The Yarn Label and What is Gauge?
So you're in a store, and you want yarn, but you're not really sure which yarn to get because you saw this great project, and it says that it needs chunky yarn, but you're not sure what chunky yarn is. It's okay, take a deep breath. You've got your crochet ally here. All you need to do is consult the yarn label. Yarn labels don't always look exactly the same, frankly. But they're supposed to have a few elements. They're supposed to have what fibers the yarn is made from. This is important if you have a wool allergy and you want to know, make sure that you're working with something that's maybe non-animal based, or if you're making a project for a baby and you want to make sure that there's some form of element of organic cotton in it or whatever. This will be demystified for you right there. It'll also tell you the yardage, which is really good for substitutions. And I'll talk to you about that a little bit more later. And you will get some information on care, about whether or not you...
could wash it or dry it or those are really the most important ones. They can get relatively detailed. It'll tell you whether or not to iron it, which I don't think you should ever do, frankly. So there's that information. And then there's also gauge. I'm gonna talk about that in a second. But I wanted to point something out. So the labels look a little bit different. So they have these common symbols that are universal, but not all companies use all the symbols. At the very base, they absolutely will tell you the yardage, how many yards, so how much yarn is in that ball or hank or skein. And also what it's made with. And then there's supposed to be a hook recommendation. A hook recommendation is to tell you how many stitches per inch, or how many rows per inch, you get using those two together, that yarn and that hook. The reason that this is important is because if you want something to fit, you need to make sure that you're getting the same amount of stitches that the pattern calls for to get that width of a project or length if it's row gauge. If you're making something like a scarf, it doesn't really matter. But if you're working on a sweater, 100% matters. So the frustrating thing, to be honest with you, a lot of the yarns that are higher end that aren't in the craft stores, they don't always put crochet. They kind of ignore us crocheters on the label. They're only giving you a knitting gauge. It's one of the reasons that I highly recommend going into a craft store when you're choosing your first yarn for a crochet project because crochet brands in general are really good about including a hook size on their gauge. I've had craft store yarns before and that was always a big deal. We made sure that was there. So it's a little more inclusive. But you'll notice some of these, some of these other yarns, these are a little bit higher end. They've got knitting needles and a size reference, and I'm gonna go ahead and show you one a little bit closer up in a second, but there's no mention of crochet. But I'm gonna tell you what to do in that situation. All right, so, we've got a label here. And so standard gauge is usually measured in four inch or 10 centimeter increments. So if you see, if something says to knit a swatch first, unless they tell you for a different reason to do a different size, that's what you aim for. Normally it doesn't matter what size it is. But there's just an example. And usually the instructions or, excuse me, the gauge information on the label will break it down into that how many stitches per four inches or how many rows for four inches or ten centimeters. Sometimes on the label, you'll get how many stitches per one inch, but usually it's that standard four by four. And you can see here that there is this little grid, and each of these little boxes is supposed to be a stitch. So this says that we're going to get 28 rows and 20 stitches. Unfortunately, that means for knitting. So that's kind of irrelevant for us. So this is not all that helpful to us. Well, that's a super bummer but that doesn't mean that you cannot get this yarn. What I do is, if you'll notice here, it says US size 7 needles. Okay that still means nothing to us, right? We're crocheters, what do we know about knitting needles? But it does say the millimeters, it says 4.5 millimeters. So what you could do is you could look on the crochet hook and I just happen to know that 4.5 millimeters is a G hook. But all hooks have both a letter on them and then the millimeters. So you could just translate that right there, and know like, "Oh, wait. This pattern calls for a G hook, 4.5 millimeters. I'm probably pretty safe getting that." If not, ask your local yarn store owner or one of their staff members. They'll be happy to help. Or again, you can look for yarns that do have the crochet hooks listed. The other thing that people don't really talk about with crochet is that gauge is highly subjective in crochet because there's nothing to hold the stitches uniform. So it's kind of like a handshake. So if some of you might be like a firm shaker, like look in your eye firm, some of you might be all loosey goosey. Absolute same principle with your crocheting. How tight you hold, how firmly you hold your hook and how tightly you're pulling your yarn is going to greatly change how many stitches per inch you're getting. So unlike maybe with knitting where you've got this stick that's holding all of your stitches uniform, you may get a totally different gauge based on the hook of the pattern that it calls for. And it might make you crazy, right? But don't worry about it. You just have a looser or tighter handshake. It's no big whoop. All you do is if you're not getting the gauge that they call for, go up or down a hook. Or go two up, or three up. Whatever it takes for you to get that magic number that's on the pattern, you should go with. Unless you're making something like a scarf, and then go with whatever makes your heart happy and whatever makes the fabric feel the way that you want it to feel. I want to give you sort of a visual representation of how much gauge can be important if you're making a project where size matters. So you can always use a measuring tape to measure how many stitches per inch. For now, that's not what I'm doing. I'm going to show you the difference here. So these are three granny squares. They have the exact same number of stitches, exactly. The difference is that they were crocheted with thin, medium weight, and thicker weight yarns on smaller, medium, and larger hooks. So same stitches but totally different weight of yarn and hooks, and look at the big difference. So this one is about five-and-a-half inches, this one's four-and-a-quarter inches, this one's three inches. Same thing. See, that kind of gives you an idea. This seems super, almost like math-y. This seems pretty tedious. It's not, it really isn't. The only reason that I'm even starting this course with this is that I want you to feel empowered enough to have this knowledge for when you're walking into a store, especially when it doesn't seem like it's catering towards crochet because everything has knit labels on it, to know that you can use any material that they have in there and you could have a beautiful project. So now we've covered that, I'm ready to actually start crocheting, so let's go.