“The Best Yarn Weights for Knitting and Croche

If you are new to crochet and knitting, understanding yarn weights can be just like another confusing topic to learn

The reality is, however, that yarn weights can be very important

This is especially true when your model needs to come out to a precise size, such as with an item of clothing

In this post, I’ll give you the basics of understanding yarn weights so your next project comes out right

Understanding yarn weights How is yarn measured? What determines the weight of the yarn? CYC Yarn Weight Categories Yarn Weight Standards0 Lace1 Super Fine2 Fine3 Light4 Medium 5 Bulky6 Super Bulky7 Jumbo Yarn Weight Symbol Chart How do I tell what weight my yarn is? Measure yarn weight in “Wraps Per Inch” What does Ply mean? How Does Ply Affect Yarn Weight? Ply vs

WPISChoosing the right yarn weight for your projectChoosing the right hook and needle sizeWhy yarn weight is importantGaugeMaking Multiples Yarn weights FAQ:Are all yarns in the same weight category the same weight? Even more about yarn crafts

Understand yarn weights

Walk down the aisle of your local craft store, and you’ll quickly see that yarn comes in a wide range of gauges, from superfine lace yarn to super chunky jumbo yarn

These different yarn sizes are organized into categories, called yarn weights

In general, yarn is divided into seven different yarn weight categories marked with the numbers 0 to 7

These categories are (from 0-7): lace, super fine, fine, light, medium, bulky, super bulky, and jumbo

Knitting and crochet patterns are designed with a certain weight of yarn, so it is important to buy the right type

When you buy yarn, you can find the yarn weight category written on the yarn label

What determines yarn weight?

The weight of a yarn is determined by measuring the diameter – or thickness – of a strand of yarn

The most common way to measure the diameter of a thread is with a method called wraps per inch, or WPI

WPI is exactly what it sounds like – take a strand of yarn and wrap it around a ruler until an inch is covered

The number of times the yarn wraps in one inch is the WPI

For example, if your yarn wraps around the ruler ten times in one inch, your yarn has a WPI of 10

Yarn weight categories

To help crafters select the right yarns for their projects, the Craft Yarn Council has established a system of guidelines that yarn manufacturers use to categorize their yarn

The CYC yarn standard weight system has seven different categories, numbered from 0 to 7

Lower numbers indicate lighter yarns, while higher numbers indicate heavier yarns

CYC yarn weight standards

Here are the categories and types of yarns in each category, as indicated by the CYC (Craft Yarn Council)

Cord weight yarns are the lightest weight of yarns, and are usually used for delicate projects like doilies, shawls, and intricate cord patterns

Super fine weight yarns are also known as finger weight or baby weight yarns

They are slightly heavier than cord weight yarns, and are typically used for projects like socks, baby clothes, and lightweight scarves

Fine weight yarns are also known as sport weight yarns

They are slightly heavier than super fine weight yarns, and are typically used for projects like sweaters, hats, and other lightweight clothing items

Lightweight yarns are also known as DK or double knitting yarns

DK yarns are slightly heavier than fine weight yarns, and are typically used for projects like sweaters, hats, scarves, and baby clothes

Medium weight yarns are also known as worsted weight yarns or aran yarns

They are slightly heavier than lightweight yarns, and are typically used for projects like afghans, sweaters, and hats

I often think of worsted weight yarns as “all-purpose” yarns, since you can use them for so many different types of projects

Bulky weight yarns are also known as coarse weight yarns

They are heavier than worsted weight yarns and are typically used for projects like sweaters, hats, scarves and blankets

Super bulky yarns are some of the heaviest yarns, and are typically used for projects like hats, scarves and blankets

It’s easy to learn how to knit with super bulky yarn, since it’s so easy to see the individual stitches

Jumbo weight yarns are the heaviest weight of yarn, and are typically used for projects such as accessories and home decor projects, such as blankets

These types of yarns are also used for bracelet projects

Yarn weight symbol chart

In addition to the names given to each category, the Craft Yarn Council has designated a set of symbols to indicate yarn weight

These symbols can be found on the yarn labels of most commercially available yarns

The following chart shows the seven different CYC yarn weight categories, with their corresponding names, WPI, gauge, suggested needle and crochet sizes, and symbols

How do I tell what weight my yarn is?

You can usually determine the yarn weight by reading its label

Search for a number (0-7) or weight category name

Whether you accidentally removed the tag or inherited the yarn from your grandmother, if you’ve been crafting long enough, you’re bound to find yourself with untagged yarn

You can find out any yarn weight using the wraps per inch (WPI) technique

As mentioned before, WPI (wraps per inch) is a common way to determine the weight of a yarn

Whether your yarn is missing its label or you just want to check that the label is correct, using the WPI technique is easy and only takes a minute or two

How to Measure Yarn Weight in “Wraps Per Inch”

To measure your yarn with WPI, you need a ruler or a WPI tool

Then, take your yarn and wrap it around your ruler or WPI tool

Continue wrapping until the yarn stands cover an inch of the tool

When you’re done, count the number of wraps that fit in one inch

Compare the number of wraps per inch to the chart above to determine the yarn weight category

That’s why it’s always important to work on a gauge sample before starting a project

super bulky yarn at 5 WPI

super fine yarn at 18 WPI

When talking about yarn weight, you often hear terms like 4-ply yarn, 8-ply yarn, or 10-ply yarn

These terms refer to the number of strands that are twisted to make the yarn

In other words, ply is a measurement of how many strands of yarn are used to make one strand of yarn

A two-ply yarn is made of two strands twisted around each other

This super bulky yarn has 3 strands

How Does Ply Affect Yarn Weight?

In general, the higher the yarn, the thicker the yarn will be

However, it is important to note that the fabric does not necessarily correspond to the weight or thickness of the yarn

Some very chunky yarns are only two ply (that is, they have two thick strands)

Ply is different from wraps per inch (WPI)

WPI measures how many times a strand of yarn can be wrapped around a long object such as a pencil or ruler

Ply measures how many strands of yarn are used to make one strand of yarn

Choose the right yarn weight for your project

When choosing the right weight of yarn for your project, there are a few things you need to keep in mind

The type of project you want to do will affect the weight of yarn you need to use

For example, light yarns are used for delicate patterns, such as shawls and socks

Medium weight yarns are often used for sweaters and hats

Coarse yarns are often used for projects such as large pillows and cushions

Choosing the Right Hook and Needle Size

After deciding on the weight of yarn you need for your project, you need to consider what size hook or needle to use

In general, smaller hooks and needles are used for lighter yarns, while larger hooks and needles are used for heavier yarns

You can find recommended sizes in the yarn weight chart above, or in this detailed crochet pattern and comparison guide

You may also find the recommended hook and needle sizes are listed on the yarn label

Tip: Recommended hook and needle sizes are just that – recommendations

Depending on how tight or narrow you knit or crochet, you may need to use a hook or needle of a different size to achieve the same gauge as the pattern designer

Do a gauge swatch, and then decide if you need to size up or down

Why yarn weight is important

Sometimes you can get away with not worrying about your yarn gauge or weight

Some projects, such as blankets, scarves and warm pads will probably be as functional even if they end up a few centimeters larger or smaller than expected

When making other items, such as socks and sweaters, you want the finished measurement to be exact

For projects like these, you need to choose the correct yarn weight and needle/hook size to meet the gauge

Imagine you are knitting or crocheting a 1 inch square

With a chunky yarn, you may only need 3 or 4 stitches to measure 1 inch

On the other hand, if you are working with a very fine yarn, you may need 8 or 9 stitches to measure 1 inch

That’s why it’s important to look at the suggested yarn weight of a pattern and always make a gauge swatch before starting

Yarn weights are also important when you are using more than one type of yarn for a project

For example, if you are making squares for an afghan blanket, you need each square to be the same size, no matter what yarn is used

To ensure consistency, you need to have a basic understanding of yarn weights

Yarn weights FAQ:

Here are some answers to common questions about understanding yarn weights

Are all yarns in the same weight category exactly the same weight?

Weight categories are very useful for grouping different yarns

However, just because two yarns are in the same weight category does not necessarily mean they are the same weight

In fact, there can be a significant variation even within a weight category

The best way to find the weight of your yarn is to read the yarn label or measure its WPI

And again, if you’re making a dress or other project that needs to be an exact size, be sure to create a gauge swatch before you start

Is aran yarn the same as worsted yarn?

Aran and Worsted yarns are considered medium weight

Although they look similar, they are actually two different yarn weights

Worsted weight yarn is slightly finer and finer than Aran yarn

Aran weight yarn is usually a bit thicker

Again, though, if the finished size is important, be sure to do a gauge sample before substituting one for the other

How to replace yarn weights?

The best way to replace yarn weights is to use a yarn that has the same WPI

This ensures that your finished project will be the right size

But, what should you do if you’re in a craft store, and you can’t pull out the yarn to check its WPI or knit a gauge swatch?

In this case, the easiest way to choose a replacement yarn is to check the meters per ounce (meters per gram) the measurement listed on the label

If the yards/oz (meters/g) measurement on the new yarn matches the yarn called for in the pattern, it will probably be a good substitute

Tip: When replacing yarns, you’ll want to stick with the same type of fiber

This way, the yarn always has the same characteristics that are needed for your particular model

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