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What Is Bulky Weight Yarn? – Yarn Number 5 – An Easy Guide

Bulky yarn is a great option for quick knitting projects. In this guide, learn what it is and the best ways to use it.

Bulky Weight Yarn Feat Img

This post is part of my series of articles explaining everything about the topic of how to determine yarn weight.

Table Of Contents

What Is Bulky Weight Yarn?

Bulky weight yarn is a thick, heavy yarn works up quickly.

  • AKA – Chunky Yarn or chunky weight
  • Weight Category – Bulky
  • Number 5
  • Wraps Per Inch (WPI) – 6 – 9(6)
  • Knitting Gauge Range Equaling 12 – 15 stitches over 4 inches
  • It’s thicker than Lace, Fingering, Sport, DK and worsted weight yarns
  • It’s thinner than Super Bulky yarn and Jumbo

Bulky Weight Key Facts

Bulky Weight Facts

What Weight Number Is Bulky?

It’s weight number 5.(1) 

Yarns In This Category

  • Craft Yarn
  • Rug Yarn

What’s It Made From?

Bulky yarn is typically made from

  • Acrylic
  • Wool (often merino wool)

Or blends of the two or with other fibers like

  • Superfine alpaca or baby alpaca
  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Rayon (Viscose)
  • Silk

Why Use It?

It works up quickly, making it great for knitting up projects faster.

Also, it’s perfect for winter garments since it keeps you warm and the finished product has great stitch definition.

Here’s a step by step tutorial for Knitting a sweater in bulky yarn by Ashley Lillis.

YouTube video

It’s a great choice for beginners as it knits up on large needles with chunky yarn.

It’s also usually a machine washable yarn, making it easy-care. More luxury ones are normally handwash only.

What If It’s Held Double?

When you hold two strands together, it can create a fabric like super bulky weight yarns.

Pin For Later

Bulky-Weight-Yarn-Pin

What Is Bulky Weight Yarn Used For?

It’s perfect for projects like

  • Chunky sweaters or other chunky knitting projects
  • Hats
  • Blankets or baby blankets
  • Scarves
  • Ponchos
  • Bags
  • Cowls
  • Accessories like mittens

Bulky Yarn Patterns To Try

Here are great free patterns for knitters using bulky weight yarn. They’re divided by skill level to make it easier for you.

Hope you find a wonderful project to do next with this chunky wool!

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

What Knitting Needles To Use

  • US Needle Size – 9 – 11
  • For those of you in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand – 5.5 – 8mm

Note: The above are guidelines only. Always swatch before starting a project.

Substitutions

If you’ve run out of this yarn or can’t find it, here’s what to use instead.

  • Lighter Option – Two strands of DK, Sport or Worsted weight yarn
  • Heavier Option – One strand of Super Bulky or Jumbo weight yarn

My previous article is worsted weight yarn and next up in the series is what is chunky weight yarn.

Q&A

How Do You Spot Bulky Weight Yarn At Craft Stores?

By looking at the ball band!

It states the weight category of the yarn, and other useful information like fiber content and care instructions.

A great shop that sells bulky weight yarns is Lion Brand.

Look into Knit Picks (who also sells knitting and crochet supplies and tools). Their customer service is excellent.

They ship to the United Kingdom and the United States, and they have great recommendations for items to make.

Here’s a collection of great brands to choose from at a fair price for some project inspiration.

  • Premier Yarns
  • Malabrigo
  • Plymouth Yarn
  • Tahki Yarns
  • Ella Rae
  • Red Heart
  • Lana Grossa

All these brands have options in lovely colors. Small businesses have beautiful hand-dyed versions.

How Popular Is Bulky Yarn?

It’s not super popular, but the trend of chunky knits like a bulky blanket is catching on.

How Much Bulky Weight Yarn For A Blanket?

For a small baby blanket, you’ll need about 600-700 yards.

A throw blanket will need around 850-950 yards, and a larger afghan could use 1,100-1,200 yards.

How Much Bulky Weight Yarn For A Sweater?

A women’s size small will need about 600-650 yards, a medium will use 700-750 yards.

A large could use 800-850 yards.

How Much Bulky Weight Yarn For A Scarf?

A scarf needs about 200-300 yards.

Is Bulky Yarn The Same As Chunky?

Yes! These terms are used interchangeably in the yarn world.

Pros & Cons Of Knitting With Bulky Yarn

Pros

  • The obvious one is how much quicker it is to knit a project, even if you were to knit the same thing with a thinner yarn, the amount of time it takes is much less.
  • If you struggle with hand-eye coordination or fiddly tasks, or just have shorter or thicker fingers, the larger needles and thicker yarn make it easier to knit.
  • You don’t need as much yardage compared to thinner yarns, which may be cheaper.
  • Perfect for winter garments, as they trap heat very well!
  • Make for very comfortable and soft clothing.
  • Excellent for warm blankets, and cozy household furniture.

Cons

  • Not suitable for complicated stitchwork, as they won’t show up very well, even with something more simple like seed stitch.
  • Generally sold in balls or skeins that have much less yardage, so it can be more expensive depending on the amount of yarn you need.
  • Also, the balls themselves can be quite expensive, as it’s quite labor-intensive to produce.
  • Sometimes the yarn isn’t tightly spun, so it pills very easily.
  • They make bulky garments, which don’t suit everyone.
  • The resulting projects are also quite heavy, which could be a bit uncomfortable to wear, especially as a scarf.
  • You’ll get hot quite quickly wearing clothing made out of this.
  • People who have arthritis, hand pain/strain or carpal tunnel syndrome will find working with these yarns uncomfortable at best.

What’s The Difference Between Worsted And Bulky Yarn?

Worsted weight is one weight category thinner than bulky.

Here’s a video explaining the difference by Littlejohn’s Yarn.

YouTube video

This excellent breakdown of this subject is sure to help you!

What Is Bulky Yarn In The UK?

In the UK, it’s also known as chunky yarn.

Bulky yarn is a great yarn for creating soft cushions and blankets, plus snuggly garments.

Have fun knitting at a faster pace!

Have questions, comments or tips? Leave them below.

References

  1. Craftyarncouncil.com. 2022. Standard Yarn Weight System | Welcome to the Craft Yarn Council. [online] Available at: <https://www.craftyarncouncil.com/standards/yarn-weight-system> [Accessed 29 September 2022].
  2. How to Measure Wraps Per Inch (WPI) | Welcome to the Craft Yarn Council. “How to Measure Wraps Per Inch (WPI) | Welcome to the Craft Yarn Council.” Accessed October 1, 2022. https://www.craftyarncouncil.com/standards/how-measure-wraps-inch-wpi.

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Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

Jodie Morgan Profile Pic

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, creator of Knit Like Granny. I started this site to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion. Please say hello!

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