Yarns in Textiles: A complete guide with pictures

Dinesh Exports
6 min readOct 1, 2021

Yarns are like human cells. It is interlaced together to form a piece of cloth. Humans have been making clothes since they were born on this planet. It is timeless art. Yarns play an integral part in making this art a reality.

With time, we have found various ways of extracting fibers from nature and making them into various yarns. We are able to make yarns in such a way that it is possible to make infinite combinations of yarns. This is why in this article we are going to discuss yarns in depth.

What are yarns in textiles?

Yarns are a continuous length of fibers that are interlocked using a spinning process. Yarns are used for the production of textiles, sewing, weaving, knitting, embroidery, crocheting, and rope making. Weaving and knitting are the most popular uses of yarns.

Yarn is solid in shape and is mostly sold in the shape of the skein to prevent the yarns from becoming tangled or knotted. Yarn is the basic unit of any textile material. It is responsible for the various properties of the material holds. Depending on the process of spinning, the type of raw material used, and the weight of the yarn, the properties of the yarn also change. Which in turn affects the properties of the material.

Yarns can be made from both natural and synthetic fibers. Yarns can be divided into three:

1. Carded

Carded yarns have the least quality among the three. Carded yarns have more neps (a small knot or entanglement) and more short fibers. During the manufacturing of carded yarns, combers are not involved.

2. Combed

Combed yarns have the best quality among the three. It has a smooth texture because it does not contain any neps or short fibers. The critical difference is the involvement of the combing process. It separates our short fibers by means of a rotating ring or rectilinear row of pins.

3. Semi combed

Semi combed yarns have both the properties of a carded and combed yarn. Thus exhibiting a medium level of quality in the yarns. It will contain neps and combed yarn in various levels of composition which is made as per the requirements.

Further classification of yarn are as below:

1. Long fiber yarn:

Long fiber yarns are made up of continuous fiber by putting together long fibers such as raw silk, rayon, or other synthetic fibers, etc.

2. Short fiber yarn:

Short fiber yarn is made up of discontinuous fibers like cotton, wool, hemp, and other staple fiber, etc. by arranging in parallel state and bound together by giving twists.

What is twisting?

Twisting is the process of binding fibers together to form yarns. Twisting is done during the spinning process. This also contributes to the yarn strength. The appearance is also defined by the amount of twists inserted in the twisting process. The number of twists inserted is known as the Twist per inch (TPI).

Factors of Yarn Twist:

- Quality of fiber

- Count of spun yarn

- Fineness of the fiber

- The softness of the finished fabric

Depending on the direction in which the fibers are twisted it is further classified into two. They are:

Types of yarn twist

  1. S twist

Yarn is twisted in an anticlockwise direction from a helical angle at the yarn surface. The angle in the middle part forms a part of the letter “S”, therefore it is termed as S twist.

2. Z twist

In Z twist, clockwise twisting is done to form a “Z” shape in the middle part.

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Yarns can also be differentiated according to the number of strands it has. A strand is the most basic unit of fiber. Strands are twisted together to form yarns. Based on this we can further classify them as:

1. Single yarn

Single yarns are also called as one-ply yarn, it is produced by interlacing a single strand of fiber by at least a small amount of twist. It can also be a yarn that is made up of a single synthetic filament with sufficient thickness (also known as monofilaments). These types of yarns are used for manufacturing a whole range of fabrics.

2. Ply yarn

Ply yarns are also called plied yarn or folded yarns. It is produced by interlacing two or more single yarns. Depending on the number of ply yarns interlaced, it can be called as follows

A. Two-ply yarn: composed of two single strands

B. Three-ply yarn: composed of three single strands

You get it. The process of making ply yarns from spun strands involves twisting in one direction and then combined twisting in the opposite direction. This process produces a harder texture in yarns reducing its flexibility. This yarn is used for a variety of industrial uses like making heavy industry fabrics as well as delicate fabrics.

3. Cord yarn

Ply yarns are twisted together in the opposite direction of the ply twist in order to create cord yarns. Cords yarns can be made in SZS, ZSZ, SSZ patterns as per the requirements. Cords yarns are also extremely versatile because they can be used either for making very heavy industrial fabrics or extremely fine and sheer dress fabrics.

4. Novelty yarn

Novelty yarns are a special type of yarn that has a characteristic that distinguishes itself from other fabrics. Slub yarns are an example. The slub effect produced small lumps in the yarn structure. It is created intentionally during the production process. Yarns made up of different raw materials are woven together to produce yarns that carry irregularities and uneven surfaces to create fabrics with special effects on them. These types of special yarns are called novelty yarns.

5. Textured yarn

In order to make synthetic fibers more opaque, improve their appearance and texture, increase warmth and absorbency, the texturizing process is implemented. It reduces the problems in transparency, slipperiness, and the possibility of pilling (formation of small fiber tangles on a fabric surface). This texturizing process is implemented on synthetic continuous filaments. These are some of the texturizing effects used popularly:

A. High bulk: Bulking creates air spaces in the yarns which result in higher absorbency and breathability

B. Round crimp effect Heating leads to crimp effect.

C. Lofted effect: It is a process of bending yarns

D. Crimp effect: Crimping is achieved by curling the strands.

6. Stretch yarn

A springy effect is achieved on a continuous filament synthetic yarn that is tightly twisted, heat-set, and then untwisted. These types of stretchy yarns are most commonly termed spandex yarns. It contains highly elastic fiber made up of polyurethane.

7. Metallic yarn

Metallic yarns are manufactured by coating metallic particles on synthetic yarns like polyester. Metallic yarns can also be made by layering aluminum foil strips in between films and also by twisting a strip of metal around a natural or synthetic core yarn.

Decoding the popular terms in yarns.

2/20s — A yarn having the twist of two single yarns of 20 counts

This format is used to describe three-ply, four-ply or multiple-ply yarns (3/20s, 4/20s)

Do you know which count is the most popular in making garments? Comment below.

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