Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weaving Yarn Counts

There are many mysteries of weaving out there and for those of us who started out as knitters, buying weaving yarn is one of the great mysteries that give us headaches. When you look at weaving yarn you see lots of 2/20's cotton (and more examples here) so hopefully this post should help with figuring out counts. 

First of all weaving yarn is sold in pounds (lbs) per unit length and is called the fixed weight yarn count system. Here just like knitting, the finer the yarn the more yarn you get in 1 pound. The more yarn you get in 1 pound the higher the count number. This count number gives the number of unit lengths in a pound. 


840 yards / pound
Spun Silk
840 yards / pound
Worsted spun wool (avg)
560 yards / pound

300 yards / pound

For example if you get 10 skeins (or hanks etc) of cotton, this is shortened to 10's cotton. This count changes with different fibres and spinning systems. When you see 2/20's cotton this means that 2 strands of the 10's cotton (of equal weight) have been plied together. The yarn is now twice as thick so the amount you get per pound is halved.

So a 2/20 cotton has 8400 yards/pound i.e. 20 x 840 = 16800 / 2 = 8400 yards / pound
                                                                   (units) x (count) / (ply) = yards / pound. 

a 2/40 linen has 6000 yards/pound i.e. 40 x 300 = 12000/2 = 6000 yards per pound. If this is sold in an 8 oz cone then you get just under half a pound so you get approx 3000 yards. (1 ounce is 0.0625 of a pound).

In general weaving yarns on the cone do work out cheaper then knitting yarn of the same weight because you are buying in higher quantities. I will add to the yarn counts above as I come across them in my daily ramblings. For now I hope this helps a little.

Here are some useful abbreviations:

ne - the English cotton numbering system, based on the number of 840 yd strands per lb
nel - lea, the English linen numbering system, based on the number of 300 yd strands per lb
nm - the metric system, based on the number of metres per gram
wc - worsted count, the most common wool numbering system, based on the number of 560 yd strands per lb
den - the denier system, based on the weight of 9000 metres
tex - weight in grams per 1000m length
wpc - wraps per centimetre
wpi - wraps per inch


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