Weighty Issues: How to Interpret Yarn Weight Descriptions

14 September 2022

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One of the most confusing aspects of making textiles from yarn is the way yarn sizes are described. Most yarns are labelled using vague categories like lace, fingering, sport, and so forth, yet that description tells us virtually nothing about the yarn itself. And, even worse, I can sometimes look at three different yarns labelled “worsted” and easily see that they are all different thicknesses. However, there are good reasons for those vague descriptions, and knowing those reasons can help us make better yarn choices.

image description: three different yarns wrapped around a stick; although similar in thickness, they are different in texture
All three of these yarns are labelled worsted weight, but they are all very visually different and they will all work up into different types of cloth.

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All images by Michelle Boyd.

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About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a Master Spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta, located in Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral lands of the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Michelle learned to spin in 1995 when her local yarn shop closed, and she became obsessed with the art and science of making yarn. She has taught workshops across North America and instructed for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for fifteen years. She is also a frequent contributor to both PLY Magazine and Digits & Threads and is currently completing her first book about spinning.

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