There is an abundance of information packed onto every yarn label. Sure, you can get by without fully understanding what each symbol and number means but knowing key information from the yarn manufacturer will take your crocheting skills to the next level. I’ll be honest, it may be a little intimidating at first but we will break it down slowly. By the end of this learning segment of Know Your Yarn: Labels, you will be confident and know how to read yarn labels!
No matter which kind of yarn you are purchasing, the labels should all have four sections in common: amount and fiber info, care instructions, dye information and craft information. We are going to discuss each section in detail.
I am going to be demonstrating using the Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn label. A big thanks to Red Heart for creating such a magnificent yarn!
Amount and fiber information…
You will typically find the amount of yarn per skein as well as the fiber information just above the brand label. We’ll talk about the amount per skein first.
As you can see in the image above, the amount per skein is provided in two different formats; weight and length. If you are reading from the United States, the length format will look more familiar to you. This is because we use this format in our patterns. Weight is used more widely in Europe and Australia but you will sometimes find it here as well. You will also notice that the weight and length are given in standard and metric terms; ounces, grams, yards and meters. Again, this is to provide the same information for use in different countries.
Just above the amount information, you will see a description of the type of fiber that makes up your yarn. Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn is 100% acrylic and is therefore listed as such on the label. Sometimes you may be working with a blend. We will cover blends in future lessons! For now, just know that a blended yarn might look something like this: “50% wool, 50% acrylic”. As the percentages imply, you are working with a half wool, half acrylic blend of yarn.
You will find the care instructions listed as little pictures that look like yarn hieroglyphics! Sometimes the yarn brand is gracious enough to include the care instructions in plain English, but most times they will appear as pictures beside the craft information.
Here is a picture of the yarn label including the care instructions. Before we jump into figuring out the recommendations for Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn, let’s talk about what “care instructions” really means.
Care instructions are one of the most important pieces of information on the yarn label. They will include vital information for the longevity of your crochet items. Many times we crochet blankets or clothing, both of which need to be washed pretty often. It is important to pay attention to the care instructions when selecting a yarn for a project that will get a lot of wear. Simply put, care instructions are instructions for the washing and maintenance of the finished item.
You will see a variety of different pictures on the yarn label in the care instructions section. They vary based on fiber, ply, size and type. I’ve included a very helpful diagram courtesy of the American Cleaning Institute which has standardized the pictorials for care instructions.
Take a moment to look over this image to familiarize yourself with the symbols you may encounter on your next yarn haul trip. Now let’s go back to the Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn label. Can you figure out the care instructions for this yarn?
This yarn should be dried on low heat. It should not be ironed, bleached or dry cleaned. Easy right?! Well, to make things even easier, most of the yarn labels include this information in words too. You can find it in the image just below the pictorials for the care instructions. This tidbit of information is pretty straight forward. I’d like to take a second to emphasize a very important topic I mentioned above, choosing your yarn based on the care instructions.
We typically have a yarn in mind when we plan out our next project but do we stop to think about the amount of use and/or washing the item will need? Do we take a moment to look up the yarn information when we find a pattern we wish to use? Most designers will include a yarn of choice, but they never mention the care instructions. This is really important information, especially when you are about to invest 26 hours crocheting a baby blanket for your daughter-in-law that can never be washed. Now you may be thinking, “well what is the easiest to care for yarn out there?” There really is no direct answer to this question. Each type of yarn is suitable for it’s own type of project and it’s your job to start to learn the difference. That is where this learning segment will really come in handy. I have found out the hard way which yarns are best for what and I am going to share my experiences with you! Let’s move on to the dye information.
This yarn is mass produced, there is no way the dye lot can be that different
These were the words I said when making a cheap, one-skein purchase of Hobby Lobby’s I love this cotton yarn for my Granny Square Tote in February. Boy was I wrong! We should always…I mean always buy enough yarn for an entire project in the same dye lot. I’m a pretty frugal person by nature and I hate spending large amounts of money at one time but this is something I have had to overcome when preparing for a large crochet project. Believe me when I say, I’ve learned the hard way and I’ve seen so many others go through it too. Dye lots are listed for a reason. The manufacturer recognizes that there is variability in their dye pots and you must choose your skeins with matching dye lots to ensure the exact same color. So where is this important information listed? Let’s take a look at the Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn label again.
You can usually find the dye lot number where the sku label is located. It will appear in various formats; some with letters and numbers, some with 6 numbers, some with 8. It all just depends on the brand of yarn you are using. In this example, you can see that the lot number is 1401A. There isn’t much to be said about dye lots, just purchase the amount you need or take the gamble of having a color that is slightly off. There are some yarns out there that do not have a dye lot as well. These are some of your more mass produced yarns, Red Heart Supersaver, Caron simply soft just to name a few. In these cases, it is perfectly okay to buy one skein at a time as you need it. I have never experienced an issue with buying a non-dye lot yarn not matching previous skeins.
We’ve still got one more section to cover…the craft information. Let’s not forget this!
Just what am I talking about exactly when I say craft information? Well, let’s take a look at our example.
Note the picture of the ball of yarn with the letter 4 on it. Yarn companies use a numbering system to demonstrate the thickness of the yarn. This method has been standardized across all yarn brands and types. Here are the standardized measurements:
- 0 – Lace; Fingering 10-count crochet thread
- 1 – Super Fine; sock weight, fingering weight or baby weight
- 2 – Fine; Sport weight or baby weight
- 3 – Light; DK (double knitting), light worsted weight
- 4 – Worsted weight; afghan or aran
- 5 – Bulky; chunky, craft or rug
- 6 – Super Bulky; bulky or roving
You should see this information on every skein of yarn you purchase and is something you should become very familiar with. This piece of information will help you determine which yarn is suitable for a pattern you have in mind. Most patterns will have a recommended yarn and should include the weight in the description. If you plan on substituting for a different yarn you want to make sure that you choose a yarn within the same weight category.
Once you become really familiar with crocheting and purchasing yarn, you will be able to use the yarn category to generalize which size hook you should use . Although this guestimating comes naturally with time, it isn’t absolutely necessary that you do so. Every skein of yarn gives you a recommended size needle for knitters and hook for us crocheters to use. This can be found in the blocks next to the yarn weight category. Since we are crocheters here, we are only going to focus on the square pertaining to the crochet hook. On our example skein of yarn, allow me to draw your attention to the third block on the top row. You should see a little picture of a crochet hook with 6mm above it and J-10 below it. 6mm and J-10 are metric and standard hook sizes. Your hooks should have one or both of these listed on them.
Now lets talk about the block around this little crochet hook picture. We can see 10 x 10 cm across the top, 4 x 4 in on the left side, 18 R on the right side and 15 sc across the bottom. Let’s focus our attention to the bottom and right side; 15 sc and 18R. This means 15 single crochet and 18 rows. Doesn’t make much sense by itself but when we put it with the information on the top and left sides it starts to make a little more sense. 15 single crochet across for 18 rows will make a 4 x 4 inch (or 10 x 10 cm) square. This is gauge information! Gauge is something you have probably heard of before. We aren’t going to discuss it in detail here just yet. Just know that it exists and we will have future topics about it in the future!
Well there you have it! We have gone through all of the important aspects of yarn labels. Don’t be worried about memorizing all of this information. The understanding will come with time and practice. I welcome any of your questions. I will do my best to answer your questions based on my experience along the way and I also welcome others to answer questions as well. I know there are some crocheters out there who have been hooking longer than I’ve been alive!
Now are you ready for your bonus information? Every yarn label comes with a free pattern on the back!
Bye for now!