Yarn Size and Confusion

Out of curiosity, I want to know how many of you feel that yarn sizing is confusing and why? I have included my thoughts.

Yarn companies should come up with system to measure yarn sizes better than what they have now. What is wrong with using millimeters as a measurement for the thickness of a strand of yarn? Similar to what is done with crochet hooks and beads. Even fishing line has had a numerical measurement for as long as I can remember.

At one time I used 4 ply worsted weight acrylic yarn and somewhere along the line it became 4 ply medium. Does this mean there is a 4 ply small, large and extra large? Another company has 4 ply medium 50% cotton and 50% acrylic. This will work up a lot smaller than the acrylic yarn mentioned. You can see the size difference with your eye. There is also the 4 ply cotton yarn. It works up a lot larger than the acrylic medium. I would like an explanation or purpose for using the same sizing language with extreme, obvious, visible different size yarns. At this point it is not surprising that everyone is confused, even myself.

It is easy to tell a person to gauge their work but that is still not going to help if a person does not understand gauge. First of all, gauge is very confusing to a new crocheter. Confused crocheters tend to get turned off and frustrated. More times than not I have gauged a piece and ended up with 1/2 or 2/3 of a stitch left over in my measurement even with changing hooks sizes. The other problem with gauge is the unique crochet style that each person will have. People tend to see a pretty yarn(I have done this myself) and have a pattern in mind not even thinking about the size of the yarn used with the pattern vs. the size they are picking up. At this point you run in to a gauge issue with a possible pattern modification. Now what you have is a beginner crocheter who is supposed to gauge a patten and modify it? More Confusion added to the mix. Gauge is something that makes sense over time. It is a Crochet AH-HA moment. To much is put on gauge.

Yarn should have a numerical millimeter sizing of the strand thickness. The yarn companies do a great job with the variety of yarn available is very nice. The measurement system needs a lot of help.

I am off my soapbox and look forward to how each of you feel about this.


  1. You've written exactly what I have thought. Yarn sizing is just crazy.

  2. I honestly have never paid attention to it. I just buy the pretty soft colors and go crazy crochetting. lol! But i dont do any thing seriouse with my work. I suppose though i will pay attention to it now. :)

  3. My feeling exactly. I don't want to tell the yarn companies how to do it (measurement in millimeters, for example), but whatever it is, let's have a CONSISTENT method of telling us what size the yarn is.

  4. I agree completely! I am a moderate beginner, if there's such a thing. I've known the basics for years, but was lost when my beloved grandmother- my crochet teacher- passed. I recently found your site and my interest was renewed and have begun to learn how to read patterns and make more than just the most basic of projects. I am making an afghan for my sister, and when I decided to introduce a new color that went well with the project, I bought enough for the afhan and got it home to find out that it crocheted at a smaller guage. Holding the two skeins together, it was then obvious, just by looking, that one was smaller, though the package said they were the same. The best I can figure is that it was because one is 100% cotton an the other an acrylic blend. Unfortunately, I'm still learning to adjust for guage, and not successfully yet, lol. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one confused by the printed weight differences. Thank you so much for your site!

  5. Gauge... sizing... all both are confusing. I'm relatively new to crocheting and am teaching myself. It would be nice if everything was consistent to make it easier for the beginner crocheter. I don't even use gauging or take notice of the yarn size when I pick up yarn and use it, other than using the same yarn width for all yarn I use within my projects. That's my way of sizing and gauging I guess. *laugh*

    It'll be great if companies see this post & all the comments. Maybe they'll get a hint finally and do something about the confusion.

  6. Kcrystina,
    I guessed for years myself.

  7. I did not have the variety of yarn, waaaaay back then, that is available now. I was about two years in to crochet and was tinkering around with modifying patterns before I understood what gauge meant. I started slowly understanding gauge when I was making sweaters for my kids. The measurements would still be off. All I could afford was the cheap yarn. The magazines were using some expensive yarn that was a different strand size. Sometimes the sport weight will work as a great substitute with a lower cost, if you can find a color that is not a pastel.

  8. I think reporting the yarn size as the diameter is a great idea, simple and easy to understand. I usually do one of two things when I endeavor to use a new yarn... I grudgingly make the swatches then juggle the numbers to figure out the gauge for that particular yarn, hook, and tension... but who really has the time for that every time! Or else I just go for broke and hope for the best. :D I find it best when working on multicolor projects to use the same kind of yarn (brand and type) since yarn diameter is fairly consistent from color to color and it's more likely that, upon washing, the project will retain its original form. I certainly enjoyed your "soap box" rant... thanks!

  9. I'm so with you on this. Just last week I was looking at "fine" gauge yarns and noticed that even though one was marked as a "2" it was noticeably thinner than another brand marked with a "1".

    When do we get a petition started? :)

  10. I know what you mean! However I've been 'winging it' since I learned to crochet...many years ago. As a wool spinner, I would like to say that the loft in the yarn is not always calculable. Supposing, of course, that commercially produced synthetic yars can be reproduced with precise consistency. The difference in yarn loft makes the difference in the final gauge, and from one manufacturer to another there are many differences. Also, within one manufacturer there are differences because of the color dyes. It seems that the dyes make the yarns less or more lofty (spongy) than the other. I always find that red and black synthetic yarns are stiffer and less lofty than the other colors of the same brand.
    Hope this 'dissertation' is helpful.
    I do agree, that there should be a standard, but European manufacturing is different than Chinese manufacturing. Would they ever agree on a standard?
    It is a lot easier for me to 'eyeball' gauge than to rely on the suggested label gauges. ^__^

  11. I admit it, I admit it, lol. I have been crocheting for almost 2 yrs and I still don't understand Gauge.

    Thanks for the post!

  12. I tend to agree with Kcrystina, in that, I tend to stick with the same brand or sub-brand for each project. So, I may use Vanna's Choice for one project and Bernat Satin on another, but never the twain shall meet.


  13. Totally true! I mix yarns all the time, and it would be so much easier if there was a way to tell the sizing correctly.

  14. I KNOW!! ARRG! I always always always buy the pretty yarns with patterns in mind. I've never had a gauge work. NOT ONCE. I always have to use bigger or smaller hooks...and thats worked so far..urgh!

  15. I have several Red Heart 4ply worsted yarns and I so dislike he beause there is so much elasticity that I get nowhere fast and it is harsh to the fingers. When I first began to crochet the yarn was lovely but I have problems with it today. I want to crochet a one piece adlt afghan but what to use is a puzzle .Enjoyed everyone's thoughts.

  16. I'm in Scotland and it's not any easier here.....the names are different, that's all.

    Here we have DK (Double Knitting) and Chunky (anything thicker than DK). We also have 3 ply and 4 ply and just to keep things interesting we have Baby DK too.

    I'm very new to crochet (thanks to you and your youtube) but I've been a knitter for many, many years and it's a bit hit and miss with yarn thickness here too. Even within the categories of yarn it can vary quite a bit.

  17. Beginners help needed please!
    I have some DK wool/silk mix yarn and I'd like to crochet a simple throw. However I don't have enough of this yarn - is it okay for me to buy any other DK weight yarn to mix in (i.e. pure wool, or cotton) or will the pattern not work? Hope this makes sense and the question isn't too dumb!
    Thanks in advance :)


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