Welcome to lesson 2 of my Crochet Beginners Series, if you missed lesson 1, take a gander over at Useful Resources and get started on your crochet adventure! Todays lesson is all about hook and yarn sizes. When you search for patterns online there’s so many of them for free, from so many different countries and they all use such slightly different systems. It’s important to know figure out which systems they are using so you can translate it to the system you’re using otherwise your project could be entirely the wrong size!
Today I’ll be going through the basic hook sizes with you, different yarn sizes and how to read a yarn label.
Guide to Hook & Yarn Sizes
Yarn weight refers to the thickness of the strands rather than the actual weight of the ball and is measured in ply. Getting the correct weight for your projects is vitally important if you want your project to come out the right size. Once you are more experienced you may be able to use a slightly different yarn weight and adjust your size by using a different hook. However for beginners I highly recommend using the weight of the yarn specified in your pattern. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact same yarn however yarn weights can vary slightly between brands.
It’s easy to know what hook size to use with your yarn: your pattern will tell you or your yarn label will tell you.
The main types of yarn you will come across are Cotton, Acrylic and Wool. You can get yarn that is 100% of each or a blend.
Sheeps wool is a very common wool which is breathable and warm. It makes wonderful cosy jumpers or heavy blankets and can come in many different varieties. You can also get wool from other animals such as alpaca, merino or mohair. Each of these vary greatly in price and you can get many different luxurious blends.
Cotton yarn is one of the most popular types of yarn, it is relatively affordable and is natural and breathable. Often cotton is great for baby projects as it is wonderful for sensitive skin. This yarn tends to be lovely and soft but sometimes people find it splits easier than other fibres. You can also get other plant fibres such as linen or bamboo yarn but these will vary more in price.
Acrylic yarn is the most affordable yarn so you will probably find it is most used. It lacks some of the breathable and stretchy features of natural fibres but it makes up for it by being hard wearing and easy to care for. You can also get other synthetic fibres such as nylon or polyester.
How to Read a Yarn Label
Reading your yarn label will be the most important part of choosing your yarn, other than colour and squishiness of course! This is where we will find important information such as:
1. Care instructions (the one with a square around it, the arrows refers to the following:)
- Washing instructions
- Ironing instructions
- Bleaching instructions
- Dry cleaning instructions
- Drying instructions
The 5 above instructions are read much the same as clothing labels (guide here if needed) and can greatly help you decide if it’s appropriate for your project. For example, you don’t want a hand wash only dry flat baby blanket, however for a doily or a shawl it is much more appropriate.
Next you should find (with circles around them) :
- Needle size
- Guage (patterns come with a gauge to be sure your project is the right size, you should always do your own gauge swatch though to account for your own tension)
- Fibre type (always best to stick with the type recommended by the pattern)
- Length (patterns usually have a yardage to help you work out how much you need to buy)
- Yarn Weight
- Colour and dye lot (use the same dye lot to guarantee a colour match)
With this information you can discover which hooks you should be using and how many balls of the yarn you will need.
Below I have provided a table of common hook sizes for US and UK. I have also provided Metric sizes which are the ones I use plus they are commonly used in Australia and New Zealand. In this table you can find the hook sizes required for most projects from blankets and appliques to amigurumi (the japanese art of crocheting stuffed toys).
Hooks also come in very tiny sizes than you can only get in steel hooks, these are used in very small or fiddly projects to crochet with thread. Got your eye on crocheting some doilies? I admire your tenacity! Check out the next table for your hook sizes.
You can get many different hook types, most of which are interchangeable and depend on what you prefer. Metal, wood and plastic. I tend to use only wooden hooks, my absolute favourite are KnitPro Symphonie crochet hooks because they are beautiful, lovely and smooth to use and they can be converted into tunisian hooks.
Metal hooks are most commonly used for teeny tiny hook sizes so I do own a set of these but I’ve only used them a few times….thread scares me…
I have used a plastic hook, I enjoyed it because it was light and the yarn slid over it very smoothly. These are probably your most cost effective option.
If you find yourself having hand or wrist troubles from crochet, any kind of aches and pains from gripping you can also get ergonomic crochet hooks. These have much large, shaped handles to help ease your grip a little. There is the perk that some of these hooks come in really beautiful designs!
Time to get Hooking!
Now you’ve found your pretty yarn, you’ve worked out what hook size you need, why don’t you take a gander over at some of my beginner patterns: Simple Facecloths and Pincushion in a jar. The best resource you have for crocheting in Pinterest so follow my boards for lots of patterns and inspiration:
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