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The Basics

Yarn

One of the pleasures of crocheting and knitting is working with beautiful yarn textures and colors. All yarn patterns require specific types of yarn, some mention a specific brand of yarn. Each type of yarn has a different thickness or "weight." The industry has adopted a Standard Yarn Weight System and uses number symbols from 0 to 6 (PICK UP SYMBOLS), with 0 being the finest called lace weight and 6, the thickest, called Super Bulky.

  • Lace
  • Super Fine
  • Fine
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Bulky
  • Super Bulky

Yarn Labels

Yarns have labels that provide lots of information about the yarn you have selected, such as the type of yarn it is, the amount or yardage in the ball or skein, fiber content, care instructions and recommended needles or hook to obtain the gauge. On the label you will also see reference to yarn color names, numbers or dye lots. If a yarn has a dye lot number, it is always recommended that you purchase enough of the same dye lot to finish a project because there can be subtle color differences in yarns dyed in different batches. Increasingly, many yarns will say "No Dye Lot Yarn" which means the fibers were dyed prior to being spun so there should be no color differences. Many labels also include free patterns.

Tools

Crochet Hooks

As its name suggests, the crochet hook has a notch at one end for catching loops of yarn and drawing them through stitches. Aluminum, plastic, wood or bamboo crochet hooks are the most commonly used. In the U.S. a numbering and letter system is used for determining hook sizes, while in other countries a metric designation, which represents the actual circumference of the hook, is used. In most packaging you will see the metric sizing shown first, followed by the U.S. sizing in parenthesis. The most commonly used hooks sizes range from 2.25 mm (B-1) to 19 mm or S, the largest. Most hooks come in 6" lengths.
For fine work, such as crocheted lace and doilies, steel crochet hooks are used. They have a different sizing range, using numbers from 3.5 mm (00), the largest, to .75 mm (14), the smallest.

Knitting Needles

Straight knitting needles, which come in aluminum, plastic, wood or bamboo, are the most commonly used. There is a point at one end of the needle, and a knob at the other, which prevents stitches from slipping off.
As with crochet hooks, in the U.S. a numbering system is used for determining needle sizes, while in other countries a metric designation, which represents the actual circumference of the needle, is used. In most packaging you will see the metric sizing shown first, followed by the U.S. sizing in parenthesis. Knitting needles come in varying sizes, from 2.25 mm (1), the smallest, to size 19 mm (35) and larger; they are sold in pairs, and come in 10" or 14" lengths.

For large projects like afghans, or sweaters that can be worked in a tube without a seam, "circular knitting needles" can be used. These are long flexible needles with points at both ends. For smaller projects that do not have seams (socks and mittens) "double-pointed knitting needles" are used. These come in sets of four and as their name suggests, there is a point on each end.