Guest Author - Kate Pullen
I love browsing through vintage and international crochet publications however it can often be extremely frustrating deciphering the terms that have been used or working out exactly, for example, how medium weight is defined.
It can also be confusing when reading a variety of patterns or books to find that abbreviations vary or that sizing isn't specific (eg how small is small?); or that the project is described as 'easy' however a similar project in another publication described the level of experience required as intermediate etc etc the list goes on.
However help is at hand! Whilst not a lot can be done about the publications already in place, a move is underway to introduce a comprehensive set of standards for the future.
The Craft Yarn Council of America has been working towards setting up a set of standards and guidelines which will bring a uniformity to the different aspects of yarn crafts and these standards are now being adopted by the key movers and shakers in the yarn world. A stated goal of the Craft Yarn Council of America is 'to make it easier for consumers to select the right materials for a project and complete it successfully' so simple yet so important, you wonder why no one has embraced this before! The standards have been created through consultation with the members of the Craft Yarn Council of America which includes many of the major manufacturers, publishers and designers as well as associations such as the Crochet Guild of America, Lion Brand yarns, Vogue Knitting etc.
Whilst the standards apply within the US at the moment, the goal is for these to become recognized world wide and that a greater degree of conformity will be introduced. To reflect the intended international goal, involvement was invited from manufacturers and trade organizations in Europe and Australia. Perhaps over time one of the 'bug bears' experienced by crocheters which is the variation in crochet terms between the US and the UK will be addressed!
One of the benefits of the new standards is that for the first time the skill levels required for projects will be defined using preset criteria and these will be used by all publications. Therefore you can rest assured that a publication stating that a pattern is suitable for a beginner will be assessing this using the same criteria as other publications therefore introducing some uniformity.
The new standards can be found on the Yarn Council for America's website and make a useful reference point, particularly for designers and teachers. Whilst it will take some time for the new standards to work their way through and to become the norm in publications, yarn bands and patterns etc, these standards are already being used by many major publishers and manufacturers.