If you’re just starting out with knitting or crochet, the label on a ball of yarn can seem a bit confusing, like you’re trying to interpret a foreign language you never studied. It’s full of new terminology, which can seem like gibberish if you have never looked at it before. But fear not, because we can help you out.
When you look at the label on a ball of yarn, you’ll see something that looks like this. Every brand is different, but ours will have the weight of the skein in ounces and grams, the yardage and meterage, the fiber content, the category, and suggested needle and hook sizes with gauge.
That may have just made everything more confusing. Let’s break it down piece by piece.
Our labels show what weight our yarn is using the standard system maintained by the Craft Yarn Council. The above is category 6, or super bulky, which was the largest category available until recently, when the CYC added a category 7 (jumbo) in response to the newfound popularity of super thick yarns. Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®, shown here, is one popular example of our category 6 yarns.
The label also includes the fiber content. This is a list, with percentages, of what the yarn is made from. While many of our yarns are made 100% of a certain fiber, we also carry lots of blends. This Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® label shows that it is made from 80% acrylic and 20% wool.
This next section describes the average gauge of the yarn when worked on the recommended size needle or hook. This is Vanna’s Choice®, which is category 4, or medium weight, yarn. The label recommends knitting on a US 9 (5.5 mm) needle or crocheting with a J-10 (6 mm) hook. When you knit or crochet a 4-inch by 4-inch (10-cm by 10-cm) square, you should get the listed gauge. That means a knit square that size should be 16 stitches wide and 22 rows long, and a crochet square should be 12 stitches wide by 15 rows long. This is helpful if you are substituting yarn, meaning, if you are working with a different yarn than your pattern calls for.
Yardage and Meterage
This is a relatively simple. It tells you, in both yards and meters, how much yarn is on the skein. This is extremely important when determining how much yarn to buy for a project.
This part of the label includes care instructions. Many of our yarns are machine washable and dryable, which is extremely convenient — especially if you are making something for kids or pets. We are using standard laundering care symbols here.
Color and Dye Lot
Finally, you will see the name of the color and the number of the dye lot. That means those skeins were dyed together and should match perfectly. Sometimes, if you look at yarns that are the same colorway but different dye lots, you will notice tiny variations in color. It’s generally not a huge difference, but it’s something you may notice more in a finished piece. If you are buying multiple balls of the same color for a project, you want to make sure they are all from the same dye lot — so get all the yarn you need up front! It’s better to have a ball or two left over than to run out and get a different lot and risk color mismatches.
Really, there is a lot of vital information on every yarn label! It may seem confusing at first, but once you get used to the symbols and terms, you’ll be able to read one with ease.
If you want further explanation, watch the video below.
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