Mysteries of Yarn and other stories…

Mysteries of Yarn – I mean that skein that has lost its label so you don’t quite know what it is or how much there is; or the hand spun yarn that you bought at a woolly event and want to use but not sure what for.


There are several useful tips and links that can help you work out:

Weight of use or yarn thickness, ie DK, Aran, 4ply etc

Length, ie will I have enough for my project or finish 10m short (argh!)

What needles or hook to use and tension squares….

How to substitute yarns

Check the label
Check the label

To work out what yarn weight of use/yarn thickness you have, you need to work out the WPI, that is “wraps per inch” and is literally that. Get a pencil or ruler, wrap the yarn around not tightly and don’t stretch it, and count how many WPI you have. This Conversion chart will then give you an idea of what weight of yarn you have. That’s one of the mysteries of yarn solved!

Obviously, you can weigh your yarn and that will tell you actual weight, but how many metres will that be and will it be enough for the project you have in mind? The thicker the yarn, the less metres per 100g you will have. There are averages you can work to listed here.

Knowing the weight of use, and the weight in 100g, and the average meterage per 100g it takes some simple maths to work out another of the mysteries. So for my yarn, pictured here,

Gorgeous hand dyed and spun yarn
Gorgeous hand dyed and spun yarn

I have 300g of DK yarn with an average of 250m per 100g, so I have 750m of yarn for my projectof the lovely blue pictured above. For the Pink Bamboo yarn in the main picture, I have 300g of 4ply with an average of 350m per 100g, so I have 1050m.

(Many thanks to Sara’s Textile Crafts for the hand dyed wool and to Elf and Moo Yarns for spinning it so beautifully.)

The last 2 mysteries of yarn are linked really. If you know what the average “tension” of your yarn is, ie how many stitches per  10cm square you should expect (knitting or crochet) then you can do a tension square. This means that you knit or crochet a 10cm square using the recommended number of stitches and needle/hook size, and see if your square measures 10cm like it should. If it is smaller, use a larger needle/hook, and if its larger, use a smaller needle/hook.  This is a useful link about tension squares.

Once you are knitting/crocheting to tension with your yarn, check that your yarn will create the same tension as the yarn used in the pattern. If it does, within 1 or 2 stitches either way, you’re off! Check the yarn used, work out how much you will need for your size, and how many meters the yarn in the pattern has/100g, and provided you have enough meterage and yarn you can use that yarn for that project. Your project can start and the mysteries of yarn have all been revealed!

If you are thinking of a fun project to do now spring is around the corner, have a look at the Bordeaux Shrug patternIt takes 400g of DK Nurturing Fibres cotton/bamboo EcoFusion, and is free with the purchase of the yarn to make it until the end of March.

Bye for now, Caroline

Hand dyed and lovely, just spun.
Hand dyed and lovely, just spun.


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