When I first began making amigurumi, one of the toys I made was a corgi for my fiancé, who adores them.
I bought a corgi pattern from one of my favorite designers who is renowned for making high quality, proportional, realistic amigurumi. I eagerly started making the corgi, certain that it would turn out wonderfully.
Unfortunately, my corgi’s snout ended up looking too big for its head. It looked ridiculous! I frogged it and made it again to make sure I followed the pattern properly. I ended up with the same result – a disproportionally huge snout. The head and the snout were made in different colors, but they were both the same weight and brand: Red Heart Super Saver. The only differences were the colors, or so I thought.
Well, it turns out that even though they were both marked as the same weight, and they were exactly the same brand, the yarn I used for the head was thinner than the yarn I had used for the snout.
This was my first lesson in the differences among worsted weight yarns. Not all worsted weight yarn is the same size – even if it’s the same brand!
Here are two spirals I made with out of worsted weight yarn of the same brand, using the same hook and pattern. You can see that the red one is slightly bigger than the orange one. This is after just a few rounds of crocheting. The difference would only get more noticeable if I had made even more stitches.
The size difference becomes even more apparent when you stack them.
Luckily, there’s a simple way to measure the thickness of yarns at home – by wrapping the yarn around a ruler and seeing how many wraps can fit in an inch. That number is the “wraps per inch.” The higher a yarn’s WPI is, the thinner it is.
You don’t want to wrap the yarn too tightly. Just tightly enough that you’re not leaving spaces between the yarn, but not so tightly that they’re flattened, or you’ll get a distorted measurement.
Here I’m measuring the WPI of Red Heart Super Saver in Carrot. It has a WPI of 11.
Red Heart Super Saver in Cherry Red has a WPI of 9.
These are both the same brand and the same line of yarns, but they come in very different sizes.
If you were to feel these yarns in the store, even without a ruler, you’d be able to notice that there’s a difference in thickness. But being able to measure the WPI of a yarn can give you a more precise understanding of how different the sizes are, which can help you to better choose which yarns to use.
After being burned a few times by the big differences in worsted weight yarns, I’m now much more careful when I pick yarns for a multicolored project. In amigurumi, proper proportions can make the difference between a project that looks realistic and well done, or a project that looks shoddy and wonky. So if I were to crochet a project that uses different colors of yarn, I’d pick the yarns that were closest in size using their WPI.
Sometimes, to do that, I’ll have to mix and match different brands.
For example, I’ve found that Caron One Pound’s white is closer in size to most of Red Heart Super Savers colors (greens, blues, orange, browns), and that certain colors in Red Heart Super Saver that are just so big that I rarely use anymore (white, red, and black) unless they’re being used as the only color in a project.
Lastly, measuring a yarn’s WPI is also a great way to determine weights of yarns that you don’t have the labels for – whether that’s a mystery yarn that you’ve inherited, or a forgotten skein in your stash.