Browsing articles tagged with " Yarn"
Jan 18, 2016

Loom FAQs: What Yarn Is The Best Value?







Money has been on my mind lately.  Or rather the lack of it in my life.  I know I am not alone in that.  What with the Powerball jackpot at a record high, the U.S. 1894-S Barber dime selling for almost $2 million, and bills needing to be paid, it’s not a wonder that money is always on everyone’s minds.

Unfortunately, the love of all our lives is not free.  No…  Not talking about Adam Levine or Idris Elba.  Yarn.  Yes.  Yarn.  THAT love of our lives.  How do we know we are getting a great deal if it’s not on clearance?

You have a pattern you want to make.  Don’t want to buy the yarn used in the pattern because it cost way too much.  You are on a yarn budget.  Oh the horror!  Oh!  Here is a yarn that is rather inexpensive per skein/ball!  Wait…  It doesn’t have as much yardage as this other that cost more.  Hmmm…  How do you know that you are getting the best deal with your money?  On just hold on a minute…  Was math just mentioned?  Well not yet technically.  But yes.  It’s math lesson #3.  Now I have mentioned it.

For all of you who claim you have yet to use algebra as an adult, you are wrong again.  Here is more algebra all explained step by step to help you compare yarn prices so you too can get the best deal for that next project.

Yarn selections:

Here are 2 examples of yarn for your next project.

Let’s say the project needs 1100 yards of yarn.

First selection of yarn cost $6.99 per ball and has 150 yards per ball.

Second selection of yarn cost $12.99 (WHOA!) and has 400 yards per ball.

Let’s see which is cheaper for this project.

How do I compare yarn by price per yard?

You only need 3 things to calculate this.  The price of the yarn and the number of yards/meters in the ball.  Yes that’s just 2.  The 3rd thing is the calculator.  Lucky calculators are included on smart phones.  Or you can download one.  Hang on to that calculator.  You will need it later…

All you do is divide the price by the number of yards.  Huh?  Ok, I will break it down for you.

Each letter will represent something.

A = the price of the ball of yarn

B = number of yards or meters in the ball

C = the answer

The equation is as follows:

A / B = C

What does / mean?

/ is the symbol used for divide.

Example:  Lets calculate using the first yarn which cost $6.99 and has 150 yards.  How much is the yarn per yard?

A = the price or 6.99

B = number of yards or 150

Let’s put those numbers into our equation.

6.99 / 150 = .0466

This yarn costs $0.05 per yard.

But the second selection of yarn cost $12.99 but has 400 yards.  Is it cheaper than the first we calculated?  Let’s see.

A = 12.99

B = 400

Using the equation above

12.99 / 400 = .0324

The second yarn cost $0.03 per yard.

The second yarn is cheaper per yard than the first.  Therefore you will need to buy less of the second than the first.

How many balls do I need to buy?

Going by the example, the pattern calls for 1100 yards.  You will just need to divide the amount of yarn needed by the number of yards in the ball.  For this equation, we will use

D = number of yards needed for the pattern

E = number of yards in the ball of yarn you will use

F = number of balls of yarn needed

Now for the equation

D / E = F

Same equation.  Different numbers for a different answer.

Let’s do both examples from before.

The first had 150 yards per ball.

D = number of yards needed or 1100

E = number yards in ball or 150

1100 / 150 = 7.33

Since the answer is over 7, you will need to buy 8 balls in order to have enough.

For the second, it has 400 yards

D = 1100

E = 400

1100 / 400 = 2.75

So you will need to buy only 3 balls of the second yarn.

Which is the better deal?

I suspect you already know which is the better deal, but let’s discuss why.

To see how much total you spend, you will just multiple the cost of the ball by the number of balls.

G = cost per ball

H = number of balls

J = total cost of the yarn for the project

The equation (x means to multiply)

G x H = J

For the first yarn,

G = 6.99 cost per ball

H = 8 balls needed

6.99 x 8 = 55.92

The first yarn will cost you $55.92 for this project.

Now for the second yarn.

G = 12.99

H = 3

12.99 x 3 = 38.97

The second yarn will cost you a total of $38.97.

Wait…  What??

Even though the first yarn was cheaper per ball, the second yarn is the cheaper for the entire project.  You will save $16.97 by buying the more expensive yarn.

What have we learned from this little lesson other than math is still confusing and what on earth did she mean by that??  Hopefully we have learned that just because some yarns cost more than others, we save money by buying the more expensive yarn because it has more yards.  Some don’t.  Some do.  Just be sure to check that label for the yardage before ignoring a pricier yarn.  And never leave your calculator at home!

Never have an empty loom and Happy Knitting!!


  • Thank you for this information! Most of us need some helpful tips!

  • Thank you for the formulas or is that formulae? I forgot my Latin too.

  • Not all costs of WOOL yarn can be calculated simply with math. I own sheep and in no way can I compete with cheap overseas yarn, I’m not talking about the quality of the yarn, but the costs to produce it. I raise and shear my sheep humanely, the hay farmer and shearer make a living wage, and the environment is not negatively impacted. So, my yarn costs twice that from Peru etc. Not complaining (well maybe a little) just trying to shed a little light on the issue. Dye dumped in rivers, shearers that can’t feed their children, and sheep that are mishandled produce wool for 5 bucks a skein.

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Mar 16, 2015

Loom FAQS: What is WPI and Yarn Weights?



The one thing all yarn arts have in common is the yarn itself.  And what a variety of yarn there is!  All the different weights or thicknesses of yarn can be overwhelming.  It can be confusing as to what can be made with certain weight yarns if you have never used it before.  Questions always abound when it comes to yarn weights.  What is yarn weight?  Which weight yarn do I use?  How many strands do I use to equal a heavier weight?  Is 4ply and worsted the same?  What in the world is WPI???

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is yarn weight?

Well first of all, yarn weight has nothing to do with the net weight of the hank, skein, or ball of yarn.  It has nothing to do with the yardage either.  When yarn weight is discussed, it is referring to the thickness or diameter of the yarn.

Here in the USA, yarn is labeled by a number system to differentiate between the different thicknesses of yarn although there are other terms or common names associated with those weights as well.  The yarn weight can be found on the label of the yarn.  It is a symbol of a yarn skein or ball with a number on the label like this one.


Not all yarns will have this since it depends on where the company is actually located.

Yarn weight is actually determined by the wraps per inch or WPI instead of the actual diameter of the yarn.

What is WPI?

WPI stands for Wraps Per Inch.  You can easily determine the weight of “mystery” yarn you have in your stash that has lost its label, handspun yarn you either spun yourself or bought, or mill ends by counting how many wraps are in an inch.  There are different ways you can do this.  You can buy a WPI tool or just use a pencil and use a ruler to measure.  Or you can just use the ruler to wrap the yarn and measure at the same time.

The WPI tool is a very neat tool that has the inches marked on the round stem with a notch at the end to hold the yarn so you can wrap the stem.  It usually comes with a card that has the instructions on one side and the yarn weights with WPI on the other.  Very handy but not necessary.

You can use a pencil or pen to do the same thing.  Then measure and count the wraps in an inch by using a ruler.  In the picture below, I wrapped more than an inch and started counting from the second wrap until I reached the 1″ mark.  There are 9 wraps in an inch.


You can also just use a ruler to wrap the yarn around.  The problem with this method is the possibility of twisting the yarn while wrapping which will stretch it so care is needed when using just a ruler.  I would recommend starting at the 1″ mark and wrapping to the 2″ mark on the ruler instead of starting at the end of the ruler.  If you start at the end, it is harder to keep the end wraps from falling off the ruler.  As you can see below, it is harder to read the marks on the ruler when the yarn is wrapped on it instead of a pencil.  There are 6 wraps in an inch.

WPI on Ruler

When you wrap the pencil or ruler, you need to make sure the yarn is not pulled tight or pushed together.  It needs to be relaxed.  You just roll the pencil or turn the ruler to wind the yarn on whichever you are using.  Rolling instead of just wrapping will keep the yarn from being twisted which will cause the yarn to pull tighter and be thinner than it actually is.  Do not pull on the yarn at all.  Tension will stretch the yarn and cause it to be thinner than it is.  Let each wrap rest next to the previous wrap without being pushed together.  If the yarn has a halo, like mohair, you will need to give the yarn more room between wraps for the “fuzzy” hairs to expand.  This is why mohair yarn always has a heavier weight than it would appear to be.  It is not measured by just the diameter of the yarn but also how far the halo extends as well.

Count the number of times the yarn is wrapped around for 1 inch.  Some instructions will say to wrap 2 inches, count the wraps, and divide by 2.  This is not necessary unless you are measuring yarn with “character” like a thick and thin yarn.  Then you would need to wrap 3 inches and divide by 3 to get a good count.

The number counted in 1 inch is the WPI.  Then compare that number to the chart below to find your yarn weight.


What are the different weights of yarn available?

Since the new weight classification has been added, there are now 8 different categories in the USA yarn weight system.  Some of the common names overlap depending on location and how it was taught.  Please note that some people will include aran as a bulky weight yarn.  While it is thicker than worsted, aran is still included in the medium weight category due to it’s WPI.  Also, Caron Simply Soft and Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable are considered medium weight as well even though both are thinner which can make the entire medium weight category confusing for some people.

Weight #                          Common Name                                       WPI

0 – lace                           Cobweb/Thread/Lace/Sock                  23 and greater

1 – super fine                  Lace/Sock/Fingering                              19 – 22

2 – fine                            Baby/Sport/Lace                                    15 – 18

3 – light                           Sport/DK/Baby                                        12 – 14

4 – medium.                    Worsted/Aran                                           9 – 11

5 – bulky                          Bulky                                                        7 – 8

6 – super bulky.               Super Bulky                                              5 – 6

7 – jumbo                         Jumbo                                                      4 and less


Why are the weights different other places?

Not all countries use the same names for yarn weights.  It can sometimes get confusing since the internet makes the world smaller.  There are pattern writers all over the world that use the yarn classifications of their country.  I have bought yarn from the UK on several occasions.  You will need to know what the names of the yarn weights are so you can buy the correct yarn.  For example, 4 ply is NOT 4 weight yarn.  It is a lot thinner.  Yarn weight is not determined by the number of plies.  And that leads us to our next question…


What are the yarn weight equivalents between the USA and UK?

USA Weight                  UK Term

0 – lace                            1 – 3 ply

1 – super fine                  4 ply

2 – fine                             5 ply

3 -light                             DK/8 ply

4 – medium                     Aran/10 ply

5 – bulky                          Chunky/12 ply

6 – super bulky              Super Chunky

7 – jumbo                        unknown


What weight yarn do I use with certain looms?

A lot of times, the weight of yarn you use with certain looms will depend on the stitch pattern or the way you want the finished project to look.  Each person has their own idea of what is too tight or too loose.  Tension is a factor as well since each person’s tension is different.  It is sometimes hard to say what weight yarn is best for each gauge loom, but it can be helpful to have a starting place until you learn which is best for you.  If you are unsure what gauge loom you have, you can learn more about gauge here.

Extra fine gauge – lace/super fine

Fine gauge – super fine/fine/light

Small gauge – light/medium

Regular gauge – light/medium/bulky

Large gauge – bulky/super bulky/jumbo

Extra large gauge – super bulky/jumbo


How many strands will equal a heavier weight?

Needing a heavier weight yarn than you have in your stash?  All you need to do is use more than 1 strand.  But how many strands will equal what you need?

If you use 2 strands of yarn, it will be equivalent to the next heavier weight.  So if you have a 4 weight yarn and need a 5 weight yarn, use 2 strands together as 1.

Here is an easy way to see what you need:

2 strands of 1 weight = 1 strand of 2 weight

2 strands of 2 weight = 1 strand of 3 weight

2 strands of 3 weight = 1 strand of 4 weight

2 strands of 4 weight = 1 strand of 5 weight

2 strands of 5 weight = 1 strand of 6 weight

2 strands of 6 weight = 1 strand of 7 weight

But what if I only have 4 weight and need a 6 weight?  Since 2 strands of 4 weight equals 1 strand of 5 weight and 2 strands of 5 weight equals 1 strand of 6 weight, then 4 strands of 4 weight will equal 1 strand of 6.  3 strands of 4 weight will be a heavier 5 or a lighter 6 weight yarn.

Hopefully this will help in trying to decide which yarn weights are best for which looms and for finding out what weight that mystery yarn is that keeps getting pushed aside.

Keep asking questions!  Questions lead to answers, and answers lead to knowledge.


  • Even after reading this I’m still very confused I use number 4 all the time unless the materials are given to me and for the gauge how to tell I still don’t understand

  • I’m doing the Mystic Shawl out of the Knitting Board Basics book. Its done in open braid stitch. On the back piece the last 8 rows has to be decreased. It says to maintain open braid pattern as you decrease. How do you do that? Thanks in advance!

  • I am not understanding your question, Tracey. Are you needing to find the gauge of your loom? I wrote an article about loom gauge and swatch gauge earlier. I put a link in this article that will take you to that one. You can just use more than 1 strand of 4 weight yarn on the plastic large gauge looms.

  • Two of the headbands call for cdd after you have moved the yarn to different pegs
    What is cdd. If I read it right, you do something on one peg that has 2 loops?
    Thank you for your help

  • It stands for central double decrease. Move loop from peg 1 to 2. Knit peg 2. Move loop from peg 3 to 2, lift bottom loop over.

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