Now that we are into November, I think Christmas crochet chat is fair game! So today I want to share with you a few of my favourite yarns that I use for my Holiday makes.
I store all my yarns in plastic boxes to keep the moths at bay and have one that I keep just for Christmas yarns. As you can see below, It’s a bit of a mess but is also a trove of sparkly goodness!
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I’ve been thinking about the best ways to categorise these and, as I’m one for functionality, I’ve chosen 3 sections – Festive Fibres, Seasonal Textures and Christmas Colours.
Whilst, for many festive projects you can use a range of fibres to achieve a similar finished look, I wanted to highlight a couple of areas where you might want to be a bit more selective.
Should you use Cotton or Acrylic yarn for xmas decorations?
When I first started crocheting, I used to make snowflake decorations each year. I would sell these to my colleagues and donate the proceeds to a local homeless charity. It helped me get into the festive spirit.
I learned quickly that for delicate, 2D decorations which need structure, 100% cotton yarn was really the only way to go.
There are a couple of ways you can add a bit of extra structure to cotton Christmas decorations.
The first is to use a bit of starch spray to add a bit of stiffness (make sure you use the iron without steam for this method).
The second is to get a little bit of pva clear glue, mix it with a little water, paint it on the decorations whilst pinned out then leave it to dry.
Here’s a picture of me doing just that a couple of years back with my little Christmas trees, using glitter glue I dug out of my craft stash. I confess that I broke my own rules here and used acrylic for this festive garland… It did work but cotton would have retained it’s shape much better.
There’s a huge amount of variation within cotton, which you can learn about here. Generally, I am a fan of non-mercerised cottons, though mercerised can work well for decorations and has beautiful stitch definition.
If you’re making more robust decorations, such as amigurumi, then really it’s down to personal preference as to what yarn you use. I find acrylic gives a cosy almost fluffy look, whereas cotton gives a more defined finish.
If you want to get that festive shine, then it is worth looking at metallic yarns, or yarns which have an element of sparkle running through them.
Below you see a bunch of all kinds of metailcs, from cotton or acrylic with added sparkle, to fine metallic threads which work great held double with other yarns.
Here are some of my favourite, easy to used metallics
Paintbox Metallic DK which is lovely and soft so great for shiny wearables. It’s 55% cotton and 45% polyamide.
Anchor Artise Metallic Thread (this is the gold one you see in the image above) which is 80% viscose and 20% polyester.
King Cole Cosmos (top left of the photo above) is a super sparkly festive which has sequins dotted along the metallic threads. It works great held with other yarns.
Caron Simply Soft Party is a typical acrylic with some metallic running through it. There are lots of variations on this yarn, with different brands being sold in different countries, so it’s worth checking out what’s available in your area.
A lot of hand dyers also have options with sparkles running through them so if you want to support indie dyers this holiday season, this is a great way to do it!
If you’re in the UK, check out Eden Cottage Yarns (I used their Nateby Sparkle in my Rainbow Smiles Sweater and adore it!). They probably ship abroad but postal services are under huge pressure at the moment so I’m all for shopping local.
I will often combine metallic threads with other yarns for a bit of extra sparkle. such as the twinkle twinkle star which you can see below made in a whole range of different yarn combinations, including some of those mentioned above.
Seasonal Textured Yarns
At this time of year, we often look to different textures in our yarn to create seasonal effects in our crochet home decor and accessory projects.
The two I will pick out here as being particularly festive are the fluffy snow effect yarn (I’m not sure that’s the official term!) and tinsel yarn.
I use this yarn to create a fluffy snow-look brim and pom pom on some of my Christmas hats. It’s a kind of chenille like fabric. It’s super soft against your skin and extra warm. But be careful when making pom poms with it as it gets a bit messy as the fluff fluffs everywhere!!
There are various versions of this yarn available from different brands, but the one I use here is Sirdar Snowflake DK.
How could you make yarn more festive? Make it into tinsel of course!
I tried playing with some tinsel yarn a couple of years back. I ended up using most of it for my ‘Festive AF’ wreath. Essentially I got everything festive in my craft stash and threw it together with gay abandon!
I used to the tinsel to wrap the wreath inner and doubled it with coloured yarn to make festive pom poms.
As you see… it was a messy, joyful session of Christmas vomit!!!
Again, there are lots of versions of tinsel yarn, depending on what’s local to you. I like King Cole Tinsel Chunky.
A note about tinsel yarns, as Christmas trees shed their needles, tinsel yarn can shed it’s glittery bits (I’m not sure what the singular term for a tinsel spike is!!) all over the place when you work it. You can probably make out the tinsel debris on the floor behind the wreath in the picture above.
Make sure you have a brush or vacuum handy!!
Traditional Christmas Yarn Colours
‘Christmas Green’ Yarns
Out of all the amazing colour choices we have, I always struggle to get the right shade of green yarn more than any other colour. For some reason I find it really hard to find just what I’m looking for.
I have tried a LOT and can report that I have found two yarns which hit the Christmas Green mark for me;
The first is Grass Green from Paintbox (as used in the festive friends below). Note that Paintbox Yarns use the same shades across all their core yarn ranges, so this green should be available in a whole range of yarn weights. Perfect for any project!
For a slight more alpine, less luminous green, I love Kelly Green in the Stylecraft Special DK range.
Festive Red Yarn
Red yarn is so hard to photograph. I don’t know what it is about it but I find if you get to close it gets kind of hard to look at and it’s hard to represent the real colour. I’m sure a photographer would be able to explain why this is!
For my festive friends you see above, I used another Paintbox shade, this one is Pillar Red (shade 114).
Unless you get a real true red, most shades tend to err either on the pink or the orange tones. Personally, I prefer a festive red which is a little more on pink side, like the ‘lipstick’ paintbox (shade 151) I used in the Christmas gift hat. This is turning into a bit of an advert for Paintbox. That wasn’t what I intended, they just have great colour ranges!!!
Silver and Gold Yarns
I used a Mustard yellow acrylic dk yarn to get the gold look in the gift hat you see above. But I’ll be honest with you here. If you want to get a real silver or gold tone, then I would go with a metallic, or something with a metallic element.
Gold is easier to emulate without metals but silver without something shiny just looks grey.
That said, a silvery grey with a bright pop of contrasting colour, like an aqua or bold pink, can create a very contemporary festive colour scheme if you’re looking for something different from the traditional green and red.
A note about sustainability
Before I go, and leave you to get your Christmas yarn on, I want to leave you with a final thought about sustainability.
Sustainability is something I am thinking about more and more as I choose my yarn. It’s no secret that acrylic yarn is essentially plastic and is not great for the environment if misused. I sense I will be writing about this more in the future, but will be doing my homework first.
However, for today, one way to mitigate that is to avoid wastage. To really use the thing you make. And to save those ends for stuffing!
I feel really strongly about this longevity issue. It is one of the reasons that I love crocheting Christmas decorations and accessories. Because they come out year after year and are made to be loved and used for many many years.
The heirloom factor that you get when you gift a Christmas decoration to a loved one is irreplaceable.
This year, of all years, giving handmade decorations is one of the small, simple ways to show your loved ones you care. Not just this year, but for years into the future.
There’s a saying that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas (and I couldn’t agree more).
A Christmas decoration, on the other hand is for life AND just for Christmas!!
Happy festive hooking