Comparing Cotton and Wool for Amigurumi

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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 Yarn

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Saying Goodbye to my Beloved Cotton Yarn

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I am head-over-heels in love with cotton yarn. I love how it feels. I love how it works up. I love the colors. I love how smooth the texture is.

But it seems that cotton yarn doesn’t love me back.

I began having pain in my elbow approximately six months ago. The pain continued to get worse and worse. I finally went to an orthopedic doctor and he diagnosed me with Lateral Epicondylitis, also known as Tennis Elbow, due to repetitive motion from crochet. He gave me a cortisone shot right in the joint to relieve the pain and inflammation. OUCH! It definitely helped but I have since read that repeated cortisone shots could damage the joint long term so I will not be getting another one. The shot definitely helped the pain. It almost went away completely but within four weeks or so the pain was back and much worse.

I have taken a lot of time to research repetitive motion pain in knitters and crocheters. I have found that it’s more common than I thought! I have discovered, for myself, that making amigurumi is the culprit and that cotton yarn is the accomplice. Making amigurumi requires making single crochet stitches over and over again. There is very little variation which I believe is the problem.

While listening to a Bhooked podcast about how wool yarn is made, I heard something that I hadn’t heard before. Cotton yarn doesn’t stretch, which can cause problems with hands, elbows, or wrists for knitters and crocheters! NOOOOO!!! I knew that cotton didn’t have any stretch, which is why it’s really good for amigurumi! But it’s not good for my joints.

So now I am trying different fibers to see how they behave with amigurumi but also how my elbow feels with more stretch in the yarn. I am currently trying Paintbox Yarns Wool Mix Aran, which is 50% wool and 50% acrylic.  It has a bit of a fuzzy texture when you look really really closely but other than that it looks fairly similar to the cotton yarn.

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I’m hoping that stretchier fibers will be the antidote to my tennis elbow but only time will tell.