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I have noticed that acrylic yarns vary a lot, with some being rather soft and some being somewhat scratchy.

Why does that happen? Is there a way to know whether an yarn is going to be soft or not (short of feeling it yourself)?

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    Any specific examples, such as brands, to give people with access a better feel of what you mean (pun intended)?
    – user24
    May 7 '18 at 4:47
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    Are you asking about the difference between different lines of yarn like Red Heart Soft Yarn vs Red Heart Super Saver or are you asking about the difference in the same line where one ball of Super Saver can feel softer than another?
    – BSMP
    May 15 '18 at 13:01
  • @BSMP the first one, why are some brands a lot softer than others?
    – user4610
    May 15 '18 at 19:47
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    I would very much like an answer to this question too. I find some brands start out course and get softer the more you wash them. Some just the opposite. Please help us two needle artists! May 18 '18 at 0:17
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According to the "Acrylic fiber" page on Wikipedia: 'For a fiber to be called "acrylic" in the US, the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer.' That leaves a free-for-all on the other up to 15% of fiber that goes into making up a yarn.

Although there are accepted standards for putting the weight and recommended hook and needle sizes on yarn, there isn't a standard for softness. Some companies do describe some of their yarns as being ultra soft or something similar, though.

You might be able to figure out how soft a yarn might be by reading what it's made of (if they were nice enough to list the fiber types in detail). The care instructions could also possibly tip you off. Another idea would be to visit chat rooms or crafting websites or reviews on shopping sites to get details about the yarn beyond what's on the label.

The disadvantage to relying on yarn companies or other people's opinions to tell you how soft a yarn is, though, is that softness is subjective. I may tell you that yarn X is incredibly soft, but you might not think so when you get your hands on it.

Probably your best bet would be to keep the name and other details of yarn(s) that you like the softness of and ask for comparisons between that and the yarn(s) you're thinking of getting. That way, if a person says it feels and/or behaves very much the same as your yarn, then you can be pretty sure you're getting something you'll like.

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  • It also depend on how fine the acrylic fibers have been extruded. So how fine the parts that make the yarn are.
    – Willeke
    Nov 6 '18 at 17:04
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It largely depends on what else the yarn in question is made out of. Unless you buy yarn that is 100% of one fiber or another, they're usually a blend of different things, the composition of which can change the texture and feel of it.

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