Tips & Techniques

Knit & Crochet Basics


One of the pleasures of crocheting and knitting is working with beautiful yarn colors and textures. All yarn patterns require specific types of yarn, some mention a specific brand of yarn. There are five basic types of yarn:
  • Baby/Fingering
  • Sport/Baby
  • Worsted Weight
  • Chunky
  • Bulky
Each type of yarn has a different thickness or 'weight, with fingering being the finest. The term 'ply,' frequently seen on labels, refers to the number of strands that were twisted together to form the yarn. Yarn content or 'fiber content' tells what the yarn is made of: synthetic or natural fibers or combinations of the two. Synthetic yarns, such as acrylics, are easier to wash and can be worn by people sensitive to wool.

Yarn Labels

Yarns have labels that provide all the information that you will need to know, such as the type of yarn it is, the amount and/or yardage in the ball or skein, gauge, fiber content and care instructions. Many labels also include free patterns, which are printed on the inside.

Crochet Hooks

As its name suggests, the 'crochet hook' has a notch at one end for catching loops of yarn and drawing them through stitches. Aluminum, plastic and wood crochet hooks are the most commonly used, and often use the letter system for size marking. They range from B (2.25 mm) to S (19 mm), the largest, and come in 6-inch lengths. For fine work, such as crocheted lace and doilies, steel crochet hooks are used. They have a different sizing range, using numbers from 00 (3.5 mm), the largest, to 14 (.75 mm), the smallest.

Knitting Needles

Straight knitting needles, which come in aluminum, plastic or wood, are the most commonly used. They come in varying sizes, from 0 (2 mm), the smallest, to size 15 (10 mm) and larger; they are sold in pairs, and come in 10-inch or 14-inch lengths. There is a point at one end of the needle, and a knob at the other, which prevents stitches from slipping off. For large projects like afghans, or sweaters that can be worked in a tube without a seam, 'circular knitting needles' can be used. These are long flexible needles with points at both ends. For smaller projects that do not have seams (socks and mittens) 'double-pointed knitting needles' are used. These come in sets of four and as their name suggests, there is a point on each end. Visit your local Michaels store to see our wide range of yarn, needles, crochet hooks, pattern books and other knit and crochet supplies. You'll be amazed at our selection!