Using Hand Spun Yarn

You have hand spun yarn, and now you aren’t sure what to do with it. Hand spun yarn does not have a label to tell you what crochet hook or knitting needles to use, and there isn’t a handy number telling you the yarn weight.

1. Determining the Yarn Weight

The first thing that needs to be done is to determine the weight. This can be done by using a WPI (Wraps Per Inch) tool. If you don’t have a WPI tool you can simply use a pen or pencil and a ruler. Taking the yarn end you wrap it around your WPI tool, pen, or pencil.  Be sure to keep your tension even and keep it fairly loose so the yarn doesn’t stretch skewing the results.  Use your ruler and count how many wraps are within an inch. I like to do about 2 inches so I can make sure I’m getting the same number in more than one section. The example below shows a WPI of 9 putting it in the Worsted Weight category. This can be determined using the chart below

WPI Measurement


2. Do a Gauge Swatch

Now that you have the yarn weight you can figure out what hook or needle size to use. Using the chart again you can determine where to start. You can also start with what the pattern you have in mind states. If you have a pattern it will go over what size gauge swatch, the stitch used, and what mm hook or needle. If you don’t have a pattern the typical size of a gauge swatch is 4×4, and you can start with the mm size hook or needle based on yarn weight. When the swatch is completed measure how many stitches and rows you get in an inch to either match the pattern you are trying to use or to make sure sizing is correct for the one you plan to make up. This step isn’t the most popular, but it is very important especially with hand spun yarn.


Wraps Per Inch Chart

Lace Weight Yarn
WIP: > 35
> 8.5 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size: 1.5–2.25mm
Crochet Hook Size: Steel 1.6–1.4mm, Regular hook 2.25mm

Fingering Weight Yarn
WPI: 19-22
7-8 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size: 2.25—3.25mm
Crochet Hook Size: 2.25—3.5mm

Sport Weight Yarn
WPI: 15-18
5.75-6.5 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size: 3.25—3.75mm
Crochet Hook Size:3.5—4.5mm

DK Weight Yarn
WPI: 12-14
5.5-6 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size: 3.75—4.5mm
Crochet Hook Size:4.5—5.5mm

Worsted Weight Yarn
WPI: 9-11
4-5 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size:4.5—5.5mm
Crochet Hook Size:5.5—6.5mm

Bulky Weight Yarn
WPI: 7-8
3-3.75 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size:5.5—8mm
Crochet Hook Size: 6.5—9mm

Super-Bulky Weight Yarn
WPI: < 6
1.5-3 sts/inch
Knitting Needle Size: 8—12.75mm
Crochet Hook Size: 9—15mm


Additional Tips

  • When using art yarn or hand spun yarn you typically have a lot of colors and textures. A “busy” yarn is goes best with a simple pattern that way the yarn will show through. I like to think of it like I do with clothing, where the best option is to pair a pattern with a solid.
  • The process of finding the yarn weight can also be used if you have leftover yarn with no label.

Need a printable version of this chart, check out Crafty’s printable guide on How to Choose and Use the Right Type of Yarn Every Time *Affiliate of Craftsy



hand spun yarn
Fingering Weight Yarn spun from an Art Batt
hand spun shawlette
Scarf/Shawl using hand spun yarn, and a simple garter stitch pattern.