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.
In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about yarn weights, including all of the different standards and names.
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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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 about yarn weights:
What is worsted weight yarn?
- Worsted weight yarn refers to a medium weight yarn, which is heavier than DK yarn also known as double knitting yarn, sport weight yarn, baby weight yarn and fingering weight yarn.
- It is lighter than bulky yarn, super bulky and chunky yarn.
- Great for making sweaters or accessories like scarves and hats.
Would double knitting wool be ok to use?
- Double knitting yarn can be used for many projects, such as sweaters, cardigans, scarves, hats and gloves.
- DK yarn is easy to use and can work up faster than fine yarns.
- It is in the category of Lightweight yarn 03 beside light worsted weight yarns.
- You can even knit with two strands of DK together to substitute for worsted weight yarn.
What is Aran yarn?
- Aran yarn is a medium weight yarn that can be known in the US as worsted weight yarn listed in the medium weight category.
- Aran weight is more commonly used than worsted weight if you are visiting UK stores or websites to buy yarn.
- Aran, however, weighs slightly more than worsted yarn – so they are not exactly the same weight.
- Aran weight yarns are a great choice for almost any project.
- They are perfect for sweaters, scarves, hats and more!
- Great for when you need a heavier yarn that still looks quite light.
What is fingering yarn?
- Fingering weight yarn is thin but often used for lightweight garments like shawls or knitting socks.
- This is sometimes sold as baby yarn for making baby garments but it can be used for many things.
- The yardage is normally high when you buy fingering yarn, so you can get quite a lot from one single skein!
Can I use chunky yarn with 4mm/US size 6 needles?
- This would be quite difficult for you to work with, so it is better to check the yarn label or the yarn weights guide below to see the needle size that is appropriate for the type of yarn you have chosen.
- For example, if you buy a chunky yarn you would normally use size 8mm (US 11) needles and above.
- The type of yarn you would pair with size 4mm (US 6) needles is normally a lightweight yarn – also known as DK/double knitting/light worsted.
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.
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.
What Is Ply?
Yarn ply is slightly different from the yarn weight and years ago was more commonly used to mean something about the weight of the yarn.
The ply was known for some sizes – for example, two-ply yarn was known as being very thin and an eight-ply yarn was much thicker.
Ply refers to the thickness of the yarn, if you see that yarn is 1 ply that means it is really thin and up to 12+ is the thickest.
A 1 ply yarn was known as a singles yarn, the singles are plied to create yarns of different thicknesses, but this is not consistent and no longer relates to the yarns weights based on the number of plies.
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 yarn.
If you see knitting instructions that use ply yarn these rules generally apply:
- Two-ply yarn mostly refers to super-fine yarn.
- Four-ply yarn is lightweight – also known as DK or double knitting yarn.
- Aran yarn is not normally specified by ply but that means worsted weight or medium weight yarn.
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!
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
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.
- 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.
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.