Yarn, yarn everywhere!
Which kind should you get when you’re first starting out as a crochet newbie? First thing to do is check that label (also called the yarn band). It will tell you the yarn’s weight/thickness, fiber type, recommended hook size, washing instructions and of course colors. You need to choose the right yarn for your project particularly as this will affect the item’s size and durability.
You may have also noticed there is a “Lot #” section on the label. This refers to a dye lot number. This info is only important if you are working on a project with a natural fiber yarn where colors can vary in the dying process. In that case you would want to buy skeins that where the lot numbers are close together to keep consistent color in your project. For acrylic yarn like this one pictured above, you don’t need to worry about lot numbers. Color can be controlled exactly with synthetic yarn.
The most common types of natural yarns used in crochet are wool and cotton.
Wool, which comes from sheep fluff or fleece, is very warm and stretchy. The different types have to do with the type of sheep it is derived from and it’s quality and softness. Alpaca and Merino are different terms you will see in the wool category.
Cotton yarn is made from the cotton plant. It washes well without fading so it is very useful in household items such as wash cloths and toys. It comes in various softness types.
There are other natural fiber, less common yarns made of bamboo and silk.
Acrylic yarn is produced from polymer. As a beginner, I recommend starting with acrylic yarn as it is inexpensive, versatile, warm, washable, and hypoallergenic for folks with wool allergies. Another type you might see in yarn is nylon which is typically mixed with another fiber like wool.
Picking the Right Yarn For Your Project
Every pattern you work with should list the recommended yarn brand, fiber type, thickness and color. Changing the color is fine–flex your creativity! But especially as a beginner, I highly recommend that you stick to the exact recommended yarn for your pattern whenever possible. If you can’t find the yarn you need in your local craft store, look online. If you still can’t find it or you find it too expensive, choose a different pattern. Trust me. I have learned this the hard way. Substitutions are very tricky and confusing–even for seasoned crocheters and experts.
Beginners Beware! Substitute at Your Own Risk.
Some yarn brands are hard to come by or, perhaps, cost more than you’d like to spend. Typically the finer quality the yarn, the higher the price tag. So, substitution sounds like an easy solution, right? NO! You cannot substitute any yarn for any yarn. That is a recipe for disaster. Substitute wrong yarn or mix different fiber types and your project will likely turn out the wrong shape or size even if you follow the pattern exactly.
If you do have to substitute:
- You must use yarn with the same thickness and fiber type. For example, the exact same project made with two different yarns will end up completely different sizes. Things like drape, stretch, and washability are very important factors in the final result.
- You must create swatches (samples) until you achieve the proper gauge before you begin. The last thing you want is to spend many hours and money on a project that turns out too small. Gauging a project is very important and we will learn how to gauge a project a little later. Solidify your basics first.
Bottom Line for Beginners: Follow the pattern. Don’t substitute.