by Alison Stapleton

A Good Yarn

Yarns are long stories told over a campfire, sipping hot chocolate at the end of the day.

Yarns are all wool acrylics and threads used in crochet. A yarn is a general term for all the types of wool, cotton and blends that you will use once you pick up your crochet hook.

Natural Yarns

All natural yarns come from plants or animals.

To be listed as 100% wool for example they have to be made 100% from the fleece of a sheep.

Many natural yarns are blends. Blended yarns are either made with other natural yarns, like cotton or silk, or synthetic yarns like acrylic for durability.

Natural yarns are biodegradable and will eventually rot away. They are safe for the planet.

This is why we don’t have many examples of ancient crochet garments.

Animal based yarns


Wool comes from sheep. It is made from the fleece of a ewe (a female sheep) which is shorn or cut off every year. This process is called shearing.

Shearing does not hurt the animal it is rather like cutting your hair.

Fleece is spun into wool hanks which are long loops of wool. The hanks are twisted and then may be rolled into balls.

Wool was originally spun on a spinning wheel but now mostly by machine. Some communities still spin their own wool from their own sheep.

Wool has superb warming capabilities and a jersey made from 100% wool is warm and cozy although it can be a bit scratchy.

Wool has a distinctive smell when wet. Wool will shrink in a hot wash.


Cotton comes from a plant. It is grown as a crop and harvested once a year. Cotton fields are planted is warmer areas and although it is a natural product many chemicals are used in the bleaching of cotton. Cotton will shrink in a hot wash. Although often cotton is sold “preshrunk.”

Raw cotton is very rough to use in crochet.

Mercerized cotton threads have been smoothed to aid a free flow over the hook when crocheting. Mercerized cotton has a pleasant sheen.


Silk comes from silkworms. After the worm has wound one long thread around it’s body, in a figure eight pattern, the silk worm farmer picks the end of the silk thread and winds it onto a bobbin. This does kill the silk worm.

Each thread of silk is washed and dyed and may be spun with other fibers to create a thicker yarn.

Plant based yarns

Banana silk

Banana silk is made from the fronds leaves of the banana plant strelitzia nicolai

It is a slightly rough texture and good for rugs and mats. There is a sheen to the yarn.


Bamboo is a plant. The inner fibers are cut out and washed and spun into either a 100% bamboo yarn or it is mixed with other natural or synthetic fibers. Bamboo is grown in regrowth forests and takes little from the natural world.


Is a plant and has many uses. It is most often seen as hessian or burlap sacks from grain.

Synthetic yarns

All synthetic yarns are man made. Synthetic yarns first became widely available in the 1800’s. Victorians used silks and cottons and wools.


Nylon was originally created in both New York (NY) and London, England (LON) at the same time. Nylon is a basis for many synthetic yarns.


Rayon is a derivative or nylon and has a dry silky feel and sheen.


Acrylic yarns can be a blend of several man made yarns twisted to form the length of yarn. Acrylic yarns wash well and hold their colours well. Acrylics are often used in children’s clothes. Acrylics are used for durability.

Mixed yarns

Mixed yarns are a combination of either natural or synthetic yarns.

Often they combine 2% silk with cotton or bamboo to give the yarn a silky feel.

Wool is combined with acrylics for cost purposes as natural wool is expensive.

Yarn thicknesses

Yarns purchased today often conform to the standard thickness symbols for the weight.

The thicker the yarn the bigger the crochet hook you need, and the thinner the yarn the thinner the hook you need.

When wool is spun the finest thread is known as lace and moving up the scale the manufacturers combine two three or four threads together in the manufacture of thicker yarns.

Yarns come in different thicknesses. They each have a name and are used for different things.

The thicker the yarn the thicker the hook.

Do not use a thin hook with thick yarn or a thick hook with a thin yarn.

As a rule the thickness of the yarns should be the same as the diameter of the hook.

Yarn weight and category names

Yarns have been categorized by their thickness. Most yarns conform to these symbols and you can swop out the recommended yarns for each pattern by using a yarn in the same weight as the suggested yarns.

In this way if you don’t have the specific ball of wool you can make adjustments and use a yarn of a similar weight to obtain the same results as the item in the pattern.

0 = Lace (fingerling), use hook 1.00 mm – 1.50 mm

1 = Superfine (sock), use hook 2.50 mm – 3.50 mm

2 = Fine (baby or 4 ply), use hook 3.50 mm – 4.50 mm

3 = Light (double knitting or DK), use hook 4.50 mm – 5.50 mm

4 = Medium (worsted, Afghan or Aran), use hook 5.50 mm – 6.50 mm

5 = Bulky (bulky or rug), use hook 6.50 mm – 9.00 mm

6 = Super bulky (super bulky), use hook 9.00 mm – 15.00 mm

7 = Jumbo (jumbo), use hook 15.00 mm or larger

1ply Fingerling

This is the fine thread that comes from a spinning wheel. It is the basis of all yarn weights. This is also referred to a floss. It is as thin as dental floss.

It is used is light and airy shawls and christening shawls.


Used for socks and light baby shawls.


3ply is used for socks and thin under garments. It is used for Scottish Fair Isle where two colors are used at ones and the spare color is carried over.

So the actual garment is thicker because of the two threads.


4ply is used with a 3.5mm hook and is a popular yarn weight.

4ply is good for cool summer tops and light garments.

Sport (Double knitting) (worsted)

Double knitting is used in many projects for nursery cardigans blankets and is easy to buy. Double knitting uses 5mm hooks.

Chunky or Bulky

Chunky and thick yarns you can use an 8mm, 9mm or 10mm hook.

Chunky yarns are great for afghans, chair covers and thick jerseys, coats and scarves

Extra Chunky Extra Bulky

Extra chunky yarn will use the biggest hooks. Such as a 12mm, 15mm or 20mm hook.

Extra chunky is used for baskets, rugs and mats.

In Thickness and in Thin

The thinner the yarn the thinner the hook, and the thicker the yarn the thicker the hook.



How to Name Your Patterns

by Alison Stapleton

Pattern Designers

If you are a pattern designer and most of us are, and I certainly am, you need to name each pattern

I find the main trend is to name things after girls names like Jessica’s hat and Megan’s hat. But in the end there are so many Jessica’s hats that it gets confusing.

Let me share with you some ideas on naming your crochet items so they add value to your goods and they start to sell themselves.

Naming the names

I’ve always been a stickler for names and naming things correctly as I believe that the names you have and use impart some of the meaning to the items or person.

It is often the case that Mr. Woods is a gardener and Mrs. Draper is in fact a draper. These are last names and the root for most last names is from the trades the people performed way back.

Choosing a good name for your patterns may take a bit of thought, but it is worth it. There is no hard and fast rule on how to do this, however, you will know when you have the best name for your patterns.

Maybe you are into gemstones, so you name you patterns the Emerald Earwarmer or the Beryl Bag.

Or perhaps you like dogs, so you name your items the Labrador Lacy Legwarmer and the Pretty Poodle Purse. It doesn’t matter what you choose really, but that the names mean something to you, and they are not another Jessica’s hat.

Old English Creations Pattern names

Because I have the crochet name of Old English Creations I decided to name my patterns after the counties in England and other villages, towns and cities I have visited.

Most of our patterns come with a little snippet from Merry Old England and elsewhere and are named after places we have lived.


An English county is like a U.S. State or a Canadian or South African province.

There is no rhyme or reason but I thought it was a good way to move from your Jessica hat and the next persons Jessica’s hat.

But let me tell you a secret.

The first pattern is named Lancashire for a reason that Lancashire is my home county. I was born there and it will always have a special jam place in my heart.


Because I make shawls and wraps there is an old folk song about Lancashire shawls.

Here goes…

The Lassie from Lancashire

She’s a lassie from Lancashire

Just a lassie from Lancashire.

She’s a lassie from Lancashire

Oh, so, dear.

Though she dresses in clogs and shawls,

She’s the prettiest of them all.

None could be rarer, or fairer, than Sarah,

The lassie from Lancashire.

As I start this blog and get things going I may live to regret this decision (to name things as above), but that will be a thought for another day and for now I like the plan and will keep to it.

Repetitive Actions and Crochet

IMG_1852Repetitive Actions

We find solace in repetitive actions.

We learn this early on. As children we love having the same book read to us because knowing the end of the story makes it not so scary.

As we get older we build ritual into our lives by going to work the same route, doing the same things on each day and ordering the same food in restaurants that we tend to choose.

There is safety in repetitive actions. Simple.

That’s why you favor one restaurant over another or one fast food chain over the one next door. You know that the no 3 burger and fries is what you like and it is the same in restaurants across the country and even in other continents.

I can order a grande latte at Starbucks in Vancouver and place the exact same order at Heathrow airport and I will get the same drink, which I like.

The unknown is scary on a basic level.

Therefore the known is safe.

Crochet has simple stitches and when you have grasped a pattern you can repeat, not only the pattern many times, but the actual square in granny squares for instance.

Deciding whether to do a square in pink or blue is the extent of the unknown about crochet. Because it is known to us before we start it makes crochet soothing.

Crochet is soothing because it is repetitive.

We know what will happen when we stick to a pattern and we know the end result.

And we want the same result for the first square to the two hundredth square.

Doing something over and over again is good to soothe frazzled nerves and, after a tough day at work, it is relaxing.

It seems like work but without the dangers of work.

At work you never know what will happen. You don’t know whether or not you can a balance the cash drawer, or if your boss will yell at you, or if a colleague does not pitch up for their shift and this makes extra workload for you.

Maybe your coworkers are a pain or needy and clingy. Either way working for others is stressful.

Shawls are Triangles

Triangle shawls

To my mind a shawl is a triangle with three sides.

A wrap is an oblong with four sides where two are long and two are short.

So all my shawls are triangles and all my wraps are rectanglIMG_1838es.

This purple shawl (note the triangle) in the image is available on my Etsy shop Old English Creations.

I invite you to stop by and have a look.

Crochet Explained Letter by Letter

IMG_1155What is crochet?

Let’s break it down letter by letter.

C – R – O – C – H – E – T

C is for Creative

If it is anything crochet is creative. It is not like knitting where machines can do it. Crochet is always done by hand and usually there is only one stitch on the hook at a time.

R is for Release

When crocheting the release come from the letting go of stress by the rhythmic hooking of the garment. . To think that crochet is just making stuff is incorrect and you will miss one of the greatest benefits of crochet to assume so.

O is for Original

Every piece is an original. Yes you may make more than one hat but each hat will be an original pei e of art as the crafter making it will impart something of there essence into the item. Many crochet gets will adapt a pattern to suit themselves and this makes each insinuate and original. There is no cookie cutter crochet.

C is for Colour

Clearly color plays a big part in crochet. The simple to the intricate an bring different feels to the moods of the it’s through the use of color whether bristly or pastel shades are used the individual color. Ok inactions of each crafter will show in the finished item. .

H is for Heavenly

Heavenly may not be the first word you relate to crocheting it those who do it a lot will agree. That there is something almost spiritual in the. Reaction of an item where your thoughts and even prayers will become part of the item. If you listen to music whilst crocheting you can remember the th elated when you look and admire the finished work.

E is for Enjoyment

You have to enjoy crocheting to get the most from the craft. Choosing the yarn, pattern and colors and the message in your piece is all part of the enjoyment of crocheting. Some people. Do get e dry day as testament to their love of crochet.

T is for Tension

All crocheted items have tension in the stitches. If you hold the yarn too tight the item will be strangled. If you holds the yarn too loose the item will have no shape. Tension when perfect results in a beautiful creation. Every crocheted will make a tension square before they begin every item to check their tension. Of course there is another type of tension as well the tension you may have because your life is being challenging this type of tension can be expressed through the beauty of crocheting.

In the Beginning…

by Alison Stapleton

There is so much to say, where to start? It’s the 1st of March 2015 and day one for this website.

Welcome to Old English Creations where you will find creative crochet designs.

My philosophy is that you don’t have to know everything to enjoy crochet and that even knowing a few simple stitches is satisfying.

I have ideas for many projects and they change as the year develops.

There will be my thoughts on:

  • Squares, motifs and grannies – call them what you will.
  • Afghans
  • Baby blankies – a favourite
  • Prayer shawls
  • Big projects
  • Little projects
  • Yarns about, well, yarns
  • Teach you child to crochet – The lost art
  • Crochet as therapy
  • One stitch wonders – how crochet beats knitting any day!

The possibilities are endless.

Join me.