Some yarns are thick and sumptuous while others are skinny like a spiderweb. Others are in-between, and some defy category (fun fur, anyone?). Like people, yarns come in many shapes and sizes. So, in order to talk about the bigness or smallness of yarns, the Craft Yarn Council designed a system to categorise yarn weight. Let’s meet the yarn family!
Lace weight is the thinnest, lightest type of yarn. It’s used mostly to knit lace shawls and scarves. To get the open lace effect, use a larger needle size.
Fun fact: extremely light and intricate shawls, called wedding ring shawls, were first knitted on the Shetland Isles during the 19th century. They were so light and airy that they could be pulled through a wedding ring!
Super fine yarn includes sock and fingering yarn. It’s often used to make socks, hats, mittens and other accessories. An entire sweater knit in super fine yarn is a long journey, but so, so satisfying!
Fine yarn includes sport and baby weight yarn. It’s sometimes confused with light weight yarn. (In fact, sometimes I mix up the two!) This is a versatile yarn that’s great for just about anything: cardigans, sweaters, hats, socks, you name it.
DK weight and light worsted yarns fall into this category. These yarns are just a teeny bit thicker than fine yarns and a tiny bit thinner than medium yarns.
The worsted weight yarn is the most popular medium weight yarn. Not too big and not too small, they’re just right for most projects.
Chunky yarns and rug yarns fall into this category. These knit up nice and quick and are perfect for warm hats, dramatic scarves, blankets and rugs. Cowichan sweaters are usually knit in bulky yarn.
Super bulky yarns are the ultimate in instant gratification knits. At 6-11 stitches to four inches, you can easily finish a hat in just a few hours. In fact, you can do just that with the Big Hat pattern! (shameless plug). These yarns are usually single ply and super warm on account of their bulk.
Katja Sessums says
Would it be possible for you to tell what weight this crewel yarn is by the photo?
It’s hard to tell from the photo. I suspect it’s between a superfine and a light weight yarn.
There’s actually handy way to determine your mystery yarn by figuring out its wraps per inch (WPI). Wrap your mystery around around a pencil or popsicle stick until it covers about 2 inches. Wrap in one layer with one strand beside the next. Don’t wrap too tightly, just enough that it stays put.
Then use a ruler to measure one inch of that wrapped pencil, and count how many wraps of yarn are within that one inch. The number is the wraps per inch (WPI) of your yarn. The WPI of each yarn to weights is below:
35+ WPI = lace weight
19-22 WPI = fingering weight
15-18 WPI = sport weight
12-14 WPI = dk weight
9 – 11 WPI = worsted/heavy worsted
7-8 WPI = bulky weight
6 or less WPI = super bulky
Hope that makes sense!
I love your knitting site and I’m looking forward to do some knitting soon! I am currently living in Japan at the moment and I am having some troubles with reading the yarn labels. There isn’t much information about the yarn weight on the label! It’s kind of driving me crazy! So, on the label it says, for knitting use no. 11-12 needles. 40g (about 55m). for standard gauge, it’s 12-14 stitches by 19-20 rows.
please give me some tips!! Thanks you so much!!
So, I’m looking at the Craft Yarn Council’s website on Yarn Weight (https://www.craftyarncouncil.com/weight.html) and on the second row for “Knit Gauge Range in Stockinette to 4 Inches” it says that a 12-15 sts would be classified as a bulky weight. So if your yarn label is referring to 12-14 stitches per 4″, which is pretty standard in North America and the UK, then your yarn should be a bulky weight. Although your row count suggests the yarn would be a chunky or aran weight.
Another option: take a look at this Japanese needle conversion chart here: https://cottonandcloud.com/blog/knitting-needle-size-conversion-chart-uk-us-and-japanese/ Apparently, a No. 11-12 Japanese needle is 5.5mm or 5.75mm, which suggests that your yarn is a heavy worsted/aran weight.
Last option: measure the wraps per inch of your yarn. Read the comment above that I give to Katja and try out the technique. This is the best way to tell what weight your yarn is.
Hope this helps!