Best and Worst Yarn Brands

By Rachel Choi – 56 Comments

There are many brands of yarn to choose from when shopping. What brands do you love and can’t live without? What brands do you avoid like the plague? Yarns can range from cheap to expensive, soft to rough, and thick to thin. Some wash easily and nicely, while some do not.

yarn-brands

What are the best and worst yarns that you’ve used? Share your experience in the comments below and check out what others are saying!

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56 Comments

  1. Carla Baslee says:

    I love Red Heart brand yarns. Always my go-to! I started with Red Heart when I was just 12 and my mother was teaching me to crochet; that was not easy as mother was left-handed whereas I am right handed. I don’t think there are any yarns I hate necessarily, but I gravitate always to Red Heart!

    • Rachel Choi says:

      I find that Red Heart is also very affordable. It tends to get softer as you wash it too, which is a plus!

      • Carla Baslee says:

        Indeed! I must say I am in love with the yarns at Hobby Lobby, which I recently discovered also. Soft, and works up so smoothly 🙂

    • Tina Wedlake says:

      Your post could have been written by me, lol. I,too, learned from my mom,also a leftie. And yes, Red Heart is my go-to as well.

      • Carla Baslee says:

        How long did it take you to get the stitches right, ROFL??? I was working projects a good 10 years until I found a Red Heart instruction book that I could follow, and figure out the stitches 😀 Still, the heartbreak of my life is losing the Boye ‘F’ hook that my mother gave me . I was thinking about that today-I’m assembling ‘how to crochet’ kits as Christmas gifts for my stepdaughter, daughter-in-law and my granddaughters.

    • Kristal says:

      I appreciate the cost of Red Heart, but it can be itchy so I use it for toys and decorations, but when it comes to anything that touches the skin I opt for Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn. It costs more, but it’s not too costly and it really soft.

  2. Naomi says:

    My older daughter, who is truly an incredible crocheter, loves Red Heart for its affordability…she can literally buy as many of whatever colors she needs and never run out of her allowance 🙂
    I am a worsted-weight cotton lover (also a crocheter), but in recent years have become extremely disenchanted with the Lily brand which was my go-to for years and years. I hear they have changed hands or the company merged or something, but I have found myself hoarding what little of the older skeins I have left. With the newer ones, I have experienced severe bleeding from certain colors (Peace and Love, Psychedelic) even on my hands (!) as I rolled skeins into balls. Believe it or not, I was practically traumatized that a company could actually sell yarn that does that, since I was literally in the middle of making a blanket of 192 squares, wondering if I would ever be able to washtub finished product without the entire thing changing colors.) Btw, when I called the company they told me to try, no guarantee, omg, washing every single ball in vinegar and cold water before I used it…I do not have my own W/D and I was practically in tears by the end of the phone call. Also, with Lion Brand Kitchen cotton, one of the colors (Blueberry, I’m talking to you!) I was literally able to break with my hands, more than a little disconcerting! Again, 1/2 into a (different) blanket, sigh. For some reason this did not happen with most every other color, just that one, and never ever happened with their former one called Lion Cotton, which I wish had not been discontinued! I then decided to try Drops Paris cotton (8-ply) since the color choices are so spectacular—MOST splitty cotton yarn ever, OMG! Am now trying one of those new cotton yarns which are ‘split-free’ because they are sold sort of woven/braided. They feel quite different to me vs what I am used to in my hands but hopefully when they are worked up into a something-or-other it will be ok. Whew, feeling better now. Thank you for giving me a chance both to vent & to hopefully learn from others, as we love hearing about what other people like to crochet with since alas, we are very heavily outnumbered by knitters where we live! 🙂 Have a wonderful day!

    • Rachel Choi says:

      I used to use the Lily Sugar’n Cream brand a lot and loved it. I haven’t bought any new skeins recently though. It’s a shame that you had such a bad experience with the newer skeins bleeding. Thanks for the information, I will definitely keep it in mind when I buy more cotton.

      • Pat Bishop says:

        I had the same problem with the cotton colors bleeding when I cleaned the bag I made for my daughter. I don’t know what I could have done differently to keep it from bleeding. It was a beautiful bag until…

        • Casey says:

          I don’t know if it would work, but I’ve heard regarding dark blue jeans to soak them in salt water to maintain the color, so maybe it would work with cotton yarn also.

    • Ellen Elizabeth Mae says:

      Are they sourcing to India? Because I have always had problems with deeply colored items from India, to the point I refuse to buy.

    • Lisaharu says:

      I have heard that you can do a cold water wash or soak with white vinegar to control or stop the bleeding. Like how you would do with jeans.

      • Annie says:

        Oh, the bleeding! I have a beautiful navy blue shawl I crocheted from Paton’s Grace cotton thread. It has the sharpest, cleanest stitch definition and the weight and drape feel fantastic, but when I wet the finished shawl to block, it turned the water the deepest blue you can imagine just like that. I tried a bunch of tricks Google turned up–the vinegar soak, the Epsom salt method, the table salt method–and my shawl still bled like mad every time. I have to admit that pretty as it is, it’s been sitting in my drawer for months and hasn’t been worn once yet…I can’t help but worry that when I finally do, the shoulders of whatever blouse I put under it will end up with blue shadows!

        • Pauline says:

          Re: Patons Grace cotton yarn; the bleeding problem might have been a one-off. I have tops I made from Patons Grace in red and blue, and they never bled. I’ve washed them repeatedly. I bought those skeins a long time ago – easily 10 years ago though.

  3. Ellisen says:

    Love Knit Picks Stroll Fingering. The softest!

  4. Stacey_lovecats says:

    For cotton, I absolutely love Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Cotton. It’s soft & works up beautifully. Plus you get a lot of yardage for the cost. Love love love ♡

  5. Groovymarlin says:

    Another fan of Red Heart here. The Red Heart With Love is just as nice as Caron Simply Soft, but it’s usually cheaper and I’ve found it splits less. I also love the old standby Super Saver. Some colors feel very soft right from the start but ALL of them soften up with just one wash, and you can’t beat the color variety or the price. I’m a big lover of bulky yarns though, and I really like Michael’s Loops & Threads Charisma brand. It’s thick without being too stiff, is great for quick projects, and also works great in afghans because it’s fat enough to make them work up faster, but light enough that they aren’t overwhelming when completed.

  6. Shai says:

    Certain lines of Red Heart are okay but I only use it for amigurumi… My skin is pretty sensitive and I can’t imagine using any Red Heart for clothing, not even their so-called “soft” line. Too scratchy to me. 🙂

    I really like Bernat Blanket and Bernat Satin yarn.

    Caron Simply Soft and Loops & Threads appeal to me for how they feel against my skin. I’m planning to make my first garment with both of these yarns soon.

    Lion Brand is my last go-to. Like Red Heart there are certain lines I won’t use except for amigurumi but there are others I think I could tolerate for clothing.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Caron Simply Soft is one of my favorites too! I’ve made a few clothing items with it. It’s nice and soft against the skin and drapes nicely. I hope you like the way your first garments turn out!

  7. Candace says:

    Usually, I find that it’s a particular yarn, not an entire brand.

    I think worst to have been the boucles that get stuck on my needles and hooks are are just a pain to work with. Red Heart Sport was pretty bad, too. I remember it being rougher than Super Saver and just not enjoyable to work with at all. I also once had some mid-range mohair blend that felt terrible except in the white colorway. It’s like the dye just destroyed the yarn, texture-wise.

    As for what I like, Bernat Satin has been a favorite acrylic except for the black colorway, which tended to get really fuzzy when I used it.

    I’m currently crocheting with Knitpicks Diadem, and I love it (How can I not? Shiny alpaca/silk with a little bit of halo!). It’s a little more expensive, than a big-box yarn but worth it so far. I’m also knitting with a hand-dyed sock yarn with a pretty ordinary base, but an awesome colorway.

  8. Twinkie Lover says:

    I also am a fan of Red Heart Super Saver and Red Heart Soft. They are affordable and available in stores where you actually shop. I love the colors. I don’t make clothing, so the sometimes rough texture is not an issue for me. I also like Michaels yarns.

    One yarn I have found to be a nightmare is Lion Homespun. It’s like trying to crochet with dust bunnies that have a nylon thread running through them. You can’t even see your stitches. The only way I found to make it work was doubling it with a strand of Red Heart. I made a big teddy bear out of several skeins of both yarns. I loved the way he turned out, but it was a lot of work.

    I also had a horrible time with Lily cotton yarn that I recently bought. I bought 17 balls to make an afghan. It was so “thready” (my word), meaning that it splits into separate threads constantly, that I gave up on the afghan when it was about a foot and a half wide, so now I have a bed runner I guess.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      I love the finished look of Lion Homespun, it is so soft and has a nice teddy bear fuzzy texture. I can understand the frustration with working with it though. Your double stranded technique is a good one! I like to use the muscle memory technique mentioned in this post about crocheting with eyelash yarn (or any other yarn you can’t see the stitches): http://www.crochetspot.com/how-to-crochet-with-eyelash-yarn/

      • Twinkie Lover says:

        Thanks for the link, Rachel! I may have to try trusting my muscle memory as I still have a lot of Homespun to use. I see the double strand method and using a bigger hook are also mentioned. I didn’t mention before that the teddy bear I made with Homespun turned out to be an Xtra Large teddy bear because of those methods!! 🙂

  9. Kim Buchanan says:

    Caron Simply Soft is my go-to yarn for all kinds of projects. It does tend to be more expensive than Red Heart or Hobby Lobby’s I Love Yarn – so I keep my eyes on sales as much as possible and stock up when I find a good one. If I want a thicker yarn, for a warm hat or blanket, I like Lion’s Homespun.

  10. Doris says:

    I absolutely love “I love this yarn” from Hobby Lobby. I make a lot of baby blankets and throws and won’t use anything else!

  11. cecelia knuckles says:

    Can’t believe Vanna’s Choice is not here. I have made hundreds of hats with it and just love working with it. Second choice is absolutely Red Heart…affordable and easy to find. Yes, it may feel a bit stiff when using but always softens up when washed. Items seem to be very durable and long lasting made from Red Heart….great variety of colors as well.

  12. Donna Jones says:

    I like Red Heart mostly because I can only afford 2 or 3 skeins a month,so I don’t have to worry about dye lots when I get more to finish a project.

  13. Laurie says:

    i use Red Heart Super Saver for most everything i make. I also like Bernat Blanket but only buy it when it’s on sale as i think it’s pricey. i love Caron Simply Soft but hate that it constantly splits. if i can’t get RHSS then i like to get Loops and Threads Impeccable and L&T Charisma when on sale. not a big fan of the Lion Brand bulky yarns as they are hard for me to work with and to see my next stitch.

    • Groovymarlin says:

      That’s exactly why I avoid Caron Simply Soft. No doubt it comes in gorgeous colors, is very soft, and the end product drapes beautifully. However…for me it’s a nightmare to work with. No matter what kind of hook I’ve tried, it splits like crazy.

  14. Bonnie Banks says:

    My favorites are Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn and I Love This Cotton. I hate Simply Soft because it separates when using and becomes limp and sloppy after washing. I can’t use Red Heart (except for Soft) because it is so rough. I did read that you can prewash it in a hosiery bag so I might try that.

    • Barb says:

      You’re right on everything you said. I totally agree about I Love This Yarn and I Love This Cotton. I use both of these for everything I Crochet. The I Love This Yarn feels wonderful in your hands and the I Love This Cotton performs great for Amigurami projects.

      Don’t bother with Red Heart washing. It will not even come close to what you get with I Love This Yarn. I tried washing it with laundry softeners and with hair conditioners. It does not help. My advice is go with what works. Just one woman’s opinion.

  15. Sandie says:

    I have used lots of different types of yarn. Lately, my go to has been Knit Picks Brava. I also like Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn and I Love This Cotton, and for sport yarn I like Stylecraft Special DK. Someone mentioned Vanna’s Choice and I do like that yarn though I haven’t used it as much recently.

    • Nora says:

      So glad to see someone else likes Stylecraft. Huge color selection and so reasonably priced. I order from Deramores in the UK (I live in Illinois) and usually get my shipment in less than 1 week. I also order enough to get free shipping (not hard to do, lol).

  16. Celia says:

    I’ve only been crocheting for a few years thanks to my sista for getting me ‘hooked’! I really enjoy working with Deborah Norville’so Everyday. I’ve made several afghans & am super pleased with how soft and durable they are…no pulling. Red Heart is by go to for baskets & amigurimi.

  17. I don’t do a lot of crocheting, because it hurts my hands. When I do, I like the Red Heart yarns as well. The variety of colors is wonderful! I make what I call “phone holsters” for myself and my family. Mostly, I use yarn in a very unique way. I weave it and tie it in knots to make shoulder wraps. The yarn I use for this is Lion brand Homespun. For me, it is the perfect yarn for what I do. In order to get the softness that I require, I need something that separates easily. When I’m finished, it looks like feathers, and is really light. I can understand the frustration with crocheting with it though. I made a hoodscarf with it once, and yes, it was a challenge to work with. It did make my hoodscarf very soft, and warm however, so I was pleased with the results.

  18. Nancy Nettles says:

    I don’t spend a lot of money on extravagant yarns, but Caron used to have a bamboo yarn that was heavenly to crochet with. I also like alpaca yarns. Michaels used to carry the bamboo, silk, alpaca, but now they don’t anymore.

  19. marcia says:

    Sugar and Cream is nice, but splits. Now I am using 24/7 Cotton, Lion Brand and I love it.
    Cozy Wool-Loops and Threads, love this too.
    Cotton ish- Vickie Howell is great too for a cotton blend.
    Love Red Heart Unforgettable for shawls and scarves.
    Deborah Nordville Serenity Sock is great for light weight scarves. (live in Florida!)

  20. Rachel says:

    I love mesome Vanna’s choice. Esp for baby items.
    Hated yarn: boucles and any that has a knot in the middle when I try to do a center pull.

  21. Mary Baribeau says:

    My go to yarn is pretty much like everyone else. That is Redheart. That is also the first yarn I learned how to crochet with. I haven’t tried many yarns but I do know I prefer not to use Caron, it seems to split too much. I have tried different colors, they all split while working with it. I love the softness of it but not at the price of your project being damaged. I also like Michael’s Loop and Thread. It’s very sturdy, soft to touch as well. I have tried the peaches and cream cotton yarn but I just don’t like the feel of it. The Isaac Mizrahi brand exclusive to Michael’s is great to work with. I’m in the process of making a poncho and a shrug with 2 different styles of the yarn. Both are luxuriously soft and so easy to work with. They both are acrylic but one feels like cotton and the other feels like Merino wool.
    Well, I have voiced my opinion. I have been crocheting for 39 years, this year I’m experimenting with different makes of yarn such a Merino wool, silk, and linen revenue together, cashmere, mohair, and Alpaca wool. I just wonder how it will do? Everyone thank you for your opinions. It’s nice to know how other crafters feel about yarn products.

  22. Mary says:

    I like Red Heart. It’s inexpensive (I actually used to buy it at Woolworth’s when they were in business). It’s not fancy, but I find that it’s much more durable than most of the fancy yarns. I have things that I made from it years ago that still look good, while some of the things that I made from fancier yarns stretched, lost their fuzz, etc.

  23. M says:

    Red Heart here, too. I tried it first because I can get it at my local Walmart and I’m on a budget, but after trying other yarns, Red Heart is still my favorite. I make mostly blankets. etc. and you cannot beat it for the colors, price and softness (after washing). Some colors are stiffer until washing, but they they soften up super nice. I soak my items in conditioner, etc. first, too.

    I am just now finishing up store brand yarn now that I bought online with a gift card and while the color is beautiful—-in every skein I’ve had knots where the yarn was tied together and I said never again. Some skeins had multiple knots and I’d have to stop and cut my yarn and restart. Even though the store brand yarn is “worsted” weight, too the strand is not as “thick” as Red Heart and I just do not like it. The finished blanket looks okay, but I will never buy it again. Too much trouble and the savings was not worth it (maybe 50 cents a skein). I have never been happy yet when I’ve tried anything but Red Heart. Nothing but Red Heart for me.

    • Lisaharu says:

      I love RedHeart, but everytime I get a super jumbo or a Jumbo, there are always multiple knots. I don’t mind it though because there are no dye lots and it’s really affordable.

  24. Mary says:

    I take back the nice things I said about Red Heart. Ever since I made those comments, they are bombarding me with ads. I hate ads and I hate tracking and target marketing. Either they had better stop or I will never buy that brand again.

    • M says:

      Mary, it’s most likely google or a search engine, etc. or some kind of cookie on your computer causing the ads to pop up. Try clearing your browser history, cookies and cache. Even when I use gmail now, if I type out a word (say candle) in an email, I might see ads for candles on the sidebar. You can put an ad blocker, too on your browser (many free ones out there) that will totally block ads, too (or should in a perfect situation).

  25. Annie says:

    Schachenmayr’s (oh, joy!) silk/wool blend is the nicest feeling yarn I’ve ever worked with–lovely drape perfectly pleasant against the skin.

    BUT the reality is, I can’t afford that yarn unless it’s on rock-bottom clearance, plus most wools are not machine washable. I have three kids and no time for fussy laundry. So…

    My favorite easy-care acrylic is Caron Simply Soft, hands down. Nice color range, pleasant hand, good weight, nice drape, and I’ve never known it to bleed.

    For a slightly heavier weight acrylic, I really love Deborah Norville Everyday Worsted. Same reasons as CSS above, but in addition it’s advertised as “no-pill,” and so far, mine never has. Things still look crisp and new even after machine washing.

    For wool warmth but machine washability, I like Universal Yarns Classic Worsted. It’s a 20/80 wool/acrylic blend. Lots of nice color choices, perfectly neutral worsted weight, and surprisingly soft.

    I have to shop online if I want any of those. Now Red Heart Super Saver is much more easily available (even here, where we have NO dedicated yarn shops, just Walmart or Michael’s), and because of the colors it’s an easy choice for amigurumi. BUT in my opinion it’s far too stiff and scratchy for garments. Plus, I tend to wear clothing for years and years and years, and anything made of RHSS stretches terribly over time–another reason to avoid it for garments.

    I have to agree with those above who have been disappointed with the new version of Sugar ‘n Cream. It used to be both colorfast and soft, and the last few years, it’s neither! Thank you for this thread, Rachel–I will be checking out the cottons everyone has recommended.

  26. fleurdelis says:

    Red Heart is a winner for charity items. My fave is Red Heart Love for adult and colder weather items, Debra Norville and Vanna for baby items. Any yarn requiring an H, I, J, & K hook. I do have a lot of trouble determining where to insert the hook when using Homespun. Will try my luck with Bernat Blanket Yarn this week.

  27. Lisaharu says:

    Universal Yarn wool blend is soft. Patrons Everyday wool is great for felting. SWTC is also very good for felting, and their colorways are brilliant !

  28. Groovymarlin says:

    I just have to add: I love all the amazing (and pricey!) handspun, alpaca, wool-blend, etc. yarns that I see in yarn shops and on Ravelry. Unfortunately, I’m totally allergic to wool! I can’t even make a project with most of the wool-blend yarns from the big brands, which are only 20% wool! It makes me itch really bad and continuous exposure has me breaking out in hives. 🙁

    Not being able to use wool really limits the fancy yarns I can use. I was really bummed to see those Caron Cakes are 20% wool too.

  29. KathMac says:

    I really like the yarns at Hobby Lobby. They are soft and easy to work with. Not a fan of Red Heart. I also like the ICE yarns. I’ve made a lot with Caron Simply Soft – mostly scarves and shawls.

    If I’m doing clothing like sweaters or vests, I use more expensive yarns from my local yarn shop. I like the more natural yarns because they last longer and don’t pill like Carons or Red Heart.

    I can’t crochet now because of a tendon injury in my right hand. I am very sad because now I have to buy Christmas gifts instead of make them!

    • Carla Baslee says:

      I just discovered the Hobby Lobby yarns, and they are very nice and easy to work. My go to is still Red Heart. I grew up on it and find it reliable.

  30. MaggiePye says:

    I absolutely despise Red Heart Super Saver. It’s cheap, nasty, and tacky-feeling, even for an acrylic. If I need cheap, I’ll go with Loops & Threads Impeccable; if I just need 100% acrylic but can afford a decent yarn, I’ll use Patons Canadiana.

  31. Pauline says:

    My favourite yarns:
    for acrylic: Lion Brand Homespun, both regular and thick and quick. I use those lots for charity
    for socks: Berrocco Sox (self-striping, *love* the colorways!) and Comfort Sox for those allergic to wool
    for warm sweaters: Cascade Sierra and Cascade Eco Duo although I really like lots of the other Cascade yarns also
    for fine dressy shawls: for me nothing beats ArtYarns glitter yarns like Ensemble Glitter.

    for warm weather tops: love Nazli Gelin size 3 and size 5 (got the last set of cones they manufactured bc I really *hate* 50g balls of anything)

    pet peeve: any yarn or thread in 50g/ 1.75 oz. I do 3 rows and then I have to join. So now, I refuse to buy any yarn that is not at least 100g/ 3.5 oz. it doesn’t matter how much the yarn sings to me and calls my name, I won’t buy it!

  32. Tina Wedlake says:

    I am a long-time fn of RHSS, and I,too, agree with anyone using Lion Brand Homnespun. I actually hate that yarn. Irocally,I am using it right now to make a hooded poncho and have had to frog it several times. I LOVE the softness, but using it is a nightmare.
    one yarn,and I am glad it is discontinued,is Mirco-spun. Beautiful coloes and drape, but always splitting. 🙁
    I pretty much stick with RHSS,and sometimes use With Love.

  33. Marcia says:

    Also, with JoAnn coupons I never pay over $2.00 for a skein of yarn!

  34. I’m a fan of acrylics. I use lots of Caron Pounders and Red Heart. I use Caron Simply Soft for kids hats, scarfs, and I’ve made a couple of shawls. We don’t have a Hobby Lobby in the area or I’d use I Love this Yarn more frequently.

  35. Megan says:

    I have blankets made by my grandmother that we’re red heart super-saver or similar and they most certainly didn’t stay soft over time. In fact many of them feel like they are trying to return to stiff plastic. My go-to’s are lionbrand, Caron, and sometimes Bernat. The varieties I use most are homespun, simply soft, and heartland. Scarfie is an up-and-coming line that’s super soft to wear for winter accessories. Ill only use super saver yarn for crafting, home decor (like rugs) or experimenting with new patterns and stitches, otherwise I think it looks as cheap as it is.

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