Can you knit with weaving yarn?
Posted by Emily on Aug 27th 2020
A lot of the yarn we carry is made specifically with weavers in mind, or is marketed towards a weaving audience. We've been getting quite a few questions about our weaving yarns along the lines of "What does 8/2 mean?" and "How am I supposed to figure out which of your yarns I can knit with!" We thought it would be nice to take some time to give you a trick to help convert weaving yarn sizes into knitting yarn sizes.
First up before we get to the trick, not all yarns are created equally for knitting and weaving. Yes of course you CAN knit with just about anything, but we do have some suggestions for which of our yarns are going to have an ideal feel and structure for hand knitting projects. You can find them by clicking Knit / Crochet in our Navigation bar, then clicking on the Shop Button on the Knitting Yarn image, or just click the picture below.
All of the yarn in this category lists the Knitting Weight in the product description. We list both Craft Yarn Council Standard Yarn Weights as well as Ravelry Standard Yarn Weights. This should make it easy to pick the perfect yarn for your next knitting project.
We carry several yarns that are not listed in this Knitting Yarn category. That doesn't mean you can't knit with them, you can knit with spaghetti if you're determined enough! We just do not recommend them for the average knitter for a variety of reasons including size, fiber content, and construction. If you're determined to knit with a yarn that we don't have a Knitting Weight listed for then we have a handy trick for you! Yards Per Pound can help you figure out the approximate Knitting Weight of any yarn. Let's look at our Bluegrass Mills 6/2 Cotton as an example.
This yarn's weaving weight is 6/2. The first number refers to the size of the individual plies of yarn. The second number tells you how many plies this yarn has. This means 6/2 is a two ply yarn of size 6 plies. The larger the first number, the smaller the size of the yarn. While this information is good to know, if you aren't familiar with this sizing system it can be hard to translate this information to Knitting Weight conventions. This is where Yards Per Pound comes in.
Yards Per Pound is exactly what it sounds like, the number of yards in a pound of yarn. Logically the larger the number of yards per pound, the skinnier the yarn is going to be. We have a handy chart to guesstimate Craft Yarn Council Standard Yarn Weights to YPP.
Keep in mind that this chart is just a guideline. Yarn companies don't necessary adhere to these numbers for any given yarn. In addition, the fiber content and construction of yarn could drastically effect YPP. This chart is a nice place to start when trying to determine the approximate Knitting Weight of a yarn.
If we go back to our Bluegrass Mills 6/2 Cotton example, it is 2520 yds/lb. This puts it in the Lace box of the chart. To find out the exact gauge or stitches per inch you would have to knit a swatch, but this does give you a little bit of information to start from. If you were looking for a nice Medium/Worsted weight yarn then this yarn is not going to work for you, but if you wanted a Lace then you might be on the right track.
Many weaving yarns we carry are going to be well out of the bottom range of this chart, which means they are much smaller than any standard knitting yarn. It makes sense that weavers can work with much smaller yarn because they are able to pass their shuttle through wide wefts of teeny tiny yarn in just a few seconds, while a knitter would take several minutes to knit across the same width of stitches individually. Let's look at our Bluegrass Mills 60/2 Silk as an example of this.
Immediately, we know it's going to be much smaller than the 6/2 cotton because we know the larger first number means smaller plies. The YPP on this yarn is 14,880, which is way off of our handy knitting yarn chart. It's over five times smaller than Lace Weight! It would take you an extremely long time to knit something with this tiny yarn.
Yards Per Pound isn't just helpful to knitters trying to convert sizes. YPP is a handy way for weavers to think about substitutions (as long as you stay in the same fiber). If you're looking at 8/4 cotton at 1600 YPP, but drooling longingly at the 3/2 colors, then look up its YPP (1260). This is not too awfully far off; it won't be a totally equivalent sub, but it's workable. 3/2 is a little thicker than 8/4. It can be tough to compare when both the size of the ply and the number of plies is different, so YPP comes to the rescue!
We hope this is a helpful cheat to converting yarn from Weaving Weights to Knitting Weights. If you have more questions about yarn size standards check our Yarn Weights Helpful Explanation and the Craft Yarn Council. Remember you can always shop our Knitting Yarn category for yarns that we specifically recommend for knitting that will already have the Knitting Weights listed for you. Happy yarn shopping!