I love DK weight yarn, plain or full of colour this weight of yarn seems to knit up so quickly, but at the same time looks great. On the podcast I’m going to look at yarn weights, the differences and how you can work out what that random skein without a label really is. I will talk about the different terminology used in different parts of the world and how you can use a tool called ‘wpi’ to work out your yarn weight. On another podcast I will go into how you can work out the content of that Unknown yarn.
So what is wpi and how do I use it?
Wpi stands for wraps per inch. The simplest way to explain this is to show you, so I’m going to post some pictures here, but I’ll also talk about it on the next episode of the Knatters Knits podcast on YouTube too.
Quite simply, it means how many times can I fit this yarn into one inch if I line up the yarn next to itself. You can do this with a ruler or a specialised tool.
So once the yarn is wrapped round your ruler, you see this:
The idea is that you don’t squeeze it tight, or squish it, but you count the number of times it went onto the inch section. The yarn is my Handspun and I got 14 wraps onto the section here. I know because I do this a lot, that 14 wpi makes this yarn a DK weight yarn, my standard, natural spinning ‘default’. My rule of thumb I use is as follows:
30+ wpi = lace weight
19-22 wpi = fingering weight
15-18 wpi = sport weight
12-14 wpi = DK weight
9-11 wpi = worsted weight
8-10 wpi = Aran weight
7-8 wpi = bulky / chunky
<6 wpi = super bulky
International naming of weights
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a lot of confusion over naming the different weights of yarn? In the UK we have 1 ply, 2 ply, 3 ply, 4 ply, DK, Aran, Chunky and Super Chunky.
Since the advent of Ravelry and the sharing of knitting practice, we now see USA and Australian terminology as often as we see our own.
In USA the terminology is different: lace weight, fingering, sock,msport, DK/light worsted, worsted, bulky and super bulky.
In Australia: 2 ply, 3 ply, 5 ply, 8 ply, 10 ply, 12 ply and 14 ply.
As a spinner the most logical terminology to me is the Australian. Ply to me means one thin strand of fibre that has been spun, hence the current trend for ‘singles’ at the moment, a single string of yarn. If you plied (twisted together) two strands that would be a 2 ply and so on and so on. So in theory if you took 14 standard strands and twisted them together, what you’d end up with would be super bulky.
I’m naughty because I tend to use a mixture of terminologies. I think that a lot of people do these days. So going back to the wpi makes sense because you can work out how thick a project is etc. In traditional circles, it would also dictate which needles you use. I know some knitters who always use a 4 MM. needle on DK for example. One of the things I have learned though, is that your needle size dictates what sort of fabric you get from your knitting, and doing a swatch before knitting is a ‘must’ if I want to get a pattern to fit me, as my knitting gauge / tension is not necessarily the same as the person who designed the pattern and to get ‘gauge’ may mean that I need to alter the size of needle to get my work to come out the same size as the designers did. I will talk a bout gauge another time.
Clear as mud? Why not watch the podcast to see if that helps.