A quick guide to yarn weights

Author: Janine  Date Posted:21 June 2024 

A quick guide to yarn weights

So, you’ve found that sweater pattern that you love. How exciting! Now all you need is some worsted weight yarn. Wait what?! Worsted weight? What does that even mean?

If you live in Australia, New Zealand or the UK, chances are you’ve grown up using terms such as 2ply, 4ply, 8ply and 10ply to describe the weight of yarns. As the world grew smaller thanks to the web and social media, alternate ways of naming the weight of yarns have become more common.

Websites such as Ravelry and Etsy have us contemplating the likes of fingering, sport and DK weight yarns and the like. Yikes!

It’s not helped by the fact that actually when we talk about yarn weight such as worsted weight or 10ply, we’re not actually taking about the weight of the yarn at all – but rather its thickness.

Before you toss it all in the ‘too hard’ basket, take a look at the table below for a quick comparison.  The yarn weights can be fairly comfortably grouped (remembering there are light and heavy versions of yarn and gauge is always your ‘go-to’). I’ve also added the symbols used by the Craft Council of America that are generally accepted as a universal guide to yarn size. You may see these symbols on yarn labels as well as some patterns.


Yarn weights guide

UK, Australia & NZ

Rest of the World

Craft Council of America

2 – 3ply

Lace / Light fingering weight


Fingering / Sock / Baby weight


Sport weight


DK (Double Knitting) / Light Worsted weight


Worsted / Aran weight


Bulky / Chunky weight


Super Bulky / Super Chunky weight

16ply +

Jumbo / Roving weight


On pattern websites such as Ravelry, often the pattern details will list both weights making it just that little bit easier…

Here’s some of our favourite yarns at Skein Sisters in their weight (thickness) group. Many of the yarns include a version of their weight in the yarn name.

Fingering weight/ 4ply yarns include:

Skein Sisters Fabulous Sock, Skein Sisters Romance Merino/Silk, Life in the Long Grass Moon Sock, Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, Bellissimo 4, Peppin 4, BC Garn Bio Shetland, Prestige Yarns Fiori Sock, Bellissimo Airlie, Fiddlesticks Posie, Fiddlesticks Harlequin etc

Just a note of the use of the term ‘sock’ – socks are traditionally knitted in fingering weight / 4ply yarn that includes nylon or some additional fibre such as mohair, to give the yarn structure and adding strength and resistance to rubbing, as socks are prone to do in shoes – especially at the heels and toes. However, some yarns are described as sock yarns referring to their weight (thickness) rather than composition. Hence not all yarns labelled as ‘sock’ may be suitable for making socks.

Take a look at fingering weight /4ply yarns

Sport weight / 5ply yarns include:

Spincycle Dyed in the Wool, Malabrigo Arroyo, Madelinetosh Pashmino, BC Garn Semilla GOTS

Take a look at sport weight / 5ply yarns

DK weight / 8ply yarns include:

Skein Sisters Joyful DK, Bellissimo 8, Bellissimo Lucca, Fiddlesticks Wren, Peppin 8, Fibra Natura Papyrus and Fiddlesticks Marble

Take a look at DK / 8ply yarns

Worsted weight / 10ply yarns include:

Malabrigo Rios, Madelinetosh Vintage, Spincycle Dream State,  Fiddlesticks Grange 10, Peppin 10, Bellissimo Linden and Fiddlesticks Finch

Take a look at worsted/aran weight / 10ply yarns

Bulky & Chunky / 12ply – 14ply yarns include:

Pepping 14, Fiddlesticks Grange 14, Prestige Yarns Fiori Grande, Spinning Yarns Weaving Tales Donegal Chunky

Take a look at Bulky & Chunky / 12ply - 14ply yarns

Finally, a key point of difference in the rest of the world is that the use of the word ‘plies’ refers to the number of single strands twisted (or plied) together to create a yarn. The number of strands and the direction of the twist can have a profound influence on the look and behaviour of the yarn when knitted or crocheted and is worth investigating. But let’s save that discussion for another day.



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