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No, we aren’t referring to how much a ball, skein, or hank weighs.  In this case, it refers to the thickness of the yarn.

As a beginner knitter or crocheter, one of the most challenging things to figure out is yarn sizes.   What is that number on a yarn label anyway?


Most patterns specify the yarn used by a term such as “worsted” or “lace.”  They may display one of the Craft Yarn Council’s numbers like “4”.   As depicted in the Craft Yarn Council’s www.YarnStandards.com image below, there are eight yarn categories.

Yarn category symbols

Most yarn labels will also display these numbers.

But, what do the numbers mean?  They refer to the thickness of the yarn.  Starting with the finest up to and ending with the thickest.  Also, they have names associated with each number.  Some numbers cover more than one yarn thickness.  With experience, one will soon learn to check the yarn labels for the yardage information for the project yarn.  Therefore, helping you to discern whether it is a light worsted or a heavy worsted.   Remember, the information in this blog and the charts is just a starting point.   Always, it is best to complete a gauge swatch to ensure that you do have the right yarn for your project.  Save time, knit a gauge swatch.

Yarn Weight and Needle/Hook Sizes Chart

yarn weight chart

Symbols Source: Craft Yarn Council’s www.YarnStandards.com/ Chart prepared by Cheryl Moreo of cherylmoreo.com

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The Yarn Weights Explained

0 Lace:

Yarn Types

Fingering or Cobweb Lace:  This is not the same weight as 1 Super Fine.  Truly a laceweight that is cobweb thin.

 

 

 

 

Thread:  Lace yarn includes 10-COUNT crochet thread.

Projects:

Used to make lace, doilies, shawls, and other delicate items.

To achieve an open, light, and lacy design, most lace patterns call for larger needles/hooks than specified in this blog or on the chart.

Other Terms Used for Lace Weight

In the UK, lace weight is called a one-ply yarn.    But, in Australia, lace weight is called two-ply.


1 Super Fine:

Yarn Types

Sock:  As the name implies, this is your go-to yarn for socks. These yarns generally have a synthetic blend of fibers to help ensure long-wearing durability and machine-washability.

However, German sock yarn manufacturers may create their sock yarn in ‘4-fache’ and ‘6-fache’ weights.  A 6-fache thicker yarn is closer to a DK or sport weight. Therefore, remember the term sock weight can include fingering weight yarn as well as DK or sport weight yarn.

Fingering:  Fingering weight yarn is one of the most versatile yarn weights available. Perfect for garments and accessories.  Fingering weight yarns are for projects with a knitting gauge of 7–8 stitches per inch.

Projects:

Create socks, shawls, scarves, and baby items with this yarn category.

Other Terms Used for Super Fine

6-fache is a term that some German yarns use for DK or sport weight. The UK calls fingering yarn 2-ply. Australians call fingering yarn 3-ply.   Sock yarn is three-ply in both the UK and Australia.


2 Fine:

Yarn Types

Sport or Baby:  Heavier than sock yarn.

Projects:

This yarn makes cozy slippers and socks.

Sport weight yarns are slightly heavier than fingering yarns, making them suitable for colorwork, textured stitches, and cabling.  Very good for making Norwegian-style sweaters.

Sport weight yarn works best for items such as sweaters, scarves, shawls, hats, mittens, and baby things.  Also, this is a good yarn for knitting machines.

Other Terms Used for Fine

Fine or sport yarn is four-ply in the UK and five-ply in Australia.


3 Light:

Yarn Types

DK or Light Worsted:  The American term of DK or double-knitting yarn in weight is between sport and worsted weight.

Projects

Nearly every kind of project is suitable for DK weight yarns. The lighter weight of DK yarn makes it ideal for pieces like baby blankets, spring cardigans, shawls, and cowls.

Other Terms for Light Yarn

DK yarn or light worsted yarn is eight-ply in Australia.


4 Medium:

Yarn Types

Worsted/Afghan:  Worsted yarn is thicker than Weights 0-3 but is not chunky or bulky.  It is slightly thicker than DK but is thinner than Chunky.  Worsted yarn is the best selling of all the categories.  Red Heart Super Saver yarn is the most recognizable example of this yarn.

Aran:  Aran weight yarn is slightly larger than worsted weight.  It is sometimes called heavy worsted. (Aran weight yarn and Aran sweaters are not the same things.)

Worsted and Aran aren’t exactly interchangeable.  If you decide to substitute Aran yarn in a pattern, making a gauge swatch is a must.

Worsted weight yarn:

Aran weight yarn:

Sirdar Supersoft Knitting Aran Weight

Projects

Both Worsted and Aran yarn for very versatile.  Use worsted or Aran for sweaters, blankets, hats, scarves, and mittens.  Aran weight is especially perfect for warmer items. 


5 Bulky:

Yarn Types

Also known as chunky or 12-ply weight yarn, this weight has excellent stitch definition. Bulky yarn makes beautiful cables and textured stitches.

 

Projects

Choose a bulky weight yarn for cozy blankets, warm sweaters, or quick-to-finish accessories.


6 Super Bulky:

Yarn Types

Super bulky yarn is a thick yarn that works up quickly.  The super bulky yarn is considered super chunky in the UK and 14 -ply in Australia.

 

Projects

Use this yarn for cowls, scarves, and hats.


7 Jumbo:

Yarn Types

Jumbo/Roving yarn is usually roving.

Projects

Use this category in tapestry weaving and arm knitting.  Blankets and cowls are arm knitted using this roving.