Don’t let the name fool you – yarn weight has nothing to do with how heavy a skein of yarn is. Instead, yarn weights refer to the thickness of an individual strand of yarn. Understanding yarn weights is crucial to growing as a crocheter. Enjoy this quick guide to finding a yarn’s weight and choosing the right yarn for your upcoming project!
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What are Yarn Weights?
The weight of a yarn plays a big part in choosing it for your next crochet project. Yarn weights refer to the thickness of the yarn strand. You can typically find this information on the yarn label based on a standard symbol.
Most yarns fall into one of these categories based on their thickness. You can then use this information to determine what projects a yarn might be useful for and what size hook to use. Adjusting the hook size up or down will alter the gauge of the stitched fabric, making it stiffer or adding drape.
Yarn Substitutions, Simplified
Most crochet patterns list the specific yarn used or the yarn weight. When substituting yarns, look for a yarn of similar weight. You may be tempted to just pick another yarn with the same symbol, but don’t be fooled! Not all yarns in the same category can be substituted for one another. You’ll achieve an even closer substitute if you try to match the total yardage per grams.
For example, WeCrochet’s Wool of the Andes Worsted has 110 yards per 50g skein. But what if you’re allergic to wool? Try WeCrochet’s Brava Worsted, which has 218 yards per 100g skein (which is equal to 109 yards per 50g). These yarns have nearly identical yardage by weight. We can confidently assume that this substitution will achieve a similar gauge.
This is a very simplified way to substitute yarns within your projects and works most of the time. If you want to get more specific with your substitutions, looks for similarities in weight AND fiber. Learn more about the most popular yarn fibers in this post!
3 Ways to Determine Yarn Weight
Now that you know how important yarn weight is, how do you find it? There are three ways to figure it out:
- Manufacturer’s Label. Most yarn brands found in big box craft stores have adopted the standard system for yarn weights mentioned above. You will find the symbol on the label corresponding to a yarn’s weight. The higher the number, the heavier (thicker) the yarn.
- Wraps Per Inch. Let’s say you have a skein of yarn with no label, and you’re trying to determine the weight. You can identify the wraps per inch. Wrap your yarn around a pencil or a yarn gauge tool to determine how many times you can wrap the yarn within the span of an inch. Compare that number to a wraps per inch gauge (below) to get an approximate yarn weight.
- Weight By Yardage. Some specialty yarns may not offer the standard yarn weight on the label. Get an accurate determination of yarn weight based on the yardage. Each yarn weight has a yardage range per 20g, 50g, or 100g skein. This range can be used regardless of yarn type and is often more accurate than the label. This is my personal favorite way to determine yarn weight, and I refer to a helpful page from The Crafty Jackalope.
Standard Yarn Weights
Now that we have an idea of the yarn weights themselves, let’s dive a little deeper into each category, exploring some common crochet projects in those weights and yarns from today’s post sponsor – WeCrochet.
PERSONAL NOTE: One of the biggest misconceptions in the yarn world is that crochet should be limited to only certain yarn weights – typically worsted or heavier. I call bologna, and you should too! Crochet hooks come in every size, from teeny steel hooks to massive hooks that look like rolling pins. You can use any yarn your heart desires if there is a hook to match (which there is!). Experiment with yarns in different weights to find your personal preferences for different projects. Pay close attention to your hand health and posture, though! Very heavy or very light yarns can exacerbate the sensitivities in your joints.
Yarn Weight Chart
A yarn weight chart aims to standardize the vast majority of yarns into easily identifiable categories. I especially like this chart, as it offers crochet hook recommendations as well as some project and yarn ideas.
This standard chart is a great way to look at yarns and makes it way easier to communicate a yarn’s characteristics. But remember that actual yarn weights vary greatly between and within categories. Use this chart as a guide, but consider making a gauge swatch as well. What’s a gauge swatch? I thought you’d never ask!
Yarns By Weight
// 0 – Lace Weight (aka Ultra Fine or Crochet Thread)
Lace weight yarn is incredibly thin, making it an ideal choice for lacy crochet doilies and heirlooms. But laceweight yarn can be versatile if you have the patience. These yarns come in many fibers and are ideal for precious garments and large shawls. You can also hold it double with another yarn or with itself to make it more substantial.
// 1 – Fingering Weight (aka Super Fine, Baby, or Sock)
Fingering weight yarn is slightly heavier than lace weight and becoming more popular with crocheters. Though still tricky to find in big box stores, it’s a favorite weight among indie dyers, and it’s becoming more accessible from yarn sellers online. Consider this thin yarn for garments that need drape without added warmth. Fingering weight yarn is also commonly used for socks and colorwork.
Yarns: Kenyarn Aurora Fingering and random mini skeins
// 2 – Sport Weight (aka Fine or Baby)
A classic option for baby blankets and wearables, sport weight yarn has a comfortable lightness without being too thin. Sport weight is often overlooked for more popular weights, which is a shame. Consider sport for projects that need a bit more heft than fingering-weight yarn but can still benefit from the lighter fabric. Blankets, clothing, and amigurumi (crochet toys) would all benefit from a sport weight yarn.
// 3 – DK Weight (aka Light or Light Worsted)
The term DK or “double knitting” refers to the weight of DK yarn, which is roughly 2 strands of fingering weight yarn held together. To me, DK weight yarn is like the Goldilocks of yarn weights. You get so many benefits in the perfect amount – great drape, fast stitching, lots of color and fiber options, and this weight works well for just about any type of project in any season. I love it for temperature blankets, clothing, and fall accessories.
// 4 – Worsted Weight (aka Medium, Afghan, or Aran)
Worsted weight yarn is the most popular among beginner crocheters because it’s easy to find in most craft stores and it’s the ideal weight to practice seeing your stitches. Beyond the beginning stages, use worsted weight yarn for just about anything from accessories to blankets, home decor, amigurumi and more.
Aran weight yarn is lumped into Category 4 but is actually considered a heavy worsted. These yarns have the same benefits as worsted weight yarn with a bit less yardage in the skein.
// 5 – Bulky Weight (aka Chunky or Rug)
Bulky weight yarns are beloved by crocheters because they work up quickly into useable baskets, blankets, hats + scarves, and even garments. The array of fibers used in bulky weight yarns is growing, so don’t shy away from unfamiliar plant or animal fibers – give everything a try! Look for bulky weight yarns in big box stores and from your favorite online retailers.
// 6 – Super Bulky (aka Roving or Super Chunky)
Super bulky weight yarns are thick and often used for heavy blankets, sturdy baskets, and extra warm gloves and scarves. If you’re an impatient stitcher, super bulky weight yarn is the best choice to work up a project fast. Also consider this yarn weight for last-minute gifts and craft show inventory.
Roving refers to a thick single ply of yarn like the Tuff Puff in the photo. While roving is often quite thick, you can find single-ply yarn in any weight.
// 7 – Jumbo Weight
Jumbo weight yarn is in a category all its own. This super thick yarn grew in popularity as boutique yarn companies started presenting jumbo sized roving yarn as part of their signature look. The Craft Yarn Council recently added roving yarn to their standard weight system. As such, other classic yarn companies have explored the possibilities of this comically colossal yarn. Consider using it for arm crochet, blankets, pillows, and anything else you want to see HUGE.
Yarns: Lion Brand Wool-Ease WOW!
So many factors go into choosing the right yarn for your crochet projects, with yarn weight being a huge part of the decision. With all your new knowledge about yarn weights and their uses, what weight do you want to explore?
Look for new-to-you yarn weights and fibers and pick up a skein as they go on sale. This will go a long way in helping you determine your preferred weights for your favorite projects. Need some guidance on where to find these great yarns? Learn about 10 of my favorite places to buy yarn online!