Welcome to our 4th installment of How To Read A Crochet Pattern, I am pleased to introduce to you Kirsten Holloway of Kirsten Holloway Designs, she is our guest contributor today. Kirsten will give us an explanation of yarn weights and how they are used in patterns. She will also touch a on, how to read the yarn label to get the information you need, to work with that particular yarn.
Watch Your Weight! Yarn Weights Explained for the New Crocheter
If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite places to spend time (besides sitting on my couch surrounded by piles of cozy yarn goodness) is in the yarn aisle of local craft stores or yarn shops. The different colors and textures are able to provide so much inspiration, but if you don’t know what you’re looking at, or for, it can also be overwhelming. The intent of this article is to introduce you to the common yarn weights that you’ll come across whether shopping at your local craft store, or online, and list a few things that each weight is often used for. These weights of yarn commonly include fiber made from various wools, acrylic, cotton, bamboo or silk. Please note: The garment suggestions are not hard and fast rules though, so if you want to make socks out of worsted weight yarn instead of super fine weight, there’s nothing to say you can’t.
Most yarn from craft stores comes in skeins, but it can also come in cakes, and hanks depending on the brand. You may find certain yarn from your LYS (local yarn store) doesn’t have as much in the way of weight information as yarn from “Big Box” stores like JoAnn’s, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, but don’t let that deter you! The clerk can be very helpful in answering any questions you have before you purchase. Some shops will even wind the hanks into cakes before you leave so they are easier to work with.
The picture above is an example of a hank of yarn I picked up a couple of years ago. It has gauging information which should help me figure out what weight it is, but no number. I’d put it around a thicker #4 worsted if I had to eyeball it.
To begin, yarn is broken down into 7 categories, each with its own number. You can locate this number on the back of most labels, written on a small picture of a skein of yarn, right next to recommended hook/needle size or care instructions.
Here is an example:
#1 = Super Fine:
Super fine yarn is also known as fingering weight. It’s typically used for socks, baby garments, or other projects where the fabric created needs to be thin and flexible.
#2 = Fine:
Fine yarn is also called “Sport weight”. It is less common in the US, but can still be found online on websites like KnitPicks. Use this yarn for light weight hats, baby items, shawls or other garments and accessories.
#3 = Light:
Light yarn can also be referred to as “DK weight”. The initials “DK” stand for “double knitting”, but you don’t have to stick to creating double-sided/reversible fabric with it! Light yarn can be good for an assortment of baby items including garments, and blankets, as well as hats, shawls, and sweaters for all ages.
#4 = Worsted:
This medium weight yarn is the most common type of yarn that you’ll see many US-based designers use in their patterns. It’s readily available from most local craft stores, and is good for a wide variety of projects from hats, scarves, and mittens to afghans, ponchos, and amigurimi (stuffed toys). Worsted yarn is very close in size to “aran weight” which is widely available over in Europe.
#5 = Bulky:
Bulky yarn is also often referred to as “chunky” yarn. Many designers use this for winter hats, cowls and ponchos because of how warm items made with this yarn tend to be.
#6 = Super Bulky:
Super bulky yarn is very thick, but also includes some novelty yarns like Red Heart Boutique “Sashay” , or Red Heart Boutique “Sassy Fabric”. Projects made with this yarn work up quickly and usually require at least a 9 or 10 mm hook.
#7 = Jumbo:
Jumbo yarn includes some of the biggest, thickest, and most luxurious yarn out there. If you love arm-knitting, or enormously thick blankets (and have the enormously large budget to match), this is the weight for you. Home décor and accessories using this yarn can often be made in under an hour. It can also include novelty fur or pom-pom yarns.
A note on crochet thread
Crochet thread is in its own category, and not covered in-depth in this article. Thread is most commonly used in doilies, table cloths, edgings, and for making fine lace wedding accessories. The most common size is #10, but #20 and #30 are still available in some craft stores. The larger the number, the smaller the thread.
Yarn weights and gauge
Most yarns have a recommended hook size on the label, right next to the weight symbol. You do not need to stick to this recommendation. Instead, if a designer calls for a 6.5mm hook on a #4 worsted weight yarn whose label recommends using a 5.5mm, stick with the designers requirements and follow their gauge instructions, otherwise your garment may not fit correctly. When in doubt always go with the designers gauging information (This and the yarn weight should be included at the beginning of a pattern). You may have to adjust your hook size up or down to match this, but believe me when I say you will save so much time if you take a few minutes to do this step before beginning a project.
Tools to help you figure out yarn weights
Sometimes the label will come off of an old skein of yarn, or you’ll find some beautiful “mystery yarn” at the thrift store, and you won’t know what weight it is. This can be problematic if, for instance, you start making a hat with an unidentified #3 and the pattern calls for a #4. To avoid ending up with a garment that is too small, and having to frog* the whole thing, these links will show you how to determine yarn weights through a process called “wraps per inch” or “WPI”, and provide some additional ways of figuring out the yarn weight if you don’t have a chart or WPI tool handy.
I hope this helps you out, and makes your next trip to the yarn shop a more enjoyable experience! For more fun patterns, and crochet business advice, you can visit me at my site, Kirsten Holloway Designs or on
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Ravelry.
*The reason why ripping out a project is called “frogging” is because the term “rip it” sounds like “ribbit” which is what a frog says (unless, of course, your frogs take after Michigan J. Frog, then they sing “Hello! Ma Baby…”, but I digress).
Lol, thank you very much Kirsten for this information, it is very informative and interesting! Next week we will learn about Yarn Substitutions from Josephine Kush of JosephineKush.com. I look forward to seeing you then. ❤ Novella <><