Friday, August 26, 2016

Yarn Dictionary

In my quest to highlight portions of the web site that you may not have visited, here's the yarn dictionary. I did some slight updating to it, hopefully making it more useful.

These are certainly not all the terms that apply to yarn,but should be enough to get you started and answer some questions you might have about it.

Yarn Dictionary
©2016 Sandra Petit

Yarn comes in different kinds of packages. One is called a ball. It might be wound with a center pull or it might not. Generally, however, it is in a roundish shape
Brand name
Many manufacturers make more than one type of yarn. The brand name would help you to shop for the specific fiber you want. Red Heart, Bernat, Caron, Knit Picks, Wintuk, Sayelle, Patons. These are all brand names.

Within some there are "sub" groups. For ex. Red Heart has Super Saver, Classic, Red Heart with Love, Red Heart Soft, etc.  One of the Knit Picks types is Brava and within Brava there is Brava Sport and Brava worsted and Brava Bulky.

Some stores have their own brand. For example, Hobby Lobby has I Love This Yarn.
Color flashing
This is when your variegated or ombre yarn creates an unexpected, and possibly unwanted, pattern in your project.
Color pooling
This is when certain colors in the color pattern repeat of your variegated or ombre yarn pool together, causing spots of color throughout your completed project.
This is another way to package yarn. Cotton yarn or string often comes in a cone, which holds more than a regular ball or skein and is wound on a heavy cardboard center. Yarn is pulled from the outside of the cone.
Dye lot
When yarn is dyed, all the yarn that is dyed at one time is given a "lot" number. This number is stamped on the wrapper for all the yarn done at that time. You should always buy enough of the same dye lot to complete your project. If you run out, you should try to match your yarn as closely as possible, but there is sometimes great discrepancy in the shade of different dye lots.
Material that makes up the strands in a skein.
Lion Brand calls this "frosts." I call it the shiny thread that runs through yarns such as the Christmas yarns, but since I didn’t have a real name for it, I’m borrowing their term "frosts."
Gauge is given in a pattern so that your project will come out looking like the one you see in the picture that is with your pattern. To check gauge, you would make a small swatch from the pattern, or if no swatch instructions are given, complete the first few rows of the pattern which include all the main bits of it. Then measure to see if your stitches match the gauge given.

For example, it might say 2 dc = 1" or something like that. Be sure you check for correct height as well as width.

I mostly work on afghans and, to me, gauge is not that important in an afghan or scarf since I don’t care if my item is slightly smaller or larger than the pattern indicates. For projects such as clothing, however, it is very important to follow the listed gauge.

You should use whatever hook gives you the gauge noted even if the hook is different than the one listed.
The company that makes the yarn. Coats and Clark makes Red Heart for example. Most manufacturer web sites offer free patterns and some have FAQs and tips.
Measurement used for hooks and some yarns. Metric measurements are not widely used in U.S. but are gaining in popularity.
This is similar to the term variegated, but in an ombre skein the strand changes to different shades of the same color, like shades of blue, or shades of brown, rather than different colors in the same skein. Ombre yarn is also subject to color flashing and color pooling, just as variegated yarns are.
Number of strands woven together.

In some countries they use the term ply rather than fingering, sport etc.
Yarn is also packaged in skeins. A skein is similar to a ball, but not as short and fat. Skeins come in different sizes as well. You can find skeins with as little as 1 3/4 oz. and as much as 16 oz. of yarn. The most popular are probably the 3 to 8 oz. Manufacturer sometimes change the way they package yarn so this info may also change.
Looks like little bits of different colored yarn scattered throughout. It makes a very pretty product, but I wonder about the longevity of those bits. Will they withstand repeated washings? I don’t have an answer.
Tweed yarn has been around for many years. However, the use of the term has changed. It used to mean two different colors wound together but in a search I see that the term is used for what I previously called speckled or sprinkled yarn. This is yarn with little bits of another color sprinkled throughout.

If you like the “old” tweed look, you can create  this look yourself by combining two yarn colors and working them together as one strand. I find white or cream combine well with just about any other color.
This is similar to the term ombre, but in a variegated skein the strand changes to different colors in sequence, like blue to green to white or whatever, rather than shades of the same color.

For example, the Christmas yarn has a pattern of different colors -- white, green, white, red. Itis repeated throughout the skein.

I love variegated yarns but I am wary of them as well. I have used skeins of the same dye lot and when I looked at the completed piece, there was a definite pattern in some of it - this is called color flashing. It would be okay if the pattern ran throughout but I could pull my hair out when I see one skein making one pattern and the next making a different one. Sometimes this can be fixed by just changing the number of chains on your foundation chain, but by the time you see the pattern, it is too late for that. I have ripped out a whole skein and used it for say, a granny square, and it is fine.

If this bothers you, my suggestion is to be alert, check each skein to be sure the colors are running in the same direction. In other words, make SURE your skein #2 still has white, green, white, red, and NOT white, red, white, green. Also, try to estimate as close as possible where one skein ends and the next begins for joining. See what part of the color scheme your last stitch ended and try to match it as near as possible when you join your new skein. If you see the pattern emerging after you’ve gone too far to rip back, try using the skein from a different end or cutting out a strand so your repeats fall in a different place.

Another thing that may happen with variegated yarn is color pooling. That is where the same colors in your repeat end up near one another causing a "pool" of that color.
Weight gives you an idea of how thick or heavy your yarn is. You can’t judge solely on weight as I’ve had two yarns both saying worsted weight and one was obviously thinner than the other. Generally, we consider light worsted and heavy worsted to distinguish them.

There are several weights - fingering, sport, worsted, chunky, bulky and more.

Different countries use different words to convey similar types of yarn weight. Some use grams, some ounces or pounds. Many will put both, plus yards to help us out.

Each manufacturer may have skeins of different weights available, sometimes in the same colors.
A yard is 3 feet or 36”.

How many yards in a skein? Interesting question. It varies depending on the kind of yarn and weight.

If you’re making a particular item that uses different colors, you want to make sure you have enough of each yarn for your project. That being the case, read the labels and make sure each skein contains the same number of yards or adjust your purchase accordingly.

It is also good to use yarn of the same weight. How can you tell other than comparing the strands physically? There should be a listing of so many stitches per inch or 4 inches. If you are comparing the same number of inches and one uses more stitches in that number then it is a thinner yarn.

Interweave Press has The Crocheter's Handy Guide To Yarn Requirements. The description says: “This handy guide contains specific yardage requirements for nine of the most popular crocheted items-caps, scarves, bags, afghans, ponchos, baby sweaters, short and long skirts and tops. The yardages are given for working various sizes in single crochet using five standard yarn weights, from fingering to bulky.”

Happy crocheting!

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