Yarn Fibre Types & Guide

What is Yarn?

Yarn is simply ANY long continuous length of interlocked animal, plant or synthetic fibres. Most commonly used in crafting.

We will explore below yarns used for crochet and knitting.

Its also a great word for a story, particularly one told by someone on a cold rainy night by the fire, and weaves in lots of different 'threads'!!

The Orry Mill has a focus on stocking natural fibre yarns, ideally that are sustainable.  However, yarn for hand crafting is often blended to make it easier to work with, to strengthen or give elasticity.  Some yarns still have synthetic acrylic blended with it.

What are the main categories of Yarn?

Yarn Fibres fall into three main categories,

  • Animal fibres,
  • Plant Fibres,
  • Synthetic.

Animal Fibres

Most common animal fibres are sheep's wool the most affordable, also popular are alpaca, cashmere, mohair, yak and silk.

Plant Fibres

Plant fibres generally mean cotton and linen, however bamboo and hemp are increasing in use.  These are often called 'Tencel' and 'Lyocell' and are increasingly popular as they become softer, durable and more usable.

Synthetic Fibres

Synthetics are generally acrylic and polyester.  The Orry Mill does not stock yarns that are wholly synthetic. However we do have some yarn that is blended with synthetic fibres for strength, durability and elasticity.

Browse our collection of yarns to learn more about each:

Yarn Fibres A-Z


Alpaca wool has many similarities to sheep wool, and is widely used as a handknitting yarn on it's own, or blended with other fibres to give it more elasticity and make it easier to work with.

Alpaca wool is known for its durability, warmth and softness, It is also known for being naturally hypoallergenic as it doesn't contain any lanolin which is the main cause of many wool allergies it also have less scales than sheep wool making it less itchy.

Alpaca wool is ideal for babies and people with sensitive skin that normally do not tolerate woolly garments.

The wool is a lightweight fibre and the individual hairs are hollow which make it excellent for trapping heat.  This means a thinner garment will still have excellent heat retention properties.

Browse our range of Alpaca Yarns


Famously luxurious due its strength, soft feel, beautiful drape and heat retaining qualities.

Cashmere comes from a goat native to  Central Asia and Gobi desert.  Considered the softest animal fibre it is farmed in the mountains.  The underhair then, is light and fluffy to trap air and keep the animal warm in the coldest of conditions.

Does not contain lanolin, like sheep's wool it is therefore seen as hypoallergenic.

Can come in different weights depending on your project and often blended with other fibres which can reduce the cost and make it easier to work with.

Browse our range of Cashmere Yarns


Cotton yarn is a plant based yarn spun from the fibres found in the seed pods of the cotton plant. It is inelastic and compared with sheep's wool it doesn't have the same "bounce".
Cotton yarn is lightweight, breathable and durable, it takes colour very well so you will find it in a rainbow of colours from crispy whites to soft pastels and vibrant brights.
It is perfect for summer knitting and crochet but also excellent as an all year round yarn due to it's versatility.
Cotton yarn is hypoallergenic so perfect for knitting and crocheting baby items as well as garments for people with sensitive skin that can't tolerate animal fibres.
Cotton yarns are easy to care for and washes well as most are machine washable.
Browse our range of Cotton Yarns


One of the oldest known textile fibres and spun from the silk-like hairs of the the Angora goat, mohair has very high lustre and sheen.

It combines well with other fibres, most notably silks and various wools, adding the lustre and sheen to the overall garment.

Considered a luxury fibre like cashmere and silk. It has good heat retaining qualities.

It often is spun to have a 'haze' or 'halo' effect and can be mixed with other fibres to give this effect.

Browse our range of Mohair Yarns


Silk is a natural fibre, known for its soft texture and flattering drape. Famous as one of the strongest natural fibres and has a high-end luxurious appeal.  For crafting and knitting it is often blended with other fibres, from wool, cotton, alpaca and mohair to name a few.  

Silk is composed of fibroin which is the cocoon of insect larvae, most commonly the mulberry silkworm.

Silk has a multitude of uses across all seasons and takes dye exceptionally well often giving a lustrous sheen.

Browse our range of Silk Yarns


Wool is a natural fibre that is obtained from the fleece of sheep. It is a soft, warm, and durable fibre that is used to make a variety of products, including clothing, blankets, and carpets.

Wool is a renewable resource that is produced by sheep in a sustainable manner. It is also a biodegradable fiber, which means that it will break down naturally in the environment.

Browse our range of Wool Yarns


This luxury fibre comes from the domesticated ox native to the Himalayas.  Considered an alternative to cashmere due it being more sustainable.  It is beautifully soft durable and breathable than many other fibres. 

Outperforms sheeps wool  in many ways it can be used in multiple different garments and ideal for mixing with other yarns.

It is hypoallergenic as contains no lanolin and does not itch or scratch.

Browse our range of Yak Yarns