Knitting, Storytime, Tutorial

Yarn Weights

So you’re thinking about casting on a new project, or even trying your hand at designing a pattern.  Yarn weight is one of the first things to consider when starting a new project or even buying yarn for your stash.

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Lace Weight

The Basics:

34 sts = 4″ (10 cm) or less
545 yards = 100g (3.5 oz) ball or more
US 1 (2.25mm)

Lace weight is easily one of my favorite weights to work with.  Something about it is so dreamy and substituting a lace weight for other weights is almost always a delight because it knits well on any needle size.  However, lace weight can certainly cause problems in patterns if used inappropriately.

Some examples of when using lace weight might not be the best choice for a project are socks, dishtowels, market bags, felted projects, outer wear, hats (generally), and gloves.  Granted, there are exceptions to everything and if you choose to knit a slip out of lace weight on US 000 needles please send me a photo because it sounds amazing but also something that not many would attempt.

There are some patterns that were written begging for lace weight adaptations.  Some of my favorite projects for lace weight are shawls, sweaters, wraps, cowl, basically anything that you want to be light and airy.  I have knit two sweaters out of lace weight and I love them both because they are perfect for keeping the chill off my shoulders from super cold air conditioners during a hot summer.  A light, lace weight cowl or shawl is perfect for travel because it can bunch up small in a bag, doesn’t add much weight to a bag, but will keep you warm on an airplane or on a road trip.  Besides, who doesn’t love a glamorous silk blend shawl for vacations?

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Fingering Weight

The Basics:

Fingering Weight

28 – 32 sts = 4″ (10 cm)
370 – 460 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 1-3 (2.25mm – 3.25mm)

Sport Weight (aka Heavy Fingering Weight)
24 – 28 sts = 4″ (10 cm)
290 – 360 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
Needle size: 3.25 – 3.75mm (3 – 5US)

Fingering weight yarn is bae.  Any time I travel, I look for some fingering weight yarn that is special and that will be my memento of that trip.  Also known as sock weight, this yarn is super versatile and I have knit hats, shawls, sweaters, socks, cowls, gloves, you name it out of this amazing weight.

However, not all fingering weight is perfect for all projects.  For example, a single ply 100% merino fingering weight is a wonderful yarn for a shawl or sweater, but is a terrible choice for socks.  Socks are better suited for a fingering weight that has multiple plys, some nylon for strength (I don’t want to have to darn my socks after a year or less), and at least 60% wool (I know there are vegan knitters who like cotton, but plant fibers have so little give that I find they stretch and no longer fit, whereas wool is amazingly resilient and will bounce back from wear and tear well).

Substituting fingering weight yarn is great because there is so much selection, but it is important to look at the fiber blend and the ply count.  Take it from me, there are few things more frustrating than knitting a great project and finding a few months later the fiber blend won’t hold up to the wear and tear of the object.

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DK/Sport Weight

The Basics:

22 – 24 sts = 4″ (10 cm)
240 – 280 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 5-6 (3.75mm – 4mm)

DK is my favorite weight for sweaters.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find that a worsted weight sweater is way too warm for me in the winter months when everyone seems to be blasting their heat and fingering weight is just too light to keep off the winter chill.  Do I sound a bit like Goldilocks?

DK weight is also popular with a lot of baby projects.  It is about twice as heavy as fingering weight (in fact, DK stands for double knitting which told knitters to hold two strands of fingering weight to get gauge) but lighter than worsted.  This is ideal for baby projects because they won’t be as heavy as a worsted weight sweater on a small child but you won’t spend ages and ages knitting a fingering weight dress just to have it outgrown in a month or two.  Some ideal projects for DK (other than baby blankets and sweaters) include gloves, hats, and of course cozy sweaters.

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Worsted/Aran Weight

The Basics:

Worsted Weight
19 –  21 sts per 4″ (10 cm)
200 – 250 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 7-8 (4.5mm – 5mm)
Aran Weight (aka Heavy Worsted Weight)
16 – 18 sts = 4″ (10 cm)
170 – 200 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 8-9 (5mm – 5.5mm)

This is the weight that I recommend beginners use!  It is a nice durable weight that is easy to hold and manipulate without being cumbersome.  It is also a perfect weight for many different types of projects, I can find almost any type of project using worsted weight on Ravelry.

I am really drawn to this weight when I am trying to knit with a deadline rather than something lighter.  A standard 100g ball is about 220 yards (201 meters) which is enough for a hat (even for people like my dad with REALLY large heads), meaning that deadline is even more possible with a small project.

But seriously, when I want some mindless knitting that is easy zone-out, or pick-up and set-down projects I always go to something using worsted weight.

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Bulky Weight

The Basics:

Bulky Weight
 11 – 15 sts = 4″ (10 cm)
140 – 170 yards = 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 10-11 (6mm – 8mm)
Super Bulky Weight
10 sts = 4″ (10 cm) or less
120 yards or less per 100 (3.5 oz) ball
US 13 and up (9mm+)
I love the look of chunky knits, don’t you?  I actually get sucked into the Pinterest black hole of bulky knits when there is a hint of fall in the air after a long and hot summer.  Once in a while, I actually knit some accessories inspired by those several lost hours of Pinterest browsing and this weight and up is what I turn to!
The best thing about heavier yarn weights is how quickly they knit up!  Finishing a hat in an evening, a cowl in a day, or a sweater in a weekend is totally possible with these weights.  But as you can see above, a standard ball does not have a lot of yardage so if you are buying for someone else get at least two so they can at least make a cowl.

Roving

Okay, okay this is not technically yarn but it is fiber so…. Let’s chat about it!  Roving is clean, combed fiber for spinning into yarn or needle felting.  But, the aforementioned bulky knits Pinterest hole that I fell down got me thinking about arm knitting with some roving.  I think you would still have to give it a little bit of a twist before knitting so the fibers don’t just catch on everything… more to come on this idea at a later date!

 

Don’t forget to pin this and save it for later!

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2 thoughts on “Yarn Weights”

  1. I love DK weight. I love the way it feels in my hand. I also like that it knits up just a little bit faster than sock yarn. Sock yarn is still bae though. Even if it’s not quite my favorite it’s just so versatile!

    1. I do like that it knits up faster than sock yarn, but I just love the way fingering weight feels; both on the needles and knit up. A perfect example of how knitting is all about personal preferences!

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