Features and functions of yarn – second part
Sorting out yarn packaging
Yarn is commonly packaged (or put up) in three different ways: as a skein, a ball, or a hank. You can crochet with balls and skeins of yarn as you buy them. Hanks, however, require a bit of preparation.
✓ Ball: If your ball of yarn is wound around a cardboard center, just grab the end on the outside of the ball, and you’re ready to go. If the ball has an open center, your best bet is to find the end of the yarn from inside the ball. Using the inside end keeps the ball from rolling around the floor or becoming a new toy for your cat.
✓ Skein: The most common form of packaging, a skein is an oblong, machine-wound bundle of yarn. You start crocheting with the inside end. Sometimes it’s already pulled to the outside for you. In that case, just give it a tug, and it’ll pull out smoothly and evenly. If the yarn end
isn’t visible at either end of the skein, reach into the small indentation on either end of the skein and pull out a few strands; you’ll find the end buried inside there. Sometimes the label has an arrow pointing to the correct end of the skein to pull from, but more often than not, you have to guess. If the first end doesn’t work, try the other end; it has to be in there somewhere! Working from the inside of the skein keeps the yarn tangle free.
✓ Hank: A hank is a large circle of yarn twisted into a figure-eight shape.
Trying to work from a hank soon results in a tangled mess and plenty of frustration, so you need to first wind it into a ball. Unfold and then untwist the hank so that it’s a circle of yarn. Place the large circle of yarn over a chair back or your knees, or have someone hold it with outstretched arms. Find the outside end of the yarn and loosely wind it into a ball.
To wind a ball of yarn the inexpensive way, start by laying the outside end of the hank across three or four of your fingers. With the other hand, wrap the yarn loosely around those fingers about 20 times. Remove the wrapped yarn all at once, rotate it 90 degrees, and lay it across the same three or four fingers of your hand. Wrap the yarn loosely around those fingers about 20 times.
Remove the yarn from your hand, pinching it to keep it from unraveling, and rotate it 90 degrees. Continue to lay the yarn across your hand, wrap about 20 times (more or less is fine), remove, and rotate. As you go, you’ll notice that the yarn begins to form a ball. After you make a ball, continue to wrap in one direction several times; then rotate the ball and continue wrapping until all of the yarn is in ball form.
Winding a ball too tightly can stretch your yarn, and you definitely don’t want that. Stretched-out yarn may spring back into shape when your work is finished, and you may have to hand down your size-12 sweater to your size-10 daughter.
Deciphering yarn labels
Yarn labels contain a lot of valuable information that you need to take note of to make sure your project turns out right. Check out the label in next figure and the following list for the lowdown on label info.
Yarn labels include most,
if not all, of the following information:
✓ Article number (1): Some manufacturers assign a number to each different type of yarn they produce for identification purposes. This number comes in handy when you’re ordering yarn directly from the manufacturer or another mail-order source.
✓ Brand name (2): A yarn company may manufacture several different types or brands of yarn.
✓ Care instructions (3): As with any item that needs to be cleaned, yarn has specific care instructions. Some yarns require little care; you simply throw them in the washer and dryer. Other yarns need some TLC and should be handwashed and laid flat to dry. Still others should be sent to the dry cleaner. Be sure that the care instructions will work well for your finished work, or else your creation may end up on the top shelf of the closet! Many manufacturers use the International Fabric Care Symbols shown here.
If you mix more than one
type of yarn in a project, the care requirements should be similar. Otherwise
you may end up with a stretched (or shrunken) section after you launder your
piece the first time.
✓ Color name and number (4): Yarn colors are identified in two different ways: by name and/or number.
✓ Company name and logo (5): This is the name of the company that manufactures the yarn. Sometimes contact information, such as address, telephone number, and Web site, is included as well.
✓ Dye lot number (6): The dye lot number identifies yarns that are dyed in the same batch. Although companies strive to match the colors as closely as possible, slight variations exist from lot to lot. Even if skeins of different dye lots look the same when you hold them together, you may end up with a distinct color difference in your finished project.
To ensure an even color throughout your work, buy enough yarn from the same dye lot to complete your entire project. If you have to go back and buy more at a later date, chances are you won’t be able to find yarn from the same dye lot.
If you do end up with skeins of the same color but different dye lots, here’s a trick to make the color variation less noticeable. If you have equal numbers of skeins in each dye lot, crochet two rows with a skein of one dye lot, and then crochet the next two rows with a skein from the second dye lot. Continue to switch skeins of each dye lot after every two rows to end up with a subtle striped pattern. If you only have one skein that has a different dye lot than the remaining skeins, you can still do the same thing, but you’ll want to work in the odd dye lot less frequently depending on how many skeins you have to work with.
✓ Gauge (7): Gauge is a measurement that helps you keep your crochet stitches consistent. It’s the number of stitches and rows in a given measurement that you should get with a particular yarn by using the recommended hook size for that yarn. If the label only gives a knitting gauge, you can use this gauge as a guide because crochet hook sizes correspond to knitting needle sizes.
✓ Manufacturer’s address (8): Sometimes the manufacturer’s address is listed separately from the name, and it can come in handy if you have questions about the yarn or are having trouble locating a retail store that sells the product.
✓ Ply (9): Ply refers to the number of smaller strands twisted together to form the larger single strand of yarn. This number can be deceptive, though, because a fine yarn can be a 3- or 4-ply yarn, whereas a bulky yarn can be just 2 ply. Worsted-weight yarns are generally 4 ply, but
some cotton yarns can be made up of 8 or more strands. The ply may be included on the label along with the size or weight of the yarn; for example, 4-ply worsted-weight yarn or 2-ply bulky-weight yarn.
✓ Recommended hook size (10): Sometimes the label suggests a certain hook size so you can work to the proper gauge for a specific yarn size.
The recommended hook size is a good place to start, although you may find that you need to use a smaller- or larger-size hook, depending on how you work your stitches and how loose you want them to be. You can achieve a lacy texture by using a much larger hook than recommended.
On the other hand, if you want a tight, stiff fabric (like for a tapestry bag), you should use a smaller hook than the one the label calls for, such as when you crochet amigurumi.
✓ Weight (11): This number reflects the actual weight of the whole skein, ball, or hank of yarn, as opposed to the weight (size) of the yarn strand.
The weight is usually quoted in grams. ✓ Yardage (12): The yardage is the length of the yarn (in yards or meters) that’s in the ball or skein. This information is important because you don’t want to get partway through your project and then realize that you don’t have enough yarn.
✓ Yarn content (13): Yarn content is the stuff your yarn is made of — wool or acrylic, cotton or silk, a blend of two or more fibers, or one of the many other fibers available.
Hope I helped you with this information!
Have a beautiful day!