“Never chuck the yarn label away” I say to all our beginner knitters when teaching a class. There is a wealth of information you can get from the label. It’s so disappointing when you buy some yarn you’ve fallen in love with, made a gorgeous item and then accidentally “felted” (shrunk) it in the washing machine because you didn’t realise it was hand wash only …. worse still given the blanket to someone who wasn’t told it was hand wash only and they have shrunk it.
The label gives us information on the needle size to use (crochet and knitting), how to care for it (i.e hand wash or dry clean for example), the dye lot, shade number and weight of the yarn also. Often there is also a tension square and always you are told the fibre of the yarn (which is what determines how you care for it). Cheaper yarns will be made from man made fibre such as acrylic and as a general rule, you could say the more expensive the yarn is the more natural it is.
However, I know when you want to knit or crochet an item for someone you may want to splash out on some gorgeously expensive super soft wool, but before you make that purchase, do think about who you are making the item for. For example, a new mummy won’t want to be hand washing a beautiful blanket you made her each time it gets dirty, so look at the yarn label and make sure its machine washable. Pure 100% wool fibre will most likely need to be hand washed whereas acrylic or mixtures of man and natural fibres can be thrown into the machine.
Apart from how to care for the wool there is some other really important information on the label lets take a look:
This symbol tells us the recommended knitting needle size for this yarn. Here you can see that UK needle size 5.5mm – 6.5mm is recommended (it then also tells you that the US size 9-10.5). If you crochet you can assume that size 5.5mm to 6.5mm crochet hook is recommended.
This grid is call the tension square and tells you that if you used 5.5mm – 6.5mm needles and cast on 14 stitches and knitted 20 rows of garter stitch, then your square should measure 10 x 10cm. Tension squares are always 10 x 10cm.
And lastly these are the washing instructions – wash at 40 degrees (you will also notice its 100% acrylic too). If you look at the original photo at the start of this post you will see some other instructions such as “do not iron” and “cool tumble dry”.