How to: read a ball band
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The ball band contains a wealth of information, from metreage to recommended needle size, and if you want to make an item in a different yarn to the pattern, it's helpful to know what to consider.
Keep a file of your ball bands, with a snip of yarn and even a tension square, to act as a useful comparison of yarn colours and types.
It's worth keeping a ball band for each colour in your project and, if it's in another language, write the essentials on it in case you need to refer back. If you've made a tension square, say for a garment, clip both to a sheet of paper with any extra notes for future reference. If you run out of yarn and have to change to another, make sure the ball band tension squares are a very close match, otherwise it's unlikely to work.