Yarn weight – what does it mean anyway? A guide

Yarn weight – he ain’t heavy, he’s just bulky.

Why do knitters throw their weight around – ahem, throw the term “yarn weight” around – and assume that beginners understand what it means?

Dear newbies, think of it this way.

Yarn weight refers to the THICKNESS of the yarn.

When a shop owner advises you, as a beginner, to start with a “worsted weight” yarn, she is referring to a yarn with medium thickness.

(Fun fact! The word “worsted” comes from the Middle English wurstede. Smooth, medium-weight yarn was first produced in what is now Worstead, England.)

Some yarn companies (especially “mainstream” companies like JoAnn’s and Michael’s) will use a numbering system to indicate yarn weight.

Download the Yarn Weight Cheat Sheet

yarn weight 0 laceLook for this symbol on the yarn packaging. Some patterns use this symbol as well. However, mostly you will have to read the pattern to determine what weight yarn to use.

“Lace” weight is the thinnest, skinniest yarn. When using laceweight and skinny needles (sized 1 and smaller) you can make something ridiculously tiny like this:

tiny sweater using yarn weight 0 lace
I mean, really. How cute.

yarn weight symbol 6 super bulkyOn the bulky end of the spectrum is 6 – Super Bulky (and, with the advent of arm knitting, 7 – Jumbo is increasingly commonplace.)


Super bulky yarns, combined with thick needles the size of bottle rockets, give you a chunky squishy result like this:

knit blanket super bulky yarn weight example
ColorwaysGallery, etsy.com, $168

Everything in between is a matter of learning the lingo. Be sure to download our free cheat sheet for the details!

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