All About Acrylic

What is Acrylic?

Acrylic yarn is made from Acrylic fibre / tow – which is a man-made fibre basic derivative is acrylonitrile which is further made from crude oil. Acrylic fibre is available in various deniers ranging from 0.9 to 17, most commonly used denier for Hand knitting yarns range from 2 to 6, Lower the denier of the fibre softer is the yarn, higher the denier bulkier is the yarn, hence right mix depending on end use of the yarn is needed, Example baby yarns will have lower denier mix, Latch yarns can have higher denier mix

What is Bulky Acrylic or HB (High Bulk Acrylic)?

Acrylic fibre started becoming popular in early on 1970s – it has a unique property when stretched on special machines it becomes shrinkable (means will shrink when subjected to heat / steam) therefore Acrylic tops (basic form) of acrylic fibre to spin yarn can be made as shrinkable Tops and Non-Shrinkable Tops (also called as Relaxed tops)

These 2 kinds of variants are mixed to make what is called Bulky Acrylic yarn (most common type hand knitting yarn), when both fibres are mixed -the shrinkable fibres, shrink by 15% to 25% they make non-shrinkable fibres to crimp around shrinkable fibres, hence provide very good volume / bulk to the yarn

This bulk / crimping resembles the natural volume of wool caused by natural crimp of the wool fibres, Therefore Acrylic is the closest manmade fibre that resembles wool in terms of bulkiness

Acrylic bulky yarn can be High Bulk, Medium Bulk, Low Bulk, or No Bulk (Called as Relax yarn)

Lower the bulk softer is the yarn, but weight per square knitting will also increase whereas bulky yarns will result in Light weight garment

Just to give an idea of the bulk of the yarn Bulky Acrylic hand knitting yarn. The volume would be double that of cotton or polyester yarn, example if One container / carton box can contain 10 kgs of cotton yarn it can only contain 5 Kgs of Acrylic yarn and 6 Kgs of wool yarn

So, the products made from Acrylic yarn will be half the weight of cotton (light weight)

There are some acrylic yarns (Relax yarns) which are not bulky they will knit heavier

Advantages of Acrylic

A) Bulkier, results in light weight products

B) Excellent crimp factor, insulation effect, hence very good for winter, provides warmth retains heat

C) Bright colours, Dyes very well, very good washing fastness (doesn’t bleed)

D) Durable – Easy wash, Easy Care

E) Moth Proof & Non-Allergenic

F) Excellent knit definition

G) Closest synthetic fibre to wool (Often called Common man’s wool)

H) Cost effective

I) Can be mixed with any fibre, especially can be mixed wool which provides best of the both fibres called as Acrowools yarns (mix of Acrylic & wool)

J) Dyeing process of acrylic is good to environment unlike cotton where only 70% -75% dyes as absorbed rest all wasted in water and needs extensive treatment, Acrylic fibre absorbs 95% to 98% of dye stuffs therefore rendering waste water practically clean of dye stuffs, this water can be biologically easily treated as it has very low BOD and COD loads


A) Tends to Pill more

B) Cannot be used for very breathable products such as socks – Not ideal for socks

C) Inflammable

Acrylic & Acrowools yarns

Acrylic is mostly spun on worsted / Semi worsted spinning system (Long Staple spinning) -as explained in All about yarns section, Acrylic yarns can be made by dyeing fibre first and then making the yarn (called as Fibre / Tow dyed yarns) or they can be dyed later after raw white yarn is made then yarn itself can be dyed – Normally on Hanks

Acrylic can be easily mixed with any fibre, for example Acrylic Wool, Acrylic Merino, Acrylic Nylon (Very soft yarns for babies), Acrylic Alpaca, Acrylic Tencel, while Acrylic will provide the bulk, and other fibre will provide the property it is intended for


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