Skip to Content

Complete Guide to Fingering Weight Yarn

What is fingering weight yarn? This is a question that many knitters and crocheters have, especially those who are new to the craft. In this guide, we will take a closer look at fingering weight yarn, including what it is and how to use it.

We’ll also provide some tips on choosing the right yarn for your project. So whether you’re a beginner or an expert knitter, read on for all you need to know about fingering weight yarn!

balls of yellow yarn

Fingering weight yarn is a popular choice for knitters and crocheters, thanks to its versatility. It’s often used for socks, shawls, and other lightweight garments. In this blog post, we will discuss fingering weight yarn, what projects it is best suited for, and how to use it!

What is Fingering Weight Yarn?

Fingering weight yarn is a thin yarn that’s still durable enough for everyday wear. It’s also referred to as “superfine yarn”, “sock yarn,” “baby yarn,” or 4-ply yarn if you’re in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand.

Fingering weight yarn is categorized as a Category 1/Super Fine yarn, according to the Craft Yarn Council’s yarn weight system. It’s thinner than sport weight yarn but thicker than lace weight yarn.

Where does the name “fingering” come from?

There seem to be two main theories about the origin of the term “fingering.” First, the term “fingering” may derive from the Old French term “fin grain,” which means “fine grain.” [https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/fingering] Or, the term “fingering” may derive from the Scots word “fingerin(g)”, which refers to yarn spun on a small wheel. [https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/fingering]

And while we’re talking about names, let’s talk about the term “sock yarn”. The term “sock yarn” can mean one of two things: it could mean any yarn well-suited for socks, regardless of weight. Or it could refer specifically to “sock weight” yarn, aka fingering weight. So if you see the term “sock yarn” in a pattern or on a yarn label, you might want to do a little more reading to find out precisely what it means.

several bundles of blue and green yarn arranged from thinnest to thickest yarn weight, with cyc yarn weight symbols

Characteristics of Fingering Weight Yarn

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of fingering weight yarn.

CYC Category

As we mentioned earlier, fingering weight yarn falls into Category 1: Super Fine under the Craft Yarn Council’s standardized yarn weight system. This means that it is thicker than a Category 0: Lace weight yarn, but thinner than a Category 2: Fine weight yarn.

The right size knitting needle or crochet hook to use with fingering weight yarn will depend on your project.

Generally, the recommended knitting needle size for fingering weight yarn is a US Size 1 to 3 (2.25-3.25 mm). The recommended crochet hook size is US size B-1 to E-4 (2.25 – 3.5 mm).

But of course, these are just guidelines – you may need to go up or down a needle/hook size depending on your personal tension and the pattern you’re using.

For example, designers might ask you to use a larger size to create a looser fabric, or a smaller size to create a denser fabric. So, I recommend checking the individual pattern to see which size needle or hook the designer recommends.

Gauge

When knitting with fingering weight yarn, expect a gauge of 27-32 stitches per 4-inches of stockinette stitch. When crocheting, expect a gauge of 21-32 stitches per 4-inches of single crochet.

Remember, though, that this is just an average – your gauge may be different depending on the needle or hook size you’re using and your personal tension.

Meters/Yards per 100g

Fingering weight yarn typically has 360-460 yards per 100g skein. The yardage will vary depending on the fiber content of the yarn. So, it’s a good idea check the yarn label for exact details.

WPI

WPI refers to “wraps per inch.” Most fingering weight yarns have a WPI of between 14-30. (Yes, that’s a big range.)

To measure the WPI of a fingering weight yarn, wrap the yarn around a ruler or other straight edge. Then, count how many times you can wrap the yarn within one inch, and that will give you the WPI.

Ply

Ply refers to the number of strands that are twisted together to create the finished yarn. You might think that the more plies a yarn has, the thicker it will be. However, that’s not always the case, since the plies themselves can vary in thickness.

Still, some countries refer to yarn thickness in terms of ply. So, while you might hear fingering weight yarn called 4-ply yarn, it doesn’t mean it necessarily is comprised of 4 strands.

purple and orange hand dyed yarn

What Projects Can I Use Fingering Weight Yarn For?

Fingering weight yarn is versatile and can be used for a variety of projects. Some popular projects made with fingering weight yarn include:

  • Socks
  • Gloves and Mittens
  • Shawls
  • Lightweight sweaters
  • Baby clothes

Consider the sort of project you’re creating while selecting a yarn. For example, you might want a different fiber content for socks than you would for shawls. Fingering yarn is produced from several types of fiber, including:

  • 100% Merino wool
  • Merino-Nylon blends (great for hardwearing socks!)
  • 100% Cotton
  • Cotton-Acrylic blends (often used for shawls and blankets)
  • 100% Linen (perfect for lightweight tops)

When in doubt, ask your local yarn shop staff for recommendations. They can help you select the perfect yarn for your project.

While it’s a little bit harder to find fingering yarns at the big box craft stores, you can find a great selection at your local yarn store or online. Here are some of the most popular fingering weight yarns on the market:

As you can see, there are many different types of fingering weight yarns to choose from. So no matter what project you’re dreaming up, there’s a fingering weight yarn out there that will be perfect for it.

teal fingering yarn wrapped around a clear ruler

How to Check if You Have Fingering Weight Yarn

Did you find a random ball of yarn in your stash, and you’re not sure what weight it is? Don’t worry – there are a couple of easy ways to check.

Here are two ways to tell if your mystery yarn is fingering weight: 

WPI method:

  1. Wrap the yarn around a ruler or another object, like a pencil.
  2. Wrap the strands so they lay next to each other, without overlapping.
  3. Keep going until you’ve covered one inch of length.
  4. Count the number of wraps in inch.

This number is your WPI (wraps per inch). 

For fingering weight yarn, you should have between 14-30 wraps per inch. (Yes, this is a big range. The average fingering weight yarn might be closer to 18-24 WPI)

Gauge: Another way to tell if your yarn is fingering weight is to make a gauge swatch. Remember, gauge is the number of stitches and rows per inch of knitting. 

If you’re knitting, use US size 1 to 3 (2.25-3.25 mm) needles. Knit up several rows in stockinette stitch. Then, see if you get a stitch gauge of 27-32 stitches per 4 inches. 

Or, if you’re crocheting, work up a swatch of single crochet with US size B-1 to E-4 (2.25 – 3.5 mm). You should have a stitch gauge of 21-32 single crochet stitches per 4 inches.

loose skein or hand-dyed fingering yarn

Fingering Yarn FAQs

Here are some common questions about fingering weight yarn.

Can I substitute fingering weight yarn for another weight?

Yes, you can sometimes substitute one weight for another. For example, you might be able to use two strands of fingering weight yarn in place of DK/light worsted yarn.

You might also want to swatch with the new yarn before starting your project, just to make sure you meet gauge, and like how the fabric looks and feels.

What is the difference between fingering weight yarn and sock yarn?

Fingering weight yarn can be used to make socks, but not all fingering weight yarns are considered “sock yarn.”

Sock yarn is usually a blend of different fibers, like wool and nylon. The nylon makes the socks more durable, since they’ll be subject to a lot of wear and tear.

So if you’re looking for yarn to make socks, look for something that’s labeled as “sock yarn.” But if you’re looking for fingering weight yarn for a different project, almost any type of fingering weight yarn will do.

What is the difference between fingering weight yarn and lace weight yarn?

Fingering weight and lace weight are the two lightest weights of yarn. Lace weight yarn is usually thinner than fingering weight. Lace weight yarn can be used for delicate projects like shawls and lace doilies.

Is fingering weight yarn 4-ply?

Fingering weight can be 4-ply, which means that it’s made up of four strands of yarn twisted together. However, fingering weight yarn can also be single ply, 2-ply, or other plies.

If you’re asking this question, you might be thinking of how fingering weight yarn is often referred to as 4-ply yarn in Australia and the UK. In this case, “4-ply” just refers to the thickness of the yarn – it doesn’t necessarily mean that the yarn is made up of 4 strands.

What is the best fingering weight yarn?

This is a tricky question to answer, since there are so many different types and brands of fingering weight yarn out there. You’ll have to decide what’s best for you based on your project, budget, and personal preferences.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, try Knit Picks Stroll or Cascade Heritage. For something a little nicer, try Tosh Sock or an indie-dyed sock yarn.

Where can I buy fingering weight yarn?

Fingering weight yarn is sold at most craft stores, local yarn stores, as well as online.

Big box stores like Michaels and Joann will have a few options, but the selection at your local yarn store will be much better. Some of our favorite places to buy fingering weight yarn online are KnitPicks and LoveCrafts.

Thank you for reading our guide to fingering weight yarn. We hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions we didn’t answer, feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to help you out. Happy crafting!

More Yarn Articles

If you liked this post, you may be interested in these related articles.

What’s Next?

Pin this post: Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards so that you can come back to it later.

Leave a comment: I love to hear your feedback. Tell me in the comments below!

Share on Instagram or Facebook: When you make this project, share it on social media and tag me @sarahmaker. I love to see what you make!