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What Is the Difference Between Cotton Yarn and Acrylic Yarn?

What Is the Difference Between Cotton Yarn and Acrylic Yarn?

Knitting Diaries

If you have been knitting or crocheting for a long time, you probably know the difference between cotton yarn and acrylic yarn to the core. But it is always fascinating to understand the depth and think, what is actually the difference between cotton yarn and acrylic yarn?

As hardcore knitters, it is essential for us to understand these differences as it helps us understand the type of fabric that might suit best for our project. Sometimes, although we think that cotton yarn may work well, it turns out that acrylic would have worked better and vice versa. To be faint, you can knit or crochet anything with just about any type of yarn, but, understanding yarns at a closer level might always come handy in being a better knitter or crochetier.

Let us look at the differences between cotton and acrylic yarn.

What is cotton yarn?

Cotton is a naturally produced yarn that is harvested from the plants of cotton. It is a soft, breathable and absorbent fabric which is used widely in summer clothing. It is a staple in the clothing industry and singularly holds more than 40% market share in the clothing industry combining both wearables and non-wearables.

Cotton is ideal for knitting and crocheting anything. If you are a lover of light projects, then cotton is your best friend. It dyes greatly and can be used for knitting clothes or even dishcloths, towels pillows, bags, etc.

Benefits of Cotton Yarn

  • Cotton is highly absorbent and breathable making it a comfortable choice in a country like India.
  • Cotton is highly inelastic. It means that your projects turn out with a slight drape effect which in turn gives a fabulous appeal to your final project.
  • It is highly durable and will take several washes in your washing machine. You will have a rugged outcome that can be used by anyone.
  • You can find cotton in a plethora of colors and there is never a shortage of options for your project.

Disadvantages of Cotton Yarn

  • Cotton wrinkles badly. It means that you need to keep an iron handy if you want the most perfect look.
  • Sometimes, your cotton might bleed colors making it a nightmare to wash properly. We recommend that you always wash your whites separately.
  • Cotton yarn can be slippery to knit with. If you are a beginner, we advise that you take it slow with cotton yarn and it may be tricky to knit with. You might also have a difficulty with keeping an even tension while knitting with cotton yarn.
  • Cotton may sometimes be victim to mold or moths without proper maintenance.

What is Acrylic Yarn?

Acrylic is a completely man-made fiber that is synthesized using polymers created from petroleum products. It is easy to manufacture and is popular for being extremely cheap. It is a favorite amongst knitters as it is very comfortable to work with. Like cotton, acrylic is also a versatile fabric that is used in several clothing materials across the world.

Acrylic is touted to be the poor man’s cashmere as it can sometimes be as soft as cashmere with similar properties of that of high-quality wool. It is therefore, an excellent value for money since it can be manufactured in huge quantities.

Benefits of Acrylic Yarn

  • A great yarn for beginners and we don’t recommend you to look elsewhere if you are just starting out. Acrylic has great stitch definition and offers you proper grip during knitting.
  • It is also available in a wide range of colors and is extremely cheap to manufacture.
  • Acrylic is extremely durable and will last you years with absolutely no maintenance. You can throw it in the washing machine at the harshest setting without a second thought.
  • Acrylic is warm and, in some cases, can keep you as warm as a wool blanket.

Disadvantages of Acrylic Yarn

  • Acrylic is not a breathable fabric and will hold on to the warmth of your body. This might be uncomfortable considering the hot climate in India.
  • If you sweat too much, chances are that acrylic can hold onto the smell. Since it does not absorb well, you will remain wet for longer durations.
  • Acrylic yarn can be dangerous around high temperatures because of its melting properties. Acrylic is essentially plastic and it melts at fire-like temperatures causing severe burns.
  • Sometimes acrylic yarn can cause inconsistencies in your projects. The fabric may sometimes be lumpy or twisted giving a substandard outlook to your project.


One can’t argue that one is better over the other since in the end, it comes down to personal preference and what you expect in your projects. For example, if you are somebody who likes to make blankets, it does not make sense to use cotton yarn. If you want to make an outfit for daily wear, you might choose cotton as a preferable yarn. After all, yarn is only good when it is used right and for its purpose.

We hope that you were able to understand further how acrylic yarn and cotton yarn are different. We wish you luck for your knitting projects. If you have any more questions, comment down below and we will get back to you within no time.

By the way, which yarn do you prefer and why? Comment below!

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