool blends or other fibers, for this reason. If I’m using a 100% wool, it’s because I’ve found one that doesn’t get me itching and scratching like crazy. Huzzah!
My favorite yarn for afghans, amigurumi, and novelty items is KnitPicks Mighty Stitch Worsted. This yarn is a wool/acrylic blend that feels and looks like a dream. It’s cotton candy-soft, has a gorgeous sheen, and comes in about 2,000 colors (this may be an exaggeration, but I feel like I’m pretty close). It’s also delightfully inexpensive and SUPER WARM. I love it for afghans because I know it will be cozy and colorful as heck, but the budget won’t bankrupt me. I’ve also used Mighty Stitch to make a few mug rugs (click through to see the pattern available for sale on Ravelry!) and novelty squid hats (don’t ask) for friends, and it has never failed me.
My second-choice worsted yarn is also an acrylic – Hometown USA by Lion Brand. I love this yarn. I’ve used it for hats, scarves, mitts, cardigans, and afghans. It is my favorite widely-available (i.e., I don’t have to go online for it, I can just walk into any old craft store) worsted yarn, period. I love the tones in the color range, particularly that they are all heathered, giving them a soft almost-tonal effect. I also find the yarn itself to be very easy to work with; minimal halo, no splitting (some side-eye to Mighty Stitch here), easy to frog, and it just flies through my hands. It also comes in a bulky weight, and I used this to make a hat about a year ago that still gets compliments.
My third work horse is Vanna’s Choice, also by Lion Brand. This actually used to be my number one, until it was unseated. Why? I like the wider range of color options available to me with Mighty Stitch, and Hometown USA just has a feel that fits my style a little better. That said, I’ve used Vanna’s Choice for many hats, scarves, and afghans, and I’ve always loved my final product. It’s so inexpensive on its own, plus my local craft stores are constantly offering 40% off coupons or 25% off Lion Brand sales which make it even cheaper. I once made my mother a beautiful cabled afghan for Christmas using Vanna’s Choice. It called for about 12 skeins of yarn – and cost me just over $30 to buy that yarn. That’s it. I KNOW! Amazing.
My final two choices are also Knit Picks products, and they’re both fingering weight yarns: Palette and Hawthorne.
Palette is fantastic because it comes in a gajillion colors – even more than Mighty Stitch! It’s very inexpensive on its own; once or twice a year, KnitPicks also has a gigantic sitewide sale where Palette usually gets marked down even lower (I’ve seen it go for $1 a skein). I like this yarn for making simple, colorful pieces that call for fingering and light fingering weight yarn. It’s a little stiff to start, but becomes nice and soft and supple after you block it. I’ve got about 20 skeins of Palette in my stash right now in a bunch of different colors, just waiting for some attention.
Hawthorne gets a big shoutout here because I am totally in love with this handpainted range of fingering weight yarns. I love that I can get a hand-dyed yarn feel for a less-expensive price point, featuring unique color combinations in a beautiful range of tones. I’ve made a Storm Door shawl out of Hawthorne in “The Pearl,” and am currently working on a Pebble Beach shawl in the Kettle-Dyed Hawthorne range, in the “Compass” colorway. If I could choose one yarn from KnitPicks to have in unlimited supply, it would be Hawthorne, hands down. Totally gorgeous, beautiful in the hank, the cake, and the finished product. I just love it.
What are your go-to yarns, and why?