Welcome back! Today I want to talk about yarn weights, by which I mean thicknesses (as opposed to pounds). You might remember from yesterday’s post that your label will tell you what weight your yarn is. But what do those terms and numbers mean? I’m going to enlighten you right now.
Size 0 is also called lace, fingering, or thread weight. As you might guess from its first name, it is often used for creating airy, lacy knits. I have never personally used yarn this small; I tend to mostly knit sweaters, which require thicker yarn for warmth.
Size 1 also has a few different names. You might hear it called “sock,” “fingering,” or “baby.” This is the yarn you use for knitting socks if you want them to fit inside your shoes. It’s also a really nice feeling yarn for shawls and baby blankets.
Size 2 is called Sport or Baby yarn. It’s a little thicker than sock yarn, but used for a lot of the same types of projects.
Size 3 is called DK, which is short for “double knitting.” I’m not entirely sure why it’s called that, because double knitting is a technique also; perhaps double knitting works best with this weight of yarn. I’m not sure, though. DK weight yarn is suitable for just about any project. I’ve used it for numerous sweaters and shawls.
These are the yarn sizes I work with the most. This picture shows the differences between sizes 2, 3, and 4.
Size 4 is called worsted in the United States and Aran in much of the rest of the world. This is the yarn you’ll get if you buy it anywhere that’s not a yarn-specific store (JoAnn, Michael’s, the craft section at Walmart, etc). It’s the “standard” yarn and is great for warm sweaters, Afghans, and more.
Size 5 is the beginning of the really thick yarns. Commonly called chunky or bulky, it’s good for a quick blanket (thicker yarn means bigger stitches, which means your project goes faster).
6 and 7 are very similar to 5, just a bit bigger.
For a nice printable on yarn thicknesses, visit this post at Moogly.
Now that we’ve discussed thicknesses and ideas for projects in different yarn weights, I want to briefly mention how yarns get to be different thicknesses. This is done by twisting strands of spun yarn together. The fewer the strands, the thinner the yarn. Size 0 yarn uses 1-3 strands, while size 7 can use in excess of 16 strands. Understanding those numbers, it’s easy to see how and why the thicknesses are so different!