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How to Read a Yarn Label: Super Useful Tips from Vickie Howell

by Rachel Gregg
craft & maker

Learn how to read a yarn label on the CreativeLive blog.

Yarn shops are usually bursting at the seams with incredible options for knitters and crocheters (and weavers and yarn artists). It is easy to lose focus among all the mohair, wool, cashmere, worsted, and colorspun styles.

Lucky for us, the yarn label can be our anchor and offer up insights and information about which balls, hanks, or skeins of yarn should actually land in our basket.

When CreativeLive visited Vickie Howell in her Austin studio, she taught us how to interpret the information found on most labels. Because, as Vickie explained, “it is key for stitchers to know a few basic things before they get started on a project.”

Most yarn labels, from big and small manufacturers, include a universal set of icons and information designed to help the buyer understand exactly what they are getting. The Craft Yarn Council set up these standards, “to make it easier for industry manufacturers, publishers, and designers to prepare consumer-friendly products and for consumers to select the right materials for a project and complete it successfully.”

Thanks to the Yarn Council, you aren’t flying blind when you are sifting through yarn aisles and with Vickie’s help you can read the yarn label like an expert.

Weight System: The weight system runs on a scale from 1 to 7 – ranging from super fine to jumbo. Vickie explains it this way, “Seven is mega, mega bulky and 1 would be very fine, thin lace.”

Gauge Grid: “This is probably the most important thing.” The gauge grid will tell you how many stitches and how many rows you’ll get per inch. The grid also tells you what size needle or hook to use to get that actual gauge.

Care For Symbols: Here you’ll find out how to care for the yarn – whether you can machine wash it or need to hand wash it, etc.

Yardage: The yardage key will tell you how much yarn is actually in the hank, skein, or ball. “It’ll usually give you several different measurements for that. It might have it in weight or yards.” You’ll need this information because your pattern will tell you how much yarn you need for your project.

Fiber: The fiber listing includes information about the materials used to make the yarn. “Not only will you know if it is going to drape the same way the pattern requires, if you have any allergies or anything, you’ll know right then whether or not you can use that yarn.”

To learn more yarn basics and to get your start in knitting or crochet, check out Vickie Howell’s complete lineup of classes on CreativeLive. You can also RSVP to learn new stitching tips and tricks in Knit Maker: Skills and Technique.

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Rachel Gregg

Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.