I recently took a Spring Break vacation to Steamboat Springs, CO and was happy to check out a LYS called Sew Steamboat. I’m proud to report that my oldest daughter has caught the knitting bug and was getting into colorwork – great! I had to remind her, though, that getting the same yarn weight was just as important as getting the color right. I also picked up some Rambouillet Lopi from Lonesome Stone in Mighty Fine Pine for myself. The adorable Sarah E. White from about.com explains in this post about yarn weights, which can be confusing. Remember that you can search for patterns on Ravelry by yarn weight as well, which is something I’ve done when I’ve inherited some yarn and don’t quite know what to do with it.
You can view the original article here or follow the link at the bottom of this post as well.
When you go into a yarn shop or crafts store, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices. Which yarn is right for your project? Most people stick to the exact type (and even the color!) of yarn suggested in the pattern, but that’s not much fun.
It’s also not necessary as long as you understand something about yarn weights.
Yarn weight refers to the thickness of the yarn. It’s a range, from super fine to super bulky. There are six different categories of yarn weights, and according to the Craft Yarn Council of America, specific weights of yarn should produce a somewhat predictable number of stitches when using a particular sized needle.
The higher the number, the heavier the yarn and the fewer stitches per inch you will get.
This is where knitting gets fun. If you know that every bulky yarn is going to give you around the same number of stitches (in this case, 12 to 15 stitches in four inches on size 9 to 11 needles) and you have a pattern that uses bulky yarn and size 10 needles, you can buy any kind of bulky yarn and get a similar result.
It is, of course, essential that you knit up a gauge swatch before you start work on a project that involves sizing, because not all yarns of a certain weight are exactly the same. The difference between 12 stitches per four inches and 15 stitches is still pretty huge when you’re trying to make a sweater fit.
Most yarn manufacturers make it easy for you to determine the weight of a particular yarn. Many of the mass-produced yarns use the yarn standards ranking system and will have the number and weight printed right on the label.
Other manufacturers don’t make it as easy, but they should have a gauge statement that will say something like “24 stitches and 22 rows per four inches on size four needles.” If you know a little bit about yarn weights (which you will when you consult the chart below) you’ll know that the yarn in question is sport weight.
Source: Yarn Standards