In this guide on how to read a yarn label, we cover everything you need to know about reading a yarn label to help you make the right yarn choices for your knitting or crochet projects.
Table of contents
Understanding Yarn Labels: Why It Important
If you want to choose the correct yarn for a project, you must learn how to read a yarn label.
Yarn labels will provide all the essential information about weight, yardage, fiber content, yarn care instructions, recommended needle/hook size, gauge, and more.
By understanding labels, you will avoid issues like using the wrong weight or fiber content, which can result in an unsatisfactory finished product.
It can also help to avoid wasting time and money by making the wrong choice.
What Information Is Typically Included On A Yarn Label?
Just about every skein or ball of yarn you purchase will have a label attached, and this provides you with the information needed when choosing yarn for your crochet project.
The information presented on the labels will vary between manufacturers with some providing more information than others.
Generally, you will see things like:
- The brand and yarn name
- Yarn ball weight
- Yarn weight category
- Fiber content
- Gauge, along with a knitting needle size and or crochet hook size.
- Care instructions
- Manufacture number
- Color number
- Dye lot
- Yarn color
Making Sense Of Yarn Labels - Understanding The Sections
Brand and Yarn Name
The band and yarn name are usually the first thing you will see on a yarn label because they are so visible.
Knowing the brand and yarn name can be helpful when purchasing yarn for future projects because you may develop preferences for particular brands or yarn types.
Also, searching for a specific yarn name can help you locate the yarn for future projects or find patterns designed for that particular yarn.
1. Yarn Ball Weight
Knowing the weight of a skein or ball of yarn is important, because it can help you calculate the amount of yarn needed for a project, and it can help you in estimating the overall cost.
It also helps you to compare yarn prices between brands, as some may offer different skein sizes for the same price.
Also, some patterns may specify yarn weight instead of the yardage/meterage required.
2. Yarn Category
The yarn categories on labels refer to the thickness of the yarn and are used to determine the appropriate needle or hook size to use.
Yarn categories range from lace weight (the finest) to jumbo weight (the thickest).
The following are the eight types of yarn weights that have been created by the craft yarn council.
- Lace weight yarn #0 -This is the finest and thinnest yarn weight category, often used for making delicate lace projects, and is the equivalent of 1-3 ply yarn
- Fingering weight yarn #1 - This is a slightly thicker yarn weight category, commonly used for making lightweight garments like socks, shawls, and baby clothes. It is equivalent to 4 ply yarn.
- Sport weight yarn #2 - This is a medium-weight yarn category, often used for making lightweight garments like sweaters, scarves, hats, and baby items. It is equivalent to 5 ply yarn.
- Lightweight yarn #3 - This is also a medium yarn and includes weights like DK and light worsted yarns, often used for making blankets, sweaters, scarves, and hats. It is equivalent to 8 ply yarn.
- Worsted weight yarn #4 - This is a medium to heavy yarn category, commonly used for making a variety of projects like afghans, hats, and scarves. It is equivalent to 10 ply yarn.
- Bulky weight yarn #5 - This is a heavier yarn category, used for making warm and cozy projects like blankets, scarves, and hats. It is equivalent to 12 ply yarn.
- Super bulky weight yarn #6 - This is the heaviest yarn category, often used for making quick and cozy projects like blankets, scarves, and hats. It is equivalent to 14 ply yarn.
- Jumbo weight yarn #7 - This is the thickest yarn available, it is sometimes called roving yarn. It is perfect for making oversized projects like blankets, throws, and floor poufs. It is equivalent to 16 ply yarn.
You can read more about this on our different types of yarn page.
These yarn weight categories may or may not be indicated on yarn packaging because it is not standard across brands, so some manufacturers may choose not to label the weight category on the yarn label.
Also, some yarns may not fit neatly into a weight category, and because of this, a manufacturer may not include a weight category on the label.
Despite the lack of standardization, understanding yarn weight categories is still essential for selecting the appropriate yarn for a project.
Meterage or yardage refers to the amount of yarn in a skein or ball, measured in meters or yards respectively.
This information is listed on yarn labels and helps determine the required amount of yarn for a project.
Different yarn weights have varying meterage/yardage per skein/ball.
Knowing the meterage/yardage on the label enables estimation of the number of skeins/balls required to make your project.
It also facilitates price comparison between brands, as higher meterage/yardage may cost more initially but be more cost-effective in the long run.
4. Fiber Content
The fiber content listed on a yarn label refers to the type of material used to make the yarn.
Yarn can be made from various fibers, including natural fibers like wool, cotton, and silk, as well as synthetic fibers like acrylic, nylon, and polyester.
Some yarns may also be blended, combining two or more types of fiber to create a unique texture or color.
Understanding the fiber content listed on a yarn label is important because different fibers have unique characteristics that can affect the yarn's texture, drape, warmth, and durability.
For example, wool yarn is known for its warmth and elasticity, while the cotton yarn is cooler and more breathable.
Synthetic fibers like acrylic are often more affordable and easier to care for, but may not have the same natural feel or warmth as natural fibers.
Knowing the fiber content listed on a yarn label can also help you choose the appropriate yarn for the type of care instructions you like to use.
5. Gauge, Needle Size
The gauge on a yarn label indicates the number of stitches and rows achieved with a particular yarn and needle/hook size.
Gauge varies based on yarn weight, texture, and fiber content. Knowing the gauge and having the correct gauge ensures that the project matches the specified size and shape.
By making a swatch and measuring the gauge, you can adjust the needle or hook size if necessary to get the correct gauge for your chosen yarn before starting your project.
Also, having the correct gauge ensures the finished project looks right and fits well.
6. Care Instructions
Yarn labels also have laundry care symbols on them that should be followed when laundering the finished project.
Different fibers and textures require different washing, drying, and ironing techniques to keep their shape and texture intact.
For instance, wool yarn needs to be hand-washed in cold water and air-dried, while acrylic yarn may be machine washed and dried on low heat.
These care instructions may also offer advice on preventing issues like pilling, stretching, or shrinking.
Special care may be necessary for some yarns, like dry cleaning or avoiding high heat or direct sunlight.
Following the care instructions listed on the yarn label is essential to ensure the longevity and durability of the finished project.
Failure to follow these instructions may cause damage or loss of texture and shape.
7. Manufacturer Number
The manufacturer number on a yarn label is a unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer to track the production of the yarn.
This number can be helpful if there is a quality control issue with the yarn or if you need to purchase additional skeins or balls of yarn for a project.
By referencing the manufacturer's number, you can ensure that the new yarn you purchase is from the same batch as the original yarn, minimizing any color or texture differences between the two.
However, not all yarn labels may include a manufacturer's number, and the format and location of the number can vary between manufacturers.
8. Color Number
The color number on a yarn label is a unique identifier for a particular colorway of yarn.
It is assigned by the manufacturer and helps to ensure consistency in color from one batch of yarn to the next.
9. Dye Lot
The dye lot on a yarn label is a number or code that identifies a specific batch of yarn that was dyed together.
This is important because variations can occur between different batches of the same colorway due to slight differences in dye lots.
It is recommended to purchase enough yarn from the same dye lot to complete a project and avoid color discrepancies.
10. Yarn Color
The yarn color is simply the color of the yarn itself, which can vary widely depending on the fiber content, dyeing process, and colorway.
The color name or description may be listed on the yarn label to help identify the specific color.
Frequently Asked Questions
"Skein" and "ball" are both terms for wound-up yarn, but they are not always the same thing.
A skein is typically a folded hank that's twisted into a long, narrow shape, while a ball is a round or oval shape without knots.
Yarn makers may use the terms interchangeably, and the yarn's shape may depend on its weight and type.
Whether a yarn is called a skein or a ball may vary among brands or types.
The weight and fiber content listed on a yarn label can impact the texture, drape, warmth, and durability of the finished project.
Using the wrong weight or fiber content can result in an unsatisfactory finished product.
The recommended needle/hook size listed on a yarn label is the size of knitting needles or crochet hook that is best suited for working with the yarn.
The recommended size can vary depending on the weight and texture of the yarn, as well as the desired gauge or tension.
Some common care instructions listed on a yarn label may include hand-washing, machine-washing, drying flat, avoiding high heat or sunlight, and dry cleaning.
Following thje care instructions is important for maintaining the quality and durability of the finished project.
A dye lot is a number or code indicating the batch of yarn that was dyed together.
Yarns from different dye lots may have slight variations in color, so it is important to purchase enough yarn from the same dye lot to complete a project.
That's it! Now you know how to read a yarn label, and by knowing the information on the yarn label you can select the right yarn, estimate the required amount, and care for the finished item properly.
And knowing the weight, yardage, fiber content, care instructions, recommended needle/hook size, gauge, and other details listed on a yarn label can save time, money, and frustration.
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