A Wealth of information can be obtained from a yarn ball band. However, interpreting the band is not always easy. Once you understand how to read the ball band, it becomes much easier to substitute yarns for a particular pattern. You will discover at least 6 important pieces of information you can obtain from the yarn ball band.
- Fiber content: The ball band will tell you the types of fiber(s) that constitute the yarn. This ball band lists the fiber content as 100% wool. If the yarn is a combination of fibers, each will be listed with a % to indicate the contribution of each individual fiber. When substituting yarns, it is often a good idea to use a yarn with a similar fiber content so the drape of the final product is similar to the pattern.
- Weight of the yarn: The number on the yarn ball band in the lower left white square of the label tells the weight of the yarn. There is a numbering system for reporting the weight of the yarn. The larger the number, the bulkier the yarn. This particular yarn is worsted weight (number 4). You can find a great reference for yarn weights at the yarn council at www.craftyyarncouncil.com/weight.html. When substituting yarns, it is usually recommended to substitute for a yarn in the same weight category. If substituting outside the weight category, your needle size will likely need to change.
Yardage: The yarn label should give the amount of yarn included in each ball in both yards and meters. Always make sure you pay attention to the number of balls called for in your pattern and multiply by the number of yards per ball to get the total yardage needed. It’s better to have extra yarn available then to run out before your project is finished. It’s also not ideal to go back and purchase more yarn later as the dye lot may not be the same (see more below).
- Care instructions: The label should include washing and care instructions. The 5 square boxes to the right of the yarn weight indicate care instructions for the final garment made with that yarn. The first box refers to handwashing and gives a safe water temperature if hand washing is acceptable. This yarn is safe to hand wash at 30 degrees Centigrade. The second box addresses machine washing. The 3rd box with the picture of the iron inidcates the safety of ironing items made with the yarn. The box with the triangle refers to bleach (not recommended for this yarn). The last box refers to drycleaning. The A in the box indicates that dry cleaning is acceptable with any solvent for this particular yarn. You can find a thorough list of yarn care symbols at lionbrand.com/yarnCare.html
- Recommended needle size and guage: The gauge recommended for this yarn is 4-5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch. Assume stockinette stitch for all yarn label gauges. The recommended needle size is given in both US and Metric sizes and is US 7-9 for this yarn. However, it is most important to make sure you are getting the right gauge for your pattern regardless of the gauge listed on the yarn label
- Color and Dye lot: Yarn is dyed in large batches, called lots. Color across different dye lots often varies. Therefore, it is important to try and purchase all the yarn for 1 project from the same dye lot.