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  • Writer's pictureBecca Norman

Wraps per Inch

Mystery Yarn

We all have some, whether we inherited it from a grandparent, found it at a garage sale, or it’s been in our stash so long the label fell off and we have no memory of where it came from.

So what are you supposed to do with this unlabeled yarn of mystery? Cast on a sweater and pray it turns out? Um… Make 10 different gauge swatches? Lord no. Let it stay in stash purgatory for eternity?

There’s a better way! You can identify the yarn weight even without a label by measuring wraps per inch (henceforth referred to as WPI) If you’re unfamiliar with yarn weights, check out this old old blog post about how to identify them based on clues the labels offer.


  • Mystery yarn

  • Cheat Sheet

  • Ruler

That’s it! Get a printable version of the cheat sheet here or by filling out the form above.

How to Measure:

Carefully begin winding the yarn around the ruler, starting at an inch line. Continue wrapping the yarn around and around, keeping the strands as vertical as you can, and making sure they’re not overlapping or spaced apart from each other. The idea is for them to be just touching. Rubbing shoulders but not hugging.

Don’t be intimidated. I promise it’s easy! Once a whole inch is covered, count how many revolutions the yarn made. Or count as you’re wrapping. That’s easier but sometimes I get lost in thought and forget.

Repeat this process 2 more times, and average out the results. WPI isn’t really very precise, but this will help you find a more accurate measurement.

(WPI + WPI + WPI) ÷ 3 = average WPI in case you weren’t paying attention in math class

Consult the chart

Find the matching number on the right side of the cheat sheet and see which weight it corresponds with. If it’s somewhere in between two of them, don’t sweat it. At least now you know where it falls on the yarn thickness spectrum and can more easily choose the knitting project that would be a good fit for this yarn. And besides, you know I’m never going to give you permission to skip the gauge swatch anyway.

For more tough love, follow me on Instagram.

Now What?

Now, you take a picture of the yarn and add it to your Ravelry stash with all the known details. I’ve got another oldie for you here, explaining how to do that. It’s how I search through my stash without actually pulling everything out of the bin every time. Better yet, you can make a new label for the yarn and make sure it won’t fall off this time!


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