how do i test yarn weight


How Do I Test Yarn Weight

Yarn weight plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of your knitting or crochet project. Whether you are a seasoned yarn enthusiast or a beginner exploring the world of fiber crafts, understanding yarn weight is essential. It influences everything from the drape and texture of your finished piece to the size of the knitting needles or crochet hooks you should use. However, determining the weight of a yarn can sometimes be a tricky task. In this article, we will explore different methods to test yarn weight and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about your projects.

The Importance of Yarn Weight

Before we delve into testing yarn weight, it is important to understand why it matters. Yarn weight refers to the thickness or diameter of the yarn strand. Each weight category corresponds to a specific range of thickness, which helps you determine the most suitable projects for a particular yarn. From delicate lace shawls made with fine yarns to cozy thick blankets created with chunky yarns, each weight offers different possibilities.

Determining the yarn weight provides valuable information for your project planning. It helps you select an appropriate pattern, estimate the amount of yarn you will need, and choose the correct tools. Additionally, understanding yarn weight allows you to substitute yarns in patterns, enabling you to experiment and create unique pieces. Now, let's explore the various methods to test yarn weight accurately.

Visual Comparison

One of the simplest ways to determine yarn weight is through visual comparison. Start by examining the yarn in question and compare it to known samples or standard yarn weight categories. While this method requires a trained eye and some experience, it can be quite reliable once you become familiar with different yarn weights.

To begin, collect a range of yarns with known weights. You can either purchase commercially labeled yarn or yarn from your stash with clear weight information. Common weight categories include lace, fingering, sport, DK (double knitting), worsted, bulky, and super bulky. Line up the yarns side by side and observe their thickness, plies, and overall appearance.

When comparing yarns, pay attention to the following characteristics:

- Thickness: Observe the diameter of the yarn strand. Thicker yarns are generally heavier.

- Weight categories: Compare the yarn in question to the known weight categories. Look for similarities in thickness and overall visual appearance.

- Plies: Count the number of plies or strands that make up the yarn. Generally, thicker yarns have fewer plies.

Through visual comparison, you can get a rough idea of the yarn weight. However, keep in mind that this method has limitations, especially when dealing with yarns that fall in between standard weight categories. For more precise results, additional tests are necessary.

Wraps per Inch

The wraps per inch (WPI) method provides a more objective measurement of yarn weight. This technique involves wrapping the yarn around a ruler or any object with a known circumference and counting the number of wraps within an inch. By comparing this measurement to known standards, you can determine the approximate yarn weight.

To perform the wraps per inch test, follow these steps:

1. Select a ruler, knitting needle, or any object with a known circumference. Make sure it is at least 1 inch wide.

2. Hold the yarn close to the ruler and begin wrapping it around the ruler parallel to the inch markings.

3. Take care not to overlap the yarn or stretch it tightly. The wraps should be snug but not compressed.

4. Count the number of wraps made in a single inch of the ruler.

5. Compare the number of wraps to established standards or a yarn weight guide.

For instance, if you count 18 wraps per inch, your yarn could be classified as a DK or double knitting weight. If you record 8 wraps per inch, it might correspond to a bulky or chunky weight yarn. By matching the number of wraps to known yarn weights, you can gain a good estimate of the yarn's weight category.

It is important to note that the wraps per inch method requires consistent tension and accuracy. If the wraps are too loose or too tight, it may affect the final measurement. Furthermore, different fiber content and texture can influence the accuracy of this test, so it's essential to consider multiple factors when determining the yarn weight.

Weight or Mass Measurement

For a more precise approach, measuring the weight or mass of a specific length of yarn can provide accurate results. This method requires a scale capable of measuring small weights, such as a kitchen or postal scale. By weighing a known length of yarn, you can calculate the weight per unit of length, which helps identify the yarn weight.

To measure the weight of the yarn, follow these steps:

1. Identify a known length for measurement, such as 1 yard or 1 meter. Ensure the length is consistent throughout your testing.

2. Cut the predetermined length of yarn.

3. Place the yarn on the scale and record the weight in grams or ounces.

4. Calculate the weight per unit length by dividing the recorded weight by the known length.

For example, if you measure 1 yard of yarn and it weighs 25 grams, you can conclude that the yarn weighs 25 grams per yard. By referring to a yarn weight guide or comparing it to known standards, you can determine the yarn category.

Measuring the weight of the yarn provides accurate results and eliminates any subjectivity associated with visual or wraps per inch tests. However, it requires access to a precise scale capable of measuring lightweight objects. This method is especially useful when you have partial skeins or unidentified yarns in your stash.

Yarn Label Information

The most straightforward way to determine yarn weight is by referring to the label attached to the skein. Yarn manufacturers generally provide detailed information about the yarn weight, including the recommended gauge, needle or hook size, and the category (lace, fingering, sport, etc.). If the label is intact and legible, you can rely on the information provided.

To understand yarn label information, pay attention to the following details:

- Weight category: Look for direct mentions of the weight category or the yarn type (e.g., sport, fingering, worsted).

- Gauge: The recommended gauge indicates the ideal number of stitches and rows per inch of the knitted or crocheted fabric. It provides insight into the thickness and drape of the yarn.

- Needle or hook size: The label suggests the appropriate needle or hook size for the best results. It correlates with the yarn thickness and ensures the desired texture and drape.

- Yarn length and weight: The label displays the skein's length and weight, helping you estimate the yardage required for your project.

If the label does not provide specific information, it may require additional testing to determine the yarn weight accurately. However, in most cases, the label serves as a reliable source of information and eliminates the need for further testing.


Determining yarn weight is an essential skill for any yarn enthusiast. It allows you to make informed decisions about your projects and ensures the desired outcome. In this article, we explored several methods to test yarn weight accurately.

Visual comparison involves observing the thickness, plies, and appearance of the yarn, comparing it to known standards. The wraps per inch method provides a more objective measurement by counting the number of wraps in an inch of yarn. Measuring the weight or mass of a known length of yarn offers precise results, requiring access to a scale. Finally, referring to the yarn label provides valuable information for determining the yarn weight.

By mastering these methods, you can confidently select the most suitable yarn for your projects, substitute yarns in patterns, and deepen your understanding of the fiber crafts world. Whether you're a knitter or a crocheter, the ability to test yarn weight opens up endless creative possibilities. So, grab your yarn, experiment with different weights, and let your imagination run wild. Happy crafting!


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