Reading a Yarn Label


For my first post on the joy of knitting, I wanted to start super basic, with the most important thing you’ll need: yarn. Of course, you need knitting needles, too, but yarn is even more important than the needles because a) it creates the fabric that will be your finished product and b) there are tutorials out there for knitting without needles (finger knitting, for example).

So… yarn. How do you know what you’re getting when you buy yarn? While it can be pretty confusing as first, the yarn companies do what they can to make it easy – or at least understandable – for you. They put all the information you need right on the label, or ball band, of the yarn. Today I’m going to go over the information on a skein of yarn I have on hand.



On the front of the label, you’ll see the name of the company that made the yarn (Berroco), as well as the name of the product line (Comfort DK). Below this is the name of the yarn weight and a description of the fiber content.


When you rotate the ball of yarn, you come to a new panel on the label. This one has a series of tiny pictures. The three main ones tell you approximately what gauge (a fancy term for “stitches per inch”) you should get using this yarn and the specified needle sizes. The gauge you need will be listed on your pattern, but using the guide on the yarn label can give you an idea of whether your yarn and pattern are compatible. There are these gauge pictures for both knitting and crochet. Below that is another little picture; this one looks like a skein of yarn with a number on it. This gives you another clue as to the weight of the yarn (besides the name on the front, because not all yarns will list the weight there). I’ll talk about yarn weight in more detail tomorrow. Also on this panel is the size of your skein. This is usually listed in ounces and grams (for weight) and meters and yards (for length).


Rotate the ball one more time and you get to the final third of the ball band. On this section are the washing instructions for your finished garment, the color number and dye lot number, and the store’s pricing sticker. The dye lot is probably the most important piece of information on the label, especially if you’re making a project that will require more than one skein of yarn. By matching the color and dye lot, you can be assured that your yarn is all exactly the same color. (Matching dye lot numbers means they were colored in the same dye bath.) Even if two balls of yarn have the same color number, if their dye lots are different, it’s very possible that they won’t quite match. They’ll be close of course, but subtle variations are possible. 

And that’s the information you’ll find on a yarn label. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow, when I’ll be discussing the different weights of yarn.


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