Yarns can be described in many ways. Lace weight, Sport
weight, Worsted weight, and Bulky weight are examples of
descriptions often used in North America. These descriptions refer to the
diameter of the yarn and are indicative of the type of product normally
produced with that yarn. Yarns produced elsewhere may use different
systems of description. For instance, Australia and New Zealand may use a
ply method in labelling their yarns. The number of plies listed on the
label does not actually refer to the number of strands of yarn but instead
refers to the diameter of the yarn.
The fibres from different species vary greatly in their
intrinsic weight. This makes it hard to compare the yarns with fibre from
different species. A pound or gram of yarn of a specific diameter will be
a different length than another pound or gram of yarn of the same diameter
from a different species of fibre producing animal. This means that, even
though the yarn is properly described, fibre artists must knit or weave
or otherwise make swatches to determine how it will work in their project.
TEX numbers are another method of describing yarns.
This method usually uses yards per pound or grams per kilometre (1000
meters) and is based on the measurement and description of one strand of
the yarn, called a "Single". There are two numbers in a TEX yarn
description. The first number refers to the number of grams of one strand
of that yarn that would be 1000 meters in length. A forward slash and a
second number that indicate how many Singles or strands are put together
to make the yarn. For example, a TEX number of 100/2 means a yarn made out
of Singles that each weigh 100 grams per 1000 meters (kilometre) and which
has two strands or Singles twisted together. The resulting 2 ply yarn is
200 grams per 1000 meters. Two pounds of this 2 ply yarn would be approx.
4,960 yards (5000 yards for easy calculations). One pound of the Single
strand would be about 5,000 yards.
The following table shows various equivalent ways to
describe a single stand of yarn.
TEX (GRAMS PER STANDARD
APPROX. SINGLE NA
1000 METERS SINGLE STRAND)
10,000 Yard/Lb Lace
(as a 2 Ply) 20
7,000 Yard/Lb Baby (as a 2 Ply) 14.3 12.5
5,000 Yard/Lb Fingering (as a 2
1,250 Yard/Lb Bulky (as a
2 Ply) 2.5
For a two ply yarn (50/2), divide the Single
Length by 2 to get a yards per pound measure. Following this method, 50 grams of this 2 ply would
be approx. 5,000 yards per lb. (Lace weight) and a 70/2 would be approx. 3500 yards per
lb. (approx. a Baby weight).
METRIC represents the number of 1,000 meter skeins of
yarn that weigh 1 kilogram
ENGLISH WORSTED represents the number of 560 yard
skeins that weigh 1 pound.
NORTH AMERICAN yarn descriptions are approximate and
less precise than Tex, Metric or English Worsted numbers but perhaps more
comfortable to use for many wool crafters. They will vary somewhat
depending on the type of fibre used to make the yarn and may be 2 or more
Bulky Weight: Less than 8 wraps per inch -
400 to 700 yards per pound;