For me, one of the best things about crochet is yarn. How do you feel when entering your local yarn store? Excited, amazed, thrilled? With so many gorgeous colors, fibers, blends, weights… It’s just a matter of time for you to become addicted.
How to choose the best yarn for your crochet project?
So how on Earth to choose the right one? Especially now, when trips to the yarn store have become mainly virtual experience?!? I can spend hours and hours scrolling down numerous pages with yarn. It’s so hard to make a choice!
My intention here is to help you narrow down your choices and pick the best yarn for the pattern you are designing, or any other crochet project. Nowadays, you can crochet with pretty much everything – from plastic bags to recycled newspapers. Though, here we’ll stick to the most common fibers and most important attributes you should take in consideration when choosing your yarn.
So many options
As a non-native English speaker, it took me a lot of time to learn and understand some of the terms and options when it comes to the yarn characteristics. For that reason, I will try to make it as simple as possible, for all the yarn lovers of the world to understand easily.
I want to give you here some of the key information, to serve you as basic guideline when trying to make the best choice without buying the half of the store and risking your monthly budget to dissolve.
Almost everything you need to know about certain yarn is printed on the label. And we will take a look at one (or two) in one of the following posts. For now, let’s just try to understand the meaning of some of the basic characteristics, since choosing the suitable yarn, weather you are writing your first pattern, making your tenth scarf or just learning to crochet, can make all the difference in the final outcome. Moreover, knowing exactly what you need and want will spare you a lot of time and (well, most probably!) some money.
Do you want this skein or that cake?
I will start with something that has always been confusing me – many names when referring to yarn. Why the heck you have ‘a ball’, ‘a skein’, ‘a cake’ and ‘a hank’?!? Is there really any difference? As I finally learned, it is all about the shape of it. Nothing more.
A skein is a machine spun yarn, usually with a bit longer body. It’s the yarn we usually purchase from the yarn store.
A ball is a yarn wound in a ball. It is rounder than the skein, a bit looking like a donut. But basically, it is the same thing as skein. It also refers to any yarn we have in our stash.
A cake is yarn wound as a cylinder, with the flat top and bottom. It can actually be any color yarn, but generally when we say yarn cake, we imagine various colors or color shades blending within one ball.
A hank is yarn wound into large circles and then twisted into shape. You can find hanks when purchasing from local (or online) indie yarn dyers or small local shops. You will need to wind the yarn into a ball, or a skein or a cake before crocheting with it.
Bottom line, a hank is something that needs winding up, and balls, cakes, skeins are just the different manners of doing it. You can do some research here, if you want to know more on this matter (because these are not the only terms). Though I will make a stop here and move on to what I feel to be much more important.
The color of the yarn is actually the first thing you notice and the main thing leading you to buy more, and more, and some more yarn. With so many choices, how could you resist?
Here are several main types of yarn:
Solids – made of only one, unvaried color.
Ombre – yarn with gradual blending of one shade to another.
Multicolored – variegated yarn with two or more distinct colors. Color repeats can be short or long.
Self-Striping – yarn dyed with color lengths that automatically stripe as they are worked.
Heather – looks a lot like solid color at first glanced, but it is actually a blend of different colored fibers that gives a textured look.
Tweed – yarn with interwoven colors, producing small flecks of alternative colors on solid background.
Marled – yarn with strands of different color twisted together. You can in fact work holding together two different colored strands of yarn to create marled effect.
how to choose color for your crochet project
I don’t want to talk about color preference here, which is highly subjective, but there are a few things to have in mind when choosing the yarn for a certain crochet project. If you want the texture of your project to be shown, if you like the lace, or cables like I do, solid yarns are the best choice. Light colors will make the most emphasize on the stitches, but I encourage you to try out some different options. I was pleasantly surprised how cables on my Rose Shells Pocket Scarf looked elegant and classy in black.
I am warning you – black can be very hard to work with!
If you are doing a colorway project – solids, self-striping and ombre yarns are the best option. For simple projects you can experiment with different multicolored, tweed or marled yarns.
Anyway, when talking about colors, it all comes down to what you personally like. So try out different options and color combinations until you find the ones that fits your needs and taste.
Just do not forget to buy enough yarn with same dye lot number if you are making larger projects. Yarn is dyed in batches and the dye lot number is assigned to each. Even if the same dyes are used every time, there may be variation in color between the batches. So, the best option is to use the yarn within the same batch for one project. Most of the time this is not too noticeable. But in case you are making a large project, especially in single, solid colors, you really want to make sure to purchase enough of the same dye lot.
Now that you know which color you’d like to use, let’s talk more about other categories.