Chenille is the French word for 'caterpillar' - appropriately named for this soft, fuzzy yarn.
Chenille yarn has been produced commercially since the 1970s, and has quickly become the choice of fabric designers for many items due to its softness and beautiful appearance. The softness and sheen of chenille improves the appearance and hand of thousands of everyday items, including sweaters, outerwear fabrics, throws and blankets, bathrobes, bath towels, shawls, scarves, upholstery and curtain fabrics and area rugs.
The Nature of Chenille - Types of Chenille Yarns
Chenille is a difficult yarn to manufacture, requiring great care in production. Chenille yarn consists of short lengths of spun yarn or filament that are held together by two ends of highly twisted fine strong yarn. The short lengths are called the pile and the highly twisted yarns are called the core.
During manufacture, the pile yarns are wrapped around a short stem of polished metal, called a caliper, through which a blade passes to cut the pile yarns into short lengths. The core yarns are pressed onto the short lengths with a rotating metal wheel. The resulting yarn is then fed onto a traditional ring twisting take up mechanism. In the twisting process, the two ends of core yarn twist and trap the short ends of pile between the core yarns. Some chenille yarns are produced with a special core that is heat treated to minimize shedding.
The size of the caliper determines the diameter of the resulting yarn. The size and number of the pile yarns and how much of them are fed onto the core determines the count of the yarn.
Chenille yarn can be made from many different types of fibers and yarns. Most common are cotton, viscose (rayon), acrylic, and polypropylene (olefin), and more recently, microfiber polyester, wool and silk. The nature and care of chenille yarns will depend on the fiber from which the yarn is made.
Items That Look Great in Chenille
Many everyday items that can be made with chenille include scarves, shawls, pillows, sweaters, blankets and throws, bathrobes, bath towels, baby items, braids, purses, tassels, and accessories.