Yarn Selection Tips

Good morning, my fellow crocheters and soon-to-be-crocheters! Before we can get stitchin’, you have a little shopping to do – you need to choose your yarn!
If you’re unfamiliar with the yarn aisle at your favorite craft store or aren’t sure of what you need, it can be a little scary . . . there are so many options, and the yarn labels can be very confusing. If you don’t head in with a game plan and know what you want and need for your project, it’s easy to get frustrated and sidetracked–many times in my early knit/crochet days, I headed home with a yarn that was completely wrong for the project I had in mind or even left empty-handed because I couldn’t figure out what anything meant or what I needed.


A {tiny} portion of my yarn stash!

Well, the first thing you need to do after picking a pattern is to choose what type of yarn you’re going to use!

(Unless you’ve chosen a type of yarn before you’ve picked your pattern…which happens to me all the time.  I don’t recommend it…it’s much harder to find a pattern to match your yarn, than it is to find a yarn to match your pattern!  Anywho…)

This can be an understandably daunting task…I mean have you ever walked down a yarn aisle at a craft or fabric store?  Yikes!

STEP 1:

First off…You need to decide if your project is for you…or someone else.  This decision plays a big part in determining which type of yarn you’re going to use.

Know who you’re creating for?  Good.  You can move onto Step 2.

STEP 2:

The next thing I’m going to recommend has nothing to do with the type of yarn you want to use.  The first thing you want to do is choose the color.  Yarn comes in soo many colors that it can be a little unnerving to try and pick just one…but that’s my first piece of advice.  The color of the yarn is called a Colorway.

If you’re making this for yourself you need to do some soul-searching:

What color is your favorite shirt? Pair of shoes? Pair of Earrings?

Chances are you wear your favorite color a lot…and it looks good on you…that’s why it’s your favorite.  Right?

If you’re making an item for someone else you need to consider the same things for them…Make sense?  Basically you want to make something that you love…that looks good and that you’ll actually use.  For me color plays a huge role in that.

So…

That’s a good place to start when choosing which colorway you want to use!

You also need to make sure that you have enough yarn in the same dye-lot.  The dye-lot is all the yarn dyed at the same time during the manufacturing process.  Dye-lot differences may not be noticeable at the store…but they can make a huge difference in the finished look of a piece, so be sure you have all you need for a project before you begin.

Know which color you’d like to use?  Good!  Now you need to determine which kind of yarn you want, Step 3!

STEP 3:

The first thing I do when choosing which type of yarn is to reference the pattern I’m using.  Usually, there is a guideline or suggestion of some sort about which yarn they used in the first place.  Often-times it’s a name brand yarn.  But what if your local store doesn’t carry that kind of yarn?  Or what if it’s way out of your price range?

That’s when you have to get into your yarn-sleuthing mojo.

Yarn is typically categorized into different “weights.”  One of the best things about this is that the weights are becoming more universal, and so you can usually find the same or similar info on each label.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule…but most yarn companies in the US are using this labeling system right now.

Here are the basics:

Yarn weights are divided into SIX categories (each has a little icon associated with it and a recommended hook size, and most yarn packaging displays the icon prominently).  Here’s a little diagram that has the definition of each type…along with some common yarns that are typically found in those categories, and recommended hook sizes (I’ve used US terminology)

Know which weight you’re gonna be using?  Great!  Now onto step 4!

STEP 4:

You can use yarn that’s a different weight than what is recommended for a pattern, but this usually means you’ll need to adjust the number of rows, stitches or hook size.  I’d say stick to what the pattern recommends until you’re fairly experienced…You don’t want to end up with a hat that’s big enough for an elephant or a sweater for your kid’s Barbie doll.  Unless that’s what you were going for…just sayin’.

Once you determine which color and weight you’d like to use you can choose which type of yarn you’d like…this is where the fiber contents come into play.

What do you pick?  Wool? Cotton? Acrylic? Recycled Bamboo Soy Silk Blend?

It’s fun to try out different fibers…they all have unique properties and style.

Personally, when I’m making items to give to others, I like to use yarns that are washable, colorfast (meaning they don’t typically bleed when washed), don’t itch or cause allergies, and are inexpensive but sturdy.

My current top faves for yarn are:

Red Heart Super Saver
Caron Simply Soft
Bernat Satin
Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream Cotton

Here’s a sample label from one my skeins of yarn:

STEP 5:

Go to the store and get your yarn.

Shop for yarn when it’s on sale.

Once you have a handle on which types of yarn you like the feel and look of, you can also start buying yarn online.  I try to shop online when stores are advertising a sale…and then try to combine the sale price with a coupon if possible.  Sometimes you can get coupons for different types of yarn through the manufacturer’s site.  Sign up for newsletters and join their Facebook fanpages to get up-to-date deals.
You can also save on yarn if you purchase yarn that is being discontinued or clearanced-out…be warned however that you’ll need to make sure you have enough to finish your project, because you may not be able to get your hands on the same yarn again if it’s being discontinued!  I know from sad, sad experience.

STEP 6:

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.
I hope you’re not too overwhelmed now! 🙂

So…

What yarn am I going to be using for the Crochet Along?

I’ll be using Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn! in Hyacinth.  It’s so soft and is such a pretty color.  In order to make it chunky enough for the pattern, we’re using I’ll be using two strands of this yarn held together to make it double thick.  Make sense?  And see?  I got it on clearance.  Don’t worry.  I got four skeins, so I wouldn’t run out!  Woot.

Good luck with your yarn purchasing!!

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