If you’re buying yarn for one of our classes, or just for yourself for a project, here’s everything you need to know about getting the right yarn.

Yarn comes in many different colours, thicknesses and materials. If you have a specific project or pattern in mind it’s important to get something that matches the instructions, otherwise you will end up with something that is a different size and appearance than you expected. Of course with something like a scarf this doesn’t really matter, but if you use a fine yarn for a hat pattern that is intended for chunky yarn you will end up with a baby size hat!

So how do you know? Well, everything you need to know is written on the label of the yarn – every ball of yarn will have a paper label round the middle with some symbols on – some of these are washing symbols, others will help you buying the right yarn for a project.

First of all there will be an indicator of how much yarn there is written in grams and/or metres – this ball is 100g and 100m, which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t. You could make a hat out of that much, or a pair of gloves. It’s probably not enough for a full length scarf (a short one maybe!).

Then round the back of the label – often hidden in the middle of the yarn is the important stuff.

The picture of the crossed knitting needles – or it might be a crochet hook – tells you what size needles are suitable for knitting or crocheting with this yarn.

The washing instructions are the same as you would find on a garment – if you are making something to wear then it’s handy to keep the label somewhere so you can refer to it when you’re washing your item for the first time.

The gauge marker tells you – in the example on the left – that if you knit 14 rows and 10 stitches with the recommended needle size, then you will end up with a 10×10 square

The final picture of the jumper tells you that if you are making a jumper of size 38 to 40 then you will need around 600 to 700g of yarn.

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Also on the yarn label you will see a “lot number” (it’s 311 in the picture above – at the top left, almost off the picture) – if you are making something that requires several balls of yarn, try to buy balls that have the same lot number. Different batches (lots) can have tiny variations in colour which may become obvious when you knit them together.  That’s why you should always try to buy sufficient yarn to finish your project at the same time – don’t buy one ball and then go back to the shop later to buy another as you may not find the same lot.

Last thing about gauge – every person knits or crochets slightly differently – I tend to make my stitches quite loose, other people knit with much tighter stitches, the recommended needle size and gauge on the label is just a guide. To be sure of how big your finished product will be, knit or crochet a square according to the pattern and compare it with the expected size. Then use either bigger or smaller needles to get the right size.

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