When you’re a beginner, wanting to pick out yarn for that new project you’re wanting to tackle, it can be easy to get overwhelmed or confused by all the choices available. You pick up a pretty yarn and turn it over to look at the label and you have no idea what any of that means. What does that number on the yarn ball mean? What the heck are those little squares with the needles on them?
It may not seem overly important at the time, especially if you’re just buying the yarn based on its squish factor but that label has a lot of important info on it that you’ll need to know. Here I’ll walk you through how to read a yarn label so that next time you go yarn shopping, you can easily determine what that label is trying to tell you and whether it’s the yarn you need.
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There is a wealth of information available for you on the back of your yarn label! On the front of the label (not pictured) you’ll find the brand name, the yarn name and often, an image of a project made using that particular yarn. Sometimes you’ll find a free pattern included on the inside of the ball bands.
Although all yarn brands have a slightly different style to their different yarn labels, they all contain important information that you need to know about the yarn before you buy it. Below I have included an image of the back part of the label from a Bernat Blanket skein of yarn that I have in my stash.
How to Read a Yarn Label:
- Yarn Weight Category: The number indicated in the number of this symbol indicates what the weight of the yarn is. Weights of yarn are assigned a number from 0 – 7 and that number indicates the thickness of the yarn. The higher the number, the thicker the yarn is. The higher the number, the thicker the yarn is. This yarn is a thicker yarn because it is a 6 – Super Bulky Weight yarn. The lower the number, the thinner the yarn is. The thinnest yarns have a 0 – Super Fine in this symbol.
All yarn weight standards are determined by the Craft Yarn Council. Check out their standards system on the Craft Yarn Council Website.
- Knitting Gauge: This symbol shows the knitting gauge of the yarn and the recommended knitting needle size for the yarn. The recommended needle size is what knitting needles the yarn company suggests that you use for your knitting project. This example says that you should be able to get 8 stitches by 14 rows in a a 10cm x 10 cm or 4 in by 4 inch square gauge swatch when knitting using 8mm needles.
- Crochet Gauge: This symbol shows the crochet gauge of the yarn with the recommended crochet hook size.In this example, the label is indicating that you should be able to get in a swatch that measures 10cm x 10 cm or 4 in by 4 inches square, you can expect to get 6 single crochet stitches and 8 rows in that swatch.
The gauge information is helpful if you are considering substituting a yarn for your project. If the gauge on the yarn you want to use matches the gauge of the yarn the project calls for, generally, you should be able to use that yarn for your project.
- Care Instructions / Washing Information: These parts of a yarn label will differ depending on the type of fiber that your yarn is made of (see Fiber Content below). The label includes information about the best way to care for your finished product made from that yarn. It will tell you if you should hand wash or machine wash your project and more. In this label:
- Symbol a) (washing instructions) means that items are machine washable in cold water.
- Symbol b) means You should not use bleach with this yarn.
- Symbol c) (drying instructions) means you can tumble dry this item on low heat (bonus!)
- Symbol d) means do not iron. Symbol e) means do not dry clean. You can get a list of what all the laundry care symbols are and what they mean here at the Craft Yarn Council Yarn Standards Page.
- Fiber Content / Material(s): This tells you what fibers the yarn is comprised of. In this case, Bernat Blanket yarn is 100% polyester. Some yarns are made of a blend of multiple fibers and how much of each fibre is used to make up the content will be listed here. I.e. 20% merino wool, 60% acrylic, 20% nylon. Different yarn fibers lend different characteristics to yarn and how it will be have in the finished product so knowing what your yarn is made of is absolutely essential information.
- Net Weight, Yards/Meters: Here you’ll find the amount of yarn that is in that particular skein or hank of yarn. This information is given in weight (the physical weight of the yarn skein) and yardage (the length of the yarn that has been wound up into the ball). This information is vital in determining if you have the appropriate amount or length of yarn needed for your project and/or calculating how many balls of yarn your project will require. If your particular pattern needs 800 yards of Bernat Blanket yarn, you are going to need to make sure you buy enough yarn for your project. This skein has 220 yards of yarn in it so I would need to buy 4 skeins in order to have enough to complete my project.
- Dye Lot Information: Now this label doesn’t show the dye lot information but many other yarn brands will have what’s called a dye lot number on it. This number indicates the batch number assigned to the batch of yarn that was dyed together. Ideally, you want to get yarns with the same colour name from the same dye lot (meaning they have the same lot number) so that the colours in your project will remain consistent.
With mass produced yarns from larger companies like Yarnspirations, Lion Brand Yarn and WeCrochet, variations within the same dye lot tends to be minimal and it can be easier to get enough balls of yarn in the same yarn lot for a larger project. If you find yourself unable to get enough yarns from the same dye lots, alternating yarn skeins with different dye lot numbers every other row or every few rows will help to minimize any potential variations in colouring.
I hope this helps you decipher your yarn labels! Happy yarn shopping!
Need to learn how to organize your yarn stash? Check out my tips organize your yarn stash. Also check out my tips on How to Get Your Crojo Back while you’re here.
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