1. What information should I look for on the yarn label?
The information on the yarn label is helpful in selecting the type of yarn and number of skeins needed for a project. This information includes: yarn brand name, yarn fiber content (acrylic, cotton, wool, etc.), color name and number, dye lot number or statement that the yarn is “no dye lot”, plies (number of strands), yarn weight classification, weight in ounces and/or grams, length in yards and/or meters, knitting or crochet gauge, home laundering and dry cleaning symbols, and home laundering instructions. You can find the meaning of the symbols by going to www.yarnstandards.com.
2. What is meant by “Yarn Weight Classifications?”
The “yarn weight classification” does not refer to how much a yarn “weighs” but is a standard designation for the size (diameter) of the yarn. The “yarn weight” required for a project and the amount of yarn needed to complete a project is specified in the project instructions. “Yarn weight classification” is a number and/or name assigned to yarn in the following designations:
- 1 Super Fine
- 2 Fine
- 3 Light
- 4 Medium
- 5 Bulky
- 6 Super Bulky
3. Can I substitute one yarn weight for another yarn weight?
No, each project is designed to be made with a specific weight of yarn. Changing the yarn weight will change the size and appearance of the finished project as well as change the amount of yarn required.
4. Can I substitute different yarn brands of the same yarn weight?
Yes, but be sure to test the “gauge” to make sure that an adjustment is not necessary as you substitute one yarn for another. See question # 7 to learn more about “gauge.”
5. Why do some yarns have a dye lot number and others are no dye lot?
Some yarns are dyed after spinning. They are dyed in large batches with each batch assigned a dye lot number. It is important to use balls from the same dye batch to avoid the disappointment of minor color variances in your finished project. “No Dye Lot” yarns are spun from fiber that is already colored. These yarns are purchased in very large quantities and spun into different weights. There is a production date on these balls of yarn, and it is best to purchase enough yarn for your project with the same date on them.
6. What does "double knitting" mean?
Double Knitting is actually a weight of yarn like worsted, fingering or sport. It knits at a gauge of 5.5 stitches to the inch. It does not mean that you are required to knit with two strands doubled together at the same time.
7. What is “gauge” and how is it determined?
Gauge is the number of stitches and rows in every inch of knitting and the number of stitches and rows (or rounds) in every inch of crochet. The required gauge is specified in knitting and crochet patterns, and determines the finished size of the project. Since everyone knits and crochets differently, it is very important that you make a gauge swatch and match it with the gauge specified in the project pattern. You may find that if you knit or crochet loosely, you may have to use a needle or hook smaller than the pattern specifies. Likewise, if you knit or crochet tightly, you may need to use a needle or hook larger than the pattern specifies. It doesn’t matter what size needle or hook you use as long as your gauge swatch has the same number of stitches and rows per inch as specified in the pattern.
8. What are the differences in steel, aluminum, and plastic crochet hooks or knitting needles? When do I use one kind versus another?
Crochet hooks and knitting needles are made in a variety of materials such as wood, plastic, aluminum, bamboo, and steel. They come in many sizes designed to be used with different yarn weights. The choice of material is one of personal preference. Hook and needle sizes are indicated by letters, numbers, or millimeters (mm). The project instructions will specify the crochet hook or knitting needle size required for the pattern.
9. What are double point and circular knitting needles used for? How are they similar and how are they different?
Double point and circular needles are different from straight knitting needles and are used for seamless knitting or “knitting-in-the-round.” Double point knitting needles come in sets of four or five and are used to make smaller round pieces such as cuffs, socks and mittens. Circular knitting needles come in various lengths and sizes, and are the tools of choice for larger round sections such as sleeves, collars, and the body of a sweater.
10. Should I use circular needles instead of straight needles?
It is really up to you. Circular needles are more versatile as you can use them to knit “in the round” or “back and forth” like straight needles. They are good for knitting in close quarters like a car or public transport. Many people claim that they are also more comfortable to use.
11. Is it okay to add a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row?
The problem with joining ends of yarn in the middle of a row is that you risk having your knot come undone or popping out the front of your garment. For the amount of yarn that you save, it is not worth it. It is best to add new balls of yarn at the edges of your work.
12. Should I decrease and increase at the beginning and end of the row?
When increasing or decreasing, make sure you do so between the first and last stitches on a row or according to the pattern instructions.
13. Can I re-use yarn that I have ripped out of a project?
You may re-use yarn that you rip out of a project but try to get the "kinks" or wrinkles out of it first. Steaming with an iron or blocking will work: wrap the yarn around a large, flat piece of cardboard and then apply steam or lay a very damp towel over board and let dry. Never apply an iron directly to the yarn.
14. What is the best way to launder projects made from yarn?
The first step is to check the laundering instructions on the yarn label. This will tell you whether to machine wash and dry or hand launder and dry flat. Even if the yarn label indicates that you may machine wash and dry, remember that you are caring for a handmade item. It is recommended that delicate items be washed in a mesh laundry bag or pillow case and that you wash your handmade items separately from your other laundry.
15. How do you convert inches to centimeters as needed in some instructions?
To convert inches to centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.54 and round to the closest half centimeter.
16. How do you set the dye in a yarn / garment to prevent the dye from coming off on hands and needles while working with it?
Knit your project, and soak it in a solution of the following: 1-2 c PICKLING SALT and COLD WATER. Set for half an hour. Rinse THOROUGHLY in water. Soak again in VINEGAR and WATER. Set for half an hour. Rinse THOROUGHLY.
17. How do you block a garment?
Pin garment pieces to measurements and cover with damp cloth leaving cloth to dry.
18. Where can I find out more about knitting and crocheting?
Several web sites offer online instructions, educational pages and message boards where you can ask questions about knitting and crocheting. Visit our Links page for a list.
Pattern Ratings: Skill levels for knitting
|Projects for first-time knitters using basic knit and purl stitches. Minimal shaping.|
|Projects using basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.|
|Projects with a variety of stitches, such as basic cables and lace, simple intarsia, double-pointed needles and knitting in the round needle techniques, mid-level shaping and finishing.|
|Projects using advanced techniques and stitches, such as short rows, fair isle, more intricate|
Pattern Ratings: Skill levels for crocheting
|Projects for first-time crocheters using basic stitches. Minimal shaping.|
|Projects using yarn with basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.|
|Projects using a variety of techniques, such as basic lace patterns or color patterns, mid-level shaping and finishing.|
|Projects with intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension, such as non-repeating patterns, multi-color techniques, fine threads, small hooks, detailed shaping and refined finishing.|
|Yarn Weight Symbol and Category names|
|Type of yarns in Category||Sock, Fingering, Baby||Sport, Baby||DK, Light, Worsted||Worsted, Afghan, Aran||Chunky, Craft, Rug||Bulky, Roving|
|Knit Gauge Range* in Stockinette Stitch to 4 inches||27 - 32 sts||23 - 26 sts||21 - 24 sts||16 - 20 sts||12 - 15 sts||6 - 11 sts|
|Recommended Needle in Metric Size Range||2.25 - 3.25 mm||3.25 - 3.75 mm||3.75 - 4.5 mm||4.5 - 5.5 mm||5.5 - 8 mm||8 mm and larger|
|Recommended Needle U.S. Size Range||1 to 3||3 to 5||5 to 7||7 to 9||9 to 11||11 and larger|
|Crochet Gauge* Ranges in Single Crochet to 4 inches||21 - 32 sts||16 - 20 sts||12 - 17 sts||11 - 14 sts||8 - 11 sts||5 - 9 sts|
|Recommended Hook in Metric Size Range||2.25 - 3.5 mm||3.5 - 4.5 mm||4.5 - 5.5 mm||5.5 - 6.5 mm||6.5 - 9 mm||9 mm and larger|
|Recommended Hook U.S. Size Range||B - 1 to E - 4||E - 4 to 7||7 to I - 9||I - 9 to K-10 1/2||K-10 1/2 to M - 13||M - 13 and larger|
|* Guidelines only: the above reflect the most commonly used gauges and needle or hook sizes for specific yarn categories.|