Acrylic yarn is one of many synthetic or man-made yarns available for hand knitters and crocheters. It is readily available and comes in an array of weights, colors and textures. Acrylic yarn is easy to work with and moderately priced compared with other yarns.
Acrylic fiber has been in production in the United States since 1950 when DuPont introduced Orlon. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that has a a chemical base of 85 to 90 percent vinyl cyanide. The remaining percentage determines the unique characteristics of the particular brand of fiber. Now, acrylic fiber is produced all over the world, and is used in clothing manufacturing as well as for craft yarn.
Acrylic yarn wears better than wool and has good elasticity. However, acrylic is not as strong as other synthetics such as nylon and polyester. Garments knitted from acrylic yarn is light and soft, and wicks away moisture. In addition, they will not be eaten by moths or suffer from mildew damage.
Although acrylic yarn looks like wool, the fiber will not felt or shrink when machine washed. The easy-care nature of acrylic yarn makes it a good choice for items thatl need frequent washing, such as children's sweaters and hats. It is also lighter than fibers such as cotton, so an afghan knitted with acrylic yarn will be warm without being heavy.
Like all synthetic fibers, acrylic does not burn, it melts. Caution is needed when choosing acrylic yarn for kitchen items and for baby clothes. Acrylic does not breath like natural fibers, so in warm climates it may feel clammy to wear acrylic garments.
Yarn manufacturers often blend acrylic fiber with natural fibers. When added to cotton or other plant-based fiber, the resulting yarn is lighter and stronger. Acrylic blended with protein fibers like wool creates a yarn that is machine washable. Sock knitters appreciate the strength that acrylic adds to sock yarn. Many novelty yarns, such as ribbon or boucle are blends of several synthetic fibers.
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