Portrait of Sierra Roberts
by: Sierra Roberts

Knitting with Cotton

While it’s always useful year-round, cotton’s true time to shine is in the warmer seasons. This marvelous fiber is no stranger to knitting, but cotton does behave a little differently than other commonly used fibers. Don’t let that scare you, though! Cotton is more versatile than you might think. Whether you’re looking to make machine washable kid’s clothing, sturdy home decor, or delicate lace shawls, below are some great projects and tips for working with this wonderful plant-based fiber:

• Cotton has very little elasticity. That means the yarn doesn’t stretch or bounce back the way wool or other fibers might. This characteristic is a little less apparent in cotton blend yarns, especially when there is a good percentage of wool or synthetic fiber in the mix.

• Unmercerized cotton is very absorbent. Combined with its inelasticity, this means that cotton knits can sag quite a bit when wet. This sagging can also occur in larger pieces even when they aren’t wet, as the weight of the fabric can weigh itself down. We suggest knitting at a snug gauge to keep things in place; you can also battle the sag by choosing firmer stitch patterns that don’t allow for much stretch. Linen stitch, moss stitch, and basketweave stitches are excellent options; ribbing is also often used in cotton projects.

• Cotton yarn is generally machine washable and dryable – however if you want a really exact fit you should try a swatch first to test for shrinkage. Be sure to measure your swatch before you finish it, and then wash/finish it the same way you will your finished piece. Just like a new pair of jeans, a newly knit cotton garment will often shrink a little in the first wash. Also just like new jeans, these cotton knits will soften and wear in the most comfortable, durable way.

• Also like those favorite jeans, dyed cotton colors will fade over time, giving it that soft, beachy look. If you’re using high contrast colors next to each other, be sure to swatch and test for colorfastness. Mercerized cottons have a shinier surface so colors tend to be more vibrant, while unmercerized cottons have a more matte finish and will tend to fade a bit faster.

• Cotton can be slippery! For newer knitters, we suggest you use bamboo needles.

Although it can be a little bit different to work with, cotton is a wonderful fiber. With a little understanding of the qualities of this versatile, affordable fiber, you can create pieces that will wear beautifully and last forever. Check out our selection of cotton and cotton blend knitting yarns by scrolling down!

 

Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton Yarn
Yarn: 100% Egyptian Cotton; 109 yards/ 50 g ball.
Gauge: 5-6 stitches to 1″ on size US 6 knitting needles.

 

Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton Yarn Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton Yarn

Pattern ideas:

 

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Also available as downloadable PDFs:

 

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Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton Yarn and [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
Yarn: 100% Pima Cotton; 220 yards/ 100 g hank.
Gauge: 5.5-6 stitches to 1″ on size US 5-6 knitting needles.

 

Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton Yarn Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton Yarn
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Pattern ideas:

 

Side to Side Pullover for Girls by Knitting Pure and Simple  Side to Side Pullover for Girls by Knitting Pure and Simple
Barbados Tee  Barbados Tee
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Block Island Blend Yarn
Yarn: 35% Hemp, 35% Cotton, 30% Rayon; 1575 yards/ 1 lb cone, 180 yards/ mini cone.
Gauge: 6 stitches to 1″ on size US 4 knitting needles.

 

Block Island Blend Yarn Block Island Blend Yarn

Pattern ideas:

 

Sweet Jane Tank Pattern  Sweet Jane Tank Pattern
Electric Avenue Shawlette  Electric Avenue Shawlette

Also available as downloadable PDFs:

 

Sweet Jane Tank - Pattern Download  Sweet Jane Tank - Pattern Download
Electric Avenue Shawlette - Pattern Download  Electric Avenue Shawlette - Pattern Download

K1C2 2nd Time Cotton Recycled Yarn
Yarn: 75% Recycled Cotton, 25% Acrylic; 180 yards/ 100 g hank.
Gauge: 4.5-5 stitches to 1″ on size US 6-7 knitting needles.

 

K1C2 2nd Time Cotton Recycled Yarn K1C2 2nd Time Cotton Recycled Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

Auditorium - Knitted Backpack Pattern  Auditorium - Knitted Backpack Pattern
Children's Henley Top Down Sweater by Knitting Pure and Simple  Children's Henley Top Down Sweater by Knitting Pure and Simple

Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton Yarn
Yarn: 65% Cotton, 35% Microfibre; 60 yards/ 50 g ball.
Gauge: 4.5 stitches to 1″ on size US 8 knitting needles.

 

Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton Yarn Jo Sharp Desert Garden Aran Cotton Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

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Noro Taiyo Yarn
Yarn: 40% Cotton, 30% Silk, 15% Wool, 15% Nylon; 220 yards/ 100 g ball.
Gauge: 4.5-5 stitches to 1″ on size US 7-8 knitting needles.

 

Noro Taiyo Yarn Noro Taiyo Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

Mannequin Pullover Sweater Pattern  Mannequin Pullover Sweater Pattern
Diagonal Kimono - Noro Taiyo  Diagonal Kimono - Noro Taiyo
Multi-Directional Scarf - Noro Taiyo  Multi-Directional Scarf - Noro Taiyo

Also available as downloadable PDFs:

 

Mannequin Pullover Sweater Pattern Download  Mannequin Pullover Sweater Pattern Download
Diagonal Kimono - Noro Taiyo - Pattern download  Diagonal Kimono - Noro Taiyo - Pattern download
Multi-Directional Scarf - Noro Taiyo - Pattern download  Multi-Directional Scarf - Noro Taiyo - Pattern download

Casco Bay Cotton Chenille Yarn
Yarn: 100% Cotton; 900 yards/ 1 lb cone; 220 yards/ mini cone.
Gauge: 3.5-4.5 stitches to 1″ on size US 7-9 knitting needles.

 

Casco Bay Cotton Chenille Yarn Casco Bay Cotton Chenille Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

Ellen's Favorite Baby Sweater  Ellen's Favorite Baby Sweater
Baby Sweaters, Hats and Blankets - Yankee Knitter  Baby Sweaters, Hats and Blankets - Yankee Knitter

Casco Bay Bulky Cotton Chenille Yarn
Yarn: 100% Cotton; 550 yards/ 1 lb cone; 135 yards/ mini cone.
Gauge: 3-4 stitches to 1″ on size US 9-10 knitting needles.

 

Casco Bay Bulky Cotton Chenille Yarn Casco Bay Bulky Cotton Chenille Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

Casco Cottage Knitted Throw - Casco Bay Bulky Chenille  Casco Cottage Knitted Throw - Casco Bay Bulky Chenille

Cotton Fleece Yarn
Yarn: 80% Cotton, 20% Merino wool; 215 yards/ 3.5 oz skein.
Gauge: 5-5.5 stitches to 1″ on size US 5-6 knitting needles.

 

Cotton Fleece Yarn Cotton Fleece Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

English Rib Pullover for children and adults - Yankee Knitter  English Rib Pullover for children and adults - Yankee Knitter
Children's V-Neck Down Pullover by Knitting Pure and Simple  Children's V-Neck Down Pullover by Knitting Pure and Simple

Katia Cotton-Merino Yarn
Yarn: 70% Cotton, 30% Wool; 115 yards/ 50 g ball.
Gauge: 4 stitches to 1″ on size US 7-8 knitting needles.

 

Katia Cotton-Merino Yarn Katia Cotton-Merino Yarn

Pattern Ideas:

 

Eight Days A Week Fingerless Mitts - Pattern Download  Eight Days A Week Fingerless Mitts - Pattern Download
Katia Book No. 2 - Concept  Katia Book No. 2 - Concept
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Other great cotton yarns to try:

 

Inca Organic Cotton Yarn Inca Organic Cotton Yarn
Cotton Carpet Warp 8/4 Yarn Cotton Carpet Warp 8/4 Yarn
Cathy - Cotton Yarn Cathy - Cotton Yarn
Tess Cotton Yarn Tess Cotton Yarn
Lucy Cotton Linen Yarn Lucy Cotton Linen Yarn

 

 

Related items of interest: • Our yarnsLight weight yarnsCotton yarnsKnitting PatternsCrochet PatternsFine weight yarnscotton blend yarnsMedium weight yarnsBulky weight yarnsKnitting BooksSuper Fine weight yarns

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