A Buyer’s Guide for Knitting Yarn: Types, Weights, and How to Pick It

Given the rainbow of yarn options, how do you choose which yarn to use for your upcoming knitting project? Look no further.

Which kind of yarn is ideal for beginners?

The majority of new knitters will start with thick wool yarn and big knitting needles. Although novelty yarns can be challenging to work with, the type of yarn has little impact on how difficult knitting is. Wool is a cheap, easily worked-with yarn that is readily available.

You can begin as a beginner with easy knitting patterns and the designer-recommended yarn. You can start experimenting with yarn substitutions after trying a few patterns to see how various fiber types feel when knitted with.

What is yarn?

Wool, mohair, and angora are animal fibers frequently used to make yarn. Plant fibers like cotton, hemp, and silk are also frequently used to make yarn (polyester, nylon, rayon). The entangled fibers are spun into thicker strands and are referred to as plies. 

Weight Categories

The drape, stitch definition, and general feel of the yarn are affected by the number of plies (for instance, single-ply vs. two-ply yarn). The following categories are taken into account with the ply count:

Category 0: Lace (Approximately equal to 1 ply).

Cotton fingering yarn is the lightest weight for making doilies and other exquisite lace designs. Treat it gently as a result to prevent tangling or breaking.

Categories 1–3: Super Fine, Fine, and Light (Approximately equal to 2-5 ply).

This is appropriate for small items like socks, gloves, hats, or clothing for babies and kids. Cast carefully both on and off. Particularly fine yarn is frequently referred to as “sport weight.”

Category 4: Medium (Approximately equivalent to 8–10 ply).

Because it offers excellent stitch definition in sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens, this weight, also known as “worsted,” is preferred by knitters of all skill levels. Knitted in this weight of traditional Afghan yarn, Aran yarn, chunky stitches can increase the fiber’s warmth.

Categories 5 and 6: Bulky and Super Bulky (Approximately equivalent to 12-14 ply).

On large needles, this material weight produces quick projects. Think about thick blankets, throws, and scarves. Both novice and experienced knitters who want to make something special with novel yarn can use this kind of yarn— Knit with big, loose stitches to get the most loft. Uneven knits and poor stitch definition will result from unevenly spun yarn, such as boucle, chenille, or slubby yarn.

Identifying the Label

The label for each yarn contains information about the fiber content, weight, quantity, care recommendations, recommended needle size, gauge, and dye-lot number. To learn more about this, click here.

Fiber Content

It is a term used to describe the yarn’s composition. 5% alpaca, 5% cashmere, and 90% merino wool.


The yarn’s overall thickness is commonly expressed in wraps per inch (WPI). Additionally important is the ply count, which can range from the lightest to the heaviest weights (usually between 1-ply and 14-ply). These symbols currently influence how the categories are divided in the United States.


The yarn’s overall length is in yards and ounces.

Dye-lot Number 

It indicates the yarn’s color. Make sure the numbers line up when making multiple purchases. Even if two balls of yarn appear to be the same color, the final knitted item will show a slight difference.

Care Guidelines

The washing and drying instructions for your knitted item are provided in this section.

Recommended needle and yarn gauge

The number of stitches and rows worked determines the yarn gauge. 

What Yarn to Choose for Your Project

Choose the yarn most appropriate for your project. Frequently, the recommended yarn weight and needle size can be found in the instructions. Use the recommended yarn or an exact substitute because changing the yarn can significantly impact the pattern’s final results.


Think about whether you want your knitted item to be machine washable before you start knitting it from your design. Is it meant to keep you warm during the winter or cool during the summer? What is the size and shape of the item? Winter mittens made of hardy merino wool are a good choice, and a loopy rosette scarf made of opulent mohair is luxuriously soft. Your ability to design the ideal knitted item is entirely up to you.

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