What do the Symbols on my Yarn Mean? How to Read a Yarn Label

How to Read a Yarn Label

How to Read a Yarn Label

If you’ve ever shopped for yarn, you know how important it is to know how to read a yarn label. It can affect the time you spend searching for yarn (both in the store and online), the amount of money you spend on buying the yarn for your project, and what hook size you’ll need to complete your project. It’s truly the first step to completing a project successfully!

Thankfully, the Craft Yarn Council, a governing body overseeing the standardization of the industry, has developed general guidelines for yarn manufacturers to follow while labeling their yarn for retail sale. Although the design may vary between labels, ultimately the information is similar enough to give us, the consumer, the information we need at our fingertips.

Patterns on Yarn Labels

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how to read a yarn label, I want to note that many yarn manufacturers that sell in big box retail stores will include free patterns on the yarn label. These free patterns are often free crochet or free knit patterns that are on the backside of the yarn label, meaning you won’t be able to view them unless you remove the label from the yarn. 

If you want to keep the label and the free pattern included, make sure to take the ultimate care to remove the yarn label from the yarn at the seam, thus keeping the pattern on the underside intact. Depending on the size of the yarn, this may be tricky and require scissors. 

Many times these patterns will include how much yarn you need to complete the free pattern project included on the outside of the label. 

How to Read a Yarn Label

There are many elements of a yarn label that I will talk about today. Many of them are standard, and some of them are simply observations about what I’ve seen in my many years of being a yarn consumer. As always, please let me know if you yourself find any discrepancies or have another point that would be valuable to this post by sending me a comment below.

  1. Yarn Manufacturer – Often one of the most prevalent pieces of the yarn label will be the name of the Yarn Manufacturer, or Brand, featured in the center with their logo. This is important information should you need to search for another similar skein of yarn.
  2. Product Name – For example: Simply Soft, Sugar ‘n Cream, Soft Essentials. The product name gives you reassurance that all yarn within one product line will be of similar texture, no matter the color. Product Names are created to create uniformity.
  3. Color – One of the most important things we look for as consumers is color, and when you’re buying a lot of yarn, you want to make sure that it all matches perfectly. The color will always be listed on the very end of the label. Many times the color name will also be listed in additional languages, depending on the location.
  4. Product Color ID – Alongside the color, you’ll often find an ID number that can be referenced also if you need to search for additional yarn. 
  5. Lot Number – some yarn is dyed in batches, thus creating the possibility of color variations amongst the yarn. If you’re working on a large project where color detail is important, such as a sweater, you want to make sure that when you run out of one skein and begin working on the other, that the color stays the exact same. When shopping for your yarn, try to get all of your yarn from the same lot if possible. Some yarn contains a message that reads, “no dye lot.” What this means is that the yarn is dyed pre-spinning into the skeins, thus not having significant color variations. 
  6. Yarn Manufacturer Contact Information – The address of the yarn manufacturer will be listed on the yarn, along with any contact information for where you may contact them if you need to. Many also include their website, and a website for their free patterns, as well as what social channels they are on so that you may follow them if you like. 
  7. Yarn Weight Category – This will come with a number from 0-6 to indicate how thick your yarn strands are. 0 is a fingering weight yarn, 4 is medium, or worsted weight, and 6 is bulky. The yarn weight is a standard set by the Craft Yarn Council, and yarn manufacturer’s try to follow this standard for labeling yarn weight.
  8. Gauge – All yarn labels come with a square for both knitting and crochet gauge. This information tells users how many rows and stitches it should take them to achieve the gauge and with what size hook or needles. This is incredibly helpful for makers who also create their own patterns, and can also tell you how much yarn you’ll need for your project. 
  9. Care Instructions – When it comes time to launder your yarn, you definitely need to ensure to practice caution when washing certain types of fiber. Depending on the country you are located in, these might look a bit different, so always check to see if the symbols shown are US or EU. 
  10. Yardage or Quantity – On each label, you’ll find out how much yarn is contained in the skein. This can be in yds (yards), m (meters), or both. 
  11. Total Yarn Weight – Often displayed by the quantity will be the entire weight of the skein displayed in oz (ounces) or g (grams), or both. 
  12. Fiber Type – The type of yarn fiber will be visible on the label along with the percentage of that fiber (useful when trying to figure out how to launder the item you create with the yarn). Look for fiber types such as 100% Cotton, Acrylic, Polyester, and more! 
  13. Country yarn was created – Look for Made in China, or Made in the USA to find out where your yarn was manufactured. 
  14. Hook Size – Usually in the area with the gauge, you will also see the recommended hook size for the yarn. The hook sizes often list both the number standard to hooks purchased in the US, as well as the mm of the hook (as different brands have different letters per mm). 

Reading a Yarn Label

If you’ve been crocheting for any amount of time, I’ll bet that you’ve purchased yarn without even looking at the label. Even if you haven’t, sometimes yarn just draws you in and you think you’ll someday use it for a project. In my experience, this is normally the type of yarn that I end up asking my friends what I should make with it. Having a pattern in mind before you buy the yarn, and then matching it by reading the yarn labels, will ultimately lead to the most successful projects.