Knitting Help – Determining Yarn Weight (wpi)

Knitting Help – Determining Yarn Weight (wpi)


I get this question quite often about how
to determine yarn weight on an unknown yarn, a yarn without a label, and I’ll get right
into how that works. There is a measuring system called WPI, or Wraps Per Inch. And
it’s what the whole industry is supposed to be using so there is a standard for different
yarn weights. But if you’ve been knitting for a while, I’m sure you’ve probably run
into fingering weight yarn that knits up like a worsted, or a bulky yarn that knits up…
You know, it seems to to be all over the map. But all of the yarn companies are supposed
to be using this same standard of measurement, and you can use this. You can make your own
measuring tool like I have here so that you can determine the weight of the yarn that
you are not sure about. You need to measure out an inch on something
that has, anything, that is even up and down. It can be a pencil, or a ruler, or… Not
a chopstick, because chopsticks are narrower at one end and thicker at the other, but anything
that’s the same. It doesn’t matter how wide the cylinder is, or how narrow, because we’re
not measuring how many times around, we’re measuring how the wraps measure up next to
each other. And what I’ve done is I’ve taken just a pencil obviously, and I’ve used medical
tape, this is that squishy medical tape that sticks to itself, and it works pretty well
because it actually has some thickness to it so it holds the yarn in place so I can
measure. Let’s get… Well no, let me back up a little
bit. Really, the trickiest part is to know how tightly to wrap while you’re trying to
get this measurement. And the best thing that you can do is to test out, to have some control
tests where you know the weight of a yarn, and you test out the wraps. And it will give
you practice in how tightly to wrap so that when you do wrap the unknown yarn, you will
be wrapping it the same as the others. I think it’s kind of fun, let’s go and take a look. Here is my WPI tool. I just measured out an
exact inch and then put the tape on either side, and it’s not going anywhere. It’s probably
my permanent WPI tool, ’cause I think if I take this tape off the pencil will be permanently
sticky. So I will give you a link to this, this is something that I found on Ravelry.
It is Ravelry standard yarn weights, and we have the different names that we use here
in the US for the yarn weights, and the different names used in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.
And then, this is the WPI measurement. And so for instance, for fingering you should
get 14 wraps per inch, for DK weight 11 wraps per inch, and so on. And I’m going to test out, I’m going to show
you how this works on my little WPI tool with some known weights of yarn, to see how it’s
done and how tightly I have to wrap it to get there, because I know how many I should
have. So I have this yarn that is a bulky weight, and I’m going to get it right up against
the medical tape here. Two, three, four, five, six, seven. You see I wasn’t wrapping tightly,
I wasn’t smashing those together, but seven wraps per inch on bulky yarn is exactly how
it was supposed to measure out. So let’s do another one. Of course this is probably best
for you to practice this yourselves, because I know people have different… They hold
the yarn with different tension. This is a worsted weight yarn. One, two, three,
four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. I couldn’t get a tenth one in there, and nine wraps per
inch is indeed correct for a worsted weight yarn. Now, you can smash these together, but
it is not going to do you any good. Just kind of wrap them up the way that they want to
just wrap, loosely and naturally. This is a sport weight yarn, let’s see. One,
two, three, four, five, I’m going to smush that together a little bit because it’s…
Here we go. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Double check. Oh, sport weight
yarn should be 12. Okay yes. Wow, that was just right. Okay. I thought, “Oh no, I must
have wrapped too loosely.” No, I’ve got it. So then, I don’t have an unknown weight of
yarn, but I just got some good practice in there with three different yarn weights. And
if I had an unknown weight of yarn, I could wrap it and probably tell pretty good, pretty
well what… Pause. What the weight of the yarn is because I’m practised at how just
tightly it should wrap to get to the correct numbers. Anyway, that is how to create your own WPI
tool, and how to use it. I hope you can go back and figure out all those unknown yarn
weights now, good luck.

37 thoughts on “Knitting Help – Determining Yarn Weight (wpi)

  1. Nice video!
    Are there any good ways to determ the yarn content in an unknown yarn? I sometimes buy yarn in second hand stores and often the ballbands are not there.

  2. Do you ever see a time were yarn weight is standardized globally? At my yarn shop we always joke because I learned to knit in Germany and needles are always metric only. I always say it's so much easier. I think only using wpi for example would be a good standardizing method…anyway food for thought 🙂

  3. This is excellent. I'm going to try it on the 'bulky' I'm using now…  It's just not working up like a true bulky should.

  4. Thank you so much for all your great videos! I always look forward to look at the newest upload 🙂 Very helpful! Which music always plays at the beginning of your videos? It sounds vaguely familiar from some 60s or 70s TV show 😀

  5. Hi Ms. Staci, I don't know what kind of yarn is good for sweater. Would you please help me to choose the right one? Thank you very much

  6. I love watching your info videos, you are clear plain and make me want to run and knit immediately. Thank you I have learnt so much

  7. Staci this is excellent I was given a bunch of yarn with no labels and now I can practice and tell what I am dealing with…Thanks so much and Merry Christmas…

  8. Thank u so much for this video. I just found 2 skeins of beautiful yarn in my basement without bands. I used your method to figure the weight. You are wonderful!

  9. this was a great video..but what do we use it WPI for? what id like to know is How do i determine how many balls or skeins i need to make a sweater so that i don't end up with excess yarn or skeins that i have no use for in the end once Im done my sweater. That is how i ended up with a crazy stash that I cannot stand. thanks

  10. This was very helpful! I have 5 bags of random yarn a friend bought without labels and then gave to me when she moved. I'm still very much a beginner knitter so had no idea what to do with it all or what projects they are suitable for but now I know! Thankyou!

  11. Staci, thanks so much for yet another wonderful video. I haven't been able to find an official wpi tool, thinking that I had to have a "real" tool because I thought the diameter of the device was integral to the measurement. Now I understand it's not about the tool as long as it isn't tapered, but rather how many times the yarn can fit next to itself within the space of 1 inch. (I suppose you could cut short lengths of yarn, lay them next to one another, and use a ruler to measure how many pieces could lay side-by-side. That would be a waste of yarn, but it would be the same principle. I only say this to show that it's not about the diameter of the device, which I had always assumed to be important. ) I am going to use an old straight aluminum knitting needle from my early knitting days to make my wpi tool! Thanks for the video. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you always.

  12. Great video, thanks! I love to combine leftover yarns or just use two or three strands of unknown yarns for my projects so that I can use up leftovers. So, now I know how to figure out the WPI (thanks for the ravelry link), but how do I know what size knitting needle to use for my "special" size? If you have a link for this, I would so appreciate it! BTW: your videos are fantastic: well organized, clear, crisp steps with no annoying loud music in the background! You are brilliant!

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