Reading Yarn Labels for Crochet

You have a whole bunch of yarn and you see that the label has lots of information; what does it all mean?!

Let me help you understand what’s going on…

1. Which size crochet hook should I use?

This is shown in a little image of the crochet hooks crossing over in the example label to the right. 

As you can see from this example, Patons Fab Big yarn is recommending a 10mm hook. 

​Once you become more comfortable with crochet, you will be fine to use different sized crochet hooks than the ones recommended, depending on the size of the stitches that you’d like! Although, you’ll still need to use a fairly similar sized hook, as a 3mm on this yarn wouldn’t work very well!

2. What are the shade and lot numbers for?

The shade and lot numbers are shown at the top of the label in the example to the left. I’ve also included a close-up photo of the shade and lot number part of the label below. 

The shade number enables you to locate the exact colour yarn that you need, either because you want to follow a pattern’s yarn recommendation, or you were using a ball of yarn and ran out part-way through a project and need a matching ball. When you go shopping for your yarn, be sure to make a note of this and then check the ball of yarn that you’re purchasing. You’ll then have a nice consistent colour on your work. 

Manufacturers will dye their yarn in different lots, meaning that a same-shade ball of yarn could vary in colour slightly. So, to ensure that you have the correct colour, also make a note of the lot number and take this with you when you go shopping. 

3. Tension

Once you work up your yarn using the recommended needles how big will your work be? This is known as Tension on the yarn label. 

Tension is shown as a 10cm by 10cm standard size. 

On the Patons Fab Big yarn, in a 10cm by 10cm piece, using 10mm hooks, you will be able to get 12 stitches across and 8 rows high. 

On a second example shown to the right, using the recommended 10mm hook, the tension will be 9 stitches by 12 rows per 10cm by 10cm square. 

My advice on keeping a track of your tension is to test the size of your work as you go; keep a tape measure to hand. Some people crochet tighter or looser stitches than others. You can then either adjust your crochet stitch size by making it tighter or looser, adjusting your hook size, or by adjusting the pattern to include more/less stitches or rows as required.   

For some crochet pieces such as clothing, the sizing/tension will be very important. For others, such as toys, it will not matter so much. 

4. How to care for your yarn/finished work

You’ve just made something marvellous and then you’ve split your coffee on it; we’ve all been there!

Your yarn label will give you care instructions on what you can and can’t do to clean it if required. 

On the Paton’s Fab Big yarn label example, you can machine wash it on warm. But you cannot: use bleach, tumble dry, iron, or dry clean!

This is really useful information to have depending on what you’re making. If you’re making clothing for your children, it’s best to get something hardy that is fine in a washing machine on warm!

5. What else does the label include?

The label will also show:

  • the name of the brand; in this example Patons
  • the weight; in this example 200g
  • the material it is made from: in this example acrylic
  • the manufacturer’s name and address; in this example, Coats Crafts UK, Green Mill Lane etc.
  • Also, balls of yarns sometimes come with a free pattern suggestion on the label. This Patons yarn shows a knitted loop scarf pattern

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