Saturday, 19 May 2012

Techniques: Yarn Weights

Happy Saturday Everyone!!! Techniques Saturday has arrived and today I am going to be chatting about different yarn weights and how you tell the difference, as well as a few tips about each weight. There can also be confusion about different names depending on where you are in the world so hopefully I can sort out a few issues, and sort it out. I'll also talk about recommended needle sizes for the yarn too.

  • Lace/1ply/2ply: This is the smallest weight of yarn, and is normally used for lacy shawls and other lacy projects. It is normally knit on needles smaller than 2.75mm. The picture above shows my one ball of laceweight yarn, it is a pure silk and is so so beautiful I've had it over a year and still cannot use it. I just look at it. Some of you may think I'm nuts but I know most of you do the same thing!!!
  • Fingering/4ply/ Sockweight: This is normally the yarn you would use for socks and some of the lighter weight baby clothes. It is normally knit on 2.75-3.25mm needles 
  • DK(Double Knitting)/8ply: This is probably the most widely produced size for yarn in the UK but not so much in the US. We have probably the most choice in DK here. Below you can see the picture of Patons Trentino and the thickness of the yarn and where on the ball band you can find the recommended needle size. DK is normally around the 4mm needle size. 

  • Aran/Worsted: This is normally knit on 4.5-5.5mm needles and is slightly thicker than DK. Worsted is more common in the US and is normally used for toys like we use DK. The picture below shows Patons Fusion (which I bought on tuesday). This is as popular for all items the same as DK.

  •  Chunky/Bulky: This is a thick yarn normally used for thick jumpers and other big items. I've made big hats and scarves with chunky and it knit up so very quickly!!! Chunky normally knits up on 5.5mm/8mm needles depending on the thickness of the yarn and the project that you are knitting. Below is Rowan Romance, and as you can see, is recommended for 7mm needles. 

  • Super Chunky/Super Bulky: This is very very thick yarn, and knits up so quick you will hardly notice!!! Knit normally on 8mm or larger needles. I have used a variety in the past including Stylecraft Life Super Chunky and I tend to use it for big scarves. The Blattman has a big thick scarf knit in super chunky that always gets stolen first whenever we go out with anyone who needs a scarf!!!
So how can I tell the difference if it is not written on the label? Some lovely yarns don't tell you what weight they are. I can imagine most of you don't have a handy person you can text when you have no clue what it is.  (I do- if she answers her phone!!!) In the shop, you can use the needle size on the ball band. Rowan Romance for example does not tell you on it, just that little clue of the needles. 
If you have a random ball in your stash (we all do) which has in fact lost its ball band to that place where odd socks live, then how do you do it then? Well you use a wraps per inch tool, and count those wraps. I know you are all looking at me like I am nuts!! 

This is a wraps per inch tool care of Purlesence and it is in the shape of a Llama- what more could you want!!! Well what you do is you take your yarn, wrap it around the body of the llama, or stick if you have that version, count the amount of wraps and then see how many you have. Simple as that. You can also use a big needle or a ruler to check this out too. Beneath is a general rule about how many wraps it takes.

4ply- 14 Wraps
DK- 11 wraps
Aran- 8 wraps
Bulky- 7 wraps

Well, I hope this has been useful to you, comment with your ideas or things you want to know too!! Have a great day!

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