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I have started to teach myself crochet and had acouple of questions for you pros:

1. What is a skein? In one place I saw it defined as a way yarn is rolled up. You pull the yarn from the center so the whole thing doesn't come undone. I thought it had to do with how much yarn was present, not how it was rolled up. Does a skein = so many yards of yarn?

2. The book I am using said that the most popular size yarn to use was size 10. I looked all over Walmart and none of the rolls of yarn had a size 10 on it. In fact, I didn't see any numerical size on them. Just the weight--worsted, etc. How do you figure this out?

3. I noticed the yarn packages usually had a suggestion of needle size to use. What if this conflicts with the pattern suggestion?

4. So far I have learned how to do the slip knot, then yarn over. I have started learning how to make the single crochet stitch (I think that is the name) where you do a yarn over and then pull it through the slip knot to start making a chain. My chains are, well, inconsistant. It starts out ok but then the stitches get bigger (or perhaps looser). Sometimes the stitches go from ok to too loose back to ok. How do you correct this? I tried un-doing all the stitches that were too loose and then re-doing them but that seemed to make it worse.

5. It is normal to be able to pull the yarn from the skein end and have all of the stitches come undone right? It won't do that when I secure the end right?

ARR
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What is a skein?

Here are some definitions of the word skein.

\Skein\, n. [OE. skeyne, OF. escaigne, F. ['e]cagne,
probably of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. sgainne, Gael. sgeinnidh
thread, small twine; or perhaps the English word is
immediately from Celtic.]
1. A quantity of yarn, thread, or the like, put up together,
after it is taken from the reel, -- usually tied in a sort
of knot.

Note: A skein of cotton yarn is formed by eighty turns of the
thread round a fifty-four inch reel.

2. (Wagon Making) A metallic strengthening band or thimble on
the wooden arm of an axle. --Knight.


\Skein\, n. (Zo["o]l.)
A flight of wild fowl (wild geese or the like). [Prov. Eng.]

I strongly urge that you NOT use the geese. They are likely to become seriously annoyed at being made into a baby blanket or whatever.

The book I am using said that the most popular size yarn to use was size 10.

I found this about yarn sizes, but it's not something I pay attention to. Worsted tends to be the most popular, I think, but you pick the weight by what you're making. If it's for a baby, you pick a very light weight. If it's for a heavy blanket to keep you warm in the winter, you pick a heavy weight.

               Typical          Yards/  Recommended
Yarn Type Gauge* WPI** Pound Needle Size***
----------- ------- ----- ------- -----------
Ultrafine 8+ 18+ 2600+ 00-2
(Lace or (32+) 1.75-3mm
Baby Wt.)

Fine 6-8 16 1900-2400 2-4
(Fingering (24-32) 3-3.5mm
Weight)

Light 5.5-6 14 1200-1800 4-6
(Sport Wt.) (22-24) 3.5-4mm

Medium 5.5 13 1100-1400 5-7
(DK weight) (22) 3.75-4.5mm

Heavy 4-5 12 900-1200 7-9
(Worsted (16-20) 4.5-5.5mm
Weights)

Bulky 3-4 10 600-800 10-11
(12-16) 5.75-8mm

Very Bulky 2-3 8 or 400 or 13-15
(8-12) fewer less 9-10mm

I noticed the yarn packages usually had a suggestion of needle size to use. What if this conflicts with the pattern suggestion?

I'd probably go with the pattern, but what most people do is accumulate a lot of different needles and crochet hooks. Then, when they have a question like this, they do little squares with two or three different sizes, and pick the one that suits the guage. Usually there should be a guage somewhere on the pattern. It will say something like "X number of stitches should equal Y inches."

I wind my yarn so that it makes a nice neat ball that bounces around and amuses the cat. I also keep the ball inside an LL Bean bag so it doesn't flop on the floor, because I don't want the cat chewing on it. I start by finding a loose end somewhere, and, making sure that there is several inches of the end loose, wind several figure 8's around your thumb and forefinger. You will be pulling the yarn from the rest of the skein to do this.

After you've made about twenty figure 8's, remove the wrapped yarn and fold it in half. Now starting winding the rest of the yarn, but keep your thumb over the part where the tail is so you don't make it impossible to pull.

Keep winding, going in one direction, then at right angles, then around a different way, until all the yarn is wound. Tuck the other end in neatly, and you now have a ball of yarn that will be easy to pull yarn from.

My chains are, well, inconsistant. It starts out ok but then the stitches get bigger (or perhaps looser). Sometimes the stitches go from ok to too loose back to ok. How do you correct this? I tried un-doing all the stitches that were too loose and then re-doing them but that seemed to make it worse.

This happens to everyone in the beginning. Curing it is a matter of practice, but you can help by how you hold your yarn. I tend to wrap it around my ringfinger, loose enough so it moves, but tight enough so it doesn't fall off. This keeps the yarn tight enough so it should be at a consistent tension.

It is normal to be able to pull the yarn from the skein end and have all of the stitches come undone right?

No.

Are you removing the hook before you pull? Don't. Keep the hook in the last stitch. And, my own personal recommendation is this: if you know you are going to be leaving your work for a period of time, get one of those stitch holders that knitters use. It will look a little bit like a safety pin, without the coil part. Slip this through the stitch to hold it. You'll be a lot safer that way.

Let me know if all this makes sense. I had to teach myself to crochet, since I'm left handed, and I had to reverse everything. So I sometimes do things the way I've worked out, and not what the book says. But a lot of people do that. The book says one thing, and after some trial and error and a lot of ripping out, they discover that if they do it some other way, it works out well, and no one ever knows that they held the piece in place with the wrong finger.

Results are what matters, not the process.

What are you making?

Nancy

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1. What is a skein? In one place I saw it defined as a way yarn is rolled up. You pull the yarn from the center so the whole thing doesn't come undone. I thought it had to do with how much yarn was present, not how it was rolled up. Does a skein = so many yards of yarn?

To the best of my knowledge, a skein is the same thing as a ball of yarn. There isn't a proscribed weight or yardage attached to the name, though it may have something to do with the way it is wound. I use whatever end (inside or out) that I lay my hands on forst. It never seems to matter which end I start from.

2. The book I am using said that the most popular size yarn to use was size 10. I looked all over Walmart and none of the rolls of yarn had a size 10 on it. In fact, I didn't see any numerical size on them. Just the weight--worsted, etc. How do you figure this out?

I've never heard of yarn numbered, either. I've always hear of it as worsted, sport, chunky, super chunky, etc. I have also heard it referred to by # of plats (3 ply, 4 ply, etc.).

3. I noticed the yarn packages usually had a suggestion of needle size to use. What if this conflicts with the pattern suggestion?

I don't crochet, but with knitting, you can use whatever yarn you like. If you want the guage to match, you use the suggested type of yarn & suggested needle....otherwise you convert the gauge so that it matches what you're working on.

(Ex w/knitting: worsted weight yarn, using #8US needle creates 4 rows & roughly 6 stitches to the square inch. Chunky yarn, using #10US needles, creates 2.5 rows and 4.5 stitches to the square inch. For a 10 inch wide scarf, I'd either cast on 60 stitches in worsted weight yarn or 45 in chunky.)

5. It is normal to be able to pull the yarn from the skein end and have all of the stitches come undone right? It won't do that when I secure the end right?

Right. :-)
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Well I thought I would start with some dishtowels and maybe a couple of hot pads for my kitchen. For now, I picked up some cheap green yarn from WLM to practice on.

Do they make flame retardant yarn for applications like the hotpads???


ARR
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Do they make flame retardant yarn for applications like the hotpads???

Not that I've seen. There are a few patterns on the Lion Brand yarn official website for kitchen towels, pot holders, and dish scrubbers. I believe they suggest using their cotton yarn in a double thickness.

Take a look at the free patterns in the navigation bar on the left on the home page:

http://www.lionbrand.com

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"The book I am using said that the most popular size yarn to use was size 10. "

Actually, the most popular *thread* to use is size 10--that's what's known as bedspread weight cotton. Use with a size 6 or so hook. If you're making doilies... or motifs for a cardigan or something.

I think everyone else has answered your other questions very well, so I won't be redundant here, except to say that I agree on several counts:
- I make center pull balls the same way as Windowseat--works very well--ditto amusing the cat!
- It is very much about the process. If you are consistant, even if you're doing something "wrong", you should still have pleasing results, so try things. At worst, you might invent a new stitch.
- Technically, I think a skein is a hank of yarn that is not balled--you have to unwind and ball it. Not like mass produced acrylics, rather like hand dyed yarn from the yarn store.
- which hook you should use is up to *you*. Patterns and ball bands have only suggestions. What hook is actually appropriate will depend on your own tension, what you're making, etc. Larger hook will give better drape, smaller hook will make a more dense fabric. Gauge swatch is the way to go for garments. Dishcloths are good for starters--gauge doesn't matter. I do find that if I'm using a hook that's a bit too small, my hand starts to hurt... it's all relative!
- Beginning chains: if they're somewhat inconsistant, it doesn't matter--they sort of even out after you work a couple of rows. Also, if you're making a square thing, like a dishcloth, it's nice to finish with a row of sc all around (don't forget to put 3 sc's in each corner so they'll lay flat) to neaten things up. So the beginning chain matters even less then.
- However, don't forget that you need to make your beginning chain really, really loose, or your work will pull in at the bottom. If you're having trouble making it loose enough, use a larger hook for the starting chain and then switch.
- One of the wonderful things about crochet is that if you don't like it, just rip it out. Quickly so you don't feel the pain! Or let your kids "help" you with this part (never failed to delight mine when they were small). One of the less wonderful things about crochet is that it is so easy to pull it out unintentionally... whenever you remove your hook, first pull the loop you hook is in waaaaay long--at least 3 inches of loop. That'll give you plenty of space to hook your foot in the yarn and walk away and only pull out half your work instead of the whole thing...

And I hope you enjoy crocheting. It's wonderfully fun.

Best,
Barbara
The crochet teacher
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Actually, the most popular *thread* to use is size 10--that's what's known as bedspread weight cotton. Use with a size 6 or so hook. If you're making doilies... or motifs for a cardigan or something.


This is the problem. All the patterns I have seen in the beginner books, say something like used worsted 100% cotton size 10. That implies there is worsted cotton yarn that is available in other sizes. If the size isn't on the packaging, how do you tell what size it is?

ARR
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This is the problem. All the patterns I have seen in the beginner books, say something like used worsted 100% cotton size 10. That implies there is worsted cotton yarn that is available in other sizes. If the size isn't on the packaging, how do you tell what size it is?

Ahh, you're talking about cotton thread, not yarn. I apologize. My mistake.

Thread is the very thin stuff used for doilies and bedspreads and tablecloths. My grandmother made dozens of them. It comes in a different sort of package, and looks as though it could be dropped on a spool, and there should be a label on the top part that gives the weight, which would be 10, 20, 30, and so on.

Yarn is in a skein, and would be sold as worsted, sport weight, bulky, and so on.

That's probably what confused you, because I was thinking in terms of yarn, not thread. Was there a label on the top? There would be a band around the middle, and a paper label at the top, and one or the other should include the weight.

Does that help?

Nancy
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I crochet. And I don't wind my skeins of yarn into balls. Just so you didn't think you had to do that! I don't have a problem using it the way it comes from the store. BUT you absolutely must use the yarn that begins from the inside. If you use the outer one, you can easily knot things up. (I haven't actually tried it in years, but I assume it still does that.) If you have yarn that doesn't have an obvious end from the middle, just pull some of it out and you should find it. I use Sugar & Cream yarn that doesn't ever have the middle end coming out, but I usually find it pretty easily.

By the way, in the discussion of yarn and thread--given the things you want to make, you want to use yarn, not thread.

Selphiras
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All of the information you've gotten here has been great, so I won't repeat most of it.

Additional thoughts:
Yes, your chain stitch will be very inconsistant at first. 2 solutions:
1) The way you hold the "loose" yarn (in your non-hook hand)will help you keep a constant tension. This is really important. Getting this part down will not only help with chaining, but will make the actual stitching easier - especially as you start working with 2, 3, 4 loops on the hook at once.
2) A lot of it is just about practice. I have taught people to crochet, and I usually have them just chain-stitch for a LONG time. I used to chain, rip it all out, chain again for weeks when I was learning. It's the basis of everything else you do, so might as well spend the time to be comfortable with it.

It looks like you're in CA. If you're anywhere close to me, you could come over sometime and I'd be happy to help you. (Or if you're close to relatives I visit frequently, we can meet somewhere out your way).

Frydaze1
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Yes that does help. The book was talking about yarn and thread so I thought they were the same thing.

ARR
Light bulb popping on
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