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Best Material for Knitwear: Knit Fabric Types, Pros & Cons Complete Guide!

When selecting materials for knitwear design and manufacturing, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Yarn material: The fiber composition of the yarn you choose will influence the drape, texture, and longevity of your knitwear.
  • Yarn weight: The yarn weight you pick will influence the thickness and warmth of your knitwear. Yarns are often categorised according to their weight, ranging from lace weight (the lightest) to super bulky (the heaviest).
  • Yarn texture: The texture of the yarn will influence how your knitwear looks and feels. Some yarns are smooth and lustrous, while others are fuzzy or shimmer.
  • Yarn color: The color of your yarn will have an impact on the overall appearance of your knitwear. Consider how various colors will seem with the wearers’ skin tone and other outfits.
  • Yarn price: The cost of your final knitwear will be affected by the price of your yarn. Certain fibers are more costly than others.
  • Yarn function: Special function yarns are yarns that have been treated or modified to give them unique properties. Some examples of special function yarns include flame-retardant yarns, antimicrobial yarns, conductive yarns, reflective yarns and thermochromic yarns.
  • Yarn sustainability: Eco friendly yarn fabrics treat the planet right, that can mean recycled or organic materials handled in an environmentally responsible manner in the process of collection, treatment, production, shipping, packaging and selling processes.

Knit fabric is an elastic material constructed from yarns that are first fashioned into loops and then joined to form a textile structure. Knit textiles do not have a weave. However, the conventional method of weft and warp threads used in other fabric types is kept. The loops in knitwear allow it to stretch and alter size and form as desired.

Silk, linen, cotton, wool, acrylic, nylon and other materials are common raw materials for knit textiles. Manufacturers use numerous synthetic materials to attain the finest balance of quality and endurance.

Below is a list of popular knit yarns that you may use in your knitwear designs. Let us guide you through the many kinds of knit materials, qualities, common applications, and life hacks that will assist you in making that custom knitted scarf, cardigan, or sweater you’ve always wanted.

Each of these popular yarn materials has its own unique qualities and characters, so it’s important to consider which type of yarn best suits your design before you begin. Get in touch if you need a knit consultant to help you with the best decision in the knitwear design & manufacturing process.

What are some common sustainable knitwear materials?

In addition to recycled or organic knit fabrics, you should also be aware of the durability of the knitwear material. For example, as wool is naturally odor resistant, it doesn’t require as much washing and therefore, it will last longer.

Knit fabric typesCategoryCharacteristicsTexturePricePopular usages
Kids cashmere yarnAnimal fiberBiodegradableExtra-superfine hand feel$$$$$Luxury & baby sweaters, shawls, scarves and blankets designed for the look
Undyed cashmere yarnAnimal fiberNatural dye, biodegradableSuperfine hand feel$$$$Best for environmentally friendly usage
100% Cashmere yarnAnimal fiberBiodegradableSuperfine hand feel$$$$Luxury & baby sweaters, shawls, scarves and blankets designed for the look
Cashmere blend yarnAnimal fiberBiodegradableSuperfine hand feel$$$Bedwear, sleepwear, loungewear
Kids mohair blend yarnAnimal fiberWarm, natural, breathable, biodegradableSuperfine, fluffy, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$$Luxury hairy sweaters, shawls, and scarves designed for the look
Kids alpaca blend yarnAnimal fiberWarm, natural, breathable, biodegradableFuzzy, fluffy, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$$Luxury hairy sweaters, shawls, and scarves designed for the look
Mohair blend yarnAnimal fiberDurable, warm, natural, breathable, biodegradableFuzzy, fluffy, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$Luxury hairy sweaters, shawls, and scarves designed for the look
Alpaca blend yarnAnimal fiberWarm, natural, breathable, biodegradableFuzzy, fluffy, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$Luxury hairy sweaters, shawls, and scarves designed for the look
100% Merino wool yarnAnimal fiberWarm, natural, breathable, biodegradableFuzzy, fluffy, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$Fine winter garments and blankets
Merino wool blend yarnAnimal fiberDurable and warm, warm, durable and biodegradableSoft and luxurious hand feel$Winter garments and blankets
100% Organic silk yarnAnimal fiber Breathable, biodegradableSuper smooth, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$$$Luxury bedwear, sleepwear, loungewear
Silk blend yarnAnimal fiberBreathable, biodegradableSmooth, shiny, luxurious soft hand feel$$$$Luxury bedwear, sleepwear, loungewear
100% Organic cotton yarnPlant fiberBreathable, biodegradableSuperfine, soft hand feel$$$Extra-fine bedwear, babywear, sleepwear, loungewear
Plant-dyed cotton yarnPlant fiberNatural dye, biodegradableSuperfine hand feel$$$Best for environmentally friendly usage
Cotton blend yarnPlant fiber Breathable & LightweightSoft hand feel$Winter garments and blankets
100% Organic linen yarnPlant fiberDurable, lightweight, breathable and biodegradableSuperfine, dry and light hand feel$$$$Luxury summer garments and bedwear
Linen blend yarnPlant fiberDurable, lightweight, breathable and biodegradableDry and light hand feel$$$Summer garments, and bedwear
Recycled polyester or nylon yarnSynthetic fiberDurable, recycled and sustainableDry, cool hand feel$Good for environmentally friendly usage
EcoVero viscose yarnSemi-synthetic fiberDurable, recycled and sustainableSoft and silky hand feel$Good for environmentally friendly usage

Extra tips:

  • Luxury materials such as mohair, cashmere, wool, and alpaca cannot serve a technological purpose (such as anti UV or sweat).
  • All 100% pure material yarn maybe mixed with recycled polyester, acrylic, or nylon to save cost while retaining original functionality, sustainability, appearance, and/or feel.

What are some common synthetic knitwear materials?

Synthetic knit materials are not necessarily bad or unsustainable. They can also be artificially created for better performance at a cheaper cost. Some common synthetic knitwear materials include acrylic, polyester, nylon, and spandex.

Knit fabric typesCategoryCharacteristicsTexturePricePopular usages
Elite yarnSynthetic fiberDrape, durable and softSoft hand feel$$Summer garments and accessories
Viscose yarnSemi-synthetic fiberShiny, drape, durable and softSoft and silky hand feel$$Summer garments, bedwear, sleepwear, loungewear
Nylon yarnSynthetic fiberSmooth, durable and softSoft and light hand feel$Summer garments and accessories
Polyester yarnSynthetic fiberWrinkle resistant and durableDry, cool hand feel$Summer garments and accessories

What are some high-tech knitwear materials?

High-tech knit fabrics are much more common than you may think. Traditionally, they are employed mostly in utility garments, but with a little imagination, they may also be utilized to produce intriguing unique fashion design features.

Knit fabric typesCategoryCharacteristicsTexturePricePopular usages
Anti-bacterial yarnComposite fiberContains wormwood or coffee yarn,
inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms
Superfine, soft hand feel$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage
Cooling & Fast dry yarnComposite fiberAbsorb moisture, helps perspirationSuperfine, soft hand feel$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage
Anti-UV yarnComposite fiberAnti UVSuperfine, soft hand feel$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage
Flame-retardant yarnsSynthetic fiberResistant to fireSoft and light hand feel$$$$Functional and outdoor usage
Conductive yarnsSynthetic fiberContain conductive fibers that allow them to conduct electricityDry, cool hand feel$$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage
Reflective yarnsSynthetic fiberVisible in low-light conditionsSoft and light hand feel$$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage
Thermochromic yarnsSynthetic fiberChange color in response to changes in temperatureDry, cool hand feel$$$$Sportswear and summer outdoor usage

Extra tips:

  • Functional yarns are not suggested to combine with other knits kinds to preserve peak performance.

FAQs

What kind of knitwear fabric does not pill?

Unfortunately, there is no knitwear fabric that is completely immune to pilling. However, some natural materials like silk, linen, and bamboo have longer fibers that are less likely to pill, as do long fiber versions of cotton (sometimes called “long thread” or “long staple”). Coarser wools with long staples like mohair and Suri Alpaca fiber are also less prone to pilling. Merino wool is also known to be the least likely material to pill.

What kind of knitwear fabric does not cause allergic?

Wool is not a common allergen, but some people may be allergic to it. However, one small study found that superfine merino wool actually produced less irritation in infants than cotton clothing. Two other studies found that superfine Merino wool did not cause reactions in children or any age group.

What is the warmest material for knitwear?

Look for fabrics made of animal hair, such as mohair, alpaca, cashmere, and wool, or specially designed functional composite fibers for your warmest knitwear material. During cold weather, it is advisable to wear animal fiber clothes since they retain heat better than most of the other materials such as cotton.

What is the softest material for knitwear?

Silk are likely the smoothest and softest among all others. This material is super soft and delicate, frequently translucent, and have a lovely silken luster. Produced with Lycra or other elastic fibers, their natural elasticity is enhanced even further.

What kind of knitwear fabric is stretchy?

Knit fabrics can expand in one to four directions. Knit fabrics typically contain elastane (also known as spandex and Lycra®), which is responsible for the fabric’s ability to return to its initial shape after being stretched.

What is the best knit fabric for summer?

The conventional belief is that knitted items are more popular during colder months. However, this is not the case, a shift in consumer preference toward lightweight and high-performance knitwear is driving the market for knits designed for use in warm climates. There are many functional yarn options ideal for Summer, such as antibacterial yarn for the gym and active lifestyle, as well as anti-UV and fast-dry yarn for outdoor activities.

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