The best yarn for crochet cardigan making is washable, gentle on the skin, and beautiful to look at. Cardigan yarn can be synthetic, natural (either wool, cotton or bamboo), or a blend of fibers. Some mills even make recycled yarns that are good enough to wear now, so that your slow fashion cardigan is eco-friendly in more ways than one! In this article, I’m going to help you decide your priorities for a crochet cardigan yarn, and then match you with an example that fits them perfectly.
- Best lightweight (DK) crochet cardigan yarns
- Best worsted weight yarns for crochet cardigans
- Brilliant bulky yarns for extra cozy cardigans
What to look for:
There are some properties that any crochet cardigan yarn needs to have:
- Softness. Above anything else, crochet cardigans need to be comfortable and enjoyable to wear. Itchy cuffs and necklines are the ruination of a carefully made cardigan, so hard, stiff and scratchy yarns are out.
- Washability. Crochet clothes need to be safe to wash, either in the sink, on a gentle machine cycle, or (best of all) in a regular cycle with the rest of the week’s clothes. Washability means being colorfast and resistant to felting or shrinking. Some modern synthetic yarns are even tumble dryer safe.
- Beauty. Who’s going to put hours of work into an ugly cardigan? No one, that’s who.
But there are some decisions about your yarn that you’ll need to make:
- Weight. Most crochet cardigans are made with yarns between DK and bulky weight. Lighter yarns can be used but they take an awfully long time to work up. Heavier yarns can also be used, but they’re impractical if you want to layer a jacket on top. Within the DK to bulky range, your choice really depends on what you’re comfortable using, how much time you want your project to take, and how insulating you want the result to be.
- Fiber. The fiber you choose will greatly affect the properties of your cardigan. Cotton and bamboo yarns are lightweight and best for summer cardigans. Be aware that they also tend to shrink by around 5% the first time you wash them! Acrylic, wool, and acrylic-wool blends are warmer and more suitable for winter cardigans. Of these, wool is more sustainable, breathable, and holds it’s shape better over the long term. But acrylic and blended fibers are more affordable and more likely to be machine washable.
Your failsafe cardigan yarn choosing table
So, what are the best yarns to choose from? Here are 16 of the best yarns for crochet cardigans, organized by weight and fiber. I’ve assumed that everyone wants to be able to wash their clothes, and I’ve tried to pick yarns with generous color choices too. I’ve also tried to find a middle ground price-wise. None are dirt cheap, because there’s an element of ‘you get what you pay for’ with yarn and no one wants a cardi that disintegrates in the first wash. But none of them are eye-wateringly expensive either.
Click the names to find out why they made the cut! Some of the images in this article are affiliate links, which I’ve added primarily so you can see what the yarns look like. We may also earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase through them. However, the yarn suggestions are all my own, and we haven’t received any compensation from the manufacturers for including them.
|Synthetic||Synthetic/wool blend||Premium wool||Cotton or bamboo|
|Bernat Softee Baby||Berocco Vintage Baby||Cascade Superwash 220 |
Cascade Superwash 220 Merino
|Lion Brand Coboo|
|Premier Anti-Pilling||Lion Brand Worsted WoolEase Recycled |
Mary Maxim Alpaca Tweed
|Malabrigo Rios||Lion Brand Pima Cotton|
|Bulky||Scheepjes Chunky Monkey|
Berocco Comfort Chunky
|Lion Brand WoolEase Thick & Quick||Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky |
|Wool & The Gang Big Love Cotton|
Best light weight (DK) crochet cardigan yarns
DK yarns are the weight I learned to crochet with, and firmly in the center of my comfort zone. These yarns all work best on G/6 (4mm) to I/9 (5.5mm) crochet hooks. They make cardigans that are ideal for layering in spring and fall, but they work up more slowly than heavier yarns. So it depends how zen you feel about a long term project!
Bernat Softee Baby
Bernat Softee Baby* is a 100% acrylic yarn designed to withstand vigorous washing and remain gentle against delicate skin. The range of colors is a little limited, but it includes brights, pastels, twisted marls and neutrals to suit most wardrobes. It’s fully machine washable, and tumble dryer safe to boot. Just like Bernat intended, its a reliable yarn for making crochet cardigans for kids and babies.
Berocco Vintage Baby
This lightweight yarn is blended from 52% acrylic, 40% wool, and 8% nylon. The wool imbues it with snuggly warmth, whilst the nylon makes it exceptionally hard wearing and washable (lots of sock yarns have between 10 and 25% nylon in for precisely this reason). This yarn also has a slight sheen, which lends itself really well to showcasing the stitch definition in crochet cardigans. It comes in 30 solid colors, and 9 sweet hand-painted shades.
Cascade Superwash 220
Cascade’s hugely popular Superwash 220* is made from 100% Peruvian Highland wool, and it’s named for the length of each ball – a generous 220 yards. It is, of course, also fully machine washable. Best of all, it comes in a staggering 133 shades, which makes it perfect for mixing and matching and turning into cozy granny square cardigans.
Cascade Superwash 220 Merino
Superwash 220 Merino* is the Superwash 220’s fancy cousin. It has premium-level softness without a hint of a tickle at the neckline. It comes in a slightly more restricted color palette, but there are still 101 shades to play with, so you’re unlikely to be left wanting. Crocheters who have used it already say it’s nice to work with, but one or two have had problems with dark colors bleeding into light colors in the wash, so hand launder it very gently!
Lion Brand Coboo
Coboo yarn is spun from 51% cotton, and 49% rayon fibers from bamboo*. It’s light, breathable and drapes beautifully – perfect for throw-on summer cardigans. It’s also very smooth, meaning it really highlights the detail in special crochet stitches. Bamboo-derived yarns are exceptionally sustainable and less environmentally damaging than cotton to produce too, meaning you’ll be more able to flex your green credentials when wearing a cardigan made in this yarn.
Best worsted weight yarns for crochet cardigans
Worsted yarns, also known as aran yarns, are usually heavier than DK yarns. But DK and worsted are actually different spinning processes, not a measure of thickness, so some DK yarns and worsted yarns are actually pretty close in weight! These four yarns all work best on I/9 (5.5mm) to K/10.5 (6.5mm) crochet hooks.
Premier Everyday Soft Worsted
Premier’s Everyday Soft Worsted is a 100% acrylic yarn. It comes in 66 solid colors which include fresh pastels, saturated jewel tones, and even neons, plus a further 8 painted yarns which work up with addictive color splashes on an off-white background. It’s budget friendly, and there are even free patterns for crochet cardigans in adult and child sizes using this yarn on the Premier website. It even promises to be anti-pilling.
Lion Brand Worsted Wool Ease Recycled
Lots of crafters are increasingly interested in the environmental impact of their materials. This sustainable offering from Lion Brand is an eco-conscious version of their flagship Wool Ease yarn*, spun from 80% recycled acrylic and 20% recycled wool. Some people who’ve used it report that it feels finer than other worsted weight yarns, and perhaps unsurprisingly the color range is somewhat limited. But I love the sentiment.
Mary Maxim Alpaca Tweed
Mary Maxim’s Alpaca Tweed is perfect if you want a beautiful crochet cardigan, without the hassle of planning and executing color changes. The subtle tonal variations and color flecks in this 77% acrylic, 20% alpaca, 3% viscose blend are so attractive that just one color will make a garment that’s a feast for the eyes. Alpaca fleece is one of my favorite underrated fibers too – it feels like a real treat to wear, and it’s very warm.
Rios is a cult classic premium worsted weight yarn – Malabrigo describe it as their workhorse yarn* because it’s soft, strong, versatile and machine washable on a gentle cycle. It comes in nearly 180 shades including special color collections themed around the planets and the zodiac constellations. Every skein is hand dyed in small batches, so make sure you buy enough yarn for a whole cardigan before you start, to avoid obvious color changes.
Lion Brand Pima Cotton
Pima cotton originates from Peru, and it’s spun from longer fiber strands than regular cotton, meaning it has a softer, smoother, superior texture. This pima cotton yarn is perfect for making mid-weight crochet cardigans with a contemporary feel, that last a lifetime and only look better with age. The 12-color palette is a mix of bold brights, easy-to-wear muted tones, and variegated painted options.
Brilliant bulky yarns for extra cozy cardigans
Bulky weight crochet cardigans are eye catching and modern. Best of all, they’re quick to finish, because they cover each square inch with fewer stitches! These yarns all work best on K/10.5 (6.5mm) to M/13 (9mm) crochet hooks.
Scheepjes Chunky Monkey
Chunky Monkey yarn is 100% premium acrylic*, meaning the fibers in the yarn are longer than average and wound together in opposite directions (known as S-on-S ply). This reduces pilling, because there are fewer fiber ends sticking out from the surface of the yarn, and the ends it does have are being kept under tight control by the ply structure. It’s also budget-friendly, lightning fast to work up, and comes in 93 colors.
Berocco Comfort Chunky
Berocco Comfort Chunky is a 50:50 mix of acrylic and nylon. So it’s extremely hard wearing and washable. I think it’s the ideal yarn for kids’ cardigans, because I don’t like to spend too long working on something they’re only going to wear for a limited time before they grow out of it, and my daughter is a total mud-magnet! It comes in 37 colors, mostly mouth watering brights, with a few neutrals thrown in for good measure.
Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick
My fourth Lion Brand recommendation on this list! It’s a lot, even for me. But they’ve been spinning and shipping yarn from New Jersey for 145 years now, so is it any surprise they have absolutely all bases covered? Thick & Quick yarn is an acrylic and wool blend with a loyal following. It comes in 80 newly-spun shades, which include ombre, flecked and metallic options, plus 7 colors spun from recycled fibers. It’s machine washable and ideal for making ‘coatigans’ – cardigans heavy enough to replace a coat in spring and fall.
Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky
Yarn Valley is WEBS’ own brand yarn*, and its one of the few collections that includes a 100% wool bulky yarn. Possibly this is because pure wool bulky yarns are inevitably more expensive than lighter natural yarns, and blended bulky yarns. Luckily, Superwash Bulky is so good you won’t miss having more to choose from! It’s 100% merino, and comes in 24 carefully thought out shades. It’s quick to use, and quick to wash too, just pop it in the machine!
Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky
Berkshire bulky is a super soft blend of 80% wool and 15% alpaca*. It’s exceptionally warm and luxurious, for extra special cardigan projects. It comes in 22 sophisticated colors, and people who’ve used it before love how high and consistent the quality is. It is quite loosely spun though, meaning it will be prone to pilling under the arms, and it needs to be hand washed.
Wool & The Gang Big Love Cotton
Bulky weight cotton yarns are really unusual. This one from UK brand Wool & The Gang is certified organic by the Global Organic Textiles Standard, and vegan by The Vegan Society. The color palette is very restrained, but all of the colors in it can be mixed and matched with one another. You’ll also need to hand wash it. But if a crochet cardigan made from bulky cotton yarn is what you’re dreaming of, this is the yarn you’ll need to make those dreams come true.
Best yarns for crochet cardigans – summary
There’s a crochet cardigan to suit everyone’s tastes and aesthetic, and countless yarns you can choose from to realize your creative vision. Yarn for crochet cardigans needs to be gentle enough to wear against your skin, practical and durable enough to wash and wear over and over again, and of course beautiful so that you want to wear it. Other than that, you’ll need to make decisions about what thickness you want the yarn to be, and what fiber it should be made of.
I hope this article has helped you find something suitable for our next project. Let us know which yarns caught your eye in the comments box down below – we’d also love to hear how any yarns you’ve already tried using for cardigans performed!
*The products linked in this pattern were carefully selected by Lucy Kate Crochet. If you decide to purchase using the links provided, we may earn a small commission on that sale. This is at no extra cost to you.