It’s all a bit ‘Three Bears’. You want to knit something gorgeous but you’re not entirely sure whether you need regular or fine yarn. It isn’t always easy or straightforward to pin down the perfect yarn weight, and when you want your knitting project to go smoothly you need it to be ‘just right’ to avoid disaster.
The wool classification system uses numbers based on thickness. Nil is the thinnest yarn you can imagine, delicate and lovely, great for pretty, lacy shawls. Number 7 is incredibly thick, chunky yarn. The rest fall somewhere in between and can also be called things like ‘lace’ or ‘bulky’ yarn, which only adds to the confusion. Picture this: a medium yarn of number 4 thickness can either be a worsted or an Aran. Argh!
About wraps per inch
How come the classification system is so complex? It’s partly because yarns are measured and classified by the number of wraps they have per inch of wool. A wrap is simply where the strands of the wool wrap around each other. Loose wraps tend to mean fatter wool, and tighter wraps tend to deliver finer yarns.
At the same time every numbered category includes a range of different wraps… and there’s more. Some knitting patterns tell you the weight of yarn required by the number, for example, number 4 medium, whereas others use interesting sub-category names like ‘worsted’.
About DK wool
DK refers to the weight of the wool and stands for Double Knitting. Double knitting wool falls somewhere between sports weight and worsted weight wools and is perfect for double kitting, hence the name. As a rule DK yarns are medium to lightweight, falling roughly in the centre of the spectrum. As such DK tends to be the best choice for all sorts of patterns, a Goldilocks-type yarn that’s often just right for the job.
DK yarn is ideal for woollies like jumpers and cardigans, perfect for kids clothes, homewares and accessories. It’s usually knitted using 4mm needles, sometimes 3.75mm or a bit more than four, depending on your own personal tension levels. In Australia and New Zealand, DK is called 6-ply or 8-ply, and it can also be called Double Knitting Yarn. Just take care not to confuse the name of the yarn with the ‘double knitting’ method. If you spot some wool classified as Light-Worsted, don’t panic. It’s just another name for DK, and it means exactly the same thing.
Using yarn weight as a decent guide
If you’re not certain which wool to use, you can use the yarn’s weight to determine its thickness, a reasonably reliable method that relies mostly on common sense. You can imagine how choosing a super-bulky yarn for baby clothing wouldn’t be right, and how a super-fine yarn would make a pretty awful winter jumper!
- Super fine yarn
- Fine yarn
- Light weight yarn
- Medium weight yarn (DK)
As a knitter your tastes and methods and unique. You might find you get about the same gauge of stitch as you do with DK yarn from a sport weight, baby yarn, 4-ply or 3-ply yarn. At the end of the day experience will guide you – the more you knit, the more you learn.
Knit with pure alpaca wool
Our alpacas are sweet, calm, friendly animals. Their wool is totally luscious. It’s super-soft, very warm, and wonderful to knit with. We sell lots of lovely DK alpaca yarns, so take a look and have fun knitting with the world’s most popular and versatile yarn.