If you are fairly new to knitting and want to select the perfect yarn for your knitting project, you may need some clarification about yarn labels. Yarn shopping is so much fun, but can be a bit frustrating if you don't quite understand how to read the yarn labels. Most yarn labels have 7 pieces of information. To choose the perfect yarn, consider all 7 and how they will work together to bring your knitting project to life.
One of the most important pieces of information is understanding which fibers were used to create the yarn. The fiber content will affect the softness and breathability of your garment. Different labels have this info in different places, but if you are familiar with the most common types of fiber, you will be able to spot this information. Here are some fibers to look for:
Before you start yarn shopping, check your pattern for the length of yarn needed for the project. Yarn is typically measured by yard and will always be specified on the yarn label. If you decide to deviate from any of the pattern's yarn specifications, be sure to adjust the yarn length. The length of yarn your project requires can vary with yarn weight and gauge.
The weight of the yarn tells you how thick it is. Standard yarn weight categories established by the Craft Yarn Council range from 0 to 7. The council has also assigned a standard symbol for each yarn weight. Most yarn labels will specify both the yarn weight number and the symbol near the top of the label. Check your pattern for the specified yarn weight and match that number to the yarn label when you are yarn shopping.
Located in the proximity of the yarn gauge will be the recommended size of knitting needle. Most yarn labels display both the metric and US size, so make sure you are looking at the correct number. Following the knitting needle size guidelines will make knitting the particular yarn much easier.
Use this piece of information as a general guideline because many factors can affect the yarn gauge. Simply stated, the yarn gauge is the number of stitches recommended for the width of the swatch and the number of rows. Your personal knitting style and the pattern will alter the gauge, so this information is not set in stone.
As you become a more experienced knitter, you will develop preferences for certain yarn brands. Like any brand, yarn brands each do things a bit differently. Once you decide which brands you love and which you aren't too fond of, it will be important to pay attention to yarn brand.
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The final and perhaps most important piece of information on a yarn label is the yarn care info. Once you have invested hours of care and labor into creating your garment, you want it to last for many years. Follow the yarn care details carefully to maintain the quality of the fibers. Yarn labels use several symbols to express different methods of washing and care. Most times, words will accompany the labels. If you don't know what the symbol means, visit the Craft Yarn Council for a list of symbols and their meanings. The symbols are standard and universal.
If your project requires you to purchase more than one skein of yarn, choose skeins from the same lot so that your colors match. Most yarn labels have a "dye lot" number or "batch number."
Now you are ready to make an informed decision about which yarn to purchase for your next project. Happy Knitting!