Mastering the Basics of Crochet Series

Reading Yarn Labels

So, a lot of folks at the Farmers Market have been coming up to me lately and telling me they're keen on getting into crocheting. Some have tried it before but got stuck, while others have been doing it for a while but haven't tried Amigurumi yet. I always give them my business card and tell them to hit me up if they have any questions. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear back, so I've decided to take things into my own hands and start a how-to crochet series. We'll begin with the super basic stuff for those who have never crocheted before and work our way up.

I know there are a ton of tutorials and videos, and probably some grandmas and aunties that will show you how to crochet. My grandmother taught me how to crochet decades ago, and I'm continually learning new tips and tricks from following other crocheters on social media and watching YouTube videos. But if you don't have that grandma or auntie and YouTube is a bit overwhelming, I've got you.

Teaching someone to crochet usually involves giving them a hook and some inexpensive yarn and showing them the basic stitches. However, building a solid foundation of knowledge is essential before diving into the physical aspect of crocheting. This approach will enable you to stay committed to your new hobby or even turn it into a business!

We will start with reading labels. I know it sounds simple, but there's a lot of information packed into those little paper strips. No label is exactly the same, but they will contain the same basic information.

green yarn
Photo by Surene Palvie on

Yarn Weight

First, let's talk about yarn weight. Yarn weight refers to the width of the yarn strand. When working from a pattern, the designer will recommend a particular type of yarn or yarn weight to achieve the desired result.

The weight of the yarn is usually indicated on the label by a number from 0-7. The lower the number, the finer the yarn. Do not confuse this number with the grams or ounces listed with yardage that is addressed in the next section. The information below concerns US yarn weights; other countries will have other verbiage.

  • 0: Lace Weight. This is the thinnest yarn commonly used for delicate projects such as shawls.
  • 1: Super Fine or Fingering Yarn. This is a thin yarn that is often used for socks.
  • 2: Fine or Sport Weight. It is frequently used for making garments.
  • 3: Light Weight or DK (double knitting). This is commonly used for lightweight sweaters.
  • 4: Medium or Worsted Weight. It is a versatile yarn for various projects such as sweaters, hats, scarves, blankets, etc.
  • 5: Bulky Weight or Chunky. This thicker yarn is typically used for winter accessories such as hats and scarves.
  • 6: Super Bulky or Super Chunky. This very thick yarn is excellent for making home decor projects like blankets.
  • 7: Jumbo. This is the thickest of all yarns and is used for arm knitting.

Yardage and Physical Weight

The yardage tells you approximately how much yarn is in the skein or ball, typically in yards and/or meters. It also lets you know how many ounces or grams the entire skein contains. Having the skein weight on there seems pointless because most patterns will tell you how many yards you need, not how many ounces. However, I have found that knowing the weight is quite handy when making small projects like Amigurumi. For example, I will weigh my skein of yarn before making an octopus and the same skein of yarn after I finish. The difference is how much yarn it took to make that octopus in grams or ounces. With this number, I can roughly figure out how many octopi I can make from one skein of yarn or if that tiny ball of scrap yarn will be enough to make an octopus based on its weight.

Color Name and Dye Lot

The dye lot refers to a batch of yarn that has been dyed together and assigned a unique number. Slight color variations may occur between different dye lots.

Many projects require more than one skein of yarn. So, to avoid unintended variations in color, buy what you need to complete your project and maybe a little extra.

It's always a good idea to keep track of the color and dye lot information when buying yarn. This way, you can easily find the same type of yarn in the future without any hassles!

Fiber Content

Next, look at the fiber content, meaning what the yarn is made of. Common fibers include wool, alpaca, cotton, acrylic, silk, polyester, and blends of different fibers. Understanding the fiber content can help you choose the appropriate yarn for your project based on warmth, durability, and drape factors. For example, if you are making a cozy winter hat, choose a wool or wool blend yarn for its warmth and durability.

I prefer acrylic or polyester because they are super soft, and that's what I like to work with. I recommend sticking with what the pattern tells you to use when you're just starting out. You can always venture off-script when you're a little more comfortable with crocheting.


Yarn labels will provide the guage information in a variety of formats. There might be a square with a picture of a crochet hook, it might be written off to the side, or it could be imagery unique to the brand. There is no standard for how this information will appear.

Your gauge is important to know because it will affect the size of your finished project. If your gauge is too loose, your project will be too big. If your gauge is too tight, your project will be too small.

  • Size of the gauge swatch. There will be a number indicating the width and height of the gauge swatch, usually a 4 x 4 inch (10 x 10 cm) square.
  • Gauge. You will find numbers that indicate how many stitches and rows can fit into the gauge swatch. For instance, you may see something like 20 single crochets and 28 rows.
  • Recommended Crochet Hooks. This indicates the recommended size of crochet hook that you should use with the yarn. You may see something like US L/11 (8 mm).

Note: The hook size recommendation is just a suggestion. Different patterns need larger or smaller hooks to create a looser or denser fabric. Your personal gauge can also vary depending on your pattern and hook. When unsure, follow the pattern recommendation and make a gauge swatch.

Care Instructions

This section will tell you how to properly care for your finished project to ensure it lasts as long as possible. For example, some yarns may need to be hand-washed and laid flat to dry, while others can be machine-washed and dried on a low heat setting.

Of course, there is no standard for how this information will appear. Some will be just text, others just the symbols, or it could be a combination of the 2.

Knowing how to read a yarn label is super important if you want to choose the right yarn for your project, pick the correct hook size, and take good care of your final creation. Some of this information isn't something you have to live or die by; there's a lot of wiggle room in crochet that we'll explore in later posts. In the meantime, go check out the yarn aisle, read some labels, and feel how soft the yarn really is.

Next up in our journey, we'll dive into the world of crochet hooks!

If you have any questions about getting started with crochet, pattern questions, or just need to vent over having to frog half of a project, feel free to reach out. I'm happy to chat and keep the art of crochet alive!

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I'd be happy to help you with some frequently asked questions! Check out the answers below:
How long will it take to get my order?

All orders are made-to-order and WILL take up to two weeks to create from the date of purchase. Potentially less, depending upon the time of year.

The two weeks timeframe does not include shipping.

How will I know when my order has shipped?

We will send an email with your tracking number when your item has shipped.

Why don't the colors look the same?

Colors can appear different in person because of the settings on the screen or monitor. Photos are only lightly edited to ensure what you receive is as close to the picture as possible.

Also, wood products will have natural variances due to grain patterns, knots, and crevices.

NO returns, refunds, or exchanges are accepted because of color or wood variances.

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