Hurdle 1: Yarn
It goes without saying that you can’t crochet without yarn. But where do you buy yarn? What kind of yarn should you use? What are the numbers on the side?
I’ll preface this discussion by confessing that I’m a knitter. Yarn based crafts aren’t new to me at all. Starting this new craft, however, it occurred to me that I’ve never really put much thought into yarn. When I got started, I had family members that donated yarn that they no longer used and then I found a pattern that would match them. Now, I’ll find a pattern that I really want to complete and buy the yarn for it. I’ll also confess that I wasn’t too interested by knitting. It makes my fingers cramp up and most things take a long time to make. Also, without circular needles, it makes certain crafts, like socks or hats, really difficult. Starting this new venture, I want to do it right, and that means doing my homework. Which, lucky for you guys, means a post to summarize my findings!
These are guidelines and aren’t hard and fast rules. You may find that you prefer a certain weight or type of yarn for certain projects. If you have a project in mind, your pattern might suggest a certain type of yarn. This is usually located at the top of a pattern before any of the instructions. To find the information on a skein of yarn in the store, look at the label wrapped around the middle of the skein.
As you can see, the label includes a lot of information. Check out the Helpful Tips and Tricks section for a link to translate it all. What you’re immediately concerned with is the “weight” of the yarn. Most patterns will call for things like “worsted weight” or “sock weight” yarn. The weight is given by the square that has a picture of the skein of yarn and a large number. This is a standardized sizing done by the Craft Yarn Council. The numbers run from 0-6 and breakdown as follows.
- 0: Lace Yarn- Very thin
- 1: Super Fine Yarn
- 2: Fine Yarn
- 3: Light Yarn
- 4: Medium (Worsted Weight) Yarn
- 5: Bulky
- 6: Super Bulky- Very thick
If you don’t have an exact pattern yet, it’s usually pretty easy to figure out some basic guidelines of what yarn to buy. If you want something thick, like a blanket, you don’t want to get Lace Yarn. Generally, worsted weight (medium) is a good way to go, and I’ve found lots of patterns for a lot of different clothes that use worsted weight yarn. If you’re not sure, you can always ask for help at the store.
Which brings me to my next question. Where do you buy yarn? There are some pretty easy and obvious answers to this one. Craft stores like Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s carry yarn. These stores often carry a large variety of yarn and tools for very cheap. The problem with these stores is that they are general crafts stores and they might not know the answer to your questions because they are not members of your chosen crafting community. Online is another option. Amazon, Overstock and similar websites sell yarn, as do yarn companies. These places are good to go to if you need a specific kind of yarn that you can’t find in stores, or you want to place a bulk order. Finally, there are small yarn stores. Yup, those exist, and there’s probably one near you. Google yarn stores in your area and you’re likely to find one. I just found a store that I never knew existed, right down the street! Small yarn stores carry a large selection of yarn, and often they’ll offer classes to beginners to help you out. Some stores even let you come in with your project if you have questions, or you need help correcting a mistake you made. Plus, you know that they can answer your questions because they’re often knitters and crocheters themselves!
So, now that you’ve made it down to the bottom of this long post, hopefully you feel a little more knowledgeable about the first step to starting a crochet project! If you have questions, feel free to ask. Happy crafting!