Crochet Yarn Weight Explained

Understanding yarn weight can be a powerful arsenal in your crochet knowledge toolbox. It can help you determine the hook size you’ll need, and your stitch gauge.

yarn weight

When we talked about stitch gauge, we determined how important the weight of the yarn and the size of the hook is to determining how true-to-size your project will turn out. Due to the need for a set of standards for yarn manufacturers, the Craft Yarn Council developed a common system to be used across the industry.

Yarn Weight Standards

The standards created for yarn weight begin at 0 and go all the way up to 7. These are updated as necessary as trends change the yarn industry and we continue to see more thick and beautiful yarn available to us. Below I will discuss the weight ratings, what hook sizes are recommended for crocheting these weights, and what types of yarn this includes.

0 – Lace Weight
Hook Size Range: 1.5 – 2.5 mm (Steel 6, 7, 8 or B-1)
Types of Yarns: Fingering, 10-count crochet thread

1 – Super Fine
Hook Size Range: 2.25 – 3.5 mm (B to E)
Types of Yarns: Fingering, Sock, Baby

2 – Fine
Hook Size Range: 3.5 – 4.5 mm (E to 7)
Type of Yarns: Sport or Baby

3 – Light
Hook Size Range: 4.5 – 5.5 mm (7 to I)
Type of Yarns: DK or Light Worsted

4 – Medium
Hook Size Range: 5.5 – 6.5 mm (I to K)
Type of Yarns: Worsted, Afghan, Aran

5 – Bulky
Hook Size Range: 6.5 – 9 mm (K to M)
Type of Yarns: Chunky, Craft, Rug

6 – Super Bulky
Hook Size Range: 9 – 15 mm (M to Q)
Type of Yarns: Super Bulky or Roving

7 – Jumbo
Hook Size Range: 15 mm and larger (Q and larger)
Type of Yarns: Jumbo or Roving

Figuring Out Your Yarn Weight Without a Label

So, you’ve picked up a skein of yarn at your local farmer’s market and have no idea what size it is? No fear, I’ll teach you how to figure out which category it goes in using the pencil test.

(No, not the same one you used to try and determine the sex of your friend’s baby…)

Grab a standard #2 pencil, your yarn, and some measuring tape. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Back? Great! Let’s figure this out.

Wrap the yarn around the pencil a few times where it is touching, yet not overlapping. Do this until you can measure one-inch on your measuring tape. Count the number of loops on the pencil for one-inch of your yarn.

This method is called WPI, or Wraps per Inch. Crochet Spot has put together the handy-dandy table that I always reference for figuring this out. The one thing that I would note is that with the addition of the Jumbo category of yarn, I’d personally put 4 wraps or less in the Jumbo category.

Yarn Weight Substitutions

What if you’ve picked up an amazing pattern that calls for a certain type of yarn, but it’s been discontinued? (Story. Of. My. Life.) How do you find another yarn to substitute for the weight that was called for?

It’s a bit easier than you might think.

  1. Search the Internet for discontinued yarn, or destash yarn. I like to search eBay, Etsy, or even DBNY to find out-of-stock yarns.
  2. Look at the yarn weight category that the original yarn was in. Can’t find the original yarn? Reference the stitch gauge and the crochet hook size used in the pattern to figure that out.
  3. Examine the fiber used in the pattern and select something similar in the same weight category.
  4. Ensure that the yarn you will select as the substitution has the same amount of yardage needed for your project. (If not, calculate the yarn yardage needed).
  5. When in doubt, ask an expert. Don’t be afraid to visit your local yarn shops, or simply ask someone who has some experience with yarn. They’ll be able to at least give you a few tips you haven’t thought of.

I hope that you’ve learned some useful information today, and that you’ll come back to visit us for more crochet tips and tricks!

Figuring Out Crochet Stitch Gauge

We’ve all seen the portion of the crochet pattern where it says stitch gauge, right? Well, how many of you have ignored it? How many of you have also ended up with a project that is either way too small, or large? Today we’ll be talking about why stitch gauge is important, and why you shouldn’t ignore this piece of the pattern.

Stitch Gauge

As a new crocheter, I often spent time crocheting swatches to perfect my tension. This is definitely an area where lots of practice is required to really begin to feel comfortable with moving on to making wearable items, or even items that I felt comfortable displaying in my home. When you crochet afghan blocks, you want them all to be relatively the same size so that you can join them together easily. This is why following gauge is important.

Stitch Gauge

The term stitch gauge in crochet refers to the number of stitches and rows within a specified block of measurement (normally 4″x4″), crocheted with a specified hook size and yarn weight.

Let’s break it down.

Crochet hook size F/5 – 4.00mm, yarn weight = 4 Medium, 13 sts = 4 inches, 10 rows = 4 inches in hdc.

This means if you examine a square that is 4 inches in width and 4 inches in height with this crochet hook (size F), then you should end up with a stitch count of 13 stitches across, and 10 rows tall.

What happens if you have more stitches per 4 inches, or more rows?

If you have more than the specified amount should be, then that means that your tension is a bit too tight. Try making the swatch again with a larger crochet hook. The goal is to get the correct gauge so that your pattern will be the same in size as written. If you have more stitches per row, or more rows when you are testing your gauge, then your project is going to be smaller than the intended size.

Same goes for it you have more stitches or rows per gauge. Try downsizing in hook size.

How to crochet a swatch for stitch gauge

If you will be crocheting a swatch to measure gauge, crochet your swatch to be 5-6 inches in height and width. This will allow you to measure the interior and the start and changing rows won’t interfere with your stitch count.

Also ensure to use the same yarn that you will be using for your project. This will help you to adjust your hook size to the yarn you’ve already purchased. Not all yarn is created equal. On the yarn label there is weight listed. 4 is medium weight, and is the type recommended in the pattern example above.

How to measure stitch gauge

Stitch gauge can be measured in one of two ways: using a tape measure to measure out a 4″x4″ swatch, or by using a stitch gauge tool. The Knit Chek tool by Susan Bates allows you to place the tool over your project and count the stitches and rows displayed through the pre-defined cut outs in the tool. The Boye Count 10 Plus has a slider where you can easily measure stitches per inch.

I hope you were able to learn a little more about why stitch gauge is important today, and I hope that this helps you to accurately gauge your projects so that they come out the intended size.

Happy Hooking!

How to Calculate Yarn Yardage When Crocheting

After you’ve purchased your crochet hook, and you’ve chosen your type of yarn, the next question crocheters often ask is: how much yarn do I need to buy? Calculating the yardage needed for your project is simple. I’ll show you how below!

How to Calculate Yarn Yardage

How to Calculate Yarn Yardage

First, you have a pattern in mind, right? Good.

  • Find the number of stitches

The total number. This is not a drill.

To find the total number of stitches in your pattern, you need to read the pattern, and add up the stitch counts at the end of each row. This might take a while. I’ll wait.

  • Create a test swatch

Using the same weight of yarn that is called for in the pattern, crochet a test swatch. I typically crochet at least 10 stitches per row, and 5-10 rows for my swatch.

  • Measure the swatch to find out the size of one stitch.

Obviously if you are crocheting a thicker yarn, the size will increase. Or, if you have a pattern that requires a few different types stitches, you’ll want to also measure the size of those and plan accordingly. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll say that each stitch is one-inch.

  • Math!

Multiply the total number of stitches by the size of each stitch. Example: 365 stitches x 1 inch per stitch = 365 inches of yarn needed.

  • Yardage Calculation

Once you have the number of inches you need, divide that number by 36 (since that is how many inches are in a yard). For the best result, round up. You’ll always want to err on the side of having too much over not enough yarn. For this project, I’d ensure to have approximately 11 yards of yarn.

Now that you have the total amount of yarn you need for your project, get to work! 🙂

Happy hookin’!

The Types of Yarn to Crochet With (Yarn Explained)

Yarn is an essential to any crochet project. Today we’ll be covering the types of yarn available for purchase so that you can move forward with learning how to crochet. Yarn is my vice. It’s so soft and pretty that I find myself buying way more of it than I actually need, or have projects planned for. In fact, I’m historically bad about buying yarn before I have a project in mind, and then staring at Pinterest for way too long to determine what I can make with it. (By the way, are we connected on Pinterest yet? Follow me here!)

Types of Yarn

The type of yarn that you use can be crucial to a crochet project. Let me explain. . .

Say that you’re creating a hot pad intended to be used to hold pots and pans that have just been removed from the stove. You would never remove the pan and set it on a material such as a plastic bag, right? (Please don’t ever do that.)

My point is that knowing what your yarn is made out of is important. Both in creating projects for yourself, and gifting them to others.

In our use case above, acrylic yarn wouldn’t be the fiber of choice because it’s a synthetic yarn and doesn’t withstand heat well. You wouldn’t want your brand new potholder melting and sticking to your pans! Always read your yarn labels when choosing yarn, and definitely do a bit of research.

When in doubt, I always recommend to make a swatch and wash and dry exactly how you would the finished product that you will be creating. This will give you a better idea of how the yarn will hold up, and if there are any “gotchas” you need to know regarding your project shrinking, expanding, or the dye bleeding when you wash it.

Types of Yarn

When it comes to types of yarn, there are really three main sources: plant based, animal based, and man made (synthetic). I’ve touched on what I consider to be the most popular types of yarn within each category.

Plant Based Yarns

Cotton

Cotton is a plant based yarn that is grown in many different countries. This fiber is often spun into yarn and able to be used for a wide variety of crochet projects. I love to use cotton on home-related crochet projects because it’s a very soft, breathable fiber. When washed, this textile become softer, however doesn’t tend to hold shape well and could sag and stretch. I typically air dry any cotton materials after washing in cold water.

Cotton will absorb water, which is why it’s the perfect material for kitchen and bath items. Just ensure you dry the items well before storing–because it absorbs well, it could also end up with mold or mildew if not completely dried prior to putting away.

There are several types of cotton that you can find when you are looking at this type of yarn. I find that 100% cotton is good for kitchen and bath items, however a cotton blend is better for clothing items, because of the inability to hold shape well. As always, read your yarn labels and your patterns before you determine which yarn is the best for your project.

Bamboo

If you’ve ever felt bamboo yarn, you’ll understand the deep love that I have for this fiber. Another plant based yarn, bamboo is eco-friendly and naturally antibacterial. Though this yarn is so soft and gorgeous, it’s also one that I find myself having a hard time making things with. When purchasing a bamboo yarn, you’ll want to check your labels, as many times it comes as a blend (with cotton or another fiber) to make it a bit more sturdy. Bamboo is a great yarn for clothing, but again, be sure to check your yarn label to see if you can machine wash on gentle, or need to hand wash any items made with it.

Linen

Linen is a yarn that is a bit stiffer, however after washing can become soft. Linen is a very light yarn, making it appropriate for clothing garments, bags, table runners, and more! I don’t have a lot of experience crocheting with this fiber yet, however I know it is very popular among knitters. Next time I’m at the store I hope to pick up a skein and create something with it so that I can report back. Linen is a plant based yarn, coming from the flax plant.

Animal Based Yarns

Wool

A very common yarn for crocheters to use is wool. Wool is an animal based yarn, coming from sheep. There are a few different types of wool, which are normally identified by the type of sheep it comes from.

If you are using 100% wool, you’ll want to read the washing and care instructions on the label really well, because if you heat and agitate 100% wool, it can stick together and felt. There are wool blends on the market that can be machine washed and dried though. These yarns are typically either blended with another fiber, or pre-treated to allow for safe wash and drying. Be sure to read your yarn labels when working with wool. The last thing that you want is to crochet a beautiful sweater for someone and have it shrink after the first wash!

Alpaca

Alpaca is an animal based yarn, coming from (you guessed it) the alpaca. This wool is extremely soft and pretty, and has a great resistance to water. Alpaca yarn has grown in popularity, and is a great option for people wanting to use animal based yarn, but not wanting the scratchiness that wool can sometimes have, or if they have a lanolin allergy. Alpacas do not produce lanolin oil like sheep.

Like wool, alpaca yarn will felt if it is 100%. However, unlike wool, this yarn tends to stretch rather than shrink.

It seems that many of the patterns I see using alpaca yarn are geared toward children, probably due to the warmth, breathability, and gentleness of the yarn on the skin.

Cashmere

Cashmere is known to be one of the most luxurious yarns to crochet with and comes from certain types of goats. Since the cashmere goats are located in only a few parts of the world, and production of the fiber can be a difficult process, this yarn is often more expensive.

Cashmere is known to offer warmth, yet be light. Since cashmere is a hair, rather than a wool, I recommend following the washing instructions closely. This is not a fiber that will withstand machine washings well unless it is blended with another.

Synthetic Yarns

Acrylic

Acrylic yarn is one of the most affordable yarns, as it is very easy to manufacture. It’s made with a polymer, yet has a wool-feel, and comes in a wide variety of colors. This yarn is very resilient, and is often blended with other fibers to allow them to hold more of a shape. Acrylic yarn is great for clothing and blankets, or anything that you’d want to wash quite a bit. You may wash acrylic, however avoid ironing it, which is why I also recommend not making an item such as a potholder with it.

Nylon

Nylon is another synthetic yarn that is fairly inexpensive. It’s know for its elasticity, and when blended with another yarn, makes it a perfect yarn for knitting or crocheting socks, or virtually anything you’d like to keep the shape in. Nylon is also a fiber that won’t pill when washed, which makes it perfect for socks.

Summary

There are so many more types of yarn sold today. In each type you can typically get a 100%, or a yarn blend (example 50% cotton, 50% nylon), so be sure to check your brands and yarn labels for the amount and the recommended laundering so that you get the maximum life out of your crochet projects.

Do you have any questions about types of yarn? If so, please comment below.

Where I Buy the Best Crochet Hooks and Find Custom Crochet Hooks

So you’re finally ready to jump in with both feet and make the purchase. In today’s how to crochet series article, you can find out where to buy crochet hooks once you’ve determined the type of crochet hook, and the size of crochet hook that you need.

Where to Buy Crochet Hooks

When it comes to buying a crochet hook, you might just do the first thing that comes to mind and head to your local Walmart. This is a great idea if it’s close and you are ready to go! However, please keep in mind that not all stores carry the same brands of hooks. This will be important if you would like a hook from a certain manufacturer. Read below to determine where to buy the crochet hook that is right for you.

Where to Buy Crochet Hooks

Retail Stores

Many retail stores will carry crochet hooks, but you should first visit them online to ensure that they carry the type that you are looking for. For instance, if you were going to drive to Walmart to purchase a hook, you would have considerably less choices in the store than you would if you visited Walmart online.

Any retail establishment that sells yarn will most likely also have a variety of crochet hooks. In addition to carrying the brands most commonly purchased, certain stores even have brands that are specific to them.

  • Hobby Lobby – The brand that Hobby Lobby carries that is unique to their store is called Yarnology. I have a few Yarnology hooks and love them. They come in ergonomic shapes and designs that are easier on the hand and wrist to hold if you will be crocheting for a longer period of time.
  • Michaels – Loops and Threads is the brand that is unique to the Michaels stores. They not only have great crochet hooks, they also carry fantastic yarn, too.

Online

  • Amazon (affiliate link) – When it comes to Amazon, you can find just about anything. You can purchase hooks from many of the popular crochet brands (Boye, Susan Bates, Clover, Tulip, and many, many more). It may be a bit more daunting to purchase a crochet hook online since you can’t look at it, however with Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping and great return policy, they make it easy to be happy with your purchase.
  • Etsy – If you are looking for something handmade or vintage, Etsy is your place to go. I recently purchased a custom crochet hook by a designer that makes handles out of polymer clay (themed in pop culture) and attaches them to a wide variety of hooks. You can find hooks with clay handles, hooks created from many types of wood, and so much more on Etsy.
  • eBay – If you’re looking for vintage, or possibly a lot of crochet hooks that someone is getting rid of, check eBay. I’ve recently discovered my love for crochet hooks and have been browsing eBay a lot to see if I can find any vintage hooks to add to my collection.
  • Retail stores online – Michaels, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, and Walmart all have very extensive selections online. Go browse around and see what you might be able to find.
  • The manufacturer website – If you’re looking for a specific brand of hook, you might check to see if they sell them on their brand website.
  • Furls – I’ve recently stumbled upon a crochet hook company by the name of Furls Crochet. They have pretty amazing hooks, but only appear to be available online. I urge you to google them, they are beautiful!

Hopefully you now have enough information to get you started toward your crochet journey. So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a hook and let’s get started!

 

Crochet Hook Sizes: Where Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

Once you’ve decided to commit to this crazy new hobby, the next challenge you’ll be up against will be crochet hook sizes. You might find yourself at the craft store, staring at an entire wall full of hooks and thinking, which one do I pick? Never fear, we’ve got you covered. In today’s How to Crochet series, we’ll talk all about crochet hook sizes.

Crochet Hook Sizes

If you are purchasing a crochet hook, you are there for one of two reasons: you either have a project in mind that you are going to make (bonus points if you already have yarn in your cart!), or you just know that you need a hook and some yarn to practice these stitches and you’ve stumbled upon the tool aisle first.

If you fit into the latter category, congratulations. I am distracted by the yarn in the store. So much so that I typically take a detour just to twirl in the aisle like Maria in The Sound of Music. The yarn aisle is my happy place.

I digress, back to hooks.

Crochet Hook Sizes Explained

When looking at a crochet hook in a store, you’ll typically notice that the hook sizing is listed on both the packaging and grip of the actual hook itself. It will look something like this:

J/10-6.00MM

The manufacturers that produce crochet hooks have a standard way of displaying the sizing so that crocheters around the world will be able to know which size to purchase. Crochet patterns in the United States are often written using the letter or number system. For instance, a pattern for a scarf might call for a size J, or a size 10 hook. Whereas patterns in other countries typically go by millimeters, so you’ll see a pattern calling for a 6.00MM hook.

Choosing the Correct Crochet Hook Size

Choosing a Crochet Hook Size by Pattern

If you have selected a project to crochet and have a pattern handy, the crochet hook size will be listed near the top of the crochet pattern.

Choosing a Crochet Hook Size by Yarn Chosen

Another way to select a hook size without a pattern is to look at the yarn you’ve chosen for your project. On the yarn label, it will include a small icon that looks like the one below, displaying the hook size needed to achieve a specific gauge. This is particularly helpful if you will be creating your own pattern.

image of hook icon on yarn

This icon tells us that if we use a size 9 hook (I/9-5.50MM) we should be able to have 15 rows of 12 single crochet in a 4″ square.

What about the color?

I’ve often seen crochet hook packages where the hooks come in different colors and wondered if those had anything to do with sizing. The color doesn’t seem to be the same across all hook brands. I did a simple Amazon search for a size I crochet hook, and multiple colors appeared in the search from different brands. The color of the hook is definitely not something you should go by when purchasing a crochet hook.

How to size a crochet hook

If you have a hook set that is handmade, or perhaps handed down from a relative, but you have no idea what size it is, how do you find out the size of a crochet hook?

It’s a bit more simple than you think. Many of the brands that sell crochet hooks and knitting needles also sell a tool to check your gauge, and your hooks size. The tool contains holes, and when you slide your hook into the hole, you’ll be abel to tell which size it is by the corresponding number given.

Now that you know a bit more about hook sizes, which one will you be starting out with first?

The Types of Crochet Hooks You’ll Use While Crocheting

In today’s how to crochet series, I’ll talk about the types of crochet hooks you may encounter. Unless you are purchasing an entire set of hooks, the type of hook you purchase will most likely correlate with what type of project you’re making..

Types of Crochet Hooks

Please note that not all types of crochet hooks are a right fit for the job. For instance, if you are crocheting jewelry with wire, you wouldn’t want to choose a wooden or specialty hook. Always do your research before you crochet with materials other than yarn.

Types of Crochet Hooks

Steel Crochet Hooks

Steel hooks are typically the smallest types of crochet hooks and are used in filet crochet or with projects such as doilies or lace patterns. These hooks support crochet thread or very fine yarn projects.

Aluminum, Wood, Plastic, and Acrylic Yarn Hooks

Yarn Hooks can come in many materials, depending on the manufacturer. These hooks are typically called yarn hooks, because they have a corresponding size for each thickness of yarn. These type of hooks are appropriate for blankets, clothing, kitchen accessories, and even most amigurumi patterns.

  • Aluminum Crochet Hooks – Great for both beginners and seasoned pros. When I first started crocheting, I started with an aluminum hook from a set that I purchased. I do recommend if you are crocheting a large project, or spend a lot of time crocheting, that you invest in some type of cushion or slip to cover the end of your hook.
  • Wooden Crochet Hooks – Wooden crochet hooks can come from many different materials: bamboo, oak, rosewood (just to name a few). I’ve used bamboo hooks quite a bit and tend to like to soft feel in my hand.
  • Plastic Crochet Hooks – Plastic crochet hooks tend to come in varieties that are both flexible, as well as hard plastic. When I use a plastic hook that does have a bit of flexibility to it, I think it does affect my tension and the sizing of my stitches. I recommend that anyone wanting to complete a larger project with a plastic hook definitely practice with the hook, and periodically check your gauge.
  • Acrylic Crochet Hooks – Acrylic crochet hooks are often a lightweight hook that is a comfortable material to hold. I’ve had the best luck with these when using a thicker yarn. You definitely wouldn’t want to use a thin bamboo yarn, or anything that could slide of very easily.

Specialty Hooks

There’s something to be said for hooks that catch the eye. Specialty crochet hooks can be made from many types of materials, but each of them have a different purposes. One of the more popular specialty hooks I’ve used has been the plastic crochet hooks with the light inside them. As a mom, I do a lot of my crochet projects after the kiddo heads to bed, and for a while, this was a great hook for me to use to get caught up. There are also many specialty hooks that you can purchase from Etsy that people create by hand. These hooks are often hand-carved wood, or have a polymer clay handle. I wouldn’t call these beginner hooks, however if that is what it takes for someone to pick up a hook in the first place, I’d definitely recommend it!

Tunisian / Afghan Crochet Hooks

Afghan or tunisian hooks are a very long crochet hook, sometimes with a stopper on one end, or sometimes double-ended. These hooks are meant for a specific crochet stitch called tunisian, which is a similar concept to knitting, in that you keep all loops of your yarn on the hook.

What are the best types of crochet hooks?

My answer to anyone who asks me my opinion on what is the best crochet hook is this. . .whichever you are most comfortable with using to complete a project. After all, that’s the ultimate goal, right? I’d never recommend using a hook that frustrates you, or makes you not want to pick up your project and finish it. Let’s face it, we all have a bit of variance in our crochet: left to right-handed, some people roll the hook while others keep a flat grip, people have different eyesight that might make a pointed hook easier for them than a rounded one.

Frequently Asked Questions

I decided to include a question/answer section in this post to review some of the times my friends have asked me questions and what the answer has been related to what type of crochet hook they are using. If you have a question that you can’t find listed below, please comment and I might just add it to this list.

Q: I’m working on a project (this project happened to be baby boots) where my stitches are tight, and I’m finding it hard to get my hook under the stitches. What can I do to help this

A. Try using a hook with a pointed head, rather than a round one. The point on the head will guide your hook into the stitch better and allow you to poke through much easier. Susan Bates hooks have a more pointed head, and are typically inexpensive.

Q. I’m trying to crochet a scarf using a broomstick lace stitch, and the stitches are uneven and look terrible. Help!

A. Though you can use a standard sized hook and a cylindrical device for this, try using a large plastic crochet hook instead. Your stitches will be more even and you’ll only need one tool rather than two.

Thanks for stopping in, and happy hooking!

Parts of a Crochet Hook

If you are wanting to learn how to crochet, you’ve come to the right place! With this new series I hope to give you all of the information that you need to get started on your crochet journey–from what hook to look for, all the way to advance stitch techniques, we’ve got you covered. Today we’ll be discussing the parts of a crochet hook.

Choosing a crochet hook is often a matter of personal preference. While you are learning how to crochet, it’s important to try out different hooks to determine which you are most comfortable holding. I always say that since your crochet hook is the tool you’ll spend a lot of time with, it’s important to purchase the kind that is right for you, especially if you are planning on using it for many, many years like most of us do.

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