It’s Not Just For Dishcloths: A Cotton Yarn Confessional

By Molly Ferriter – 66 Comments
Okay, I have a confession to make. For many, many years I have been having a love affair. Yes, it’s true. I have been in love with cotton yarn, and not the high-end organic cotton sold in little yarn shops in the trendy section of town. I have been having a love affair with Sugar-n-cream and Peaches-n-cream yarn, the cotton used by crocheters to make dish cloths, bath scrubbies and other household items. Alright, maybe “love affair” is a bit melodramatic. Just a bit. Cotton yarn has a huge place in my home, not to make dishcloths and other small items, but to make afghans. “You make afghans out of ‘kitchen cotton’?!” you say. Yes, I absolutely do. And my afghans are the warmest, coziest afghans this side of the Mississippi. Well, maybe not this entire side of the Mississippi, but this part of Arizona. cotton makes great afghans

Lily’s Sugar-n-cream and peaches-n-cream cotton yarn is not widely used for afghans. It is mostly marketed to be used for household items. I cringe when I hear people (you know who you are!) refer to it as “kitchen cotton” or “dishcloth cotton”. I gasp every time. Seriously, I gasp – out loud- in public. I’ve never understood why more people don’t make their afghans, throws, and blankets out of cotton yarn. It’s washable, machine-dryable, and it doesn’t pill up like some of the inexpensive acrylic yarn does. The drape of a cotton afghan is like nothing else. It’s warm, yet as a natural fiber, it allows the skin to breathe. Cotton yarn is kid-friendly, pet-friendly; just all-around super friendly and colorful. Cotton yarn is like the happy neighbor we all wish we had. It’s easygoing, friendly, and happy. (Yes, I did just personify a ball of yarn. Can I say friendly again?)

Almost all of the afghans that I have made for my family have been made of cotton yarn. I’ve made them for my mother, my elderly grandmother, my siblings, and of course, numerous afghans for my three little girls. I’ve made a king-size girls love cotton afghan for my bed, and I’ve even made doggie blankies for my dogs. The wide range of colors are perfect for afghan-making. With names like “field of dreams”, “psychedelic”, “candy sprinkles”, “lava lamp”, and “swimming pool”, the Sugar n Cream colorways are endless. With over 100 colorways available, I have ample varieties to construct whatever afghan pattern I choose. Sugar n Cream and Peaches n Crème yarns can be substituted in any pattern that calls for size 4, worsted weight yarn. All of the patterns you have used with Red Heart, Vanna’s Choice, really any size 4 yarn pattern, can be made with cotton yarn. I wash and dry my afghans easily in the washer and dryer and have had absolutely no issues at all.

In my house, cotton afghans have come to mean comfort, home, and hugs. We cuddle under them to watch a movie and drink hot chocolate. We’ve dragged them along to football games and fireworks shows. My girls have held tea parties on the porch, with their blankets spread under them. I made a continuous granny square afghan for my third daughter while in the maternity ward. My family’s blankets are filled with love and are made with “kitchen cotton”. My love affair goes on – and my husband doesn’t mind one bit!

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  1. Bailey says:

    I’ve made doll blankets with it from time to time and I just don’t like the feel of it. I think it’s all about the texture you like. I love things I can wash easily so cotton would be ideal for me if I found it to be comfortable. I also love the colors. If it works for you and your family loves it, I say enjoy it.

  2. Sharon says:

    Ah, so I am not alone! I love cotton too. x

  3. Kim Struthers says:

    I have always wanted an afghan for myself out of cotton!

  4. Tina says:

    I ,too, call it “kitchen cotton,” and I,too, have made a shawl with the kitchen cotton. Why ? because I had an over-abundance of it and I wanted to make a shawl ( I am a shawl-lover) and it was handy. I buy two balls of it and make a set of potholders, and then a couple of coasters. Sometimes,i make the coasters first, then the potholders. The cotton never touches my dishes. No sireebob. I have sponges for that. The cotton has made coasters, potholders and soap-savers. The cotton does allow the skin to breath, and when I am wearing my shawl,the only thing I do not like about it, is that when I do move,and my shawl slips,I am instantly cold.
    I have made hats, and frogged them,as I do not like the feel of the heavy cotton. I,too, have had a love affair with “kitchen cotton” cotton yarn and my husband is jealous. 🙂

    • LOL! We are having the same love affair! Who would have thought?! Hee HEe! My love affair is continuing- I have started another afghan with it! It will look like the mile-a-minute afghan in pink- one of the pics from the article- but I’m doing it in Lilac and a beautiful variegated cotton. Tell your husband not to be jealous- you have more than enough love to go around!

  5. Darlene Dragavon says:

    I enjoy working with cotton, too. Have not made any afgans with cotton. I think I needed your permission to do so! Thanks!

  6. Melinda says:

    I too have the same love affair with “kitchen cotton”! It’s really all I want to crochet with now. I even use it on my knitting boards. It makes wonderful double knit, thick washcloths and afghans!

  7. Catherine says:

    I absolutely adore cotton as I cannot wear pure wool or fluffy yarn next to my skin. A lovely and fresh cotton cushion cover in silver grey and white. Making an afghan in cotton. Cannot wait to try out cotton Aran.

  8. Emma says:

    I love cotton for everything, just didn’t tell anyone. I’ve been using it for a few years now for everything. I found one thing that it’s fantastic for. Christmas ornaments and fridgies. They retain their shape and don’t curl like acrylic yarn and can be stiffen without the yarn fuzzing up. I use the white glue on them and it works great. Cotton yarn so glad I’m not the only one.

  9. Kendal says:

    Wow, I am so glad that I read your article. My friend knitted the Great American Afghan all in sugar and cream, I did not think that was the best yarn to use. After reading your article, I will make a baby blanket with my huge cone of sugar and cream. Thanks again for helping me step out of the yarn wrapper.
    Oh, I had made night caps for my husband using cotton yarn because his head gets cold (bald) and I stay hot. I keep a ceiling fan blowing all year around. To keep the hats on his head I use a little nylon stretch tape around the edge. After reading the above articles, I am going to make a shawl also…look out cotton world here I come. Happy Holidays to all.

  10. Lizzie says:

    Also, the label says it is “Made in Canada from 100% USA cotton.” I appreciate that.

    • That’s a great point, Lizzie! I didn’t notice that. The Peaches n Cream used to be produced by an American company and the Sugar n Crème is made by Lily, a Canadian company, but Lily bought out the American company that made the Peaches and Cream when it went out of business. Lily makes both of them now. Peaches n cream lost many of their colorways in the transition, but both are still marvelous cotton yarn.

  11. Julie Verley says:

    Molly you’re a crocheter after my own heart. I LOVE cotton yarn and use it as a base for my amigurumi character dolls. This has become something of an obsession to the point where in order to find my preferred yarn for my Caucasian ami bases, I ordered 8 balls of it directly from Lily, since my favorite colorway is hardly ever available in my little town! I grab it whenever I find it now!
    I have been crocheting with cotton (Sugar n Cream, esp) for years, and prefer it to acrylic yarns most of the time. I’d love to try a blanket in cotton, and I think I may just go ahead and do that now.
    It’s always great to see another Arizona crocheter!

    • Hi fellow Arizonan! You definitely need to crochet an afghan out of cotton now! You love it for everything else, you’ll love it in a blanket. I’ve never done an amigurumi in cotton! Now I’ll have to try that! So great to exchange ideas!

  12. Barb says:

    So glad to read this. I love the cotton yarn but have never used it for afghans. Now, I have new ideas for the cotton yarn leftover from wash cloths, etc. We also love the feel and durability of cotton. Thanks so much for posting this!

  13. yuki says:

    i love using cotton too. I have never made blankets from it in fear they would shrink when washed, just like dishcloths shrink when washed. any suggestions.

    • Julie Verley says:

      Wash cotton items in cold water. Hot will shrink untreated cotton. I hand wash my amigurumis. If you don’t mind your kitchen cloths, etc shrinking a bit, hot is fine. Just for clothing, blankets, toys, etc, cold is fine. 🙂

      • Marilyn says:

        I do use cotton for dish cloths and even washing in cold water the colors run. I stopped using dark color and light in the same cloth to avoid this. But Christmas dish cloths made with green and white, the green ran.

        • The colors on my afghans don’t run because they aren’t exposed to so much constant water like dish cloths and wash cloths. My washcloths have faded in color after using for a long time, but I’ve never had any afghan run. I’ve washed in warm and in cold at different times and they don’t run at all. I just finished another all-cotton peaches n cream afghan last week (just in time for a Christmas gift)!

    • When I wash my cotton afghans in warm and tumble dry, they shrink a little, but they stretch back out and loosen up again when used due to the weight of the cotton. I hope that made sense!

  14. Kim domingue says:

    Hello. My name is Kim and I am addicted to cotton. Lol!
    We live waaaaay down South and, while we can get into the high 20’s in the winter every now and again, it usually never gets cold enough for a wool afghan……. and I’m allergic to wool anyway. So, no wooly afghans here. I have made afghans out of acrylic yarns and we often find that even those are too warm.
    So, about a month ago, I had an epiphany……. make one out of cotton! Crazy, right? So, 3 cones and 4 large balls of Sugar and Cream later and I’m almost finished with my winter sofa blanket. I say sofa blanket because it’s about 5.5 by 6.5 and it’s not quite finished so it’s a good little bit larger than most afghans already. Ah, but it’s wonderful! Warm, drapes beautifully, feels so good against my skin and it breathes! I’m in love! Definitely will not be my last afghan made of cotton…… the next one is already on the drawing board!
    I also have made caps and beanies for my husband and son out of cotton. They love them. The cotton keeps their heads warm but, since the cotton breathes, they don’t get sweaty heads.
    I took note of all the washing and drying tips……thanks everyone!
    And I definitely now have the itch to make myself a lovely wrap or shawl out of cotton!
    Merry Christmas everyone!

    • You’re right, Kim- cotton drapes in a way that acrylic doesn’t. We use ours in the summer as well- it breathes. I’m so glad there are so many of you that love cotton afghans! Merry Christmas to you, too, Kim! It is my goal to have “sofa blankets” as well. I want to eventually have a sofa blanket for all four seasons and maybe a few more for different holidays. I wonder how long it will take to achieve this?

  15. Lisa Gregg says:

    It seems like Sugar and cream makes such beautiful colors. One worry I’ve had about using Sugar and cream for blankets is that I would be afraid all the beautiful colors would fade. Any way around that besides washing in cold water?

    • It would be interesting to see what others have to say about this, but I haven’t had a problem with fading. I wash mine quite a bit as they are my little girls’ blankets, and haven’t seen any noticeable fading. Two in particular are crocheted in reds, oranges, and yellows and I don’t notice any fading- I’d like to hear if anyone else has a problem with fading, though.

  16. Jill says:

    I live in Australia and also love working with cotton yarn. One of my favourite afghans is made from ‘scraps’ of 100% cotton yarn all purchased from thrift shops. It really suits our climate. 🙂

  17. Michal says:

    I love cotton but I live in Israel and we don’t get cotton here in aran, worsted #4 weight. it’s all DK or sock yarn and of course threads. So I’ve made wash cloths and some berets.
    I can order lily cotton on line but shipping it here is too expensive!!
    my question is: has anyone ever used a lighter weigh yarn to make an afghan or baby blanket?
    Have you ever used any of the KnitPicks cottons? I think it’s called Swish.
    thanks in advance

  18. Amber says:

    I’ve been working on a giant Granny square afghan using a variety of Lily Sugar-n-Cream yarn. While not as “soft” as acrylic yarn, I think that it will be far nicer in the long run (assuming I finish it, along with a billion other projects I have going haha). Definitely love that when it’s draped as I’m working on it, that it keeps me warm when it’s cold outside, and not sweating when it is warm outside. And honestly, I feel like when using this yarn, it goes further than a skein of Red Heart Super Saver does (or maybe I made that up, but either way).

    • I love making continuous granny square afghans in cotton. I’ve lost count how many I’ve made, but my kids use theirs every night! There’s something about the drape of it that I love- nothing beats it. I even made a continuous granny square afghan that fits the top of my king-size bed. My favorite!

  19. Beverly Evanger says:

    through out the years i used alot of cotton to make wash cloths etc. I never thought to us them for a blanket until i met you on you tube then i thought hey, why not? I really love your articles. They are so informative and just fun to read.

  20. Thanks, Beverly! You’re going to be a cotton addict now!

  21. Marilyn says:

    I have been using cotton yarn for years making wash clothes. I would like to find a 4 ply cotton yarn that the colors don’t run. I talked to a woman a while and she mentioned a yarn that she uses and she found it to be the best brand for the colors not running in the wash. Would anyone happen to know what the brand was, and not Sugar and Cream, that I do know.

    • I used primarily Sugar n Cream and Peaches n cream and haven’t had anything run yet. Could she have been talking about the “I Love this Cotton” yarn from Hobby Lobby?

      • Marilyn says:

        No, I haven’t used the cotton yarn that is at Hobby Lobby though I did see it when I was recently in Texas. I will be sure to check it out though I surprised at the selection of colors in the store I was in. Thank you Molly for responding.

  22. Panya says:

    I started using Sugar n Cream a few years ago. I first bought it to make baby items because I’ve found that the acrylic baby yarn in stores here either isn’t as soft as it used to be, or pills and/or falls apart too easily. [I’m allergic to wool (and I wouldn’t use it anyway because of how the sheep are generally treated), and other fibres are too pricey for my budget.] I made toys and bibs and playmats, and loved how they all felt, so I bought a cone to make myself a cowl, wrist, and leg warmers to keep me warm in the house when everyone else is hot. I have Asperger’s with accompanying sensory issues, and weighted items comfort me, so I’ve been wanting to make myself a cotton afghan — I think it would be perfect for me all year round — the only reason I haven’t started yet is that I can’t decide on a stitch!

    • One of my daughters has Asperger’s as well. The cotton blankets do have a comforting weight to them, but not heavy or too hot. Just a nice cozy feel! I can’t wait to hear what stitch you pick!

  23. Barbarainnc says:

    I want to make a adult cotton afghan using Peaches and Creme Yarn, 60 by 60. I want to double crochet OR 1\2 double crochet to make it? Which of the 2 do you recommend? How many cones of yarn will I need , if I double crochet? OR how many cones if I 1/2 double crochet? Thanks so much

    • Barbarainnc says:

      Forgot to add I like using a J 6.00mm crochet hook

      • Panya says:

        According to Lion Brand’s Approximate Yardage Chart, you’d need about 3450 yards — that would be five cones.

        IME smaller stitches use less yarn.

    • Hi, Barbara! Panya answered your question about yardage- Thanks, Panya! I like hdc in afghans. That’s just my opinion. Maybe you could make little swatches in hdc and another in dc and see which one you prefer.

  24. Barbarainnc says:

    Thanks, I started my afghan tonight. 1/2 double crochet. I have 2 cones of yarn and ordered 3 more today.

  25. Barbarainnc says:

    I did 60 inches of foundation chain and did 3 inches yesterday. Then today I worked on it and just finished the first cone. I measured it and it was 13 inches total so far. Looks so pretty. I’ll hook on the second cone tomorrow. I have a cushioned hook, but still got a sore finger. I got 5 cones of yarn. This will be my first afghan.

  26. Barbarainnc says:

    Finished my first cotton afghan. It is about 57 by 65. How do I care for it? Wash and dry or dry clean. If I wash do I use cold water and fabric softener? Low heat to dry. Tell me exactly what you do.

    • Here’s exactly what I do (but you may want to take more care- or not). I wash the afghans in warm and dry normally. I do get some shrinkage, but honestly, the weight of the afghan stretches them out again. To prevent any shrinkage you could wash in cold and dry low. Fabric softener should be fine. How exciting- a new afghan! You are going to love it. Cotton is awesome for afghans!

  27. Jamie says:

    Thank you! I have been going back and forth about using 100% cotton. My goal is an afghan for everyone in my family and I have a cousin that wants cotton and I was afraid it wouldn’t work well. I’m going to go for it!

  28. Kris says:

    I made a baby blanket for a friend, It faded to where you could not see the colors. I was so embarrassed. That’s why I wont use cotton again. I used sugar and cream. I made dishcloths for myself with the same problem. I luv luv luv cotton but won’t use it for that reason.

  29. Peppy says:

    I kid you not, my last thought before falling asleep last night was, “I’m going to crochet with only cotton from now on! Then I find this site this morning! Oh yeah!!! And might I add, I think I just found a new brand. It is called “I Love This Cotton”. Hobby Lobby carries it. I know where I’m going today!!

  30. Regina says:

    Molly, I love cotton also & had thought of making an afghan. Was just wondering how you figure out the amount needed. Do you figure it the same way as RedHeart, Caron, etc? Thank you in advance.

  31. Nancy says:

    Oh my goodness, I was so happy to come across your page when I was Googling ‘cotton yarn aghans’ 🙂 I suppose I was seeking permission as well as some others who posted 🙂 I love the feel of cotton yarn and stocked up when Michaels (or was it AC Moore … eh, regardless LOL) and and wanted to make something nice out of it. I was considering a Lego blanket for my younger son, but couldn’t take the plunge at first.

    I made a few other afghans and throws out of acrylic and I was so disappointed with how they pilled (the right word?) after washing … and they didn’t seem to ‘breathe’ well (I may be a flake, but I feel as though my skin cannot breathe well when under the acrylic (or even poly blend sheets/comforters).

    If I’m going to spend a lot of time (or even a little, for that matter) I want the look and feel to be what I am happy with — so ahead I go … using cotton yarn for whatever I please 🙂

    Ha, there should be a club for us cotton yarn rebels 🙂

  32. Kathleen M. Pelley says:

    I still make my afghans out of wool, both the old fashioned stuff and the machine washable for those who do not know how to care for real wool. Yes, I buy lots of cotton yarn on cones for dish cloths and dish towels. I really miss the old wonderful quality Peaches and Creme out of North Carolina since they had a huge number of colors on cones. Now it is [like] Sugar and Cream and that quality is not very consistent. I have a stash of the old Peaches and Creme, but have reluctantly moved on to cones of Craft Cotton from Herschners, Cotton Cloud, and Dishie.

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