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.
Yarns: Aloft Super Kid Mohair and Curio #10 Thread
// 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.
Yarns: Wool of the Andes Sport and Andean Treasure
// 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.
Yarns: City Tweed DK and CotLin
// 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.
Yarns: Dishie, City Tweed Aran, and Snuggle Puff
// 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.
Yarns: Billow and Wonderfluff
// 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.
Yarns: WeCrochet Tuff Puff and Lion Brand Go For Faux
// 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!
Learn Even More!
There’s still more to learn about yarn! Check out these articles: How to Read Yarn Labels, Why Crochet Gauge is So Important, and Yarns Every Beginner Should Try.
I had never heard of a yarn weight gauge or the wrap test! Very useful!
Molly Lofstrom says
This was so fabulously helpful!! Thank you Toni!
Caroline Edink says
my current favorite DK & Aran yarns are Megaball DK/Aran from Hobbii… I love the way it works and the amount of yarn in a single ball (1200meters for DK, 700meters for Aran)… even though those are relatively expensive per ball, when compared to other acrylic yarns it’s actually less expensive because there’s so much on a single ball… plus they have this wonderful 40-colour range… (the only downside is that, if you want to collect every single colour of both yarns, you end up with 80 of these huge balls which require a lot of storage space…)… but they’re absolutely wonderful if you have a crochet company like me: I made these swatch-cards and ppl can pick colours and see them in real-time because I have them all… if they order a blanket and come to visit to pick colours I just show them the spare bedroom where all designs and yarns are… after some time I turn up with tea or coffee and usually they don’t even notice I’ve turned up they’re so engrossed in everything that’s there
Thanks Toni for another great informative post. I’m glad to see more crocheters being encouraged to use the lighter weight yarns.
Thank you for this post Toni! I’m loving the crochet academy content! I’ve never worked with anything below sport weight. I’m definitely going to try to incorporate lighter weight yarn into my projects! Xxx
Great info. Can’t wait to get started on my project, the Joan granny sweater.
Thank you Toni, this is pretty interesting and informative. I appreciate all you are doing here.
Ok, you have officially solved the yarn substitution problem I had earlier this year! Subbed out something that I thought was in the same weight and ended up being short. Thank you for solving my crochet problems, as always!
Thank you for this information! I had no idea how to compare yarns. Much appreciated! I think I’m going to start my own folder with information that I can refer to 😁 Cheers to learning and organization!
LEAH READY says
Thanks Toni for all this info! I have been crocheting for 50+ years, but have recently learned that there is so much I still have to learn!
Thank you Toni for this post. I have to admit as a somewhat seasoned crocheter that I’ve been confused on yarn weight and substitutions but no more. Thanks again!
Thank you Toni! I just read the first 2 academy postings and want to say that they are both so very informative and well written. This is going to be fun!
Fascinating. Yarn weights are the opposite of sewing thread weights. With sewing thread the higher the number the thinner the thread.
Very informative! I like the detail you go into to show the difference in yarn weight and how to find the correct substitute. This will become even handier as we explore new patterns.
Thank you for the info I had no idea to compare yardage but makes sense.
Great post! Now I can better substitute yarns after learning about yards per gram (I had no idea). Thanks for this!
This is great information. I live in an area with very limited places to shop for yarn so I’ve always been hesitant to buy online – not knowing exactly what the yarn was like. This will make it easier to take the plunge!
Thank you Toni,
You gave a lot of great information here.
Please keep this post up for future reference.
Thanks and Keep sharing information.
The tip about comparing total weights of a skein for substituting yarn is so helpful. That was completely new to me.
Constance S. says
Thank you Toni for offering this information. I’d tried countless times to watch different videos on YouTube but what I really need is to get the basics down. So far I did pick up the ultimate Crochet Bible and I’ve been going through it. Looking forward to other sessions.
Great information! Thank you for sharing such detailed notes. 😉
Very informative Toni. I always wondered the difference between the 50 gm and 100 gm. Duh but I needed it spelled out to me. I have been crocheting since 2014 as I was undergoing chemo for Ovarian cancer. It got me through and I have quite a stash of yarn built up ready for me to crochet!
Loving Crochet Academy, Long ago I made a ripple afghan from I kit I got for Christmas. I finished it but got distracted with other things
and am so excited to revisit crochet, and become adept in this craft.
Love your videos and that you are so generous to share.
I am learning so much!!!!!
This was super helpful. I always see names like DK and worsted but never really understood them.
Love this post. I am always curious about substituting one yarn for another. I see your example but I still don’t understand how one came be used for another with over 100 yard and 50g difference. Other then that loved learning about the uses of all the different sizes.
Toni L. says
Hi Estelle – I’m happy to clarify a bit. Let’s say the pattern calls for a yarn that originally had 100 yards to 50 grams. And you’re considering using yarn that has 200 yards in 100 grams. You can assume these will be a suitable exchange since the original yarn has 100y/50g, which would be the same as 200y/100g. It’s a bit of simple multiplication.
Very helpful information! The wraps per inch will come in handy over the next few days…my aunt gifted me some yarn that I’m trying to organize, but a lot of it isn’t labeled. I’m off to measure some yarn and read about crochet gauge!
Thank you!!!!! So informative and i learned so much!! I have been crocheting off and on since i was 7, i am 53, and now i feel like i can up my game!!!
I have my eyes on that DK weight (tweed) to finally create with a little drape + and Super Bulky Tuff Puff (to experience less splitting and make something bulkier).
I’m full of math giddiness with the charts, explanations, and variety of ways to determine yarn weight!
This is so fun and nice to look forward to! Excited to learn more.
I love the organized and thoughtful way that the information is presented. It is informative but not overwhelming. Thank you, Toni!
Such great info! This and the link to the Crafty Jackalope really cleared up a lot of confusion I was having. Some yarn labels are way off and this helps me find the truth!
I totally agree that we don’t have to be restricted to using one type of yarn for crochet. Yarn, thread, cording, string I’ve crocheted with it all. The information in this post will help me be more successful substituting yarn especially for making wearables.
Rachel F says
Thank you for this Toni. I have been crocheting a good while but I find all of this incredibly informative. I plan on following along the entire time (if time allows).
Also, welcome to Michigan! I’ve lived here my whole life.
I’ve been crocheting for many years (self-taught), but using the yardage-per-grams for substitutions was new to me! I always just used the weight symbol and visual “look” of the strand size. Busted the old-dog & new-tricks adage… no more eyeballing substitutions. Thanks!
Thank you for all this information! Also must add that your videos are very helpful and interesting. I so appreciate you putting the camera close to see what and where.
Also, I received my Yarn for my kits but no patterns. Did I do something wrong?
Toni L. says
Hi Anne! I ‘m so glad that you’re enjoying Crochet Academy 🙂 There should be links to your kit patterns in the order confirmation your received from Lion Brand. If you don’t find it in that email, please contact their customer service.
Yarn subbing has always been so confusing! Thank you so much for clearing this up. I haven’t crocheted in years but I’m really excited to get back in to it and learn some new things.
I’m a big fan of DK weight yarn due to the reason you listed especially with drape in garments and so much variety in big box stores, on-line and with indie dyers. There is something for everyone budget. I want nice yarn but I don’t necessarily want or need to spend $100 making a to.
I’ve just recently started using weights outside worsted and chunky. I do like the feel of a fingering for a cowl or shawl. I’m looking forward to exploring others, though, with this new knowledge. I truly never thought that hard about yarn before. It’s amazing all the varieties
Love the substitution section of this post. Every day is a learning day!! Thanks for helping me learn something new today.
I think I’ll pick up a couple of skeins or hanks of a lighter weight yarn when I see a sale and give it a try. I usually stick with a size 3 lightweight or larger. Have already learned a few things in just two days! Thanks Toni!
Excellent information Toni! Thank you so much for making learning more about yarn fun!! Look forward to more !
You are much appreciated ❤️
This was very informative..i was confused when shops would ask me what type of fiber did I want. I just wanted fiber to make a blanket
Next wS how much do you need..daaa
I will reread this until I understand it
I’ll have to learn more about this Wraps Per Inch. technique, as I’m using very often yarn recycled by frogging sweaters from a thrift shops and have no other actual information about it, instead the kind of material.
Hi Toni! Thank you for today’s post 🙂
I follow you from Italy and here we don’t use the yarn weights system at all, on the yarn label it’s just indicated the recommended crochet hook for that yarn and that’s all😂 So your post it’s quite perfect form me cause it helped me to understand all those terms like “bulky” or “aran” or “fingering” that I always hear about in tutorials or social media, now they all make sense!
Thank u again
thank you for this post. I have learned a lot from it. I am also very happy that Lion Brand also ships to Belgium. The only problem I have now is that I can’t choose which project to buy. Find them all beautiful ❤️
Thank you for the chart, specially the crochet hooks because in some videos the maker says that they are using a hook with a letter and I had no idea because, here, the hooks and just by numbers.
This is such a comprehensive post! <3
Also, lovely to see Woolwarehouse get a mention – they are my first stop for affordable yarns here in the UK. Their staff are super helpful and kind too!
I’m a big fan of a good worsted yarn because the smaller weights tend to hurt my hands. But as a newbie I’ve been learning the hard way that not all yarns in a weight are the same. Thanks for sharing the wrap test! I think I’ll also look into working with a strand or two of some of the lighter weights to add some pizazz to my makes in the future!
This was just wonderful. I have been wondering how to make yarn substations and this has totally cleared up my worries. I have been crocheting for a will but I am always learning new things. I have been afraid to do a lot of yarn shopping online but I am so grateful for the new yarn stores and I will give them a try. I have scanned a couple of them before but was too afraid to shop, not anymore. Thank you Thank you Thank you
Wow, I really learned a lot today (it is wednesday here in Sweden now, I fall behind one day because of the timedifference 🙂 )! So interesting learning about how to switch types of yarn! I will have a lot of use in that when it´s time to make the big project at the end of CA, since the shipping cost from Lion Brand is a bit pricey where I live!
Thank U, looking forward for tonights post,
Toni this is proving quite helpful. I am busy taking lots of notes to learn about yarn weight, size and fiber content. Thank you
Thank you Toni! This was so helpful I just love how you explain things. So easy to understand 🙂
Toni, thank you for the link to the crafty jackalope. I never realized there was a standardized yardage range for 100 and 50 gram skeins/balls. This is going to be so helpful. I always learn something new with you!
Angela Martin-Sampson says
Thank you Toni for making yarn selecting less confusing!
Where do I find the earlier posts from this week? I just signed up today. Thanks.
Toni L. says
Hi! All Crochet Academy posts are linked in this blog post.
Thanks for really breaking it down !!!
Jessica H says
Love love love this post. I’ve been crocheting for 5 years now and I still learned a bunch. I’m going to get into some dk weight projects I think. I tried the Bernat BIG yarn with a 25mm hook and it is so fun.
Thank you, Toni!
Great post! Substituting yarns by matching total yardage per gram is genius. My days of hoping for the best when substituting are over!
I love the chart that shows the yarn weights with the types and pics of how the yarn thickness looks. Very handy. Such good info. I’m loving this academy! Thanks so much Toni.
Ack! So good! I needed this resource when I was restarting my crochet journey! I’m so glad it exists now!!!
Pat O. says
Thanks Toni. I did not know how to do the Wraps Per Inch techinique….. and now I do. Great Lesson.
Class is awesome! I’m taking plenty of notes. Thanks.
Lenea Shaver says
This has been great so far, I am wanting to do the cover up for the project but they are all sold out. If I substitute yarn using all of this information 🙂 will the pattern be available to purchase at some point?
Toni L. says
Hi! Lion Brand just added Beige and Tan back to the shop, so you can check out the colors currently in stock. You can use Truboo as a substitute, as well as Lion Brand’s Cotton Bamboo.
Thank you 1000 times. Im loving the class. Just ordered a yarn guage.
Momma Gwen says
I’ve been crafting forever. But an old person can be refreshed. This is absolutely refreshing. 👍🏾🤎
Great information! Any tips on yarn combinations? I think I saw you combine mohair and another yarn in a video before, and I’ve been interested in that ever since.
Toni L. says
Absolutely! My tip is to try EVERYTHING. You never know how gorgeous a combo will be until you try it. I find I have more success when combining thinner yarns (a lace with a fingering, or 2 fingering, or a lace with a DK, etc.). Once the stitches get too chunky, you lose some of the effect.
Nancy F says
Great video tutorial on how to do a gauge swatch! And the info about making yarn substitutions will be so helpful going forward. I’m so glad that I joined this workshop. I’m learning a lot!
So excited to be doing the Crochet Academy. I taught myself to knit a couple of years ago and thought that’s it, I am good; no need to learn to crochet, but then I saw your Tunisian Crochet tutorial shortly after and spent all night one-night learning to do that. So once again, I thought I am good; two crafts were enough; however, Toni, you seem to have other plans for me as I have become enthralled by your videos and patterns and cannot help myself (also, I am making the gingham baby blanket for a friend and its border is crocheted so need to pick up that skill).
I have a question about yarn substitutions: do you recommend using the yard/gr as the basis or using the standard category (e.g., 4 worsted, 5 Bulky, etc.) first and then the yard/gr within that category? For example, if I have a yarn that is 110yrd/50g Category 4 and I want to sub for a different brand or fiber, am I looking for another Cat. 4 with the same 110yrd/50g or just any 110yrd/50g regardless of Category. (I am sure people are reading this going, well, that could never happen as you wouldn’t get that yard/gr in any other category)
Toni L. says
Great question here. I am a fan of going straight for the yardage, then the fiber. Comparing the yardage is going to give you a more accurate swap. Hope that answers your question 🙂
Katrina Daniels says
I love fingering but I’m starting to understand the joy of DK. I saved the chart as well.