Why Textures Matter

You don’t have to be a fabric designer or a naturally tactile person to have an affinity for certain textures. You know when you like the feel of something and when you don’t. Which is why you probably wouldn’t choose to wear a sweater made out of burlap but would choose a cotton or cashmere one. (Or you might not, according to this article or this one.)

As a crafter, I work with a lot of yarn. Since many projects take hours and sometimes days to complete, I would rather work with softer yarns. Easier on the hands. I love alpaca yarn [photo at the right], because it is very soft. But it is expensive, so polyester is often the go-to.


Take a look at the photos below. You can just about tell, even without touching the yarn, which one(s) might be the softest. What is your guess?






In case you’re wondering, the softest ones are 1, 3, and 5. Yarns like this are used to make blankets and clothes for babies, because they are suitably soft for their delicate skin. Think about a blanket you had as a child and how it felt.

Last week, I had a conversation in Target with a husband and wife who shopped for pillows. I couldn’t help asking them what made them choose a pillow with the jaw-dropping price of $85. (The last pillow I’d purchased was $3.99.)

The wife said the pillow’s memory foam was what sold them. They loved its smooth as well as soft/firm combination.

The husband said, “Go on and touch it! You know you want to!”

So I did. It felt incredible. “Sweet dreams are made of this,” as Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics sang.

He pointed down the aisle. “The mattress is great too.” It was almost $600!

“Get back, foul tempter!” I wanted to scream, knowing I could not afford either. Rather than touch it and set myself to longing after it, I bid a hasty retreat.

Textures! They have a huge impact on clothing and home interiors and our moods. Think about the fabrics or textures throughout your home—why they were chosen, and how they make you feel. According to this article,

[W]e turn to certain types of fabrics when we have different emotional requirements.
People turn to smooth and soft textures when they are in need of some emotional reassurance.

There’s probably a link to childhood and the way some textures made us feel. Whenever I was sick as a child, I wanted a soft blanket to curl up in and fuzzy slippers on my feet. I still do. But when I’m driving a car, I want a firm, no-nonsense fabric on my steering wheel, because it gives me a sense of stability. (My mother, however, prefers a soft covering for her steering wheel.) I’m not quite sure of the childhood tie-in to the steering wheel however. The closest I can think of is a rubber duck I used to have when I was a toddler. No matter what I did to that thing, I couldn’t tear a hole in it. It made me feel I would have that duck forever. Though I don’t know where it is at present, surely that duck is still around somewhere.

Any thoughts on fabric textures and how they make you feel? Feel free to comment below.

Alpaca yarn from contoocookalpaca.com. Classic rubber duck from Amazon. Other photos by L. Marie.

38 thoughts on “Why Textures Matter

  1. I have been known to go round the knitting department of John Lewis feeling all the lovely yarns I can’t afford to buy. How good it is to knit and crochet with yarns that feel nice.

    • I so agree! I haven’t knitted in awhile, but I often crochet. Back when I knitted more, I took a class at a place that sold expensive yarn. I spent a ton of money on cotton yarn for a sweater! 😀

  2. I’m all for soft and cozy, but $85 for a pillow…no way! Great post, but not what I needed to read on this very cold morning as I head out to work. I’ll rather crawl underneath my soft and fuzzy $15 throw!

  3. Love soft and warm fabrics, especially at this time of year. I can’t imagine spending $85 for a pillow, though!

    • I do too, Sharon! 😀
      The price of the pillow is what made me stop and ask questions. Normally, I don’t do that. But I wanted to know what made this pillow so special! It feels great, but my goodness! So expensive!

  4. As a Mennonite girl who sewed my clothes (as you know), I have learned to detect good fabric quality, but not necessarily at the high prices you mentioned here. I’m feeling the warm texture of the jacket keeping me warm just now and cozy slippers on my feet.

    You chose a great topic for this season, L Marie. By the way, I have a tiny rubber ducky like the one you pictured here in my bathroom. Ha!

    • I wish I still had my rubber ducky, Marian. The thing was indestructible! 😀

      I try not to pay full price for yarn either. I have the JOANN Fabrics app, which usually features coupons. So I can get a good quality skein of yarn for $2.50 and sometimes for free with the rewards program.

  5. Wool makes me itch if it’s against my skin. Therefore my winter coats are always lined with silk [or maybe it’s a silk-like polyester]. I adore 100% cotton so my sweaters are made of cotton. I have never seen an $85 pillow and would never have expected to find one in Target. Now, of course, I have to find one in Target and touch it. Adding it to the to-do list!

    • I was surprised also that Target had a pillow like that, Ally. That’s why I had to ask about it. If I had a ton of disposable income, maybe I’d get it, after my trip to Europe, because that trip would take priority over the pillow.
      I seldom wear wool because it itches. If I’m forced to wear a wool sweater, I have to wear a lighter cowl-neck sweater underneath it.

  6. I used to freak out at any pillow priced over $10, but then neck pain started to keep me up at night. It was as if the expensive pillow was holding me hostage: spend the $80 or you’ll never sleep again. Last week I paid the ransom.

    • That’s probably what caused the couple I talked to to purchase the pillow. I’m sorry for your neck pain, Lyn. I hope you have relief for it.

  7. My skin has always been sensitive to many different natural fabrics, especially wool which I can’t wear at all unless I want to be scratching like a flea-infested cat! When clothes shopping, I put my hand on the fabric and within a few seconds can tell if there’s any wool content in it, even if it’s just a tiny percentage. I’m the oddity that loves man-made fabrics more than natural ones… polyester fleece for this time of year! I must admit to an expensive down pillow though – an indulgence but it was worth it… 😀

    • Wool also makes me itch, so I tend to avoid wearing it. I also like man-made fabrics, though cotton is really nice in the summer! 😀

  8. If I have to choose between comfort and style ~> it’s comfort all the way, baby!

    I won’t wear wool (except in overcoats).
    Make my sweaters soft cotton or cotton blends.
    And the older and more washed a piece of clothing is, the softer it gets . . . which makes me happy!

    • I totally agree, Nancy, about soft clothes. I hardly ever wear wool. If I do, it can’t touch my skin. I have to have a lighter sweater or shirt underneath the wool.

  9. My thinking is: if you’re going to be spending a lot of time handling and crafting with certain materials, they should be of a type/texture/color/etc fill-in-the-blank that your enjoy working with!
    That’s part of the joy in the journey of the (he)artist.
    …and I spy a cute Rainbow sister for Clara!

    • 😀 😁 Will make a sister for Clara.
      I’m sure you go through this when you consider materials for your quilts and also when you have to restring your guitars. You want the best sound. Even though crocheting is not a profession of mine, I want the finished product to look its best.

  10. I would love some cashmere if it weren’t so expensive. Some of the Merino wool blends can be very soft, not at all itchy next to the skin, at least for me. I find fleecy garments to be my “comfort clothes,” what I like to put on after a long day at work, during the winter any way 🙂

  11. My sister was one of those children who kept her baby blanket long after she learned to walk. She liked to rub it up against her face. Have you heard of “Cuddle duds”? I bought some last hear to wear around the house. They really feel cozy and warm.

    You’re right. We see texture. I’m looking around my kitchen, and I notice that everything is different, not only because each thing is a different size, shape, and color, but also a different texture. If you were painting the scene, you would note that the paint on the walls is a mat finish. The table has a bit of a sheen, but the microwave and fridge are much shinier. The texture of my houseplants is varied. The throw rug is somewhat soft, etc., etc. We’re aware of textures even before we touch them.

    • I’ve heard of them. So comfortable and warm looking.😀 I need them in my life.

      Textures are so prevalent and pleasing to the eye. I love looking at furniture in magazines to see how different textured fabrics are combined for a pleasing whole.

  12. The first time I saw such a crazy price for a pillow was when I was a student in Germany and needed another pillow. When I saw the equivalent to £50 (in 1990s prices) I decided to make do with my towel bolster instead! I do love soft cosy duvet at night-time, and for watching TV a rug to keep me warm. As you can tell, I’m often cold despite heating in the house!😀

  13. I love linen, but, I cannot wear it. Like many with wool, linen makes me itchy. I have a cashmere blanket that I keep on my red leather couch. It is warm and oh-so-soft. I snatched it up on one of the last day’s of Marshall Fields final closing sale of everything – for $12.

  14. Great post! Textures matter, not only in how they feel but in how they look. A sweater can hang weird if the yarn isn’t right. The feel of soft and smooth is a pleasure.

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