What Is Worsted Weight Yarn?
Worsted Weight Yarn? What the heck does that mean? Learning about yarn fibers and types can seem complicated at first, but with a little direction, we’ll get you sorted out right away.
If you’re new to the world of crocheting, knitting, and the fiber arts, there’s a lot of terminologies to try to understand. Let’s start with yarn weights. Does that mean how much a ball of yarn weighs? Well, you might think so but it actually refers to the thickness of a strand of yarn.
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Understanding the Yarn Weight System
There are eight categories of yarn weights and worsted weight yarn is somewhere in the middle between the lightest, lace weight yarn all the way up to the super bulky weight yarn. Thankfully the good people at the Craft Yarn Council designed a system for us to categorize different yarn weight. To be specific, yarn weight determines how many stitches it takes to knit or crochet 1 inch of fabric.
What Are the Yarn Weight Numbers?
The yarn weight system starts with the smallest size and goes up.
- Yarn weight 0 Lace – lace thread yarn (lace projects)
- Yarn weight 1 Super Fine – sock or fingering weight yarn (lace and fine baby clothes)
- Yarn weight 2 Fine- sport or baby weight yarn (socks and baby clothes)
- Yarn weight 3 Light – Light or DK worsted yarn (lightweight clothing and accessories)
- Yarn weight 4 Medium – Worsted or Aran weight yarn (blankets, sweaters, mittens, scarves, shawls)
- Yarn weight 5 – Bulky – Chunky weight yarn (beanies, blankets, scarves)
- Yarn weight 6 – Super Bulky – Super bulky or roving yarn (crafts, blankets)
- Yarn weight 7 – Jumbo – Jumbo yarns or roving yarn (crafts)
Another really cool way to figure out what weight yarn you have (perfect when the yarn label falls off your yarn) is to use this amazing but simple knitting trick called “wraps per inch”, also known as the WPI. Different type of yarn from yarn manufacturers have so many variables so using this WPI is a good way to figure out the approximate gauge.
To understand WPI, you simply need to wrap your yarn around a pencil (not too tightly) and then count the loops of yarn covering the pencil in one inch.
|Yarn Weight||Wraps Per Inch||Approx. Gauge|
|Size 0 – Lace weight yarn||35 or more||+ 8.5 sts/inch|
|Size 1 – Fingering weight yarn||19-22 wraps||7-8 sts/inch|
|Size 2 – Sport weight yarn||15-18 wraps||5.75-6.5 sts/inch|
|Size 3 – DK weight yarn||12-14 wraps||5.5-6 sts/inch|
|Size 4 – Worsted weight yarn||9-11 wraps||4-5 sts/inch|
|Size 5 – Bulky weight yarn||7-8 wraps||3-3.75 sts/inch|
|Size 6 – Super-bulky weight yarn||6 wraps or less||1.5-3 sts/inch|
Worsted Weight Yarn Popularity
According to our friends at Lion Brand, Yarnspirations and Berroco, worsted weight yarn (sometimes also referred to as aran yarn) is the most popular yarn for crocheters (knitting is close behind but their favorite yarn weight is DK also known as Double Knit weight). According to Red Heart Yarns, their Red Heart Super Saver yarn, a worsted weight yarn, has been its best selling yarn for over 70 years!
Where Did the Name “Worsted Weight” Come From?
If you’re looking for a little history lesson, worsted weight yarn derives its name from the English town of Worstead that formed a yarn manufacture center in the 12th century. The Worstead wool fibers were made from the wool of Teeswater, Old Leicester Longwool and Romney Marsh sheep breeds. The yarn from the Worstead manufacturer was considered stronger, finer and smoother than the traditional woolens and gain popularity.
What’s the Difference Between Aran Weight and Worsted Weight Yarn?
Worsted weight yarn can also be called Aran weight yarn and the two can be used almost interchangeably. If we’re to get to the knitting-gritty, the Aran weight yarn is ever so slightly thicker. The term Aran weight tends to be more commonly used in the U.K. and you’ll often find British yarn companies refer to their worsted weight yarn as Aran weight.
Worsted weight yarn tends to be the work-horse yarn that is used in so many crochet and knitting projects. It’s a fine enough yarn that’s great for detail work and nice draping but it’s thick enough that knit and crochet patterns that use worsted weight yarn work up relatively quickly.
It’s the perfect yarn weight for beginners and is ideal for making knit and crochet blankets, garments, accessories, toys, amigurumi, and home decor projects.
What Size Crochet Hook Is Best for Worsted Weight Yarn
Generally speaking, worsted weight yarn produces a gauge of 16-20 knit stitches and 11-14 crochet stitches per swatch and is best suited to using size 7/4.00mm – size 9/5.5mm knitting needles and I9/5.5mm – K10/6.5mm crochet hooks. Using the smaller hook or needle sizes will make for a stiff, tighter fabric while using a larger hook or needle size will make a looser, drapey and much more relaxed fabric. It’s important when choosing a yarn weight and hook size to figure out the types of yarn, style and look of the fabric you’re ultimately going for.
Speaking of best hooks. I have to say that without a doubt my favorite crochet hook for any project is the Furls crochet hook. In particular, I can’t get enough of the Odyssey hook collection which really feels good in my hand and prevents cramping and sore hands. Check out my favorite crochet hooks here.
How Do I Calculate How Much Yarn I Need for a Project?
If you’re anything like me, the solution to this question has been to buy more yarn. However, there is a smarter plan for this that might save you a little bit of money. I could teach you the formula which is (length x width x gauge) / 6 = yards needed but let’s make this even easier. You can use one of these yarn yardage calculators. Here are the two I recommend:
Favorite Worsted Weight Yarn
Below are some examples of popular worsted weight yarns by some of my favorite brands. These medium weight yarn include different yarn fibers including merino, wool, alpaca, cotton, acrylic, blends and more.
Cascade 220 and Cascade 220 Heathers has a range of shades that could make a grown crafter weep! Made out of 100% Peruvian wool, this glorious yarn works up a dream and is suitable for any worsted pattern. There’s no end to the list of uses for the fabulous Cascade 220 – whether you’re a knitter or crocheter, this makes the perfect choice for colorwork. Great for garments, accessories and homeware.
One of my personal favorites, Berroco Vintage is a fantastic blend of wool and acrylic makes this a brilliant choice for childrenswear thanks to the fact you can machine wash it! The Berroco Vintage color palette is full of gorgeous modern-jewel shades and pastels for any worsted-weight project.
Caron Simply Soft
A very popular acrylic yarn that’s versatile and soft to the touch. 100% acrylic and machine washable, Caron Simply Soft is a hassle-free yarn that knits up resilient garments that you can even dry on a low heat. It knits and crochet to worsted weight patterns, and it’s available in a wide choice of colors, so you can make something tough to suit the kids!
Lion Brand Wool-Ease
This 4-ply yarn has the feel, warmth, and softness of wool, combined with the easy-care of machine wash-and-dryability. Lion Band Wool Ease is a wonderful type of worsted weight yarn, and it comes in a fantastic range of colors! Its great stitch definition makes it a perfect choice for colorwork and complex stitch patterning; this is perfect yarn for both garments and homeware. Knit or crochet a blanket that will wash and last, or garments that you will wear time and time again.
Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran
This Debbie Bliss aran weight yarn is a super soft, 100% merino wool yarn for every dream of a knit and crochet project. The Rialto signature twist that creates a crisp stitch definition that will make your stitches pop, and the color palette of classic, signature Debbie Bliss shades makes this a go-to aran yarn forever!
Malabrigo Rios takes the incredible softness of Malabrigo’s yarns and makes it machine-washable! This plied superwash Merino yarn comes in rich, beautiful colors, and you won’t have to worry about felting. Malabrigo Rios is a favorite with knitters around the world, and for good reason! It knits to a standard worsted weight of Malabrigo yarn, and is super soft and washable. Rios has great stitch definition and an array of colorways to choose from. Malabrigo yarn is hand-dyed, meaning that each beautiful skein is unique.
Lily Sugar’n Cream Solids
The Lily Sugar ‘n Cream brand is well-known for the exceptional quality of its products as well as the extensive color palette it offers. This yarn is extraordinarily soft and breathable. It is 100% cotton yarn that is machine washable and dryable.
Rowan Pure Wook Superwash Worsted
This pure wool, machine washable worsted weight yarn comes in a stunning range of signature Rowan shades! It works well with any worsted weight pattern and most Aran weight patterns. It is an absolute dream to knit and wear!
Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Made from 50% Peruvian Highland wool and 50% fine alpaca, this yarn is a dream on US 7 (4.5mm) or US 8 (5mm) needles, and ideal for your worsted-weight projects. The stunning Berroco color palette is designed to reflect natural plant shades, including rich jewels and the outrageously beautiful heather melange shades!
Plymouth Yarn Encore Worsted
This fantastic worsted weight yarn is a great option for any pattern that calls for worsted yarn. The color pallet consists of traditional and bright colors, jewel tones, marled colors, and even candy-striped colors for the Christmas season. It is a dream for garments, accessories, afghans and other homeware – and great for children because it’s washer and dryer friendly!
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what worsted weight yarn is. Now you need to figure out what great new knitting or crochet project you’re going to use your yarn for.