If you are new to knitting or crocheting you will discover that yarn comes in a variety of weights, and choosing the right one for your project sometimes might be a little daunting. So, this post will help you understand the basics of yarn weights and how to choose the right size for your next project.
What is yarn weight and how it can affect your project?
Yarn weight refers to the thickness of the strand. They range from the very fine and lacy yarns to the bulkiest of them and when you are following a pattern, it is important to use the correct thickness. If you use a yarn too thin for what you pattern calls for, your project will be smaller and if it is too thick, that will make your project larger than what was intended.
What are the weight yarn categories?
The Craft Yarn Council of America has developed a system to standardize labeled yarn weights. That system categorizes yarn by number (0 to 7), the lower numbers indicate thinner yarns, while the higher numbers indicate thicker yarns, and each number corresponds to a category yarn weight name. So according to the Craft Yarn Council there are eight categories: 0-Lace, 1-Super Fine, 2-Fine, 3-Light, 4-Medium, 5-Bulky, 6-Super Bulky and 7-Jumbo.
Although many yarn manufacturers use the Craft Yarn Council system on the labels, there are a lot out there that don’t use it. This results in a difference in yarn weight terminology, so it is important to know the different names for each category. In the chart below you will find the most common names for each category.
Yarn Weight Names
A Note On Ply
Ply is the number of strands that are twisted together to form the yarn. That means that a 2ply yarn is made with 2 strands, a 3ply is made with 3 strands and so on.
Years ago, yarn weights were named after these ply numbers. So, a 5ply yarn was thicker than a 2ply yarn. Today, ply is no longer used as a yarn weight category, a 4-ply fingering yarn is thinner than a 1-ply bulky yarn. However, in some countries, like in the UK, ply is still commonly used as a yarn category, but that means that a 4ply yarn might have different numbers of strands.
How to determine the yarn weight
There are a few ways to determine the weight of your yarn:
1.Many yarn manufacturers are using the standard system on the yarn labels. In that case, you can easily determine your yarn weight by reading the label.
2. One other way to determine the weight is the Wraps Per Inch (WPI) method. To measure your weight using WPI you will need to wrap your yarn around a pencil or around anything else with consistent circumference (it doesn’t have to be a cylinder). Then you can use a ruler to measure how many wraps are in an inch. Compare your WPI number to the Chart below to get an approximate yarn weight.
Standard Wraps Per Inch
3. Finally you can determine the yarn weight either by the gauge indicator on the label or by the yarn length in meters per 100 gr. You can compare those numbers to the Carts below.
Standard Yarn Weights Gauge
Standard Yarn Weights m/100gr
Yarn Weights Common Uses
Now that we laid out the yarn weights, let’s take a closer look at some of the common uses for each category.
0 – LACE (fingering, 10count thread).
Lace is the finest and thinnest type of yarn. You can use it to make doilies or other delicate projects like shawls, lightweight garments, and accessories.
1 – SUPER FINE (sock, fingering, baby).
Super Fine weight is a little bit heavier than lace. You can use it to make beautiful baby items, socks, airy shawls and wraps. You can also make lightweight garments with a lovely drape.
2 – FINE (sport, baby).
Fine weight is a versatile yarn. You can use it to make almost everything, baby garments, socks, sweaters, hats, wraps and lightweight blankets or throws.
3 – LIGHT (DK, light worsted).
Light is one of the popular weights, thicker than fine yarns but thinner than the medium ones. It is perfect for drapery garments and it can be used in every season. You can also use it to make baby clothes, socks etc.
4 – MEDIUM (worsted, afghan, aran).
Medium is the most common yarn weight. It’s perfect for beginners, it has excellent stitch definition and it can be used to make practically anything.
5 – BULKY (rug, chunky, craft).
Bulky weight yarn works up quickly. You can use it to make beautiful home items, like baskets, blankets and statement wearables like hats, scarves or garments.
6 – SUPER BULKY (roving).
Super Bulky weight is a very thick yarn. You can use it to make heavy scarves, hats, home decor items and you can finish your project really fast.
7. JUMBO (roving).
Jumbo is the thickest of all yarn weights. It is a relatively new category to the Craft Yarn Council. Jumbo weight yarn is ideal for arm knitting or crocheting and you can use it to make home decor items like blankets, pillows etc.
Beginner’s Guide To Yarn Weight Standards Chart
Now that you have learned all about the various yarn weights, you will be able to choose the right one for your next project.
In the next chart you will find all the information you need about yarn weights. Feel free to print it out so you can have it on hand every time you need it. But remember this chart is just a guide, yarn weights can actually vary, even within a weight category. So I will suggest you make a swatch gauge before starting a project.