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What do YOU call it?

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    What do YOU call it?

    As some of you, OK hopefully all, of you know I'm building a pattern directory site. I'm working on making it more searchable by yarn type. I've always known what folks call various weight yarns varies but it's not much mattered in my personal endeavors. I crochet, don't knit, and rarely make things where gauge matters.

    So, I'm trying to come up with categories for yarn weights.

    Anyway, here's the question, do you find yourself more often using the words like "lace", "fingerling", "sport" etc or using the Yarn Council sizes (0-7) or hook size. And, if by hook size, how do you factor in when you use a big hook/needle with a fine yarn to create lacy atitches?

    My gut says, use the Yarn Council "official" chart which includes standard needle/hook sizes. That way with designs that don't mention a yarn weight or it's one of their own yarns which may or may not be a true standard weight, i can go by hook/needle size. But, I suspect most of us use the words. And, I'm seeing a bit of a trend where "fingerling" is being used by some knitters for any fine yarn.

    Red Heart and Lion Brand use the Yarn Council numbers. Other pattern sites use the words as do a lot of indie dyers & spinners.

    Since I'm starting from scratch, I can follow what others have done or maybe come up with a different strategy.

    So, let's try out this poll feature. Please choose all that apply, even if it's more than one under each question.

    And, if you have any comments or suggestions, I'm all ears.

    Thank you in advance.

    When I buy yarn, I use the Yarn Council Numbers.
    When I buy yarn, I use the words i.e. Fingerling, Sport, DK, etc.
    When I buy yarn, I go by hook/needle size
    When I look for patterns, I use the Yarn Council Numbers.
    When I look for patterns, I use the words.
    When I look for patterns, I go by hook/needle size
    I look for a cool pattern first and worry about the yarn weight later.
    I sometimes look for patterns based on yarn weights.
    I almost always search for patterns based on yarn weight.

    I always liked how Rav would display the weight name and WPI side by side. Neither one tells you everything about the yarn, but two reference points are better than one, and I think those two are the best of what we have.


      New Member
      michelet Not to be too serious, but "fingering" is yarn. "Fingerling" is a kind of potato.


      • michelet
        New Member
        michelet commented
        Editing a comment
        oh, too funny! Better to have it wrong here than in 50 places on the site. lol

      When I buy yarn, I look at the yards per gram. The words/names are confusing because there's so much variation within each category. Two yarns with the same designation may be wildly different from each other.


        I generally first look at the terms lace, fingering, sport, dk, etc. From there I look at the yards/gram (or yards/100 grams). That is a better comparison for the true weight of the yarn. I also keep the fiber in mind since some fibers are heavier than others. The craft yarn council terms are almost never used on yarn labels outside of big box store yarns, so not very useful for me. Also those numbers are more broad and often cover more than one thickness which I find not at all helpful since there are already enough variations in weight in the narrower categories. I guess I'd suggest that if you want to include those numbers, that might be useful for some people, but I'd also include the narrower categories (fingering, etc.). Of course keep in mind that in some places people are using the ply system for naming (fingering = 4 ply, worsted = 10 ply, and on from there).


          I look for the words on the yarn label first, I.e. worsted, dk, sport, sock, fingering. Then I look at the yarn itself for thickness and finally the yardage. Sometimes what a yarn says it is on the label isn't what it appears to be.


            Originally posted by EllenDeKnitter View Post
            When I buy yarn, I look at the yards per gram. The words/names are confusing because there's so much variation within each category. Two yarns with the same designation may be wildly different from each other.
            Yes, I do that too. Just a few days ago I spent at least an hour on a yarn site comparing yards per gram so I could see which yarn was closest to the yarn used in the pattern I was looking at.


              Thank you for help me with this. Love how much I'm learning from this conversation. I don't make anything where gauge really matters and I primarily play with crochet thread rather than yarn.

              Hope you will indulge me further.

              LoveCrafts and others list: thread, cobweb(only on 1 site), lace, light fingering and fingering. Are cobweb, lace and light fingering different enough to warrant separation? And where would you put "sock" yarn? Or do only us non-sock makers refer to it as "sock" yarn.

              Are Aran and Worsted different enough to warrant separation?

              Would a list like this cover it all? Could any of them be combined further?

              Lace & Light Fingering
              Sport & Baby
              DK & Light Worsted
              Aran & Worsted
              Super Bulky
              Fabric & Plarn

              I like the idea of wpi. That eliminates the hook sizes can vary issue. The ounces per yard is interesting too. I'll add them to the information I ask for and will be more mindful to include it when I can.


              • SpinsterJulieB
                SpinsterJulieB commented
                Editing a comment
                Hi—there is a difference between thread and cobweb and between lace and light fingering weight yarns. Sock yarns are usually fingering weight or a bit heavier.

                Thread is usually considered to be a yarn that has been worsted spun and then firmly twisted and plied so it isn’t fuzzy and will stand up to the friction of sewing or crochet and lacemaking activities. Thread can be made from different fibers, like linen and cotton, but is difficult to find in wool or other animal hairs.

                Cobweb-weight yarn is the finest yarn you can usually buy. It is often made of wool, but can be other fibers, like silk and mohair. It is very, very thin, and may be one- or two-ply. It also breaks easily and is often used in shawls that can be pulled through a wedding ring.

                Laceweight yarns are usually heavier than cobweb, but lighter than fingering. They also break easily, as I found out last night when I was dyeing a skein. I tried to pull a tangle out of the yarn and broke it by tugging too hard.

                I don’t really like the designations of light fingering and fingering weights. If a yarn is a light fingering, it may as well be called a laceweight. Otherwise, it is a fingering, in my mind. Fingering yarns are sock weight, but not all fingering yarns make good sock yarns.

                Sport yarns to me are totally unlike baby yarns. I think of baby yarns as fingering weight, but since baby items are often made of all weights of yarns, I don’t really like the designation of baby yarns at all.

                What would the purpose of a category called Any? And as far as Unspecified goes, I have never seen a label that doesn’t have at least a yards or meters per gram or ounce. So you could make your categories cover a range of yards or meters per gram or ounce. That to me, as a spinner makes a lot more sense anyway than trying to fit yarns into named categories.

              • Kniterested
                Kniterested commented
                Editing a comment
                What SpinsterJulieB said.🤩😊🙃

              Oh my, as a beginner + knitter now I’m really confused😀


                Thank you everyone! And, Julie, I'm so glad to hear from a spinner.

                I had heard of most of the terms before this project, but the term cobweb is truly new to me. Sounds like working with it would be like using something as thin as hand-sewing thread that's easily ripped. Worked with sewing thread a few times and it's far from easy. I can't imagine trying to spin something that fine.

                I've been working with what I guess would be considered laceweight. It has two noticeable plies and is easily torn. Again, I can't imagine the skill needed to spin those plies and then spin them together without tearing them. I'm crocheting it with a 1.4mm hook, thankfully only small pieces to cover some bird legs.

                I used "baby" as it was mentioned by the Thread Council and another site. I agree "Baby" as a size has become even more unclear with some of the new bulky yarns from Lion Brand and Red Heart for baby blankets. Never really understood the designation of "sport" though, from a word usable perspective. All the other terms somewhat relate to thickness.

                I think the concept of "any" works for those patterns where there is no "right" size. However, I suspect that's used more frequently with crochet. For example, my doily patterns were originally made with thread. But, the entire pattern works for any size yarn, you just get a bigger doily. I often work some of my motifs in 2 or 3 different yarns to show the versatility of the pattern.I know one person used clothesline to make a rug. Ergo, any size yarn/thread works.

                A lot of the smaller crochet projects are "stashbusters" - use what you've got together randomly (blankets and aghans are often made that way) or you just need little bits of each color (flowers, mug cozies and amigurumi come to mind.)

                That place which we don't mention, had a "no weight specified" category. Not sure if that was simply a a "none of the above" dumping ground, a quick choice for the lazy or what. But, it does have a significant number of patterns. A lot of crochet amigurumi and shawls. Makes some sense with those two, but, definitely no sense with the fingerless gloves that are also dumped there. A number of the vintage patterns are there as well. That's the sort of mess you get with an un-curated list.

                I hesitate on the grams/yards and ounces. Makes total sense for knitting, particularly garments - it probably represents the most accurate method. Would every knitting pattern have that information? I know a lot of crochet ones don't.

                I think part of what's turning this into such a learning curve for me, is that most of what I see as a crocheter uses more big box commercial threads/yarns over the lovely hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns knitters often use. I thought before I assume the other pattern sites are doing yarn weights the best way for everyone involved, I would ask. What I'm finding is like so much in the fiber arts, everyone measures differently and there is no standard. sigh


                  Originally posted by michelet View Post

                  I had heard of most of the terms before this project, but the term cobweb is truly new to me. Sounds like working with it would be like using something as thin as hand-sewing thread that's easily ripped. Worked with sewing thread a few times and it's far from easy. I can't imagine trying to spin something that fine.
                  So "cobweb" is the lightest weight 2ply spun yarn, often this is called for to make Shetland wedding ring shawls. Those are the traditional knit shawls to be worn by the bride at the ceremony, and the yarn is so fine that you can grab the shawl in the center and the shawl will compress to pass the entire thing through the wedding ring. You can see the cobweb at this link: https://www.handknitting.com/Dream-L...5g-p/dream.htm

                  So I do have some info and comments on your general question. I have been knitting for over 55 years, and crocheting for almost as long, & machine knitting for 30 years, and have owned an online yarn shop for 13 years.

                  1) There is no quantifiable measurement that will produce a reliable outcome for the finished item if the fiber content and exact spin are not known and the item has not been produced by several methods. There just isn't. Period. This is why yarn manufacturers have been able to create demand for a particular yarn by publishing a pattern for it. This is why yarn manufacturers hate yarn substitutions. The total complete truth is that when yarn manufacturers put on their patterns that they cannot guarantee results unless the yarn called for is used, it is the absolute truth! I don't blame them. And this is why every knitting, MK, or crochet pattern has a gauge called for, and insists that the crafter adjust the tool size to meet gauge.

                  2) It is only very recently that there has been a "standard" gauge for any crafting yarn, and that was basically established by the Rowan determination for DK (double knitting) of 5.5 st per inch on a 4mm needle (US 6) in hand knitted stockinette. You cannot get this gauge crocheting with a 4mm hook, you cannot get this gauge knitting in garter st, or any other variation you can possibly think of. This is as close a substitution as anyone can get, and it is still not reliable. The crafter must meet gauge.

                  3) The finished size of the item after laundering and use will still vary depending on fiber and spin, regardless of the gauge stated on the ball band. Also, some colors act differently--YES, that's absolutely true, because the molecule size of the dye adds up over a project. If you want to prove this to yourself then compare 2 large swatches in any method, one bleached white or undyed natural and the other turquoise. I would bet you would not get the same measurements after laundering.

                  4) Synthetics add an entirely new layer of uncertainty, because they can be processed to mimic any sort of natural fiber in terms of springiness, crimp, drape, shrinkage, and more. And there is nothing on a ball band that says that this 50/50 blend of wool & acrylic has the synthetic processed to mimic the wool exactly, or to be drapier, or whatever. It just is what it is.

                  for more questions, please contact me directly by email: laurel@handknitting.com


                    I'm late to the party as usual,
                    New Member
                    michelet , but none of your poll options works for me. Well, OK, I suppose "I look for a cool pattern first and worry about the yarn weight later" does.

                    If I'm looking at using a new-to-me yarn, I first look at the stitch gauge on the ball band. I know from long experience that going by needle size simply will not work for me (I have NO idea how people get 5 spi in worsted on size 8 needles, as I would get maybe 3). Going by the yarn-weight words may have been useful several decades ago, but now there's simply too much variation for them to mean very much.

                    As far as picking patterns goes, I look for an interesting technique, an interesting shape, or a combination of textures. And I'm not sure I've ever used the recommended yarn, as I'm usually too late to the aforementioned party for it to even be made anymore! That means I'm almost always substituting, and if I'm going to be substituting, I don't mind swatching with my chosen yarn and refiguring stitch and row counts to get whatever size I need. And that reminds me that I usually don't give a flip about the designer's included ease. If I want to slim down a garment designed with 10 inches of ease, I will, thank you very much!
                    Download for free my comprehensive, twelve-hundred-page (!) book, Stitch by Bloody Stitch: Knitting Charts Explained, at my website, http://hollybriscoe.com/first-edition-announced/


                      OK, Michelet; getting back to your original question, I have this thought: Instead of establishing your categorization of weights and then making the patterns fit into one or another, why not go at it the other way around? All patterns come with 1) the yarn actually used to create the sample for the pattern, and 2) the gauge that is the basis for the pattern, whether it be knitting gauge, crochet gauge, weaving gauge, etc. If a pattern does not include this information, I would not include it in your database, because it is just junk. Seriously, this is the minimum amount of information that will allow a user to try substituting another yarn, albeit with some research. Better patterns include also 3) the gauge stated on the ball band of the yarn used. The fact is that these ball band gauges are always in stockinette knitting (K 1 row, P 1 row), and they are 99% of the time developed by swatching on knitting machines. This adds useful info to the user, because they can compare one ball band gauge to another, and this will narrow the field of possible substitutes further.
                      Also as a crocheter, you may not know that when using hand knitting patterns, it is only the stitches per inch gauge that really matters to the user. This is usually the width of the fabric, and so every pattern that is "knit sideways" has a completely different gauge because yarn stretches width-wise, whether knit or crocheted (Crochet less). Every knitter/crocheter has a "personal gauge" that accounts for how tightly or loosely they form the stitches. Users can usually adjust needle/hook size to get st gauge, but row gauge is not reliable at all. Row gauge is one of those things that is only standardized by knitting swatches on machines. Hand knitters just make adjustments to the length by adjusting the number of rows, not trying to perfectly match BOTH st & row gauge.
                      Hope this helps, Laurel


                        A bit of tough love here...

                        Without some idea of what you mean by pattern directory site it is difficult to say what you should include as you perform your due diligence to insure the usefulness of your site.
                        It sounds like you need to do more research before making decisions about field names
                        beginning with what type of info is used both by business and consumers for each method

                        The one thing that is not needed is more vague terms.

                        At the very least familiarize yourself with the work of the yarn council

                        Then you can look for info about what details are needed for weavers. machine knitters, etc

                        Borrow some pattern books by serious designing authors, by long time publishers "for the masses" and see info they provide for each pattern
                        eve.n spinners need basic details of the yarn used to decide if their yarns will work

                        It would be sad to see you work so hard to build something that is not helpful except to a small segment of your potential users.


                        Expert Crafter
                        Last edited by wheat; 09-21-2019, 09:32 AM.
                        Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts
                        My personal views & Opinions may well not be those of the owners, management and other moderators - nor, are they intended to be personal, but may require adult sized undies.


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