What’s the deal with yarn weights?

And I don’t mean how heavy they are!

Yarn comes in several different weights. This relates to the thickness of the yarn, on how thick or thin it is!

Traditionally, yarn can be categorised into one of 7 different weight classes. When crocheting or knitting you really do need to consider the weight of the yarn you will use as it, along with the hook size, determines the size and density of the finished item.

Almost every ball or skein of yarn these days will come with the relevant information needed on the ball band. This would include the recommended hook or needle size and what weight the yarn is along with the yardage. However, what happens when the ball band is lost or missing? You can easily find out what weight the yarn is by using ‘wraps per inch’. This is standard terminology with yarn crafts and relates to how many times you can wrap the yarn around an object with the strands lying next to each other in a one inch or 2.5cm space.

We’ll start with the thinnest weight of yarn and work our way up!

1 ply – This can also be known as Lace weight yarn. It is super thin and is commonly used to crochet and knit, well, lace! Think doilies, very fine shawls and heirloom pieces. You would normally use very thin crochet hooks or needles to create something using this weight of yarn. It can also take a very, very long time to create something of a substantial size. Wraps per inch with 1ply is 17+

2 ply – This can also be known as fingering weight yarn. This yarn is still very thin and is perfect for shawls and baby layettes. The recommended hook or needle size for 2ply is between 2.25 and 3.5mm depending on the patterns. Wraps per inch is 15 – 16

4 ply – You may hear of this as sport weight if you are using an American pattern. 4 ply is one of my favourite weights of yarn to use. It is perfect for lightweight garments for both adults and babies/children. The hook or needle size for 4ply yarn is between 3.5 and 4.5mm with wraps per inch at 12 – 14

DK – This is one of the more common weights of yarn. In American terms it is known as DK or light worsted weight yarn. This yarn is brilliant for so many things such as scarves, garments, baby items, blankets. You would probably need 4.5 – 5.5 mm needles or hooks when using a DK weight. You would also find the wraps per inch to be at 10 – 11

Aran – Another gorgeous weight yarn which is perfect for jumpers, cardigans and blankets. It is slightly thicker than the DK bit still nice and light enough. It can also be known as Worsted weight yarn. Grab a size 5.5, 6, or 6.5mm hook/needles if you want to use Aran. Wraps per inch should be about 9

Chunky – Or Bulky as it is known over in America. Now we start getting to the yarn that works up quite fast and can be slightly on the heavier side depending on what you make with it. Chunky yarn is used for a lot of blankets, hats and scarfs for the Autumn and Winter season. You can also find a lot of patterns for garments which use chunky yarn. You will need approximately a size 6.5 – 9mm hook or knitting needles, and you will get 7 – 8 wraps per inch.

Super Chunky – Or super bulky! You will need some whopping big hooks and needles for this yarn, anything from a size 9mm upwards. Make lovely heavy blankets and rugs quickly with the fabulous sized yarn.

You do need to remember that the hook and needle sizes are just a guideline. The pattern you are using may call for a specific hook size. Always remember to do a pattern swatch and adjust your hook/needle size accordingly to get your gauge right. There is nothing worse than starting a project, getting halfway through and finding it is either too big or too small!

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