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Natural vs. Synthetic - A Fibre Off

Updated: Aug 17

skeins of hand-spun wool in blue, white, and red

Natural fibres are something that I really enjoy using. I love the feel of them for a finished product and as I work with them. Yet, for some projects, it may not be the best option. There are factors other than how it feels that we use to decide what yarn we use. What are these other factors you may be asking, well let's talk about them and decide what yarn to use, natural, synthetic or a blend.

Let’s look at the different attributes of yarn:

Feel - How does it feel to touch? Is is soft, rough, smooth, textured etc.

Strength - How strong is it? Is it easy to break by hand?

Wearability - How well will it stand up to wear and tear?

Wash-ability - Does it have to be hand washed or can it be machine washed?

Cost - How much does it cost per ball?

Now let’s look at the general aspects of natural and synthetic yarns:


Feel - Natural fibres will often feel very nice and wear softly against the skin as they “breathe” well. However, there are rough wools which also have a purpose.

Strength - Natural fibres are generally not as strong.

Wearability - Natural fibres can wear quicker.

Washability - Natural fibres generally need to be hand washed.

Cost - Natural fibres generally cost more.


Feel - Synthetic fibres have a wide range of feel. They don’t always wear well against the skin as it does not “breathe”.

Strength - Synthetic yarn is generally very strong.

Wearability - Synthetic yarn generally is harder wearing.

Washability - Synthetic yarns can be hand washed and generally machine washed as well.

Cost - Synthetic yarn tends to be cheaper.

With all this, we can decide what yarn is best for your project. Yet, sometimes or most of the time we just want to use a particular yarn because we like it, and that is a perfectly good reason as well.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.


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