I’ve been working on a project using a package of “mill ends” that I picked up over a year ago. For those of you who aren’t familiar, mill end skeins are like remnants. There’s no weight, fiber content, or even brand listed on the package. I’m writing up the pattern for you, but there’s one problem – I need to tell you in the pattern what weight yarn to use…and I have no idea what weight this yarn actually is!
No worries though, there’s a way to find out. First, I take my handy little ruler, and start wrapping the yarn around it carefully, starting at the 1 inch mark and going until I hit the 2 inch mark. See how all the strands of yarn are lined up next to each other and none are overlapping?
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Now I just count how many strands there are in that 1 inch space, which here is 13. That’s the “wraps per inch” (wpi) for this yarn. For a more accurate measurement, I could have counted over several inches and averaged, or just wrapped several inches and counted a 1 inch space in the middle, but in most cases a rough estimate is all you really need.
So how does that translate to a yarn weight? There really isn’t one standard conversion table – there are a lot of different ones out there, and they’re not all consistent. Here’s one from Ravelry which would list this yarn as sport weight (size 2). However if you look at this guide from Craftsy, it would be considered a DK / Light Worsted weight (size 3). The Craft Yarn Council has overlapping numbers, so it could be either size, according to their guidelines.
This is where a gauge swatch can come in handy. The problem with using a gauge swatch for sizing is that it is obviously dependent on which hook you are using and your own personal tension, so I only use it as a secondary point of reference when the wpi isn’t clear. In this case, I got 16 sts in 4 inches, using a fairly small hook (4 mm). Looking at the Craft Yarn Council Yarn Weight Standards chart, this seems to fit better with a size 3 yarn than a size 2. So for the pattern, I will recommend a size 3 yarn.
If you’re ever stuck with a mystery yarn and need to know what weight it is, now you know how to find out!