Selecting the right type of knitwear is essential. The right materials will best serve your needs, whether it is comfort, style, warmth, or something else. Knitwear can be made from a range of different materials, and each has its own characteristics. Some deliver more warmth in cold temperatures, while others are light and breathable in warmer weather.
Understanding the different materials used to make knitwear will also help you understand pricing, durability, comfort and feel.
Here is a list of 7 common knitwear materials to understand which knitwear to choose:
Wool is one of the most commonly used fabrics for knitwear. There are various types of wool which determine the quality, comfort, softness and warmth of your knitwear. Lamb wool, Shetland and Merino are the common types of wool that are used to make knitwear. Wool is a natural material, and there are increasing numbers of brands like ‘Celtic & Co’ that offer sustainable and organic wool knitwear.
Merino wool is soft, warm and comfortable, avoids the itchiness of other types of wool. Merino knitwear can last for years if it is properly looked after and stored well. Lamb wool is second in line when it comes to popular materials for knitwear. This is another type of wool that is known for being soft and non-itchy. On the other hand, Shetland wool can be itchy and coarse, but it is long-lasting and super warm even in intensely cold conditions.
Synthetic materials are either made from inorganic materials or are a combination of organic materials mixed with chemicals. Synthetic materials such as acrylics and polyester are widely used to make knitwear. Acrylic is a man-made fibre which is a cheaper option than wool. Sweaters, socks, blankets and rugs made from acrylic fabric are soft and lightweight.
Acrylic wool can also be dyed in different colours according to your preference. Acrylics are easier to clean than natural wool and won’t shrink or shred easily. However, knitwear made from acrylic or polyester won’t keep you as warm as natural wool, nor will it let your body breathe.
Cotton also tends to be cheaper than 100% wool as well as being easier to maintain and wash. Cotton fabrics are breathable and lightweight, so knitwear made from superior quality cotton is great during the spring season but are not advisable during cold weather since they don’t provide much warmth.
Cotton knitwear can be worn as an additional layer under warmer knitwear to protect you during cold weather, or as a spring or summer knit. As a natural material, it is very breathable and will let your skin breathe. It is also durable and strong, so cotton knitwear will last you a long time.
Bamboo knitwear is very eco-friendly and sustainable material made from bamboo grass. It is believed to have anti-bacterial properties and has become popular in recent times since it is one of the materials that can be grown with the least impact on the environment. Bamboo knitwear is highly breathable and even offers UV protection. Furthermore, bamboo that is spun into yarn is softer than silk.
It also adds great shine to your knitwear along with making it durable. But bamboo knitwear has some cons too which is that it swells when it becomes wet. Also bamboo knitwear needs to be hand washed and cannot be put in through the washing machine: which might not be convenient to wash regularly.
Cashmere is a luxury material which is very popular for making pullovers, scarves, shawls and jackets. This material is legendary for being durable and yet very soft and lightweight. Cashmere originates from Kashmir in India and the best cashmere today still comes from this location.
In days gone by, cashmere was considered to be luxurious because of its time-intensive manufacturing process, but it has become easily available for a reasonable price. Premium and classic cashmere knitwear is still considered timeless for its incredible quality which will last you for a long time.
Angora knitwear is even softer than cashmere and even warmer than regular wool. Angora wool comes from the undercoat of an angora rabbit which is extremely soft and fluffy. It is relatively expensive since it is very time consuming to produce angora wool. The rabbit’s hair is lightweight and hence is not as strong as other materials like sheep’s wool. For this reasons, angora wool is usually blended with stronger fabrics to increase its durability and elasticity.
Alpaca fibres come from the Alpacas native to South America. Alpaca hair is soft and fine as well as being hypoallergenic. However, it can be stiff compared to cashmere or merino wool and some people find it itchy. It can also be blended with wool to improve its texture.
Alpaca knitwear provides incredible warmth which makes it ideal for cold climates. It does so by trapping your body heat, keeping you warm and cosy. If its itchiness doesn’t bother you, then you should consider using Alpaca knitwear to keep yourself warm.
What’s your favorite material/texture for knitwear? Let us know in the comments below!