What the Yarn? Know Your Yarn Weights
What are yarn weights? When I first learned to crochet, I had a book that talked a little about the thickness of yarn, or yarn weights. It also showed me how to read a yarn label, and for that I’m thankful. Reading a yarn label will tell you exactly what yarn weight you have in your hand, the recommended hook size, how many yards of yarn and what the fiber content is. In this post, I’ll stick to talking the different about yarn weights.
For a while, I stuck to crocheting worsted weight yarn, which meant my projects were somewhat limited in their overall effect especially since I was mostly using the same acrylic yarn. But it did allow me to learn a wide of range of skills, so I’ve no regrets.
On the back of your yarn’s label you have noticed a symbol with a number on it. That number is referring to yarn weight. Some people are only comfortable with the number, but that number is only one way of knowing the thickness of your yarn. Conversations with local yarn shop owners tend to go smoother (I found) if you are familiar with more than just the number as the words “worsted” or “double knit” will tell give them some idea of what you are looking for if you don’t have a pattern along with you. Now, then…
Your grandma might have made beautiful lace doilies, and she would have done that with a lace weight yarn. Or, what is also called crochet thread. You’ll likely not use this weight unless you are into crocheting dainty doilies. Look for this symbol:
Next, is the super fine weight, and you’ll likely use this to make very light weight shawls or even socks. This weight of yarn is more commonly (in my experience) referred to as fingering weight. Look for this symbol:
I can’t remember ever working with a fine weight yarn, but it is also called sport and sometimes baby. Honestly, I’ve never heard anyone refer to a yarn weight as “baby” but you might so know that is fine. Look for this symbol:
Here is where things get tricky. Light weight yarn is referred to double knit (DK) and is a light worsted weight yarn. I have also seen it listed as sport. So I have no idea what is going on there. Perhaps they are in error, or perhaps some use the term for both weights. Traditionally however, DK should be thicker than fine weighted yarn. You’ll likely use a DK yarn for light weight sweaters, shawls and possibly fingerless gloves. Look for this symbol:
Worsted weight (listed as medium though I’ve never heard anyone use that term) is very commonly used and is perfect for making all kinds of wearables and items for the home. It is also sometimes called aran. You generally can’t go wrong with a worsted weight yarn. Look for this symbol:
Now, we get into thicker yarns and the first of those is what is called bulky (sometimes chunky) weight yarn. You’ll love these for hats and thick winter scarves. I’ve seen the terms rug and craft used, but never heard a soul say this, so I’d stick to bulky or chunky. Look for this symbol:
Next is super bulky and again, you’ll use this for thick scarves or even blankets. This could also be referred to roving, though I personally think of roving as type of yarn, not a weight of yarn. Look for this symbol:
Finally, we have jumbo weighted again, again sometimes called roving, just to be confusing I imagine. If you want to hook up a blanket quick, I’d say this is the yarn for you. Look for this symbol:
Why the Fuss?
Are you wondering why yarn weights are important? Mostly it’s important to order to obtain the proper tension and gauge. I am the type of crafter that never tends to worry about that too much, but I am also starting to see that this is more important than I used to think. *Blush.* But also, I think it’s important as yarn weights will affect the overall look of your project, and your pocket book.
Think of this way. If you want to crochet a throw, it might be more cost effective to use a super bulky yarn than a worsted yarn. The thicker the yarn, the quicker it works up (which means you’ll have a completed piece sooner rather than later) and the thicker the yarn the greater the area it will cover. At least, that’s my experience.
On the other hand, if you want a throw that will really show off your stitches, you might to stick to a worsted weight yarn as your stitches will have greater definition. Of course, this will mean the throw will take you longer to complete, and will require more skeins of yarn.
Interested in finding out more about yarn weights, or other industry standards? Check out the Craft Yarn Council. They have lots of info to share!
Now that you know more about yarn weights, my advice to you is to start working with a weight that is outside of your comfort zone. For me, that was fingering yarn. At first, I was all thumbs, but with practice I am now comfortable working with all weights of yarn–just not crochet thread. Not yet anyway. Though I do indeed to seriously tackle it one day!