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Tension or Gauge

Tension and Gauge are two terms that are mostly interchangeable. What they mean is how tight or loose you make your stitches, either crochet or knit. Depending on your project this could be very important or not at all. If you are making clothes it is very important or you could end up with the wrong size, however if you are making something like dish cloths the size isn’t all that important.


To test your tension you make what is called a swatch or tension square. These are normally 10cm X 10cm. Each pattern will tell you how many stitches per row and across you should have. Adjusting tension is easy, if you have too many stitches you are too tight and just go up a hook or needle size. If you don’t have enough stitches, you are loose and need to go down a hook or needle size.
Some people keep their tension squares and over the years put them together to make a project like a blanket as all the squares are the same size 10cm X 10cm.

Yarn Substitution

You can substitute yarns and use different ones to the pattern recommendations. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Composition what is it made from and what are you changing to. Are you swapping a cotton for a wool? These often have a different thickness. Are you changing the weight of the yarn? Such as changing from an 8ply to a 10ply. Even changing brands but everything is the same can affect the finished project. It is highly recommended that if you don’t use what the pattern says that you should do a swatch.

Weight of yarn

The weight of the yarn refers to the thickness of the yarn not necessarily the ply and has nothing to do with weight on a scale.Some yarns are bulky yarns but only one ply and vice versa. These tend to be more of the novelty yarns, and you will find looking at hook or needle size will give you a better idea of the weight of the yarn. The American System is becoming more of the norm for how yarns are categorized. They use a number system from 0-7 with 0 being thread/ crochet cotton and 7 being super-bulky .


Ply is referring to how many strands make up the yarn. 4 strands plied together make a 4 ply wool for example. Australia still uses this method of labeling yarns but most patterns these days will have a number system and it is good to become familiar with both.


Yards and meters are a term of measurement about how much yarn is in each ball and how much a project might take. This is often important when you are substituting yarns to make sure you have enough to finish what you are working on.

Dye lot

Dye lot is about the batch that the yarn comes from. When dying while manufacturers have a precise system and try to make sure each is the same there are some differences. Most of the time they are not noticeable, however when making something like a jumper there is nothing worse than having a noticeable line where you have changed balls and they were a different dye lot. It is always recommended to try and get the same dye lot for your projects.

Inside vs outside pull

Some yarns come start from the inside or center pull and others are not designed that way and if you try you could end up with what is commonly referred to as a yarn barf. This is where you spend a good amount of time untangling the yarn. Most yarns that are designed as a center pull will have an end that is easy to get to.

Hooks and Needles

Hooks and needles come in many sizes and types of materials. These include Plastic, Bamboo Aluminum and some crochet hooks come with handles. What you choose to use is up to you and what is most comfortable. Size would be determined by yarn, pattern and your gauge.

Basic supplies

It is useful to keep some basic supplies at hand. For some like me this includes coffee and chocolate, but this time I am referring to things like scissors, tape measure, stitch markers and yarn needles.

Joining Yarns

There are different methods for this depending on what you are making. A few things to note though is avoid knots and always join new yarns at the start of a row where they are easier to hide with seams and borders. Don’t forget to sew in those pesky ends securely.

What yarn to use when

This is almost completely up to you. Just keep in mind what will your finished project be used for. For things like potholders and tea cozies choose fibers that can take the heat. Is it for a face washer or something that needs to be durable and hard wearing maybe a cotton?Does it need to be soft for a baby but machine washable for mum and dad? Just some thought on what you might need to think about when choosing a yarn.Just remember the there is no limit to the imagination so do what suits you.

Slang terms

  • WIP: Work In Progress
  • PHD: Projects Half Done
  • UFO: UnFinished Object
  • LYS: Local Yarn Store: example Blacksheep Wool
  • STASH: Secret Treasures All Secretly Hidden
  • TOAD: Trashed Object Abandoned in Disgust
  • HOTH: Hot Of The Hook
  • Frog/ Frogging/ Frogged: Pulling apart part of or a whole project, you have toripit, ripit.
  • C2C: Corner to Corner
  • CAL/KAL/MCAL/MKAL: Crochet or Knit Along. Mystery Crochet or Knit Along
  • JAYGO: Join As You Go
  • SABLE: Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy
  • CAKE: What is made when you rewind balls yourself. Way less calories
  • DPN: Double Pointed Needles
  • Hooker: A person who crochets. Say it loud and say it proud.

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