When you first learn how to crochet, you will discover that there is a whole language to learn about yarn. Yarn is made from different fibers, comes in different weights, and is created by numerous different companies. This page will tell you what you need to know about yarn to crochet.

Yarn Weights

Yarn is labeled by weight, which refers to how thick the yarn is, and the weight system is 1-7. Each number has its own name (1 is fingering, 4 is worsted, 7 is super bulky.) Different projects work best with different yarn weights so the weights people want will vary. A large number of crochet patterns are written for worsted weight. In summertime it’s common to sell more fingering weight or sock weight because it’s lighter and not so hot to work with or wear; in winter you’ll see more patterns for bulky yarn. There’s also thread, which is a little different than yarn and is numbered different, but is basically a thinner weight than yarn weight 1. Most stores will sell a variety of weights, emphasizing worsted.

Yarn Fiber

There are many, many options for different fiber types but the three most common that people purchase are wool, cotton and acrylic. Speciality types include alpaca, silk, mohair, bamboo, linen, hemp and more. There are also yarn blends (a blend might combine silk and wool, for example.) Each fiber is available in different yarn weights. Different fibers have different crochet stitch definition, ease of use, ease of care (machine washable or not), drape, etc. Check a crochet pattern’s materials list for the recommended fiber for that project.


Every yarn label includes how many yards are offered in the ball of yarn. (Speaking of balls of yarn: Yarn is sold as balls, which are already wound in varied ways including center-pull balls but yarn may also be sold as hanks and skeins, which need to be wound by the buyer). Back to yardage … As a general rule you get more yardage with thinner (fingering weight) yarn and less yardage with thicker (bulky weight) yarn. However, within each weight system, any given brand will have a large range. People typically want the most bang for their buck, so they’re going to look for the most yardage at the lowest price in their desired yarn weight. A good guide for value is to try to get 200 yards out of a worsted weight yarn, although this depends a lot on the fiber. Most online sellers allow you to sort yarn by fiber, weight and yardage to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Yarn Brands

There are many different companies that produce yarn. Most of these companies sell yarn online through their own stores. The major yarn companies sell their yarn in big box stores like Michael’s, JoAnns and Hobby Lobby. The smaller companies sell their yarns through local yarn stores and fiber festivals.

Major Yarn Companies

The advantage of buying yarn from the big brands is that this tends to be the most affordable option. If you need to buy yarn in bulk at a good price then these companies are a good place to start. This yarn is also readily available through many stores. These yarn companies also often offer free crochet patterns through their online stores, to give you inspiration and ideas for using their yarn.

Red Heart Yarn

This is one of the most recognized yarn names in the industry. You can easily find Red Heart Yarn everywhere. Their Super Saver yarn is an acrylic yarn that comes in a whole lot of different colors as well as multi-color and self-striping yarn. It is affordable and easy for beginners to work with. Red Heart Yarn also offers many other types of yarn, including Scrubby, which is a unique cotton yarn that is shaped perfectly for making washcloths and kitchen scrubbies.

Lion Brand Yarn

Lion Brand Yarn is another well-known brand. Self-described as “a fifth generation, family-owned business”, they offer more than 80 different types of yarn. One of the reasons that you might know this yarn company is because the spokesperson for the company is Vanna White. Their Cupcake yarn is a popular choice for people who like yarn that changes colors and creates ombre effects while they crochet. Their Fisherman’s Wool is a nice choice for an affordable wool yarn that has a luxury feel.

Bernat Yarn

Bernat doesn’t sell yarn online itself but is available widely from the major online retailers and can also be found in the big craft store. They offer many different yarn types but they are especially well known for their baby yarn – perfect for crocheting items for newborns – as well as their blanket yarn, which is a thick roving yarn that works up quickly into a blanket using a large crochet hook or even finger crochet.

Caron Yarn

Like Bernat, Caron yarn is sold through online retailers and big box stores. One of the types of yarn that this company offers is Simply Soft. This is a wonderful, affordable, easy-to-use worsted weight yarn that is softer than average for its price. People who want to make touchable items will enjoy working with this brand.


Patons is sold in the same places as Bernat and Caron yarn. Yarnspirations.com is one place where you can buy all of these yarns. One of the more unique offerings from Patons is their blends – like a silk bamboo blend. Although slightly more expensive than a straightforward wool or acrylic yarn, the blends offer luxury at a decent price.

Small Yarn Companies

Small yarn companies are businesses, often family-run, that produce lines of yarn. They are consistent and you can often find them online and through local yarn stores but aren’t as prevalent as the big yarn companies. These companies are good because you can often count on their values (such as sustainability) and you can often get luxury fibers through them but the trade-off is that they cost more than big yarn brands.

Ancient Arts Yarn

Ancient Arts is a yarn and fibre craft company specializing in offering exotic, high quality yarn and yarn blends. They have a line of yarn colors inspired by cat and dog breeds, and a portion of the proceeds from that line goes to support rescue animals.

Darn Good Yarn

Darn Good Yarn is a fair trade company that offers a fair living wage to women in Nepal and India. These women create items that are sold in the United States. The company also sells a wide variety of yarn that is ethically sourced in small batches. Their yarn is recycled and sustainable and they offer very unique fibers.

Feel Good YarN Company

Feel Good Yarn Company is a company that offers a very special type of yarn called SilverSpun. It is so named because the yarn is literally spun from silver combined with cotton. It’s beautiful. It’s definitely a unique niche and a small company but one worth taking a look at.

Wool and the Gang

Wool and the Gang sources environmentally friendly yarn and offers it for sale as individual balls and also with patterns as full crochet kits. They have popular yarn – like Crazy Sexy Wool – and more unique yarn like Tencel Tape.


Manos del Uruguay is a socially-conscious company created in 1968 to give jobs to women in developing nations. This is a non-profit company that remains socially and environmentally conscious. Their yarns are hands-on, uniquely dyed and come in truly beautiful color ways.

Independent Yarn Sellers

It is also possible to buy yarn from independent yarn dyers and sellers who operate solo businesses. These people often sell through Etsy and can also be found at local craft fairs. They are usually, but not always, more expensive than even the smaller yarn companies. However they offer unique yarns that you might not get anywhere else.

You can also get yarn by joining a fiber CSA. This is like a food CSA, where you pay in advance to get a delivery of farm fresh food, but it is yarn that will arrive in your mail.

Kathryn Vercillo