Yarn Weights | A Beginners Guide

brown yarn

If you are a beginner who is learning how to knit or crochet then you are probably still figuring out yarn weights and categories.

For those who are new to buying yarn and choosing knitting or crochet patterns, you might just buy yarn you like because you fall in love with it – with no idea what you can actually make with it!

Or you might want to make a pair of socks and have no idea which yarn would be best to use or to knit a blanket that’s soft and squishy, but again find yourself not being sure about which yarn is going to work for the size of the blanket.

knitting for fall

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about yarn weights, including all of the different standards and names.

As with both knitting and crochet abbreviations and terms, there are many different naming systems and definitions.

It can also depend on the country you are in too, like the UK, the US, Australia and other places have differing terms for some yarns and of course for knitting needle and crochet hook sizes.

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The ultimate yarn weight guide

Understanding Yarn Weights

There are various standards of yarn weights and it is important for the projects that you select the right yarn for your work.

Sometimes if you see a yarn you love and can’t resist buying, you can take a look at the label and see which yarn symbol it has – for example, let’s say a 6 – Super Bulky.

The yarn label would also recommend the needle and hook size to use with that yarn, so you should be able to match up the yarn to the needle size easily.

Then you need to think about what you are going to make with it – if the yarn is super bulky, you would use that for a heavy blanket, sweaters and rugs.

These are just some of the questions I get asked from makers who want to make a hat pattern but want to use different yarn to the yarn that is given on the pattern;

  • What is worsted weight yarn?
  • Would double knitting wool be ok to use?
  • What is Aran yarn?
  • What is fingering yarn?
  • Can I use chunky yarn with 4mm/US size 6 needles?

autumn knitting

Why are yarn weights important?

When you chose a pattern it is important to know that you have selected the right yarn and needles/hooks for the pattern, so that you will have the same gauge and that it will turn out as expected.

If for example, the pattern asks you to use a DK yarn (Light 3) and you choose to use a super bulky yarn (super bulky 6) the size of the finished piece is going to be drastically different.

You don’t want to spend hours making something for it to then turn out the wrong size or shape.

yarn labelImage Source

This is known as the gauge – checking your gauge is important, especially when making garments.

Gauge is when you check how many rows and stitches fit within a measurement – for instance, it might say 3 rows in 1″ – so you know that 3 rows of knitting should fit into 1″.

On the yarn label below, it says for knitting – 16 stitches in 22 rows and for crochet 12 stitches for 15 rows.

gaugeImage Source

What is Ply?

Ply refers to the thickness of the yarn, if you see that a yarn is 1ply that means it is really thin and up to 12+ is the thickest.

When spinners used to make yarn they would categorize it by the thickness, this was the way that people used to know the weight of a yarn.

Rialto-4-PlyImage Source

What is WPI?

WPI is a term that means wraps per inch and is often used to determine the yarn weight if you have many scrap yarns with no labels.

it is a method often used by spinners, it can be used by knitters and crocheters too.

You can measure this by wrapping your yarn around a pencil to see how many wraps you can get in one inch.

If that sounds like too much work, there are also kits available to do this for you!

WIP_Tool_chartImage Source

Yarn Weights Made Easy | Common Uses

Here is a list of the common uses for the different types of yarn weights;

  • 0: Lace – Lace knitting/crochet
  • 1: Super Fine – Light eyelet/socks
  • 2: Fine – Light sweaters/baby items/accessories
  • 3: Light – Sweaters and other garments/ lightweight scarves
  • 4: Medium – Sweaters/blankets/hats/scarves/mittens
  • 5: Chunky – Rugs/jackets/blankets/hats/scarves
  • 6: Super Bulky – Heavy blankets/sweaters/rugs/hats/scarves
  • 7: Jumbo – heavy blankets/rugs

jumbo yarn

Yarn Weight Chart

Yarn weights have been classified into categories that you will see numbered on any yarn label.

They are featured in most knitting and crochet books and you can see them below in this info graphic, that you can pin or save for your reference.

This includes;

  • The weights are given (from 0-7) and the other common names that type of yarn is known by.
  • The ply count.
  • The WPI count.
  • The knitting needle size – in metric and US sizes.
  • The hook size – in metric and US sizes.

Yarn weights and categories

I hope this has been helpful and that you now know more about yarn weights and their categories.

There is so much to learn when you begin knitting and crocheting, that you soon build a knowledge bank, based on your experience.

I have pulled out so many pieces because I didn’t like the way it looked or I had made a mistake – it just happens.

So don’t give up and keep going, because once you get into it, it can take over your life!

If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below.

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