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All About Yarn

When I started out messing about with yarn as a kid, I grabbed any lying around from my mum’s knitting projects. Since I was finger crocheting, the type of yarn meant nothing to me. But, now that I’m using crochet hooks, I’ve discovered that yarn knowledge is crucial to a successful project.

I first realised there was a gap in my knowledge when US YouTubers frequently mentioned yarn weight numbers. Having never seen anything remotely resembling weight numbers on UK labels, I knew I had to find out.

In this post, I’ll share with you answers to some common questions about yarn for crochet, including how to identify mystery yarn, and I’ve also made a few freebie charts to help you out. PS The charts are available as a free PDF at the end of the post, AND there’s no newsletter sign up to download these charts!

Is Crochet Yarn the Same as Knitting Yarn?

Yep, it is! I had this very same question myself. I’d seen reference to crochet cotton and crochet thread, but those are the only specific crochet “yarns” out there. So, if it’s suitable for knitting, it’s good for crochet.

What Do Numbers on Yarn Mean?

The numbers refer to yarn weights in the US. Different countries and regions of the world use varying methods for labelling yarn weights–as you’ll see in the weight conversion chart below.

What Do Symbols on Yarn Labels Mean?

Aside from your county’s care symbols, the others are there for knitters and crocheters.

A grid or box with knitting needles shows knitters the needle size, the number of stitches (sts), and the number of rows per 10cm x 10cm gauge swatch. This can help knitters estimate how many balls/skeins they need to complete a project.

Some yarn labels also have a grid/box with crocheter information, but I haven’t seen that on any of the yarn I’ve bought.

(If you’re in the same position as me on the no-crochet-info front, I’ve got you covered in the Crochet Hook and Yarn Chart coming up later in the post.)

What Yarn is Best for Beginners?

Yarn in the UK is expensive compared to the US, so I buy what I can afford and wouldn’t dare tell someone that they must buy XYZ brand. I’ll just give you some ideal characteristics that have worked well for me while I’ve been learning.

FYI: If you prefer high-end brands, go with that, but the yarn in Poundland or Dollar Tree is good enough for when you’re starting out—and beyond, to be honest.

Characteristics to look for:

  • Light in colour—makes it easier to see stitches.
  • One colour/shade—again, it makes it easier to see your stitches.
  • DK or Aran—the yarn is smoother, and the fibres don’t tend to split or tangle too easily.
The stitches in pink are so much easier to see than those in black.
Even though the above yarn is fairly light, the multiple colours and shades make it difficult to make out stitches.
The simple, one colour yarn is a clear winner for the new crocheter.

How Do I Identify Mystery Yarn?

If you have old yarn lying about the house with no label, you may have toyed with throwing it out. Don’t. There’s a fast and easy way to figure out what weight you’ve got—it’s not 100% accurate, but it’ll get you close enough. All you need is the mystery yarn, a standard pencil, a ruler or measuring tape, and the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) Chart below.

How to Identify Mystery Yarn

  1. Wrap your yarn around the pencil—ensure each round touches the others but doesn’t overlap.
  2. Place the ruler along the wrapped pencil so you can see 1 inch of wraps.
  3. Count the number of wraps there are in that inch.
  4. Check your number of wraps against the chart.
  5. Mark your result on some paper and attach it to your now non-mystery yarn.

As you can see, there are thirteen wraps per inch of my mystery yarn, making it a Double Knit (DK) or 3 weight yarn.

What Crochet Hook Should I Use?

Yarn weights work best/better with specific hook sizes. If you use a pattern, the hook size will be indicated in the instructions. But, if you’re freestyling your own thing, then the chart below is a good starting point for matching hooks to yarn weights.

Hopefully, you now understand yarn weights and no longer have a stash of mystery yarn. Thanks for reading!

Want a handy FREE PDF of these super convenient charts? No problem. Click the button below, and your download will start. No email address needed.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!


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