What are Yarn Weights?

What are Yarn Weights?

Welcome to Yarn Basics, a special blog series where we discuss the basics of yarn, knitting, and crochet! For our first blog, we will be learning about yarn weights!

What are yarn weights?

“Yarn weight” refers to the thickness of the yarn used by knitters, weavers, crocheters, and other fiber artists. Yarn ranges from very thin to very thick. 



What are the different yarn weights?

There are a lot of terms used for yarn weights.

-Some people refer to yarn weight using the numbers 0 – 7 where 0 is Lace and 7 is Jumbo. This series of numbers was developed by the Craft Yarn Council (CYC) to standardize yarn weights.

-Others may refer to yarn weights using the ply count (such as 3-ply, 4-ply, 5-ply). This is seen mostly in Australia & Europe or with older yarns.

-A third way to measure yarn weight uses stitch counts (like 5 stitches to the inch =worsted weight, or meters per 100 grams, for example, 400 meters of a 100-gram skein is fingering weight).

-Additionally, you can also measure yarn in “wraps per inch”. To determine "wraps per inch", wrap the yarn around a knitting needle not tightly yet with no gaps and measure the number of wraps in an inch. For example, DK weight yarns will be 11-15 wpi, while Chunky is 6-8 wpi. This method is best when a weight is in doubt.

Here at Balzac, we refer to yarn weights by their names, like Sock, Sport, or Aran. There can be an overlap of yarns from one category to another, as these are standardizations. Every brand is a little bit different with the yardage in association to the weights so read the pattern and the yarn band carefully.


What are the 8 categories of yarn weight?

Balzac uses the (mostly) common names of the 8 categories of yarn weights: Lace, Sock & Fingering, Sport, DK, Worsted & Aran, Chunky, Bulky, and Super Bulky. These weights are based on the gauge of the yarn, and how it knits up.


Lace Weight 

Lace weight yarn is the thinnest yarn weight. Because it is so thin, it produces an extremely fine gauge and creates a very light and airy fabric which is perfect for light shawls, wraps, and other delicate projects. Lace weight yarn is usually knitted or crocheted on larger needles and hooks to create lacy openwork patterns. Mohair or suri lace is frequently carried with another lace or fingering to create a halo. Some examples of lace yarns are Sensai, Gima, and Shio.



Smallest recommended needle size: US 0 (2mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: B (0.75mm)

WPI 30-40 or more

Lace weight yarns are 600 or more meters (660 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).


Sock & Fingering Weight

There’s a lot of overlap between Sock weight and Fingering weight. We see them as mostly interchangeable, with the difference being that Sock frequently has nylon and/or a tighter ply than fingering, but not always. Every brand is slightly different.


Sock weight yarn, also known as light fingering yarn, is the second thinnest yarn weight, used mainly for socks and sometimes referred to baby weight for making items for infants. Sock yarn usually has a slightly tighter ply than fingering and includes nylon, giving it greater durability. Some examples of sock yarns are KnittinBro sock, tot sock 100Shirsty Cat sparkle sock, and Twisted sock by Asylum Fibers.



Smallest recommended needle size: US 0 (2.0mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: B (2.25mm)

WPI 20-30

Sock weight yarns can be 450-600 meters (495-660 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), again, every brand is slightly different.


Fingering weight yarn is one of the most versatile yarn weights available. Perfect for garments and accessories, there are so many different patterns that use fingering weight yarn. Some examples of fingering yarns are: Uneek Fingering, Concentric Cotton, and River Silk by Tributary Yarns



Smallest recommended needle size: US 0 (2.0mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: B (2.25mm)

WPI 14-24

Fingering weight yarns are about 350-450 meters (385-495 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).


Sport Yarn Weight

Sport yarn weight is the 4th thinnest yarn weight, and just slightly thinner than DK yarn. If you have a yarn pattern that requires DK yarn, you can sometimes substitute with sport weight (adjusting needle size may be required). Some examples of sport yarns are:  Ambiente, TwigLlamerino, and Hana by Ito.



Smallest recommended needle size: US 3 (3.25mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: D (3.25mm)

WPI 12-18

Sport weight yarns are generally 250-350 meters (275-385 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).


DK Yarn weight

DK originally stood for “double knitting” and is terrific for baby blankets, spring cardigans, shawls, and cowls. Some examples of DK yarns are: Rimu DK by Zelana, Sparkle DK by Asylum Fibers, Monokrom cotton DK, and AlexCreates Ombre Cakes.



Smallest recommended needle size: US 5 (3.5mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: E (3.5mm)

WPI 11-15

DK yarns are approximately 200-250 meters (220-275 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz)


Worsted & Aran Weight

Worsted weight yarn is a medium weight yarn. It is also one of the most commonly used yarn weights. It is just slightly thicker than DK weight yarn. This makes it a great choice for sweaters, afghans, accessories, and more. Some of our favorite Worsted weight yarns include Respect by Wool Addicts, Sesame, and Millefiori.




Aran weight yarn is slightly thicker than Worsted weight, making it wonderful for situations when you need a slightly heavier, sturdier weight yarn but still want to make a piece that looks delicate!

Some examples of Aran yarns are: Serpentina, Fourteen, Sunshine by Wool Addicts, and SimpliWorsted Spray.



Smallest recommended needle size: US 6 (4mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: H (5mm)

WPI 9-12

Worsted yarns are approximately 120-200 meters (132-220 yards) per 100 grams 3.5 oz).


Chunky Yarn Weight

Chunky yarn is great for knitting with larger needles, and is wonderful for thicker sweaters, scarves, and also afghans, rugs, and art pieces. An example of Chunky yarns are Tui by Zealana.


Smallest recommended needle size: US 9 (5.5mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: K (6.5mm)

WPI 6-8

Chunky yarns are 100-130 meters (110-143 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).


Bulky Yarn Weight

Bulky yarn is the second to thickest yarn. Bulky weight yarn is ideal for thicker items like cozy blankets, warm sweaters, and quick to finish accessories. Some examples of Bulky yarns are Fire by Wool Addicts, Mohair so Soft, and Big Cotton by Loopy Mango.  



Smallest recommended needle size: US 11 (8.0mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: M (9.0mm)

WPI 5-6

Bulky yarns are less than 100 meters (<100 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).

Super Bulky Yarn Weight

Super bulky yarn, or “roving” yarn is the thickest yarn. Examples of Super Bulky yarns are Merino No 5, Macro, and Yana



Smallest recommended needle size: US 19 (12.75mm)

Smallest recommended Hook Size: P/Q (15mm)

WPI less than 1

Roving is generally less 100 meters (<100 yards) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).


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