Mercerized vs unmercerized: Which will it be?

Posted by Jessica Ybarra on

We cotton lovers are really quite spoiled, compared with knitters, weavers & crocheters of the past.  The 21st century has given us such a great variety of high quality cotton yarns in a never-ending rainbow of vibrant colors!  But what to choose?  That’s the big question.  Mercerized vs unmercerized–what’s the difference?

yarn for crafts

Mercerized  Cotton:
The modern production method for mercerized cotton, also known as “pearl” or “pearle” cotton (that’s how we got the name Pearly Perle!) , gives cotton yarn a sodium hydroxide bath that is then neutralized with an acid bath. This treatment increases lustre, strength, affinity to dye, resistance to mildew and shrinkage. Mercerized yarns more readily accepts dye and hold the color longer. Cotton with long staple fibre lengths responds best to mercerization.

Our Pearly Perle yarns fit the bill 100%!

It’s strength makes Pearly Perle a great choice for firm sturdy fabrics such as table runners and place mats or structures that can put stress on the yarn such as closely set doubleweave or rep weave.

Pearly Perle is guaranteed to be light fast so it is also a great choice for other household textiles that are exposed to sunlight such as curtains, rugs, or pillows and it works well in garment fabrics. It also makes a nice crochet cotton or can be used by the machine knitter.

It is available in a number of sizes from comes in a number of sizes (3/2, 5/2, 10/2 & 20/2). 

Unmercerized Cotton
If it’s not mercerized (see above) then it’s got to be unmercerized!  So what’s the difference?

Mercerization made cotton easier to dye, but it also make it less absorbent—ironic huh? Unmercerized cottons retains the natural look of cotton and increased absorbency. 

aurora earth

Aurora Earth is an unmercerized cotton. Aurora Earth is a great choice for a weaver’s favorite—the hand towel. It is also great for napkins, bread cloths, and other absorbent fabrics. It is available in over 60 solid and 6 variegated colorways.

We also carry a wide variety of organic unmercerized cottons! Organic cottons retain a lot of the cotton’s natural wax which leaves your fabric with a rich butter feeling that is still highly absorbent. Garments made out of organic unmercerized cotton are dreamy.

Both mercerized and unmercerized yarns are extremely affordable making it easy to throw on long warps and still do plenty of sampling before you begin your project. If you're looking for just the right amount of yarn to complete a project our Weaving Kits are perfect for you!


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