Numbers? Weights? Yarns? Which one do I need?
"My pattern calls for a #4 yarn, but the ball band for my yarn doesn't have a number designation. Which yarn can I use?"
Many yarn crafters just starting out and even some fairly experienced yarnies get confused by which yarn to use for their project. Let's face it with so many different weights, fibers, and colors it can get overwhelming instead of inspiring. So we want to help you understand a little better how to determine which weight or thickness of yarn to use. In almost every pattern, and certainly in every project, you have a gauge (don't shreek in horror ladies and gents you don't have to knit a swatch "gasp" to figure this one out). Gauge is simply a term that refers to how many stitches there are in a stated measurement - typically 10cm or 4". Even though your ball band may not have a number designation (0-7), it always has a recommended gauge.
The gauge is sometimes located on a grid symbol (top left), simply stated as
stitches=inches(right) or given as a range(bottom left). It is always given with a specific needle/hook size. If you compare this to the needle/hook and the gauge asked for in the pattern, you find the right yarn weight for your pattern. If your pattern doesn't give a gauge it will usually give some indication as to the weight of yarn you need. For example it may say you need 400yds of a dk weight yarn. To figure out what the typical gauge of a dk weight yarn is you can use this handy chart from the yarn craft council. Remember, every weight of yarn has three different designations; a name(or two), a number, and a gauge range.
Don't worry if this is still confusing. Local yarn shops employ people who are knowledgable and more than willing to steer you in the right direction. Here at the Yarn Outlet we strive to organize our yarn first by fiber then by weight indicated by both a number designation and gauge so that you can find the right yarn as quickly as possible. We are always ready and willing to help you find the right yarn for your needs.