7 Things Your Yarn Label Will Tell You

I don’t know if it’s my love for crochet that feeds my love for yarn, or if it’s the other way around – regardless, I do love yarn. In my 5 Foundation Chain Tips for Beginners post, I showed you that a yarn’s label will tell you what crochet hook size is recommended for that skein of yarn. Did you wonder what all the other things meant, too? In this post, I’ll go over 7 bits of information that can typically be found on a yarn label.

Yarn Label

Label from Vanna’s Choice yarn from Lion Brand. This label even has ruler markings along the side (cool)!

1. Weight: Not only the net weight of the skein (ounces or pound) but also weight of the strand of yarn. This will usually run from 1 (lace) to 6 (super bulky). You need to make sure to use the correct weight yarn that your project calls for.
2. Yarn Composition: The label will tell you if your yarn is acrylic, cotton blend, or wool blend. This yarn is 100% acrylic.
3. Number of Yards: It’s important to know how many yards a skein will give you. Will one skein be enough for your project, or will you need to get two, or three? Personally: I would rather have too much yarn than not enough; especially if the yarn has a lot dye number (to be discussed later).
4. Needle Sizes: Whether you are going to be knitting or crocheting, the label will give a recommended needle size for each. In this label, the recommended hook size is J-10 (6mm).
5. Swatch Size: A swatch is a square that you knit or crochet using the stitches recommended on the label. Based on those stitches, your project should measure what the label indicates. In this example, you are being instructed to stitch 12 stitches across and 15 rows up. This swatch should measure 4 inches by 4 inches. If your swatch measures bigger, you need to use a smaller hook. If your swatch is smaller, you need to switch to a bigger hook.
6. Dye Lot Number: Because not all yarn is created equal, the dye lot number is extremely important if you’re going to need more than one skein of yarn for your project. If skeins of yarn have the same dye lot number, this means that all of the yarn with the same number was dyed in the same vat. If you ignore using yarn with the same lot number, you will end up with a project that has slight color variations even if all of yarn is the same color. In this label example, I will need to make sure that all of my yarn for the same project is not only color “Duckie” but also from dye lot number 69743.
7. Wash Care Instructions: Most of the icons on the label will refer to the wash and dry care of the yarn. Sometimes the instructions will be written out but you should become familiar with the icons as well. You can visit Textile Industry Affairs’ website for a list of the most common care symbols. For this yarn, from left to right, the icons tell us: machine wash with warm water, do not use bleach, normal dryer setting, do not iron, and can be dry-cleaned with any solvent.

So go on. Tackle those yarn labels!

Simple and Quick Project

Finished Project.jpg

Here’s a very simple project that any beginner can do. You can take any plain and ordinary blanket and simply crochet around the edges. The end up result is a finished project with a gorgeous border. You don’t need to know any fancy stitches — a single crochet or double crochet stitch will do. The best part: not only will you be making something unique and special, you’ll also be doing it in a fraction of the time it would take to make an all-yarn blanket (perfect for a last-minute baby shower gift).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a blanket (it can be a receiving blanket or even a fleece blanket, I used one of the many that my son outgrew)
  • a ruler, or measuring tape
  • a pencil
  • your yarn of choice (just don’t use a thick weight yarn)
  • crochet hook (I used a size 7/1.65mm hook)

Picture1The Project
You’ll want to start off by laying the blanket on a flat surface. Next, you’ll place the ruler on top of the blanket and mark even points – these will be where you’ll insert your hook for your stitches. For this project, I marked at every centimeter. If you have a nifty rotary stitch piercer (which I don’t), you can just run the blade along side the ruler. This will definitely allow you to more easily insert the crochet hook and make your stitches; plus, because the holes will be evenly pierced, you don’t have to worry about measuring and marking.

Next, you’ll insert your hook into any of the stitch marks, pierce through, yarn over and pull the yarn through to the front of your work. You’ll yarn over once more and complete your first single crochet stitch; repeat until you get to your first corner. On the corners, you’ll want to stitch up to two single Stitchingcrochet stitches per stitch mark – this will allow for the stitches to look like they are curving around the corner. Once you’ve gone all the way round, you can either cut the yarn and bind off or you can continue with a second row. For ideas on edgings, you can visit CrochetPatternCentral.com.

Other Ideas
You can also use a crochet edging on:

Any other ideas for things that could use a crochet edging? Let me know in the comments section below!

Laying Down the Foundation – 5 Foundation Chain Tips for Beginners

Just like any proper building structure requires a solid foundation, so will your crochet projects. If you don’t pay enough care and attention to your foundation chains, your entire project will suffer for it. Although a faulty foundation won’t cause your project to fall apart, it may cause it to bunch up, curl up, or even tilt like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (kind of).

Obtaining clean foundation chains is one of the first challenges any beginner will encounter. After you’ve tied your slip knot (Crochet Guru shows you how), you’re ready to begin with your foundation chain. These next five tips will help you crochet the perfect foundation chain.

1. Take it Slow and Easy
Until you get a feel for the crochet hook in your hand and how your yarn will respond to it, take it a few chains at a time. I stitch five chains before readjusting my yarn and stitching on another five. Speeding through the foundation stitches also makes it so that your stitches come out different sizes; more times than not, they come out too tight. A tight stitch is a small stitch and this will result in your project bunching up at the foundation row instead of lying flat.

Examples of two yarn labels. Top one recommends G/6 hook, bottom recommends H/8.

Two yarn labels. Top one recommends G/6 hook, bottom recommends H/8.

2. Use the Right Tools
You’ll need to make sure that your yarn and hook are a good match for each other. If your yarn is too thick for your hook, you’ll have a difficult time completing the stitch or your stitch will be too tight. On the flip side, if your yarn is too thin for your hook, your stitches will be too big and loose. The label on the yarn skein will also usually recommend what size hook to use for that skein of yarn.

3. Start Big
Use the next hook size up for your foundation chain than what the pattern calls for. Let’s say your project calls for a size H hook, you may want to start your foundation chain using a size I hook (this is the next hook size up) and then switch to your H hook for the remainder of the project. Why is that? For most beginners, and even for the old pros, our foundation chains run a little smaller and our row stitches run a little bigger.

Purple indicates back loop of foundation chain, while white-speckled indicates front loop.

Purple indicates back loop of foundation chain, while white-speckled indicates front loop.

4. Be Consistent! B-E CONSISTENT!
A foundation stitch has three parts: the front and back loops (these form the V), and the spine. Once you start working on your first row, you’ll want to make sure that whichever part of the first stitch you insert your hook into that you do this for the rest of your foundation row. This one is a biggie because if you alternate which part of the stitch use, you’ll throw yourself off in the stitch count and end up with more or less stitches than you cast on. Not a big deal if you’re making baby booties, downright tear-inducing if you’re making an afghan.

5. Nip It in the Bud
If you don’t like the way your foundation chain looks, it’s best to rip it and start again. There is no need to drag it out hoping that your project will fix itself as you go along – trust me, it won’t! But a word of caution: don’t cast on and rip foundation chains too many times with the same piece of yarn! Your yarn will to get kinks in it that will make it increasingly difficult to cast on the foundation chains (Catch-22, I know).

Are these tips useful to you? Sound off in the comments section below.