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.
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 yarn weight. To be more specific, yarn weight determines how many stitches it takes to knit or crochet 1 inch of fabric.
The yarn weight system starts with the smallest size and goes up.
- Yarn weight 0 Lace – lace thread yarn
- Yarn weight 1 Super Fine – sock or fingering weight yarn
- Yarn weight 2 Fine- sport or baby weight yarn
- Yarn weight 3 Light – Light or DK worsted yarn
- Yarn weight 4 Medium – Worsted or Aran weight yarn
- Yarn weight 5 – Bulky – Chunky weight yarn
- Yarn weight 6 – Super Bulky – Super bulky or roving yarn
- Yarn weight 7 – Jumbo – Jumbo or roving yarn
Another really cool way to figure out what weight yarn you have (perfect when the label falls off your yarn) is to use this amazing but simple knitting trick called “wraps per inch”, also known as the WPI.
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 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
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 style and look of the fabric you’re ultimately going for.
Favorite Worsted Weight Yarn
Below are some examples of popular worsted weight yarns by some of my favorite brands.
Cascade 220 yarns are made of 100% Peruvian wool and have a massive color range.
One of my personal favorites, Berroco Vintage is a mix of acrylic, wool, and nylon and is full of modern jewel and pastel shades.
A very popular acrylic yarn that’s versatile and soft to the touch.
This 4-ply yarn has the feel, warmth, and softness of wool, combined with the easy-care of machine wash-and-dryability.
A 100% extra fine merino wool that will be a pleasure to knit or crochet and equally enjoyable to wear.
Red Heart Soft is known for its extreme softness and beautiful drape. A special spinning process results in a silky feel to the yarn.
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.
Perfect for beginners and experienced knitters, Encore offers a great value for crafters that demand the highest quality. Bouncy 3- ply incorporates just enough wool for a fleecy feel.
Hopefully now you have a much 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.