Yarn Weight Guide (+ Yarn Conversion Chart)

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In this post, you will see a yarn weight guide and yarn conversion chart.

If you are a beginner learning to knit or crochet, you are probably still figuring out yarn weights and categories.

For those 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 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.

woman holding three skeins of yarn and knitting needles

Yarn Weight Conversion Chart

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

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

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

Yarn Weight Conversion Chart
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Understanding Yarn Weights

There are various standards of yarn weights (created by the Craft Yarn Council), and it is essential 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 manufacturers normally provide all the important information you need on their labels.

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

Learn how to read a yarn label here – How To Read A Yarn Label (Step By Step)

Then you need to think about what you will make with it – if the yarn is super bulky, you would use it for heavy blankets, sweaters, and rugs.

Grab Your Free Yarn Weights Guide Ebook Here

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 infographic, which 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 – is in metric and US sizes.

How To Measure Yarn Weight?    

Yarn weight is typically measured by its thickness, and several factors contribute to determining the weight category of a yarn.

To measure yarn weight:

  1. Use a WPI Tool (Wraps Per Inch):
    • Wrap the yarn around a tool designed for measuring WPI, like a ruler with a specific gauge or a WPI tool.
    • Count the number of wraps within one inch. The more wraps, the finer the yarn; fewer wraps indicate a thicker yarn.
  2. Check the Yarn Label:
    • Yarn labels provide information about the weight category. Look for terms like “fingering,” “worsted,” or “bulky.” The label may also include a recommended range of needle or hook sizes.
  3. Refer to Standard Yarn Weight System:
    • Yarns are commonly categorized into standard weight groups (e.g., lace, fingering, sport, worsted, bulky). Familiarize yourself with these categories to identify the weight of a yarn.
  4. Consider Ply:
    • The number of plies in a yarn can influence its weight. Single-ply yarns may be lighter, while multi-ply yarns can be denser.
  5. Check Yardage and Fiber Content:
    • Thicker yarns often have fewer yards per gram than finer yarns. Additionally, the fiber content can affect the weight, as fibers like alpaca or mohair can make a yarn feel lighter or heavier.

Related Post: Yarn Types Explained: A Guide To Different Fibers

knitting in the round with circular nedles

Understanding The Most Common Yarn Weights – FAQ

FAQ Video

There is a video to answer the Yarn weights FAQ in this post.

You can also watch it on my YouTube channel here.

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.
Learn everything about worsted-weight yarn – What Is Worsted Weight Yarn?

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 skein!
Learn everything about fingering weight yarn here What Is Fingering Yarn? Your Ultimate Guide

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.
Learn everything about aran weight yarn here – What Is Fine Weight Yarn? (Sport Weights Guide)

What is bulky weight yarn?

Bulky weight yarn is a category of yarn known for its substantial thickness and weight, falling into the heavier end of the yarn weight scale.
 Recognized for its chunky appearance, this yarn category, typically labeled as Category 5, is thicker than lighter weights such as fingering or worsted. 
Bulky weight yarns facilitate faster progress in projects due to their lower stitch and row count per inch, making them a popular choice for quick and cozy creations. 
These yarns are often used with larger knitting needles or crochet hooks, and their warmth and heft make them ideal for crafting cold-weather accessories like scarves and hats, as well as for producing plush blankets and other projects that prioritize a warm and substantial feel.
Learn everything about bulky weight yarn here – What Is Bulky Weight Yarn? 

What is super chunky weight yarn?

Super chunky weight yarn, sometimes referred to as jumbo or super bulky yarn, is a category known for its extreme thickness and heft. 
Falling into the heaviest end of the yarn weight scale (Category 6 and above), super chunky yarns create projects with a bold, oversized texture. 
With a much lower stitch and row count per inch than lighter-weight yarns, like light worsted yarn, this type of yarn allows for rapid project completion, making it an excellent choice for those seeking quick and satisfying results. 
Typically requiring large knitting needles or crochet hooks, super chunky yarn is often chosen for cozy, cold-weather items like chunky blankets, oversized scarves, and plush, warm accessories, providing a trendy and modern aesthetic to the finished project.
Learn everything about super bulky weight yarn here – What Is Super Bulky Weight Yarn?

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.

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 works faster than fine yarn.
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 the worsted-weight yarn.

Yarn weight guide and conversion chart free

Why Are Yarn Weights Important?

When you choose 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 turn out the wrong size or shape.

Checking your gauge

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

Most makers make a large swatch before they start a garment to make sure it will turn out in the size it is supposed to, according to the pattern measurements.

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 crochet, 12 stitches in 15 rows.

Learn how to measure gauge here – How To Measure Gauge In Knitting

What Is Ply?

Yarn ply is slightly different from the yarn weight, and years ago, it 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 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 yarn’s weights based on the number of plies.

Ply yarn rules

When spinners used to make yarn, they would categorize it by thickness; this was how 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, but 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, kits are 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 Weight Yarn – Lace knitting/crochet
  • 1: Super Fine/Fingering Yarn – Light eyelet/socks
  • 2: Fine Weight Yarn – Light sweaters/baby items/accessories
  • 3: Light/DK Weight Yarn – Sweaters and other garments/ lightweight scarves
  • 4: Medium/Worsted Weight Yarn – Sweaters/blankets/hats/scarves
  • 5: Chunky/Bulky Weight Yarn – Rugs/jackets/blankets/hats
  • 6: Super Bulky Weight Yarn – Heavy blankets/sweaters/rugs/hats
  • 7: Jumbo Yarn – heavy blankets/rugs

Grab Your Free Yarn Weights Guide Ebook Here

white yarn and needles

How Do You Calculate Yarn Substitution?    

Calculating yarn substitution involves ensuring that the different yarn weights you choose for a specific project are compatible with the original yarn recommended in the pattern.

Here are the steps to help you calculate yarn substitution:

  1. Check the Pattern Requirements:
    • Review the pattern to identify the recommended yarn weight, fiber content, and gauge. Note the total yardage required for the project.
  2. Select the Substitution Yarn:
    • Choose a substitute yarn with a similar weight (e.g., fingering, worsted) and fiber content. Ensure that the substitute yarn has a similar recommended gauge to the original yarn.
  3. Check Gauge:
    • Knit or crochet a gauge swatch using the substitution yarn and the recommended needle or hook size. Measure the gauge to ensure it matches the pattern’s specified gauge. Adjust your needle or hook size if needed.
  4. Calculate Yardage:
    • Compare the yardage per skein or ball of the original yarn with that of the substitution yarn. If the substitution yarn has a different yardage, calculate the total number of skeins or balls needed based on the pattern’s total yardage requirement.
  5. Consider Fiber Content:
    • Be aware that different fiber contents can affect the drape, feel, and appearance of the finished project. Choose a substitution yarn with a similar fiber content for the best results. For example, substitute a wool yarn for a wool yarn of a different weight.
  6. Make Adjustments as Needed:
    • If the substitution yarn has a slightly different gauge, you may need to adjust the pattern accordingly. This might involve modifying the stitch or row count to achieve the correct size.
  7. Purchase Extra Yarn:
    • It’s always a good idea to purchase a little extra yarn to account for any variations in gauge, potential differences in yarn usage, or for making swatches.

Remember that yarn substitution can be an iterative process, and it’s crucial to test your chosen yarn through swatching to ensure it meets the pattern requirements.

Additionally, consider the overall look and feel you want to achieve with the finished project when choosing a substitution yarn.

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 they 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!

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.

Happy Crafting!

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40 Comments

    1. Hello Louise, you will need – 1.25mm – 3.0mm (US 2.5) size needles for 2 ply yarn. I hope that helps 🙂

  1. what is the brand/name of the yarn in the photo – the multi-coloured yarn (middle one in the top photo) or the one in her hands in the 2nd photo? It’s beautiful – pink/blue…

    1. Hello Grae, sorry I don’t know which brand of yarn that is, they are stock images.
      It looks similar to hand-dyed yarns or graduated yarns that you can find from Lion Brand or Rico yarns.

    2. In the beginners cardigan (all knit) you double up the wool and I would rather not do this for ease so could I still use 8mm needles and Chunky weight yarn please advise.
      Many thanks
      Helen

      1. Hello Helen, if you don’t want to knit with two strands together, you can use any yarn suitable for 8mm (US 11) needles.
        This is a bulky weight yarn 05 / chunky – knit with one strand only.
        I hope that helps,
        Louise 🙂

  2. I’m ordering yarn for the Outlander Capelet Pattern. Please confirm if I am doing the math correctly, I want to use a single color yarn, which is bulky 1.8 oz./ 98 yards. Your pattern calls for (4) 100 g(109 yards) skeins. So I was going to order 8 skeins, just multiplying the weight by 2 ( to get to 3.5 oz.). Or do I only need 5 skeins going only by yardage? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hello Tamara, if you are making the small/medium size then yes around 5 100g skeins at 98 yards will be fine to use.
      If you are making a larger size, then you could order 6+ skeins.
      You would only need to order 8 skeins if you want to knit with two strands together.
      Because that would be too many for single-strand knitting for the small/ medium size.
      I hope that helps,
      Louise 🙂

  3. Hello, I would like to knit a granny type blanket/throw with 8 inch squares using DK wool. The pattern I have is for Aran wool. Will this different wool be suitable please?

    Many thanks, Annie Dunn

    1. Hello Annie, if you use Aran yarn instead of double knitting yarn then your squares will be thicker and larger, as this is a heavier weight yarn.
      But if you use a hook suitable for Aran yarn and make one square as a sample – you will see how that turns out and if you think it will look good for your blanket.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise 🙂

      1. Dear Louise

        Many thanks for your helpful info. As I have bought so many colours of DK wool I have decided to put two colours together which I believe equals Arran wool and I have bought 5mm needles. I would like to knit 6 inch squares and wondered if you can tell me how many stitches I need and will always knitting or purling the first stitch give a neat edge? Thanks again..

        Annie Dunn in the UK

        1. Hello Annie,
          For a 6 inch square, you could try casting on 30 or 32 stitches.
          You may have to adjust your stitch count to the pattern you’re using.
          If you want a really neat selvedge edge you can slip the first stitch of each row purlwise.
          I hope that helps!
          Louise

  4. Hi Louise, I am using 2 strands of Lion Brand Wool Ease #4 size yarn for Outlander Shawl Pattern. You list using Classic Alize Lanagold 100g for same pattern. Is this acceptable for the same end result? I just love that shawl on Claire! Thanks

    1. Hello Linda,
      For the Outlander Shawl Pattern – if you are using two strands of the Lion Brand Wool-Ease together and that works for size 8mm (US 11) needles then yes that will be fine!
      You will see when you start knitting if the density of the knitted fabric is to your liking, but I would think it will have a very similar result to the yarn that I used as they are of similar weight.
      I think it will work well!
      I hope you enjoy knitting the shawl 🙂
      Louise

  5. Your information is invaluable. thank you so much for posting. I have a question: I went to a creative arts festival and bought some beautiful very large skeins of a cotton “yarn.” its thicker than crochet cotton (like for doilies) but its not classified with the typical numbering system or even the abbreviations (sock, fingering, etc). Its produced in the U.S.A. I emailed the manufacturer (Newton) and asked what weight it is and he responded that its “SK” – can you even try to guess at what that is? I have a dress I wanted to make and the gauge swatch was coming out right BUT it was rather “holey” due to the hook size. I ended up buying the exact yarn called for because once I got it, it was pretty clear that my cotton “SK” yarn was about half the thickness of the one (a pima cotton) called for. So. Can you take a guess at what SK might stand for? sock weight? its def not a sport weight. You know, if you’re going to produce fibers for knitters, etc., you’d think you’d be able to classify it. I’m thinking I’m going to have to do the wrap test and see what comes out of that. I’d be willing to mail you a bit of it for you to look at. I bought a ton of the stuff because I loved it…I just need to know what it is so that i can use it.

    1. Hello Sherrie,
      I haven’t heard of a yarn that is SK weight – maybe this could be some sort of sock yarn or fingering?
      I did some google searching and couldn’t find out anything.
      If it is half the thickness of a Pima cotton, then it is very fine – a wrap test sounds like a great idea.
      You could also test out a few sample swatches with various size hooks to see which one you like best and that may also help you to decide what you can make with it.
      Or work with a few strands together?
      Lots of possibilities!
      Good luck and happy making!
      Louise 🙂

  6. Hi I am in uk and would like to know how many 100g balls I will need for 3 skeins to knit the Harry Potter dog jumper. The Sirdar Hayfield Super Chunky with wool in the uk is 100g ball is 79 yards long. I’m thinking 6 of Hollyhocks and 1 of HayBail? Thanks so much. Mandy

    1. Hello Mandy,
      I would suggest around 3 balls of the 100g Sirdar hayfield chunky for the dog sweater in the colour Hollyhocks.
      For the letter in the mustard coloured yarn – you don’t need a full 100g ball, so if you have around 20-30g of scrap yarn that can be used or you may need to buy 1 ball of a coordinating colour.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  7. Hi Louise. I’ve been knitting for many years but I had a break for about 20yrs. The kids grew up, I worked full-time & I didn’t have time to knit for myself. Grand children have arrived and I have returned to knitting and love it more than I can explain! Thank you so very much for your easy to understand break down of yarn weights. I used to go by the plies when I knitted. After returning to knitting, I realised things had changed in the yarn industry! I really needed to learn about yarn weights! So I have been googling non stop for information that made sense to me. Your newsletter arrived in my emails this week and when I opened it, i lost myself in your website. Lol! Handylittleme.com has everything I needed to know! I think i discovered Handylittleme.com on Pintrest. I signed up for your newsletter & here i am. As happy as can be! Lol! Again, thank you so much Louise.

    1. Hello Soveyda,
      Normally in the pattern, you are working from it will tell you how much yarn you will need for the project.
      If you don’t have a pattern and just want to make something from looking at an item – this will take some guesswork!
      If you don’t kniw the exact amount and are taking a guestimate, then I would suggest buying more than you think you need, just to make sure you have enough yarn.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

    1. Hello Betty,
      If you google a gram to oz converter you can enter the amount and it will give you a number.
      I did that and 400g = 14.1096 oz.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  8. Hi, I had ordered several packages of #3 baby alpaca wool and didn’t discover until 75% done with the garment that the company sent me one package of #1 yarn. It’s exactly the right color, which is no longer available in #3. Is there any way I can ‘salvage’ this #1 yarn to finish the garment in the right color? Thanks for any help!

    1. Hello Andrea,
      Perhaps you can try knitting with two strands together in the #1 yarn to match the weight of the main yarn (#3)?
      That might work.
      Louise

    1. Hello M,
      This looks like it could mean it is yarn to be used with 4mm needles, making it either 4 Ply yarn or DK yarn.
      There is not a yarn weight category that is classed as 4mm.
      Only 4 Ply yarn (UK) which is Fine (2) in the US.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

    1. Hello Regan,
      You could try using two strands of worsted weight or Aran weight yarn knit together to make up a bulky weight.
      I do that sometimes when trying to use up yarn in my stash.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  9. Thank you so much! This information is wonderful! I do have a question though; I have a pattern that calls for worsted yarn with 200 yards and 80 grams but I am not sure how to change the grams to ounces? Thank you for your help. 😊😊

    1. Hello Janice,
      You can search online for a grams to ounces calculator….you should be able to find one.
      I hope that helps,
      Louise

  10. Hi, as an Aussie, I’m curious about the 3 ply. It’s rare to find 3 ply as a standard weight here, but 4 ply is readily available and used for socks etc. I’ve noticed many charts don’t mention this weight as standard in Australia, but it’s hugely popular. I think it’s time charts were updated to include it for weights used here. An observation from an Aussie. Lol. Cheers.

  11. Addendum to my comment.
    3ply is used a lot, just to acknowledge that fact, but I’m just curious why charts don’t include 4ply for Australia when, as I mentioned, it’s used quite a lot. Wanted to correct myself regarding 3ply not being that popular. Great blog, you’ve inspired me to start knitting again after years of a serious crochet addiction. Lol.

    1. Hello Manja-Freya,
      I did some research and found this information…
      In general, 3-ply yarn in Australia is not the same as 4-ply yarn elsewhere, such as in the UK or the US. Yarn weight and ply can vary between countries and manufacturers, so it’s essential to pay attention to the specific yarn labels and guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
      In Australia, yarn is often labeled based on the number of plies, with 3-ply being one of the common categories. However, the weight and thickness of the yarn may not necessarily correspond directly to the ply number. Similarly, in other regions like the UK and the US, yarn is often categorized by weight rather than ply, with 4-ply being a common designation for a lightweight yarn.
      To avoid confusion, it’s best to refer to the yarn weight and recommended needle or hook size provided on the yarn label, as well as any additional information provided by the manufacturer or retailer. This ensures that you select the appropriate yarn for your project and achieve the desired outcome in terms of gauge, texture, and drape.
      I hope that helps and happy knitting!
      Louise

  12. I have a pattern for a hat that calls for #5 yarn. Can I use #4 with 2 strands? What would the difference be? Info on swatch is only 3 stitches different. Thanks for the help.

    1. Hello Peg,
      You could try using #4 yarn with two strands and see if the gauge is close.
      You could also try going up or down a needle size.
      If the gauge swatch is 3 sts out, it should be ok – but it might make it slightly larger size wise when worn, depending on the yarn also.
      Happy knitting!
      Louise