A Simple Guide to Yarn Weights

Buying yarn can be a tangly business. Especially if you fancy swapping out the yarn in your pattern for a yummier one. What exactly does DK mean, after all? And why does nobody say ‘worsted’ in the UK?

The most important thing in identifying a yarn thickness is the needle size you’ll be using. This determines how many stitches per inch you need for your pattern to fit you when you’ve finished (the tension information on a pattern will tell you this).

Don’t have your hands tied by needle size recommendations on a yarn label or in a pattern though – you can change them if your tension doesn’t match. And that’s nothing you’re doing wrong, either – every knitter works slightly differently and can change knitting styles with different fibres and needles.

There are terms and basic rules to keep an eye out for, though. And we’ve laid them all out in this comprehensive chart:

Yes, the UK and US do use slightly different terms for their yarns (Americans prefer to call an aran-thickness yarn ‘worsted’ for instance and the term DK is generally only used in the UK). But more importantly, our needles are all labelled differently too.

If you’ve inherited a haul of knitting needles from a charity shop or an elderly relative, chances are that you’ll have a whole plethora of interesting numbers in there. For old UK sized needles, remember that the larger the number, the smaller the needles will be. And keep hold of our chart for an easy conversion guide.