All About Yarn

by Doroteja

Here are a couple of simple things you need to know before you start crocheting. The yarn is an essential item when crocheting, and here are the basic things you need to know before you start.

Sometimes is hard to find the right yarn for your project. Why? Because the yarn stores usually offer so much yarn. There are so many fibers, yarn weights, textures, and colors of yarn. And the question is, why are there so many types of yarn? And what is the right type of yarn for my project?

When I first started, I bought the yarn that I thought was in a nice color, soft, and on budget.

And even though all of that is great, when I hear someone saying that today, I see just a bunch of red flags. Why? Because there is a big chance the person will be disappointed at the end (if not even sooner). And because there is a little bit more than just the color and the feel of the yarn that goes into picking the right one for the project you plan to work on.

Curious? Perfect. Let’s start.



You can buy yarn in three different shapes: balls, skeins, and hanks.

Balls are made up of yarn wound into a round shape, skeins are made up of yarn wound into an oblong shape, and hanks are loose, twisted coils of yarn that you have to wound into balls before you start.

You can use the yarn packaged in balls and skeins right away. However, you need a yarn winder and a yarn swift to create a yarn shape that is simple to use. Even though the hanks are perfect for storing the yarn because the yarn doesn’t get all tangled and compressed. Don’t try to work from the yarn hank directly. The yarn will get tangled, and you will spend more time saving the from complete disaster than actual crocheting or knitting.

DOROTEJA: My favorite yarn shape for storing the yarn is a hank. I sometimes buy yarn in larger amounts. The yarn arrives in skeins or balls. And because I know I will not use all the yarn away, I create hanks and store my yarn for later. The good thing is that once you have a simple yarn winder and swift at home, you can create yarn cakes. They are very cute and very easy to work with.


From a fiber …
to a strand of yarn.

Yarn construction can be easily divided into two categories: traditional and novelty. Traditional yarn is spun by hand or today by machines and is often plied. Plying means spinning fibers together to form a single strand of yarn and twisting two or more strands together to create stronger and thicker yarn. Yarn with more twists is stronger and creates a denser, firmer fabric.

Novelty yarns include a variety of yarns made with unusual fiber compositions, such as inclusions and metallic or synthetic fibers. Novelty yarns can be used alone or combined with other yarns to create unique crocheted items.

DOROTEJA: I recently started making my own yarn. At the moment is very small amounts because I am a total beginner, and I need to learn a lot before I will start making a really nice, even, and quality yarn. But yarn spinning is a very fun hobby of mine that brightens my days and elevates my creativity.


The yarn can be made from natural or synthetic fibers. There are two types of natural fibers; plant and animal fibers.

The type of fiber that yarn is made of will impact on yarn behavior.


The plant fibers are made from cellulose which is the main component of plant tissue. The garments made from plant fibers are lightweight, breathable, and absorb moisture very well.

It’s also hypo-allergenic (that makes them a great choice for people who are allergic to animal fibers – wool). The only bad side of plant fibers is that garment made from plant fibers is not as warm as garments made from animal fibers because they do not provide as much insulation as yarn made from animal fibers.

Plant fibers are made from plants such as cotton and hemp plant.

DOROTEJA: My favorite plant-based yarn is 100% cotton yarn. Some people call it cloth yarn because many used it for kitchen clothes in the past. But I designed many beautiful crochet patterns for baby shoes, sweaters, and rompers with that kind of yarn. Especially because it is very skin-friendly, durable, and does not need any special care.


Animal fibers come from the coat of animals such as sheep, goats, and rabbits.

They provide good insulation, which helps keep you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Since the animal fibers are protein–based they are very vulnerable to moth larvae because larvae eat the protein base fiber. Animal fibers are soft, lightweight, absorbent and stretch resistant.

Examples of animal fibers are wool (sheep, very popular, warm, elastic, resist wrinkling), alpaca (llama-like animal from South America, soft, silky, very warm, used for sweaters and scarves), angora (Angora rabbit, soft, delicate, warm, it tends to shed, expensive), cashmere (Cashmere goat, one of the softest, luxurious, resist stretching and wrinkling, very expensive), silk (silkworm cocoons, strong, not very resilient, special care required) and more.


On the other hand, we have a lot of man-made fibers produced from a chemical source and are usually quite inexpensive.

Because they do not need special care they are a great choice for items that are frequently washed (blankets, sweaters). But be careful when ironing items made from man-made fiber, because they can easily lose their shape or even melt under too much heat.

They are often not so warm, absorbent or elastic as natural fibers. Examples of man-made fibers are nylon (strong, often added to other fibers to prevent piling and provide durability), acrylic (lightweight and strong), metallic fibers (contain small amounts of metal to create yarn that sparkles and glitters, not very strong), novelty yarns (yarns with interesting textures and appearance, fun to use , but difficult to work with) and more.


The yarn is categorized by weight, simply the thickness of the yarn.

Traditionally, yarn weight was named after the number of strands that were plied together to create the thickness of yarn, but with modern manufacturing techniques. This isn’t the case anymore.

All the good quality patterns would tell you which yarn weight you need because it affects the appearance of the item you crochet as well as how long the project will take to complete.

Sometimes determining the yarn weight could be a bit challenging because different manufacturers and different countries use their own names for each weight. Here are some of the most common weights.

To complicate matters, yarn in the US and UK have different weight labeling systems.

FINGERING WEIGHT also baby weight. Fine yarn, ideal for crocheting baby socks and slippers. But I do not use this type of yarn. It’s too thin for my taste. The final item is not so warm and cozy at the end. But great for socks if you ask me.

SPORT WEIGHT is a lightweight yarn suitable for gloves, mittens, and light sweaters. I love sport weight yarn. A lot of my patterns consider the sport yarn the right yarn for the final item. Baby booties made with sport yarn have a beautiful shape.

DOUBLE KNITTING WEIGHT (DK) is a high to medium-weight yarn that produces slightly heavier items than sport weight. I use it in my patterns too.

WORSTED WEIGHT, also called Worsted or Aran weight, is the most common yarn weight. It’s medium to heavy weight, and it is super easy to use for beginners.

BULKY WEIGHT or Chunky Weight is a thick yarn. It’s very popular because you can finish the products very quickly. (My So Fluffy pattern)

SUPER BULKY WEIGHT or Extra Bulky, Very Bulky, or Gigantic. It is the thickest yarn of all. Their bulkiness makes it easy to crochet/knit and very quickly finish the final item.

As I have mentioned before.  The yarn in the US and the yarn in the UK have different weight labels.

Also, there is a big range of different yarn thicknesses in each group. Therefore I highly recommend checking the gauge before yous start working on your project. It can literally make or break your finished item.

NAMEPly (UK, NZ, AU)Wraps Per InchYarn Standard
Lace1 ply0: Lace
Light Fingering2 ply0: Lace
Fingering3 ply14 wpi1: Super Fine
Sport4 ply12 wpi2: Fine
DK5 ply11 wpi3: Light
Worsted8 ply9 wpi4: Medium
Aran10 ply8 wpi4: Medium
Bulky12 ply7 wpi5: Bulky
Super Buly5 – 6 wpi6: Super Bulky

DOROTEJA: Generally, two strands of the same yarn weight joined together are usually classified as the next yarn weight. Therefore, if you join two strains of DK weight yarn together, you get Worsted/Aran weight yarn.

However, you must be careful when doing that because not all yarns classified as the same weight are exactly the same thickness. Some of them are a little thinner, and some are a bit thicker but not thick or thin enough to be classified as something else.

I recommend using two strands of yarn simultaneously and crocheting the gauge first. It’s a very good starting point, especially if you really want to use a specific yarn.


I will never say to anyone to purchase and use the yarn recommended in the pattern.

However, the yarn you find in the instructions is a great starting point and can be a good reference when you are looking for the yarn you want to use for the project.

The funny thing is the same yarn weight, type, or even brand might not give you the same results. Why? Because it’s not just yarn. It’s also a crochet hook that is important and something that we all tend to forget way too often, the gauge. More on that topic here.

But there are a couple of simple things you might consider when buying new yarn.

Unfortunately, more expensive is usually higher quality yarn. It is nicer to work with, and the appearance and feel of the final item will be nicer. Very important is that the yarn you will choose will be comfortable to wear, especially for babies.

DOROTEJA: When I am choosing the yarn for baby items, I always hold the yarn to the inner side of my wrist. The skin there is thin and very sensitive as baby skin. If it’s itchy, find something else.

Always check the dye lot number on each package of yarn you buy for a project to make sure they are all the same color. Sometimes yarn color is different from the same yarn manufacturer because the yarn is dyed in different lots.

Check the pattern on how much yarn you will need if the pattern provides that.  All of my patterns for baby booties do not need too much yarn. 50 grams which is usually one skein of yarn of one color, is more than enough.

Sometimes the pattern suggests the yarn you should use for your project. But you can change the yarn depending on the price, availability, or simply your own preference. So if you decide to use another yarn, you should be careful about the following: yarn weight, yarn length, recommended hook size, and gauge! And if you are still in doubt, ask the salesperson to help.


Always carefully read through the yarn label before you purchase new yarn. It will not take you more than 30 seconds of your time. Once you get used to it, you will know exactly if the yarn is right for your project or not or if it is something you want in your yarn stash. After all, the yarn is to play with and not for keeping as your pet somewhere in your yarn stash. Am I right? 😂

So, what can you find on the yarn label?

  • Manufacturer’s name and address
  • Brand name
  • Fiber Content (the fiber the yarn is made of, I prefer 100% cotton yarn)
  • Ply (the number of strands that have been twisted together to make yarn)
  • Yarn Thickness (sport, DK, worsted …)
  • Weight (actual yarn weight, 50 g , 1,76 oz)
  • Yarn length (determine how long the yarn is; 105 meters, 115 yards )
  • Suggested Hook size (more about crochet hooks here)
  • Care instructions (sometimes in words, but most of the time with symbols, same as if you buy clothes)
  • Color name and number
  • Dye lot number

So, what to choose?

When I first started crocheting, I did not know much about yarn. I was choosing the yarn by appearance. And after hours and hours of work on my project, and it still not looking very good, I’ve decided to invest more time into researching the materials I use for my projects.

I discovered how important the yarn and hooks are with crocheting. I learned how to read the yarn labels and how to keep my gauge even. And that did not happen overnight. You have time. You will most of it as you go. The most from the mistakes you are going to make. The great thing about our crochet journeys is that lackey crocheting is super fun, and it has a positive impact on our health and occasionally even social life – it is a great conversation starter. Even if the person asks, “What are you knitting?”.

You will find your favorite fibers and hooks you feel most comfortable with and know exactly when you can apply them for a project you are interested in or when you need something new.

I wish you good luck on your creative journey and happy crocheting!


June March 29, 2015 - 02:56

Thanks for this yarn tutorial and the hook tutorial. I’ve been crocheting for a while but am still clueless about both! This definitely shed some light on yarn choice.

Jodi November 21, 2015 - 16:41

Could you tell us the brand of yarn you use?? I use mostly cotton and it doesnt look like yours lol

Doroteja November 24, 2015 - 10:30

Hi Jodi,
than you for your question. Here in this post I am writing about the yarn in general, and on the picture are 5 different types of yarn. You can see the cotton yarn on the top, right in gray color. 🙂

My favorite yarn for baby booties is Four Seasons Gründl – Cotton Fun (German yarn company) or Garnstudio – DROPS Cotton Light (Norwegian yarn company).

Ravelry links:
Four Seasons Gründl – Cotton Fun
Garnstudio – DROPS Cotton Light

I use these two brands for most of my projects.

I live in Europe and I buy almost all of my yarn online. The yarn weights here are also a bit different if you compare them with US so it’s sometimes really hard to say if the yarn is Sport weight yarn or DK weight yarn.
My personal opinion is and I always say this to my crochetes, more than the yarn weight is important the gauge. Gauge or tension is simply a number of stitches and rows you produce per inch when crocheting and determines the size of your finished project. It depends how big crochet hook or how thick yarn are you using for the particular project and also how tight crocheter you are. Beginners are most of the time very tight crocheters and it’s normal that they will produce more stitches per inch as it’s written in the pattern even if they use recommended hook or the same yarn (brand and type) the pattern recommends. 🙂 Even if you and I would compare our tensions, and let’s say we are both experienced crocheters, the tensions would not be the same.

What I would recommend you to do is, take the yarn you like (be reasonable when choosing the yarn, please do not use the bulky yarn if the sport yarn is recommended in the pattern 🙂 and crochet one sole only. If the final size of the sole is the size you like continue, if not try with thicker/thinner yarn or bigger/smaller hook. 🙂

Tina Severson November 20, 2018 - 20:28

Your instruction explaintinations are very clear organized and easy to follow. We as of late watched sooooo many videos and read a ton of a how to crochet. Good job! Thank you! Please continue making videos that are visually appealing in that I can actually see which stitch you are working in and where your going. :))
Best regards

Doroteja January 14, 2019 - 15:20

Thank you, Tina! 🙂

Rimi Rasheed April 15, 2019 - 11:07

Hi Doroteja,
I love your tutorials since the instructions you provide are so easy to comprehend. I have also made a few baby’s booties as gifts too, thanks to you. I would like to know, how do you wash the baby booties and dry them? Is there a specific method to do so?
Please do reply.

Doroteja June 7, 2019 - 12:57

Hi Rimi! Oh, that’s amazing! I mostly use cotton for my baby projects. It’s super easy to use, very durable and does not need any special care. You can even wash it at 60 degrees Celsius and dry it in a dryer. Although that is great for blankets, hats, and rompers, things can get a tiny bit more complicated with baby booties.

I personally handwash baby shoes and then I dry them on plastic shoe models – the ones you usually get if you purchase the newborn shoes in stores. I get mine on Aliexpress.

They are also great for storage – the shoes don’t lose their shape. And it’s a nice extra touch if you sell or gift your baby shoes. It looks more professional.

Shirley Fitzpatrick March 6, 2021 - 14:25

Explained well thank you

Ana Sudy Bustamante February 11, 2022 - 21:30

Very clear description. I could finally understand different yarn weights to compare with those I can find in Chile where we have many different brands and textures.
I feel here is one of the paradise for a crocheter/knitter.


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