Your Go-To Guide on Understanding Yarn Weights - Alpacas of Montana


Your Go-To Guide on Understanding Yarn Weights

  • 4 min read

There are a few types of yarn descriptions in use today:

North American or The Standard Yarn Weight System, Tex, and Metric or English Worsted

North American yarn descriptions are used the most and though they are approximate and less precise than the other two systems, they tend to be more comfortable to use for many involved in the wool crafts.

The numbers will vary somewhat depending on the type of fiber used to make the yarn. The yarn itself may be 2 or more strands also called plies.

The photos below show what we mean by "types" of fibers used. The heavier the fiber the heavier the yarn and it may NOT look to your eye to be a certain weight, but will calculate to the number of yards per pound.


The Standard Yarn Weight System


Categories of yarn, wraps per inch or WPI, gauge ranges, and recommended needle and hook sizes will give you general starting place.

Remember: Many manufacturers have their own standard weights of yarn.

Please note: that a gauge range is difficult to determine, and following the gauge stated in your pattern is the best way to insure success. For instance- One knitter almost always goes down 2 needle sizes from the suggested in the pattern. She is a loose knitter and knows 2 sizes smaller is a good starting point. Learning to gauge saves time and head aches.


A side note: Steel crochet hooks are sized differently from regular crochet hooks—the higher the number, the smaller the hook, which is the reverse of regular hook sizes.


Chunky Is heavier than Bulky, Can be roving
Knitting = 6–11 stitches per 4 inches on an 8 mm or 11 US needle or larger
Crochet = 5 -9 stitches per inch on an 9 mm or M13 US needle or larger

Bulky Weight Less than 8 wraps per inch - 400 to 700 yards per pound
Knitting = 12- 15 stitches per 4 inches on an 5.5 - 8 mm or 9 - 11 US needle
Crochet = 8-11 stitches per inch on an 6.5— 9 mm or K–10 1/2 to M–13 US needle

Aran Weight 6 to 10 wraps per inch - 700 to 1000 yards per pound
Knitting = 16-20 stitches per 4 inches on an 4.5 - 5.5 mm or 7- 9 US needle
Crochet = 11 - 14 stitches per inch on an 5.5 - 6.5 mm or I–9 to K–10 1/2 US needle

Worsted Weight: 10 to 12 wraps per inch - 900 to 1100 yards per pound;
Knitting = 16-20 stitches per 4 inches on an 4.5 - 5.5 mm or 7 - 9 US needle
Crochet = 12 -17 stitches per inch on an 5.5 - 6.5 mm or I–9 to K–10 1/2 US needle

Double Knitting (DK): 12 to 18 wraps per inch - 1000 to 1400 yards per pound;
Knitting = 21 -24 stitches per 4 inches on an 3.75 - 4.5 mm or 5- 7 US needle
Crochet = 11 - 14 stitches per inch on an 4.5- 5.5 mm or 7 to I–9 US needle

Sport Weight: 18 to 24 wraps per inch - 1300 to 1800 yards per pound
Knitting = 23 -26 stitches per 4 inches on an 3.25 - 3.75 mm or 3 - 5 US needle
Crochet = 16 - 20 stitches per inch on an 3.5 - 4.5 mm or E4 - 7 US needle

Fingering:24 to 30 wraps per inch - 1800 to 2400 yards per pound
Knitting = 27 -32 stitches per 4 inches on an 2.25 - 3.25 mm or 1 -3 US needle
Crochet = 21 - 32 stitches per inch on an 2.25 - 3.5 mm or B1- E4 US needle

Baby:30 to 36 wraps per inch - 2400 to 3000 yards per pound;

Lace Weight:36 to 40 wraps per inch - 3000 to 6000 yards per pound
Lace weight yarns are most often knitted or crocheted on larger needles/ hooks to create the lacy patterns.

Cobweb:40 or more wraps per inch - 6000 or more yards per pound; and

Zephyr weight yarn is finer than Cobweb


You will find spinning weights are a bit different due to the many weights

Wraps Per Inch

 What is it and how do you come up with a number?

  • Get yourself a ruler, or buy a WPI measure if you want

  • Take your yarn and wrap the yarn around ruler for 2 inches

  • DO NOT wrap too tightly or too loosely- just a nice even wrap

  • Slide the yarn strands so they are touching- not overlapping

  • Count the number of wraps

  • Divide that number by 2

  • This is your wraps per inch!

Worsted Weight Yarn

Worsted wool is nothing to do with worsted weight yarn. Worsted wool is wool which is carded and then combed so that all the fibers are aligned in a parallel manner. Woolen measure or also called Yorkshire wool is carded only, and then spun to create a loftier yarn. Pencil roving that so many hand spinners use and some knitters with the "cakes" are actually a woolen processed "pre-yarn". Worsted wool is usually very fine and used for suits and fine fabric, many weavers use a worsted yarn. Hand knitting yarn is usually a woolen type yarn or possibly a semi worsted yarn.Occasionally, manufacturers will specify "worsted" or "woolen" which means the method in which the fiber was spun, not the weight of the yarn. Most do not!


Join the alpaca revolution! Alpaca is a sustainable alternative that is not only good for the earth, but for all of us. Alpaca wool is stronger, softer, more eco-friendly, and offers 85% greater wicking capability than merino wool. It is also hypoallergenic! Learn more about the benefits of alpaca in our Alpaca vs. Wool blog posts, shop our collections and follow us on social media

Thank you to Spinderella’s Fiber Mill for the above information


Search Alpacas of Montana