How to Read a Yarn Label
Updated: Mar 30
Yarn labels are full of important information, but at first glance, the label can be overwhelming. There are many reasons you may need to know how to read a yarn label, here are some examples:
You want to work with a particular type of yarn, like wool
You need to know what size crochet hook or knitting needle to use
You need a specific 'weight' (size) of yarn
You want to know the care instructions
You're making a larger project and you want to make sure you're choosing yarn in the same dye lot
Not all companies have the same label layout, and some will give more information about the yarn than others, so it is also important to understand some of the main symbols and terminology.
When you're just starting out knitting or crocheting, and walk into a yarn store, all the terminology you're suddenly confronted with can be very daunting. Don't panic– we've all been there! And that is why I've compiled this handy terminology list.
Of course, these are not the only terms you will need to know, but there's no need to memorize everything in the beginning.
The gauge swatch is very important, as this is the “tester” you make before you begin your main project. This is done to measure how many stitches and rows are needed to make a 4” square of crocheted or knitted fabric. The gauge you knit in must match that of the pattern you’re making to ensure that it end up being the correct size.
A hank of yarn is typically what you will find in your local specialty yarn shops. Yarn that has been wound into a hank is more often than not, high-quality yarn. It is wound this way to allow the dye to reach all parts of the yarn without it tangling up. When you buy a hank of yarn you will have to untwist it and wind it into a ball or cake.
Plied yarn refers to yarn made from more than one strand of spun fiber. Therefore, 4-ply yarn is made from four of these strands plied together. Most yarns are plied to help prevent the yarn from twisting and letting the fabric slant diagonally.
A skein refers to yarn that is sold wound into an oblong shape and that is ready to knit.
Yarn “weight” refers to the thickness of the yarn, not the literal weight (heaviness) of the yarn. The range goes from 0 (the thinnest) to 7 (the thickest) and you can see the full Standard Yarn Weight System here.
Now that you have a basic understanding of some of the terms, let's dive into the yarn label.
How to read a yarn label
Just like any clothing label, yarn labels contain important information. Everything you need to know about your yarn will be listed on the label. Keep in mind that not all yarn labels will look the same, but they will all contain the same valuable information. Now we are going to break down this label piece by piece.
1 - Yarn Brand Name
The label will tell you which brand name the yarn belongs to.
2 - Yarn Collection Name
This is also pretty self-explanatory, a lot of brands have collections, this one above is the 'Cupcake' collection.
3 - Length and Weight of Yarn
This is where you will see how much yarn you have. You will see the length in meters and yards, and the weight in grams and ounces.
4 - Care Information
The yarn label also provides important care information specific to that yarn.
5 - Fiber Content
The type of fiber or yarn content is what the yarn is made of. As seen in the photo above, this yarn is 100% acrylic.
6 - Yarn Weight Category
The number given is on a scale from 0 (thinnest) to 7 (thickest) according to the Craft Yarn Council Standards. This will give you a rough idea of the yarn’s thickness.
7 - Gauge and Hook Information
This part of the label shows the suggested hook size to use and the gauge that should go along with it. However, everyone’s gauge will be different, depending on how loose or tight you crochet. For the hook size, this is a suggestion NOT a rule.
When you first start crocheting, you will want to follow hook size suggestions, as you get more familiar, you can start playing around. Sometimes I'll use a hook size smaller or larger than recommended to give my project a slightly different look.
8 - Further Care Instructions by Symbol
I typically hand wash all of my crochet items and lay them flat to dry, regardless of the instructions. In my opinion, that is the best way to ensure my projects are safe and won't be damaged. I've seen too many washing machine horror stories to risk it. However, this isn't always needed, and so it is useful to know what is allowed or not allowed in terms of washing, drying and ironing.
Here is a chart of care instruction symbols and what they mean. For more information, check out the Yarn Standards page here.
In the case of our yarn label, it looks like it is recommended:
that when you wash this yarn the water does not exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit,
that you do not bleach your yarn,
if you place it in the dryer to keep it set to tumble dry low,
do not iron, and
you can use any cleaning solvent except Trichloroethylene (which can be found in cleaning wipes, carpet cleaners and spot removers).
9 - Yarn Preview
Since I chose a variegated yarn (multiple colors), my yarn label is displaying what the yarn will look like when crocheted/knit. Not all variegated yarn labels will have this, but in some shops, they may have a sample piece of the yarn worked into a fabric as an example.
10 - Color Name and Number
Pretty handy when using yarn brands that have similar colors, as you can see, this yarn color is Tundra, color 222.
11 - Dye Lot
Yarn is dyed in batches, called “dye lots”. If you are working on a project such as a blanket, you will want to ensure that all of your skeins are from the same dye lot. While this is not always the case, some dye lot color differences can be pretty drastic!
And that's how to read a yarn label 🥰
If you are following the Learn to Crochet series, check out my related posts, and if you have any comments or questions, drop them below.