These are all things that can make an online purchase a scary situation! Not being able to feel a yarn before I buy it often leads me to make the "safe" choice of picking a synthetic, inexpensive acrylic. If it ends up being the scratchiest yarn in the world, then you can always make a bag or some doilies with it, right? I have something that's been sitting in my stash for about a year now, being saved for a special project because it turned out to be a really nice yarn. I finally made a decision to use it, and dug it out to get started. That was when I ran into a slight problem... There's no recommended hook size on the label!
Although there are yarns that are labeled as knitting yarn, it doesn't stop you from crocheting with them. Even though this Plymouth Dreambaby 4-Ply wasn't listed as a knitting yarn, it doesn't include crochet gauge on the label. Yup, sometimes they do that to us. So, what do I do?
There are two simple options. One: Search online! I usually go right to the manufacturer's website to find yarn information. However, it didn't help me this time - There's no crochet gauge listed on their site, either! My second thought was to search for patterns using this yarn and check the gauge for them, but that only led me to a distraction. Searching "Dreambaby 4-Ply" gave me tons of results for "Dreambaby DK", which made me go do a side-check to see if this yarn was discontinued. The answer seems to be "no", although the colors available are very limited. And now I was lost looking at the pretty colors available in the other yarn.
I get easily distracted that way, and the best thing for me to do is walk away from glowing rectangles. I went back to my yarn, which provided option two: Figure it out by the knitting gauge provided! The label tells me that the recommended needles would be a size 3.
All I have to do is use this chart from the Craft Yarn Council to find the corresponding size hook. Size 3 knitting needles are 3.25 MM, which would be a size D-3 crochet hook. See how complicated these American sizes can be? I think it would be easier for hooks and needles to just be labeled by their measurements.
However, that's a debate for another time. It was easy to find the corresponding hook size, but I had to do a little extra guesswork before I started my project. This yarn is a nylon blend, nice and soft with a good bit of stretch. Because my tension is always a little too tight, I know my work will pucker if I use the recommended hook (or needle) size. Working with a stretchy yarn makes this problem even worse. Since I want a nice lacy fabric that will get the most out of my yarn, I automatically went up two hook sizes before I began.
And of course, I'm still obsessed with making everything in the Love Knot stitch at the moment, so there's the additional problem of trying to find the perfect length for the loops. I'm glad I went up with the hook size, because the closing single crochet stitches of the Love Knots are pretty tight as-is.
I still don't know what the deal is with yarns that claim to be "for knitting", or why some don't have a crochet gauge available. But I do know that with a little research, it doesn't stop you from using them for crochet. It only took me a few minutes to convert that needle size so I could get to work on my next project. A quick search and the forethought to increase the size for my tension saved me from ripping out a lot of guesswork.
The Craft Yarn Council also has this chart which can tell you the recommended hook size based on your yarn weight. That's great, but none of it will stop me from the perpetual problem of starting more projects! The hard part of beginning the pattern is done and over with, so this one is getting put aside as a "weekend" WIP. Like I really need another one.