Reading Yarn Labels

Yarn labels come in many varieties. Some have tons of information and you just don’t know what to make of it, some has just the basics, and then most are somewhere in between.

Red Heart Soft label

Let’s start with this label by Red Heart. It’s their Soft line. We’ll talk about the quality and texture of this line in another post, so let’s just focus on the label here.

This is the main part of the label, the part that’s on display in stores. I’ve diagrammed the label below.

Red Heart Soft Label diagrammed

You can see the logo, the weight of the ball in both ounces and grams, the dye lot (there is none), the length of the ball in yards and meters, what size knitting needles are recommended in US terms and metric, and the name of the color.

But wait! There’s more!

Detailed Red Heart Soft Label with Symbols

This is the important part when it comes to care instructions. At the top we we see the yarn weight which we discussed here. And next to that we find the knitting and crochet information.

Yarn Gauge Symbol

There’s a lot of information in that little square! You know this is the one for crochet people because of the hook in the center of the square. I’ll go into more detail in another post, but for now let’s just discuss the information as it’s presented.

Across the top and on the left side you see the size of a square that you should make to determine gauge. On the right side is the number of rows you will need to make to achieve that size square, and on the bottom is how many and why type of stitches you make.

The center of the square is the recommended hook size in US terms and metrics. This is just a guideline though. You can use whatever size you need to achieve gauge, or if you want a different effect, you can also change the size. Crochet is art! You do what makes you happy.

Below that is the care and use information.

Care information

From the left, you see a wash symbol with a number and two lines under it. 80 represents a cool wash or sometimes you will see this as a single dot, 90-104 (or 2 dots) represent a warm wash, and anything over 130 (or 3 dots) represents a hot wash. The two lines under the wash symbol indicate a gentle cycle. If there are no lines underneath, you can use a regular cycle. When in doubt, always use cold water and a gentle cyclewith your handmade items! Or better, wash by hand.

Next to that is the dryer symbol, which follows a similar system – 1 dot is tumble dry on low heat, 2 dots is medium heat, and 3 is high heat. If you see an X over this symbol it means dry flat and do not put in the dryer. You might also see two lines under this symbol, which means a gentle cycle in the dryer. When in doubt, dry flat!

The next symbol is ironing. For this yarn, there is an X over the symbol which means do not iron. This symbol can also have the dots inside, which indicate low, medium, or high heat, as with the dryer.

The triangle represents bleach. It’s rare to find a yarn that can be bleached, so you will typically see that big X over the triangle. But, sometimes it will be an empty triangle which means bleach is safe, or it will have two black stripes inside which means non chlorine bleach, like oxy clean, only.

And the final symbol is for dry cleaning. A means any solvent, P means any solvent execept trichlorethylene, and F means petroleum solvent only. Again, this symbol might have an X which indicates it cannot be dry cleaned.

Fiber content

The final bit of information on this label is fiber content. This one is 100% Acrylic. This is important for a number of reasons. We’ll talk about different types of fiber, how they behave, and why you would choose them later in this series.

Okay! Here’s a couple other labels just to see other ways you might see yarn represented.

Loops & Threads Label

This is more compact. You see the logo, with the yardage and weight right below, followed by information for a pattern that is included on the label presumably. There is a crochet hook with the recommended size and that’s about it. The yarn content was listed on the back, with the care instructions.

This is also 100% acrylic. It’s a light weight yarn, size 3, and it’s recommended that you use a 4mm or USG hook. This can be washed in warm water on a gentle cycle, dried on low heat in a gentle dryer. It should not be ironed, bleached, or dry cleaned.

Here’s another one from a small yarn maker that I love. Frequently smaller companies have less information on their labels, but the important stuff is sill there!

This is from Fairy Tale Knits. It’s a blended yarn, with 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, and 10% Nylon. It is 435 yards, and weighs 3.5 oz. The weight is Fingering, which we know from our chart is a SuperFine yarn, or will have a yarn symbol of 1 in some patterns. It should be washed by hand and laid flat to dry.

Whew! That was a lot of information. Hope it cleared things up and we will continue this series soon!