Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Crochet 101: Knowing Your Yarn Labels

I will be starting a series of blog entries about the "basics" of anything there is to know about crochet and the things or technicalities that come with it. I want to start with one of the basics: how to read your standard yarn label. I will be using imported labels here as examples primarily because they can "educate" us a lot about the different varieties of yarn. You'll be surprised that just by closely looking at a yarn label, you can automatically know what hook size applies to it and how you can take care of the project made with that yarn.

Here is a sample label from Red Heart Super Saver. 
Let us focus first on the symbols on the top row. Let us go through them from left to right.

Yarn comes in different thicknesses and weights. There is actually a standard system of categorizing yarn. Check out the different categories HERE. In our example, the yarn is under Category 4 Medium (usually dubbed as worsted, afghan, or Aran yarn). 
In the Craft Yarn Council's site, you can already see recommended hook and needle sizes for the different kinds of yarn. Knowing the yarn type can give you an idea of what hook/needle size to use for it. "Idea" is the operative word, of course. Hook and needle sizes can change depending on the project and gauge required. It's still good information especially when you want to substitute yarn for a certain project. The yarn weight symbol should be your guide.

In the Lion Brand site, this is how "gauge" is defined:
"Gauge is the term that is used to define the proper tension you should work to insure that the crocheted piece you make will be the right size when it's completed. The hook size listed in the pattern is just the size used by the designer to work at the proper gauge. You may need to change hook size in order to work at the given gauge."
This is how the crochet gauge label is read (3rd from the left - 2nd from the left is a knitting gauge): using crochet hook with size 5.5mm (US I9), making 12 single crochets at 15 rows should result to more or less a swatch size of 4x4 in or 10x10 cm. Remember that the gauge label is just a guide. Each crocheter has his/her own unique tension in crocheting. If the output of the recommended gauge is too tight or too loose for you, then you would have to change the hook size.

Don't be imitated with these labels :) There's always the internet to help you interpret them. You can find a guide HERE.
A basic interpretation of these symbols would be: machine wash (max. temp. 104F/40C), tumble dry, do not iron.

We will tackle more of this in another blog entry. There's just a lot of them. In our example, the yarn is made of 100% acrylic yarn.
There are many yarn varieties. Percentage indicates how much of the yarn is made of that particular fiber.

Definitely important pieces of information.
It will help you estimate how much skeins or balls you need to get to finish a project. 

This is a label that guarantees the user that you will get the exact same color of the yarn you bought, assuming it's the same brand and type of course, regardless where and when you bought it. Meaning, if I buy the color Spring Green of Red Heart Super Saver in the Philippines today, I should be able to get the exact Spring Green color if I buy it in the US or anywhere else later. For crocheters and knitters, this matters a lot especially if you want color consistency in the project you are working on. It would be frustrating if you started a project and run out of yarn in the middle of it and you find out that the next skein or ball you buy of the same color label has a different tone or shade to it than the original one.

Yarn is usually dyed in batches called dye lots. There are yarn labels with dye lots indicated on them. Here is an example from Katia.
It says here that this particular yarn with Color 21 is dyed under batch 47612. If you find another ball of yarn with the same color and same dye lot, then for sure, you will have the same tint. If it's a different dye lot, you might get a slightly different tint of the same color.

Labels tell a lot about the yarn! Remember this, kids!

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