Questions about yarn

I am a new knitter, and I know nothing about yarn. Most of the sights and books I have been reading up on, don’t really talk about yarn. I was wondering about a few things. What is a hank, skein, ball, and equivalency? Like how many balls in a hank or skein? If a pattern says I need 3 balls, wouldn’t that be about 1 skein? And anything else I need to know about yarn, or a sight to visit. Does everything you knit with twist so badly? Any other helpful tid-bits.

A hank, skein, and ball are just different ways to wind yarn. A hank could be 60yds or it could be 400yds. Yarn that you buy in a general craft store are most always wound in skeins. Something like this.

A hank of yarn is wound in a large circular loop, then twisted back on itself, like this.

A ball of yarn is the same as a skein, as far as I’m concerned. You can knit directly from a skein (ball) of yarn but if you are using a hank of yarn, it has to be wound into a ball before you work with it, otherwise it will tangle BADLY.

As far as your yarn twisting as you work. I used to have that problem too. I don’t know exactly what changed it, because I don’t have the problem anymore, but I think it has a lot to do with how you hold the yarn in your hand as you work. I now knit fully continental, just as Amy demonstrates in her videos, with the yarn wrapped around my pinky and then layed over my index finger, and I don’t have twisting yarn problem anymore.

Welcome to HP. 4 months ago I was like you. Now my closet is full of hanks, skeins and balls and needles. Let’s wait for the experts to tell ya ! :clink:

Yarn also has different weights, which really equates to how thick they are, and how many stitches per inch they knit up to. This gives an overview of the different weight yarns.

If a pattern calls for a certain weight yarn at a certain gauge (stitches per inch) you need to find a yarn that is that same weight in order to follow the pattern and expect your item to turn out close to the one pictured. Even then, you might have to change needle sizes to make sure your tension matches the pattern’s.

Yardage is a huge factor in buying yarn too, since different companies have different yardages in their own hanks, balls, and skeins.

Too much at once?

If a pattern says I need 3 balls, wouldn’t that be about 1 skein

If a total yardage isn’t listed on a pattern that I am interested in doing, I google the yarn they recommend. This will give me detailed information on how many yards per ball/skein/hank, weight, and an idea of standard gauge. When I have an idea of what they knit the pattern with, I can decide if I can substitute another yarn.
It isn’t fool proof though.
I just made a baby UGG bootie that pretty much fits me! Who would have thought suede had different gauges? Obviously I did not do the reseach, that I have just recommended.

As far as ‘twisting’ goes. I don’t have a problem with my knitting really twisting per say. Although I am working on a cotton hoodie made with Peaches and Creme on cones, carrying two colors and, I have never spent so much time UNTANGLING! Those darn cones, in/out/over/under AGGGGH! Good grief, better to cut and weave than to carry and cry. lol

…sorry got carried away there for a moment…

Relax, enjoy, have fun, create.
You will soon know what works and what doesn’t. Trial/Error and help from those that have gone before.

I guess what I’m really asking is, if my pattern says I will need about three balls of yarn (which you have to buy all your yarn at once), but you find a yarn you like that is the same weight as the one required, but it’s in a hank or skein, how much do you need?

I guess the best way is to check the yardage of the recomended yarn against the yardage of the kind you like.

I don’t have the money (or the stash) to try out all kinds of yarn and see how they react. I have a ton of patterns, but don’t really know what to do about buying the yarn and how much I’ll need. Also I suppose I should bring my patterns to my LYS, and she could help me. It’s so far away to my LYS <pout>. Thanks everyone.

What is the yarn they are asking for in the pattern?

It was just a general question. Just to learn a little more about yarn before I buy a bunch to do specific projects and have it not work out well. Also all of my patterns are a home (and ordered more books on the way). So I really don’t even know what I want to start next. I’m enjoying knitting so much, that I guess it doesn’t even matter if it works out. I can always reuse the yarn for something else.

Absolutely nothing wrong with thinking ahead.
When you do decide on the pattern you are ready to do, and before you make a trip to your LYS, ask here.

Sometimes it’s super easy to figure out what will work and what won’t.

I look forward to seeing your WIPs and FOs, and Welcome to Knitting Help!

Thank you for your help. I’m sure I’ll need more at some other time.

You can also check yarn manufacturer’s websites and online sellers to find out the different yardages in different yarns. The descriptions all list yardage per ball/skein/hank, the yarn thickness (DK, worsted, chunky or 3, 4, 5) and what the gauge is on whatever needles. So look up the information on the yarn in the pattern you want, noting total number of yards, the thickness and gauge knitted on x size needles then check out other yarn you’d like to use instead and find something similar. It won’t be exact, and it’s better to have 50 yards too much than too little.


Thank you for the information. I’m starting to think that the stitching is the easy part. :teehee:

Hi, LoAnnie!

What part of Houston are you in? You can PM me if you don’t want to post on forum.

Welcome to KH!