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Understanding Yarn Count in Weaving

  • 7 min read

Weaving Yarn Weights Explained: How to Understand Yarn Count in Weaving

When it comes to choosing yarn for your project the size of yarn is an important factor in determining whether your fabric will be fine or bulky. This is where understanding yarn count in weaving comes in.

Yarn count, or the size of yarn, is defined by its weight and fineness. It can be a little confusing when all over the world slightly different ways to note yarn count in weaving are used. However, with some simple definitions up your sleeve, you can demystify those numbers. This, in turn, will help you select the yarn size and quantity of cones of yarn required for your next project.

Here in the Thread Collective shop, you'll see yarn count in weaving provided in 2 ways. Those are; Metric count (Nm) and English cotton count (Ne). You'll see it noted alongside the yarn as, for example, Nm 14/2 or Ne 8/2.

How do we interpret yarn count in weaving? Luckily for both yarn count units, the formula is essentially the same. Though different in that one involves the metric system and the other is imperial.

Weaving Yarn Weight

Weaving yarn weights are typically presented in numbers such as 20/2, 8/2, 10/2, and so on.These are examples of cotton yarn weights. For example, with a 20/2 yarn, the first number determines the size of each ply that makes up the yarn while the second number refers to how many plies the yarn has. So, it's two plies of size 20 yarn.

The higher the first number, the thinner the yarn is. This means that a size 20 yarn is thinner than a size 10 yarn. However, keep in mind that different fibre types have different sizes. So, a 20/2 cotton weaving yarn is not the same size as a 20/2 wool weaving yarn. The same goes for silk yarn, linen yarn, hemp yarn, and other novelty yarn that have varying sizes.


Important Weaving Terms You Need to Know

When you are looking around to buy weaving yarns and are exploring endless weaving drafts, you are likely to come across terms like YPP, EPI, PPI, weaving sett, and WPI. What do these all mean? Read on and find out the definitions of these common weaving terms.

YPP (yards per pound)

This refers to the number of yards per pound of yarn. The more yards per pound, the thinner the yarn is. However, it is understandable that some types of fibre are lighter than others, so this might not be a great measure of telling the difference in diameter between different fibres.

PPI (picks per inch)

This is measured by the number of weft threads per inch of woven fabric. PPI will vary depending on the yarn size, the end use of the fabric, and desired drape. A pick is a single weft thread. Generally speaking, the higher the picks per inch is, the finer the fabric will be.

EPI (ends per inch)

The number of warp threads in an inch of woven fabric is the EPI. You might notice that it is often used interchangeably with sett.The higher the ends per inch is, the finer the fabric will be.

This measurement is helpful to weavers who need to use the number of ends per inch to pick the right reed to weave with. The number of ends per inch typically varies on the pattern that is to be woven, as well as the yarn thickness.

WPI (wraps per inch)

This is a way of measuring yarn thickness. WPI is commonly used by weavers, but it helps basically anyone working with yarn to identify the yarn weight if its label is missing. Wraps per inch is measured using a ruler, or anything with a consistent circumference. Wrap the yarn around the ruler, counting how many times you can comfortably wrap yarn around a ruler in one inch.

Do keep in mind that the wraps per inch measurement is subjective and the results may vary, depending on how tightly you wrap the yarn. It is best to work up a gauge swatch before getting started with any weaving project.


This is the distribution of warp ends in your woven fabric. Simply put, it refers to how many strands of warp yarn there are in a single inch of weaving width, just like the EPI. The easiest way to determine the sett is to check wraps per inch.

If you know your weaving draft, and the WPI calculation, you can get a starting point for your sett. Sett for plain weave is often sett at half the number of WPI and sett for a twill weave is sett at 2/3 of the WPI.

For example, if you are using 8/2 cotton with a WPI of 32, plain weave would be sett at 16 EPI. If you were to use the same cotton for twill, you would sett at 21-22 EPI. These starting points are to be considered as guides only as the sett will vary depending how close you want your warp threads to be and your desired drape.


So, how do you read yarn count in weaving? Some simple definitions.


Unit of measurement: provides you with the system yarn count is provided in.

Yarn counts per ply: The length per weight would be if the yarn were only a single ply.

If the unit of measurement is Nm this is how many skeins of 1000 meter lengths of a single ply of the yarn would be needed to make one kilogram.

If the unit of measurement is Ne this becomes the number of 840 yard (770m) skeins of yarn that weigh 1 pound (0.45 kg).

Number of plies: How many individual strands of thread make up the yarn so 1 is 1 ply, 2 is 2ply, 3 is 3 ply and so on.


A little maths:

Knowing this, if neither yards per pound (YPP) nor meters/kg are listed you can estimate this with the following formulas. You can also use these calculations to figure out the length of yarn you have left after using some. Don't forget to subtract the weight of the cone first.

Understanding Yarn Count

Formula for calculating yarn by weight from yarn count number.

Regardless of the yarn count system used the more yarn you have per kg or pound the finer your yarn will be.


Yarn sizes (From left Maurice Brassard Cotton Ne 8/16, Ne 8/8, Ne 8/4, Ne 8/2, Ne 16/2) However, note that the same yarn count for different fibre types does not mean you'll have the same EPI or WPI. Though both may be Ne 8/2 the yarns may have different diameters. This is due to factors such as how the yarn was spun and whether the fibre is protein or cellulose. Thus, if mixing and matching yarns in your project it's important to also look at WPI or the recommended EPI for your weave structure.


What Yarn Weight is Best for Weaving?

Before starting a weaving project, you should already know what type of yarn you want to use and then choose accordingly. However, if you aren't quite sure what yarn is the right choice for your project, you may want to consider asking a more experienced weaver with the material. They can help point you in the right direction.

If you don't know an experienced weaver whom you can direct your questions to, we, at Thread Collective, are always here to help out. So, keep reading.

Yarn counts are important to understand because they give us information about the quality of our yarn. Knowing the amount of yarn per pound or kilo allows us to select the appropriate size of cones for our projects.



Popular Yarns for Weaving

There are a variety of yarns you can use for weaving, including cotton, wool, silk, linen, and many more. For your to have full control over your weaving, you have to know how different fibres work with each other and what type of fibre is best suited for the project you are about to get started on.

Still fuzzy on all of that? Never fear. You don't need to understand the intricacies of the yarn count system to make it work for you! Unfortunately, there is no one size that fits all, but for a great starting place, a scarf would be wonderful in finer weaving yarns like thisbambooTencel. Baby on the way? Try thisorganic cotton for a cushy blanket. Updating your hand towels? This8/2 cottolin is a popular choice. You could also order some sample cards if you prefer a visual and textural representation of yarn choices.

Moreover, these are some of the most popular weaving yarns here at Thread Collective.

Ada Fibres Australian Cotton Sock Yarn

Our range of ethically-sourced and locally grown Australian Cotton yarns are increasing in popularity as plenty of weavers have started to explore eco-friendly options in weaving. This exceptional cotton sock yarn is a Ne 8/4 equivalent, which makes it great to use for weaving a variety of homewares and clothing. It can serve as either warp thread or weft thread.

The Australian Cotton Sock Yarn from Ada Fibres is available in 200g spools and 450g cones and currently has nine colour options.

Maurice Brassard Cottolin Yarn

Made of 60% organic cotton and 40% linen, this beautiful blend is a perfect choice for weaving tea towels, clothing, and table linens, furnishings as it has absorbent qualities. It also makes a good warp as it's strong enough to withstand tension while weaving.

The Maurice Brassard Cottolin 8/2 yarn is sold in 227g spools and is currently available in 38 beautiful colour options.

Venne Organic Linen Yarn

If you are looking for a high-quality yarn that will add a smooth shine to your weaving, then look no further than this organic linen yarn. It's made from long flax linen that has been wet spun, making it nice and shiny. It can be used as either warp yarn or weft yarn.

The Organic Linen Nel 16/2 yarn from Venne is available in 100g spools and 1kg cones. It comes in 21 vibrant and neutral colour choices.


Stock Up on Yarns and Start Weaving

Here at Thread Collective, we stock a huge selection of weaving yarns from various brands, including Venne, Maurice Brassard, ITO, Malabrigo, Ada Fibres, and many more. Choose from cotton yarns, wool yarns, linen yarns, silk yarns, rayon yarns, and many more. 

Feel free to look around and you might see something you like in our weaving yarncollection. We have sourced our yarns from all over the world with our goal to bring you only the best there is to offer. Whether you are looking for yarns made of natural fibres or synthetic fibres or weaving on a floor loom or table loom, you'll surely find the perfect yarn for you right here.


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