Yarn is a textile commonly made of wool, cotton, or acrylic. It is made from strands (or plies) twisted together to form one thick string of material. It is commonly used for weaving into a thick textile through crochet or knitting. Typically, it comes in single long strands known as skeins that can be rolled into balls either by hand or through a yarn ball winder to make it easier to work with.
The thinnest type available. It is only slightly thicker than thread and is best used for lace making and doilies.
Needle Size: 000-1
Hook Size: Steel 6-8 or Regular B
Also extremely thin. It is best used for lace projects or socks.
Needle Size: 1-3
Hook Size: B-E
Very fine and perfect for using when making baby clothes or blankets. It knits up to about as thin as a simple store bought cardigan.
Needle Size: 3-5
Hook Size: E-7
Also known as "DK", is smooth and even-textured. It is also sometimes used for a technique called "double knitting", when you knit two strands together to create a thicker material.
Needle Size: 5-7
Hook Size: 7-I
Thicker and typically used for blankets and sweaters. It knits up into a thick and warm material.
Needle Size: 7-9
Hook Size: I-K
Very thick and typically used for scarves and rugs. It is very bulky and can create an interesting effect. It is typically used with needle sizes in the double digits, but smaller needles and patience can create an incredibly thick and warm material.
Needle Size: 9-11
Hook Size: K-M
Unspun wool typically used for felting, but can be used with very large needles.
Needle Size: 11 and Up
Hook Size: M and Up
Skeins are measured in weight, usually grams. The thickness will determine the yardage in a given skein.
The thickness will also be listed on the label along with a recommendation for knitting needle and crochet hook size.
Labels will also mention a gauge or tension. This tells you the amount of stitches and rows make up a given swatch of yarn, usually 4 x 4 inches on the recommended needle or hook size.
When reading patterns, it is important to note that it was written for the brand and weight of yarn used by the author. Patterns almost always will tell you the brand, weight, and color as well as the size crochet hook or knitting needle used.
If you want to use a different brand, try to stick to the same type of material and weight of yarn used in the pattern. If you choose to use a different type of fiber, the end result may look and feel different than the pattern.
Always make a swatch with the yarn and needle or hook you plan to use for the pattern before starting to make sure you are knitting the correct gauge. Some people knit tighter than others, so gauge can vary from person to person. Adjust your needle or hook size according to your gauge.
Patterns will also tell you the yardage or grams used for a project. Always buy more than a pattern suggests in case of mistakes, knots, or gauge issues.
Yarn is available undyed, ready to take on a custom made dye at home, or left natural. It can also be purchase in a rainbow of colors as well as multi-colored.
Randomly placed flecks of a different colored fiber.
A variegated color that fades from dark to light shades of the same hue.
Variegated with two or more different colors
Dyed with specific lengths of two different colors that when knitted, create stripes.
Flecks of tinsel in it to add sparkle
A very thin and has variegated colors spaced out to create a faux "fair isle" pattern for socks without having to change colors.
The Dye Lot refers to the batch of dye used to color a skein. The numbered dye lot can be found on a label and are sometimes called the "color number". It is very important to keep track of the dye lot used in your project in case you need to buy another skein to finish. The color can vary slightly from one dye lot to another, and while it might not be noticable to the eye, when stitches are lined up together, a definite stripe can appear if the same dye lot is not used.
Check out various yarn craft projects at our Think Crafts Blog.