There are all sorts of novelty yarns available on the market today, from flashy eyelash yarns to nubby, fluffy, and just about any other kind of textured yarn you could possibly want.
The Start of a Novelty Yarn
One novelty yarn that came onto the scene in the early 2000's and is still popular today is known as ribbon yarn.
Ribbon yarn can be made out of various materials anything from cotton and rayon to nylon but it looks and feels like craft ribbon.
It can be found in solids and variegated colors from numerous manufacturers.
It's often sold in relatively small quantities of around 100 yards per ball.
Ribbon yarn is different from newer novelty yarns that might have ribbon in their name or description but that are worked like boa yarn or lace fabric yarn where you form the stitches in the side of the yarn itself rather than working in a more conventional way.
The Perils of Knitting with Ribbon Yarn
Knitting with ribbon yarn can be a challenge if you're a perfectionist and you like all of your stitches to look perfect. Ribbon yarn loves to spin and twist while you are working with it, and nothing short of constant vigilance on the part of the knitter will keep the yarn from twisting.
The finished look of a ribbon yarn project tends to be twisty, and it makes the finished stitches look uneven which depending on the pattern isn't necessarily a bad thing.
If your pattern is meant to show off delicate stitch work ribbon yarn might not be the best choice for that project.
Ribbon yarn can also be kind of heavy in a garment, so you probably don't want to knit a sweater out of it.
Using Ribbon Yarn
Ribbon yarn is great for accessories like belts and headbands, even bags.
It's a good weight for a summer top.
It can be combined with other yarns for a slightly more durable look, but it's really cute on its own.
Projects Using Ribbon Yarn
There are a wide variety of free knitting patterns available using ribbon yarn.
It works great with a Dropped Stitch Belt. This yarn works well with dropped stitch patterns like the Ribbon Yarn Drop Stitch Scarf from Diane L. Augustin or the Wavy Ribbon Scarf (which uses a particular method of drop stitching sometimes called seafoam stitch) from Tess' Designer Yarns on Ravelry.
The Ribbon Rib Scarf from YIYO Designs is another interesting openwork pattern that uses ribbon yarn to great effect.
The Ribbon Yarn Hat from Mandyz Moons is another great little project to use a skein of this fun yarn (it's sized for kids).
Check out this Ribbon Xback from Knitty for a pretty summer top.