As a beginning crafter, you’ll encounter many terms, including Aran yarn. This tutorial will go through what is Aran yarn, its weight category, uses, and suggested hook and needle sizes.
What Is Aran Yarn Tutorial
What is Aran Yarn Definition
Aran yarn is a medium-weight yarn typically used in creating sweaters and other garments, especially those featuring intricate textures and cable patterns. This yarn is thicker than DK (double knitting) yarn but not as thick as bulky or chunky yarns, placing it roughly in the worsted weight category in terms of thickness.
Arayn Yarn History
As one of the yarn-weight terms British or UK yarn manufacturers use, this type of yarn is believed to have originated from sweaters knitted on the west coast of Ireland or the Aran islands.
Traditionally, these thick wool pullovers with unique cable patterns are hand-spun and naturally colored. Knitters also use unwashed to avoid washing away its natural oil (lanolin) component. Hence, a traditional Aran sweater is slightly waterproof and perfect for fisherfolks who typically wear them during winter.
Aran Weight Category
When you shop for Aran yarn or even look at knitting or crochet patterns, some categorize it with worsted weight. But you'll also find others separating the two yarn types.
Both worsted, and Aran belongs to the medium-weight yarn category of the Craft Yarn Council (CYC) Standard. The terms used differ from country to country. Aran is more common in the UK, while worsted is more of a US-based label for medium-weight yarns. It is sometimes classified as 10ply.
When you look at Craft Yarn Council's Standard Yarn Weight System, each category, including medium-weight yarn, has a certain range for needle size, hook size, and gauge. These crochet and knitting gauge ranges are why some categorize these two yarn weights differently.
Crochet Hook and Knitting Needle Sizes
Remember, the exact gauge and needle/hook size can vary based on the specific yarn brand, the project, and individual crafting style, so check the yarn label and pattern recommendation.
|Crochet Hook Size
|5mm - 6.5mm (H-8 to K-10 ½)
|Crochet Gauge (Stitches per 4"/10cm)
|Knitting Needle Size
|4.5mm - 5.5mm (US 7-9)
|Knitting Gauge (Stitches per 4"/10cm)
Aran Yarn vs Worsted Weight Yarn
Some argue that Aran is a heavier yarn than worsted because it has a thicker strand. It's why some prefer to categorize it as heavy, worsted-weight yarn.
They aren't specific when referring to a knitting and crochet gauge. Hence, it’s advisable to consider how heavy and thick you want your finished project to be.
Here is a table comparing the characteristics of Aran and worsted:
|Medium-weight, slightly thicker than worsted
|Medium-weight, slightly thinner than Aran
|Often 3-ply or more for added texture
|Commonly 2-ply or 4-ply, smooth texture
|Gauge (Stitches per inch/cm)
|Slightly fewer stitches per inch/cm due to thickness
|Slightly more stitches per inch/cm
|Textured patterns, such as cables and ribs, sweaters, and warm garments
|Smooth, detailed work, including sweaters, scarves, and hats
|Traditionally wool for warmth and durability
|Can be wool or a blend, focusing on smoothness
|Warmth & Durability
|Very warm and durable, ideal for cold climates
|Warm, balance of durability & definition
Substituting Aran and Worsted Yarns
Example: Your crochet or knit pattern calls for an Aran yarn, and the craft store uses US labels.
What you need to do is to look at the specific gauge required. Then, compare it with the available worsted yarns at the store. Next, choose the best yarn brand that matches or is close to the required gauge or number of stitches your pattern lists.
Fibers Used In Making Aran Yarn
You will find several options for fibers used in Aran yarn production. It can be natural or synthetic but was traditionally made from wool.
Natural yarns, like cotton and wool, are perfect for thicker, heavier, and warmer crocheted or knitted items. Meanwhile, synthetic options like acrylic yarn are ideal for those who want to crochet or knit more durable and easier-to-maintain products.
Uses of Aran Yarn
Apart from the traditional Aran sweaters commonly worn by fisherfolks that you can make from this type of yarn, you can also produce cozy, stylish winter sweaters, wraps, and sweaters.
Of course, you can also make thinner cold-weather cardigans and summer sweaters. However, choose a smaller gauge Aran weight yarn to ensure the product isn't too thick or too thin. Crafters like me also love to use this yarn to make hats, scarves, and shawls.
And while it's ideal to use sock weight yarn, DK weight yarn, or sport weight yarn (super fine, fine, or light) for a baby cap or bonnet, booties, and mittens, it doesn't mean you can't use Aran.
Also, you aren't limited to making garments and accessories. You can also produce pillows, home and office decorations, and kitchen items like oven gloves and pot holders from the Aran yarn.
Aran Yarn FAQs
Can I Combine Lighter-Weight Yarn Strands for Aran Yarn?
You can use Aran yarn for projects requiring a different yarn weight. You can even substitute Aran with any yarn belonging to the medium-weight category. You can also try combining two lighter-weight yarns to imitate Aran yarn.
However, there will be slight differences in the number of stitches or gauges depending on the yarns you combine. Simply crochet or knit a swatch first for a good look and feel of the combined yarn's gauge, texture, and stretch.
Suggested combinations to create Aran yarn are:
- Two Fine or Sport Weight Yarn Strands: Substitute for a lighter-weight Aran or standard worsted yarn
- One Fine or Sport Yarn Strand and One Light or DK Yarn Strand: Ideal for thicker projects using heavier Aran or heavy worsted yarn
What is Aran Weight Equivalent to?
Aran weight yarn is considered a medium-weight yarn, falling between DK (double knitting) and bulky yarns in thickness. Its equivalent to the yarn weight heavy worsted or worsted. The classification can vary slightly between manufacturers and countries. The Craft Yarn Council's weight system, classifies Aran as a 4 or a light 5.
What is another name for Aran Yarn?
Another name for Aran yarn, particularly in the United States and some other regions, is "heavy worsted" yarn. This term helps distinguish it from standard worsted-weight yarn by indicating it is slightly thicker. However, the terminology can vary between different yarn manufacturers and countries, so it's always a good idea to look at the yarn's gauge and recommended needle size to ensure it matches the requirements of your project.
A Better Understanding of Aran Yarn
So, what is Aran yarn? Put simply, it’s another yarn weight you must know about to use the correct type for crocheting and knitting projects. It's a durable, medium-weight, fairly versatile yarn that’s perfect for fashion items designed to provide warmth and enhance style and delicate-looking decorations and housewares.