Choosing The Correct Yarn, Needle and Hook sizes for Knitting & Crochet

Knitting Crafts

If you have ever considered knitting a vintage pattern you may yourself confused over the required yarn. Terms such as “fingering” and “worsted” can be enough to cause you to give up on your project before you begin.

It is true that some brands and types of wool which were common in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s are now extremely difficult to find. But with a little effort you can find modern alternatives and substitutes.

First of all here are some common yarn weights and terms:

Now we have the different yarns listed on the chart we will go through them and their general uses as well as the needles and hooks required:

LACE or 2 ply. As you have probably guessed this is super light weight wool and therefore ideal for intricate projects. Generally speaking you will be using small needles and hooks with this type of yarn.

Knitting needle sizes used are: 1.25mm – 3.0mm. The usual crochet hook sizes used are: 0.75-3.0mm. These can be purchased here (Click on image):

Brands which produce this weight:





Price: Approx £3.89 per 50g ball.

SOCK or 3 ply. Good for baby items such as shawls, blankets and some toys.

Knitting needles used are generally: 2.0mm – 3.5mm. Crochet hooks: 2.25-3.5mm. Good quality ones can also be purchased cheaply by clicking on the link picture above.

Brands which produce this weight:





Price: Approx £3.49 per 50g ball.

DOUBLE KNITTING or LIGHT WORSTED or 8 ply: Usually known as “DK”. Probably one of the most widely available and popular yarns. It’s quick to knit up and cost effective. You can knit a huge variety of projects with DK including clothes , toys and dog clothes.

You can use almost any size needles or hooks but most patterns using DK will instruct you to use knitting needles from size 3.5mm-4.5mm. Crochet hook sizes: 3.5-4.5mm. Also available by clicking on the link above.

Brands which produce this weight:

Too many to list.

Price: Approx £1.00-£3.00 per 100g ball.

WORSTED or ARAN or 10 ply: Knits up quickly. Ideal for knitting sweaters, cardigans etc.

Very easy to get hold of since most suppliers stock it at reasonable prices.

Knitting needle sizes used are often: 3.75mm-4.5mm or sometimes bigger for chunky projects. Crochet hook sizes: 5.5mm-6.5mm. Also available from suggested link above.

Suggested brand:

Kollage yarns.

Price: Approx £13.00 per 100g ball.

CHUNKY or BULKY or 16 ply: Great for knitting with larger needles. Knits up quickly. Perfect choice for rugs! Knitting needle sizes often used with this yarn are: 5.5mm-8.0mm. Crochet hook sizes: 6.5mm-9.0mm. Also available by clicking link above.

Price: Approx £10 per 200g ball.

CHUNKY or BULKY or 20 ply: This stuff is super chunky and knits up very very quickly as you can imagine. Good for rugs and bed shawls. Knitting needle sizes: 8.0mm and above. Crochet hook sizes: 9.0mm and above. Also available by clicking link above.

Price: Approx £10 per 200g ball.

TIP: You can try substituting yarns or adapting what you have in some cases. For example:

Worsted, aran or (10 ply) used double = chunky or bulky (20 ply).

4ply used double = DK.

A WORD OF CAUTION: When playing around with yarn weight and substituting or adapting be sure to check your tension since it can make a big difference to your work.

The Author:

Retro Knitting site

Photo. Anastasia Zhenina

4 thoughts on “Choosing The Correct Yarn, Needle and Hook sizes for Knitting & Crochet

  1. Worsted wool.
    I believe Light worsted is 8 ply in Australia
    Worsted us 10 ply in Australia.
    But what is medium worsted,
    I have just got so many overseas patterns and the only wool I know for sure is DK is 8 ply in Australia
    So Confused HELP

  2. i have 8ply wool but like a 5ply pattern, can I just use a smaller needle to make Thi work pls. I in Australia. Thankx

  3. hello, I would like to know if a crochet pattern asks to use light worsted weight yarn 50g and use a g/6/4 crochet needle I would like to crochet the cardigan with crochet thread size 3 how would I have to change the gauge?? let me know if you can help. thank you

  4. I have a Paton Caressa Express book with lovely patterns for ladies’ tops and cardigans. Though I was told that the Caress Express is discontinued.

    All patterns require 8mm needle. What kind of wool and how many play that I can get to substitute Caress Express AND using 8mm needle? Can I buy wools stated for 7mm or 7.5 mm needles to knit these patterns that require Caresa Express with 8mm needles? Please help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *