Yarn or thread for knitting, crocheting or other crafts comes in a variety of weights. This has reference to the way the yarn is constructed, rather than to the physical weight of the skein. A skein is a looped bundle of yarn which needs to be wound into a ball before use, or it can be a pull-skein, a bundle designed to be used directly from the skein.
A chart of yarn weights is provided by the Craft Yarn Council. Let’s take a look at them, from the very finest to the thickest.
Different Yarn Weights
|Yarn type||Gauge – probable stockinette knitting stitches per 4 inches||U.S sizes –Recommended needle or hook size||Likely projects|
|Fingering, crochet thread — 0||33 – 40||000 – 1 knitting needles; 6,7,8 crochet hooks||Lace, super-fine stockings, gloves|
|Baby fingering, sock — 1||27-32||1-3 knitting needles; B-1-E-4 crochet hooks||Stockings, gloves, baby clothing|
|Sport yarn, baby yarn — 2||23-26||3-5 knitting needles; E-4 to 7||Bulky socks, mittens, stocking caps, baby clothing|
|DK (double knitting), Light Worsted — 3||21-24 stitches||5-7 knitting needles; 7 to I-9 crochet hooks.||Mittens, stocking caps, heavy outerwear for baby or young children, fine shell and cardigan sets – any age.|
|Worsted, Afghan, Aran –4||16-20||7-9 knitting needles; I-9 to K 10 ½ crochet hooks||Cable sweaters, rugs, afghans, throws, potholders|
|Bulky, craft, rug yarn — 5||12-15||9-12 knitting needles; K10/2-13 ½ crochet hooks||Rugs, potholders, general craft projects|
|Super Bulky, roving||7-11||11-17 Knitting needles; M-13 – Q Crochet hooks||Rugs, trim, braiding|
|Jumbo, roving||6 stitches or fewer||17 and larger knitting needles; Q and larger crochet hooks||Rugs, trim, braiding|
Some Yarn Terms
Fibers are parallel when spun
Spun from rolags, where the fibers are twisted – tend to be more soft and elastic than worsted, but can be used interchangeably in projects – just don’t mix them because they will not work the same.
A heavy yarn, often used for rugs, potholders, and similar bulky projects. Often made from cotton.
Some weights of yarn can be used interchangeably, such as worsted #4 or Aran. It is usually best not to mix types of yarn in a single project. In fact, it is a good idea not to mix brands of yarn, since each company is likely to have a slightly different gauge and weight.
As a rule of thumb, you want very fine yarn for stockings, gloves and baby clothes that will touch baby’s skin. Soft synthetics will do nicely since wool has tiny barbs that can trigger allergic reactions.
The next size up, sport weight yarn, sometimes called baby sport or just baby, is fine for mittens, baby’s outerwear, older child and adult sweaters. Worsted yarns, size 3 and 4 are great for heavy, cable knit sweaters, sweater coats, throws, and afghans. As noted above Aran and Afghan yarns are about the same weight. Aran makes a fine, heavy duty sweater, Afghan is often used in throws.
Different types of fibers might be used in each of the weights. These will make a difference to your project. Consider your yarn carefully. If you are going to expend the time to make a project, the project is worth using the best yarn you can afford.