Purl Avenue
Yarn Weights

Yarn Weights

The term yarn weights does not describe the actual weight of a ball or skein of yarn but instead, refers to the thickness of the strand of yarn. The size of the knitting needles used will depend on the weight because – unless a different effect is intended – fine yarns will require smaller stitches and thicker yarns will require larger ones. A needle that is too large for a lace-weight yarn, for example, will produce loose stitches and in turn, will make the fabric more transparent.

The names for different weights of yarn are not always consistent, or consistent between spinners, and not all yarns that are described as a specific weight will be exactly the same in thickness. However, there are some widely recognized weights, and most commercially available yarns fall into one of them.

The chart below shows common yarn weights and categories. All data are approximate due to differences in yarn characteristics and knitting tension.

Symbol Name Gauge (4in/10cm) WPI (Wraps Per Inch) Ply Recommended Needle Size
lace Thread  000-1 US
1.5-2.25 mm
lace Cobweb 1 ply  000-1 US
1.5-2.25 mm
lace Lace 32-34 stitches 2 ply 000-1 US
1.5-2.25 mm
lace Light Fingering 32 stitches 3 ply 000-1 US
1.5-2.25 mm
super fine Fingering 28 stitches 14 wpi 4 ply 1-3 US
2.25-3.25 mm
fine Sport 24-26 stitches 12 wpi 5 ply 3-5 US
3.25-3.75 mm
light DK 22 stitches 11 wpi 8 ply 5-7 US
3.75-4.5 mm
medium Worsted 20 stitches 9 wpi 10 ply  7-9 US
4.5-5.5 mm
medium Aran 18 stitches 8 wpi 10 ply  7-9 US
4.5-5.5 mm
bulky Bulky 14-15 stitches 7 wpi 12 ply 9-11 US
5.5-8 mm
super bulky Super Bulky 8-12 stitches 5-6 wpi 11 or larger US
8 mm or larger

For more information, visit yarnstandards.com and craftyyarncouncil.com.