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Yarn Dictionary


Yarn comes in different kinds of packages. One is called a ball. It might be wound with a center pull or it might not. Different manufacturers do it differently. Generally, however, it is in a roundish shape.

Brand name

Many manufacturers make more than one type of yarn. The brand name would help you to shop for the specific fiber you want. Red Heart, Bernat, Caron, Wintuk, Sayelle, Patons. These are all brand names. Within some there are "sub" groups. For ex. Red Heart has Super Saver skeins, which are larger than the regular Classic skeins. It says "no dye lot" but there actually is a number there if you look. I always try to buy skeins that have that same number (not the color number, which is different, but the dye lot number).

Color flashing

This is when your variegated or ombre yarn creates an unexpected, and possibly unwanted, pattern in your project.

Color pooling

This is when certain colors in the color pattern repeat of your variegated or ombre yarn pool together, causing spots of color throughout your completed project.


This is another way to package yarn. Cotton yarn or string often comes in a cone, which holds more than a regular ball or skein and is wound on a heavy cardboard center. Yarn is pulled from the outside of the cone far as I know.

Dye lot

When yarn is dyed, all the yarn that is dyed at one time is given a "lot" number. This number is stamped on the wrapper for all the yarn done at that time. You should always buy enough of the same dye lot to complete your project. If you run out, you should try to match your yarn as closely as possible, but there is sometimes great discrepancy in the shade of different dye lots.


Material that makes up the strands in a skein. See Fibers below.


Lion Brand calls this "frosts." I call it the shiny thread that runs through yarns such as the Christmas yarns, but since I didn’t have a real name for it, I’m using "frosts."


Gauge is given in a pattern so that your project will come out looking like the one you see in the picture that is with your pattern. To check gauge, you would make a small swatch from the pattern, or if no swatch instructions are given, complete the first few rows of the pattern. Then measure to see if your stitches match the gauge given. For example, it might say 2 dc = 1" or something like that. Be sure you check for correct height as well as width. I mostly work on afghans and, to me, gauge is not that important since I don’t care if my afghan is slightly smaller or larger than the pattern indicates. For projects such as clothing, however, it is very important to follow the gauge.


The company that makes the yarn. Coats and Clark makes Red Heart for example. Various manufacturers are listed below and you can easily find more by doing a Google search or asking on a message board. Most manufacturer web sites offer free patterns and some have FAQs and tips.


Measurement used for hooks and some yarns, not widely used in U.S. but gaining popularity, see chart below.


This is similar to the term variegated, but in an ombre skein the strand changes to different shades of the same color, like shades of blue, or shades of brown, rather than different colors in the same skein. Ombre yarn is also subject to color flashing and color pooling, just as variegated yarns are.


Number of strands woven together. See chart below.


Yarn is packaged also in skeins. A skein is similar to a ball, but not as short and fat. Skeins come in different sizes as well. You can find skeins with as little as 1 3/4 oz. and as much as 16 oz. of yarn. The most popular are probably the 3 1/2 oz, and 6 or 8 oz. That changes over time as does how the manufacturer chooses to package their products.


Looks like little bits of yarn scattered throughout in different colors. It makes a very pretty product, but I wonder about the longevity of those bits. Will they withstand repeated washings? I don’t have an answer.


This has been around for many years and I love tweed! It is two different colors wound together to give a "tweed" look. You can make this look yourself in two strand projects by combining two colors. I find white or cream combine well with just about any other color. I made a couple of afghans with this yarn about 10 years ago, as wedding gifts. The blue tweed was then my favorite. I’m not sure what colors they are offering these days.


This is similar to the term ombre, but in a variegated skein the strand changes to different colors in sequence, like blue to green to white or whatever, rather than shades of the same color, like shades of blue, or shades of brown.

For example, the Christmas yarn in my hand right now is variegated as it has a pattern of different colors -- white, green, white, red. Itis repeated throughout the skein.

I love variegated yarns but I am wary of them as well. I have used skeins of the same dye lot and when I looked at the completed piece, there was a definite pattern in some of it - this is called color flashing. It would be okay if the pattern ran throughout but I could pull my hair out when I see one skein making one pattern and the next making a different one. Sometimes this can be fixed by just changing the number of chains on your foundation chain, but by the time you see the pattern, it is too late for that. I have ripped out a whole skein and used it for say, a granny square, and it is fine.

If this bothers you, my suggestion is to be alert, check each skein to be sure the colors are running in the same direction. In other words, make SURE your skein #2 still has white, green, white, red, and NOT white, red, white, green. Also, try to estimate as close as possible where one skein ends and the next begins for joining. I mean to see where your last stitch ended (what part of the color scheme) and try to match it as near as possible when you join your new skein. If you see the pattern emerging after you’ve gone too far to rip back, try using the skein from a different end or cutting out a strand so your repeats fall in a different place.

Another thing that may happen with variegated yarn is color pooling. That is where the same colors in your repeat end up near one another causing a "pool" of that color.


Weight gives you an idea of how thick or heavy your yarn is. You can’t judge solely on weight as I’ve had two yarns both saying worsted weight and one was obviously thinner than the other.

There are several weights - fingering, sport, worsted, chunky, bulky and more. I have a chart below giving the most commonly used labels with the ply notations. Different countries use different words to convey similar types of yarn.

In a different sense, each skein has the net wt. on the wrapper. This is usually in ozs. though sometimes in yards or grams. For ex. Red Heart Super Saver solid colors are 8 oz. skeins, whereas their ombres are 6 ozs.


How many yards in a skein? Interesting question. It varies depending on the kind of yarn and weight. However, I did find this information. Can’t verify it. I am NOT going to undo a skein to see how many yards it is. LOL

A 4 oz skein of worsted weight is approx. 190 yards. A 4 oz skein of sports weight is approx. 350 yards.

Grams is a little different. That is weight, so it depends to a degree on the thickness of the yarn. Generally speaking, for worsted yarn, a 50-gram skein is approx. 154 yards. I saw some wool yarn, however, that said 50g/ 120 yd and from the same company a superwash HEAVY worsted wool that said 50g / 65 yd.

A 1 pound cone is approx 1400 yards.

Patons Canadiana knitting worsted weight skein is 3 ozs and it says 170 yards (155 metres).

Caron Sayelle says 150 yds but doesn’t say ozs that I could find. However, the pattern inside says 64 oz/3200 yds so that means 50 yds/oz which means 150 yds per 3 oz.

If you’re making many of a particular item in different colors, you could make one, rip it and measure. Then if you have only a small ball of yarn left, you will know if it is enough for that item. I’ve done this when making squares. For example, square #96 in 101.

Update: I found this chart at Annie’s Attic. The chart itself (for plastic canvas) says that 35-42 yards = 1 ounce, but below that it says 50 yards in worsted weight yarn = 1 ounce.

Maggie’s Crochet sells this brochure called the Crocheter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements that tells you how much yardage is needed for various projects. It’s an excellent booklet, but it is in yards not ounces.

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Crochet Cabana created October 1997 (domain name purchased March 2001)
Crochet Cabana’s Crafty Corral begun November 7, 2004.
The Crochet Cabana Blog begun May 2010.
Site update November 18, 2012.