Comparing Cotton and Wool for Amigurumi
I find the difference in these two puffins absolutely fascinating. Both amigurumi are made from yarn by the same manufacturer, Paintbox Yarns. The puffin on the left is made from their Cotton DK and the one on the right is from their Aran Wool Mix. The colors, textures, and sizes of each puffin depend on which yarn is used, which may seem obvious to some, but for me it is an interesting experiment.
For more information about the puffin patterns by Yan Schenkel, check out my blog post, Book Review: Animal Friends of Pica Pau
I began making amigurumi with cotton yarn. I love the smooth texture it produces, but found that, by its nature, was causing problems with pain in my elbow. You can read more about that here: Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn
This particular cotton DK produces a more muted tone puffin. His colors aren’t as bright but have a beautiful softness to them. The grey on the left puffin is a shade lighter than on the right, but the coral colors on the beaks and feet are almost identical. In contrast, this wool yarn achieves deep, rich hues.
The texture difference between cotton and wool is what stands out the most to me. The cotton has a knobby quality, but is very smooth at the same time. The wool puffin on the right has a slightly fuzzy consistency, which I think adds to his charm. I find that the wool mix yarn leaves very few holes if any in the stitches. But with the cotton it is easier to see each individual stitch.
The size is what surprised me the most. I thought that changing from a DK weight yarn to an Aran weight yarn would lead to a much bigger difference in dimensions. In reality the wool puffin is a heftier bird than his cotton cousin, but not by much. Even though I eliminated one small section of the color-work on the neck, the height difference is much less than I would have predicted.
I have used other cotton yarns like Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton, which is a mercerized fiber and is much richer in color. It has a slight sheen to it and I especially like using it for projects that could use a little luster. For the wool, I am currently using a wool blend labeled Berroco Vintage which comes in solids and heathers. It is really soft, affordable, and washable!
Cotton and wool mix yarns both make wonderful amigurumi. The choice between the two really comes down to preference and budget. I would recommend any of the yarns I already mentioned and think they will make magnificent animals.
Below are a list of my favorite cotton and wool yarns that I have personally used.
My recommendations for cotton:
Cascade Ultra Pima Paintbox Yarns Cotton DK
My recommendations for wool: Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran Berroco Vintage
Really interesting post as I use cotton as my main fibre of choice for Amigurumi. I will point out that I have never used wool because I’m vegan and cannot use animal fibres but I have compared with other yarns like acrylic.
For me I will always choose cotton yarn for amigurumi most of the time, usually the only reasons for me choosing another like acrylic is that it might give an affect I feel is suitable for what I am making. Two quick examples would be when I made Wicket from Star Wars, I used acrylic so I could brush the Amigurumi after to give a furr like result. The other example is a sheep and I used an acrylic slub which really added to the end result as it gave a lovely texture as well as a bit of fuzziness. Both of these results I couldn’t get with cotton.
You mentioned about the colour difference and how the tones were more muted. I think this is more related to the cotton you used because there are so many great cottons out their for Amigurumi and I’ve seen many that have a brighter colour and aren’t muted at all. So I think when it comes to the shade of colour it’s more about finding a cotton brand that does the colours you want as I certainly haven’t found I’ve been restricted by cotton because of colour as you really can get any shade you want :-). I hope this helps?
By the way a few of my favourite cottons for Amigurumi are Three Bears Yarn Affection and Passion Range, Drops Muskat and DMC Natura Just Cotton. I do have a lot more I like to use but these are just a few of them, I also do use other plant based yarns for amigurumi too like bamboo or a favourite blend of mine which is cotton bamboo. I’d also like to quickly add that I have used and tried many cotton yarns and the one thing I have found that I don’t think everyone realises is that every brand of cotton is different so if you don’t like one try another because often they can vary quite a bit.
Apart from colour you talked about the end result and I certainly found this interesting to read. I think that maybe wool and acrylic act slightly similar and the fuzz you get from these yarns make any holes less visible and you don’t see the definition of the stitches as much. Obviously I have not tried wool but from what I can see from your photos above I would say you do get a much nicer result in Wool compared to acrylic so even though I said they are simular I do think it could be better. I hope that makes sense to you? For me in relation to cotton and amigurumi I really love the stitch definition that you get and it’s one of the reasons it’s my main fibre of choice. I’d also say the end result I get can also vary by which cotton I use as well and by this I don’t just mean the difference between a Matt yarn and a mercersised yarn. I must admit I have not really had many problems with using cotton and having more holes/gaps in my work but I think that’s down to what crochet hook I use and making sure I have nice tight stitches, again it can also very by what cotton yarn I use too.
I think I remembered most of your points and I hope you’ve found my experience and point of view of working with cotton for amigurumi interesting. I am sorry to hear you no longer use cotton for amigurumi as it causes you problems, I think you wrote a post about it that I’ll have to check out. I do wonder if you would be able to use cotton again for certain makes if you tried other cotton yarns (as it sounds like you still love cotton for amigurumi)? I don’t know the full story so it might make no difference but I will say I’ve found some cotton much harder to work with and I wonder if using some different ones might help at all :-). I’m sure you’ve probably thought of this already so feel free to ignore, I only mentioned it as a just in case as I think your cotton Puffin looks so good too and it would be nice if you found a way of using cotton without the pain.
I really love both of your Puffins as I think they look great. I do prefer the Wool one but that’s more due to colour and I’d definately say you could find simular shades from other yarn companies. It really has been a very interesting post to read and thanks for sharing your experiences as it’s always interesting to see the differences when it comes to Amigurumi.
Thank you so much for replying!! Yes, I still really do love cotton and tried to work with it again recently and noticed almost immediately in my elbow. I think I could go back to it once the tendonitis is completely healed. I was doing a lot of things wrong that led to my problems, like not stopping for hours at a time! What an idiot I am!! I should have been clearer about which cotton yarn had a muted tone, and that is one of the reasons I love Paintbox yarns. The Cascade Ultra Pima definitely is anything but muted! Again thank you so much for your thoughtful response!