Learn what is worsted weight yarn to know when and when not to use it. Also known as 10-ply and Aran, depending on where you live, it has a not-so-low and not-too-high weight. Knowing more about it is essential since it’s one of the factors that contribute to the success of your artistry projects.
What is Yarn Weight - An Overview
Before we talk about what is worsted weight yarn in detail, we first need to understand what yarn weight is and the different weight categories. That said, yarn weight refers to how thin or thick the strand is rather than how physically heavy or light it is. It relies on how many strands have been put together and the process used in manufacturing the yarn.
The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) Standard
To ensure each yarn weight category is the same across the board, the Craft Yarn Council was established in 1981. This non-profit trade association comprises some of the most leading accessory and yarn manufacturers, book publishers, magazines, and consultants.
They established a yarn weight system to be easier for manufacturers, distributors, users, publishers, and more to identify which yarn has a light, medium, or heavy weight. Not only did they assign specific weights, but they also developed a standard numerical labeling system, ranging from zero to seven. You’ll find this number on the yarn packaging or band to easily and quickly find the yarn type you need.
Do note that some manufacturers don’t use the CYC standard label. They use specific weight names, depending on where the yarn has been manufactured, which might be an easier way of knowing what is worsted weight yarn. Therefore, you must familiarize yourself with the various terms, especially if you use several yarn brands for your projects.
Yarn Weight Categories
Below is the standard category for yarn weights and their equivalent names in several countries.
|#0||2 ply||1 ply||Lace or Laceweight|
|#||3 ply||2 ply||Fingering|
|#2||3 or 5 ply||3 or 4 ply||Baby or Sock/Sport|
|#3||8 ply||DK||Light Worsted|
|#6||14 ply||Super Chunky||Super Bulky|
|#7||N/A||N/A||Jumbo or Roving|
Other Ways to Determine Yarn Weight
There are other means on how you can determine the type of yarn that you have at hand or what is worsted weight yarn, including:
WPI and/or sts/inch
Apart from the yarn number and name, you can also check its WPI (Wraps Per Inch) label, ranging from less than 6 to above 35. You may also look at the yarn’s Stockinette Stitch (sts/inch) label, ranging from less than 6 to 40.
The higher the number, the lower the yarn number because thicker yarns occupy more space, leading to fewer wraps or stitches per inch. Since our primary focus is what is worsted weight yarn, this particular yarn has a WPI of 9 to 11 and sts/inch of 4 to 5.
Number of Wraps
What if you have a pile of yarn and lost some or all of the yarn ball bands? How will you determine if the yarn is of the worsted type?
There is a simple technique applying the WPI.
This technique uses tools that are already available in your kit, namely:
- Ruler or tape measure
The first thing you need to do is lay the ruler or tape measure on a flat surface. When using a tape measure, ensure you straighten it enough to achieve an accurate measurement.
Next, lay the pencil right below or above the measuring tool. Measure an inch; you may label each end with chalk or crayon for easy identification. Carefully wrap your yarn around the one-inch area of the pencil. Ensure you don’t do it too tightly and no holes or space are present between the wrapped strands. If you have an inconsistently shaped yarn, you can exceed the one-inch mark.
Lastly, count the number of times you wrapped the yarn around the one-inch area of the pencil. As mentioned, the number of wraps a worsted weight yarn will have is between 9 and 11. Here’s a helpful video demonstrating this technique:
With this method of determining the number of wraps, all you need is a WPI tool. It’s a tool that already has a pre-measured area where you will wrap the yarn around. Some brands even have a WPI chart for your convenience.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn - A Detailed Look
According to CYC and based on the table above, worsted yarn belongs to the medium-weight category. The “worsted” term originated from a Norfolk, England village’s name, Worstead. Since the 12th century, it’s been famous for spinning or weaving fiber and producing smooth, even yarns.
As such, worsted also refers to a specific type of wool processing or spinning method. This technique produces a dense type of yarn by obtaining short-hair fibers through combing. The same-length fibers obtained are then spun parallel to each other.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn Features?
In terms of qualities, the worsted yarn has an excellent stitch definition. That is why experts highly recommend it, especially the light-colored ones, to beginners. With this yarn, you would be able to see technique errors easily.
Combine this feature with its medium weight, items made out of it won’t be too bulky but will keep you snug and warm. It also makes it a budget-friendly option because you can craft more items with one ball of yarn than when using thicker types of yarn. Similarly, you can easily combine various colors at a time.
Another great feature attributed to what is worsted weight yarn is its high level of durability or strength. That is all thanks to how it's constructed. From its other name, it’s clear that the worsted weight yarn has multiple plies. Meaning thin or small yarns have been spun, twisted, and braided together.
Regarding what is worsted weight yarn made of, it can be acrylic, alpaca, or cotton, or a combination of any synthetic fiber or thread, just like any other yarn type.
Lastly, you can easily substitute it with another yarn type if you run out of it. Although, the worsted yarn is easily accessible because of its high production, thanks to its popularity and versatility.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn Used For?
Undoubtedly, the worsted yarn is one of the most versatile types, as evidenced by its popularity among several brands of knitted and crocheted items. In fact, Red Heart Super Saver reported that the worsted yarn had been its best-sellers for over seven decades.
Apart from crocheting and knitting, worsted yarns are perfect for weaving, crafting, and textile arts. Thus, you can create patterns, baby items, cushion covers, accessories, decors, mittens, toys, hats, blankets, shawls, scarves, clothes, and more.
What Hook or Needle Size Should You Use?
Knowing what is worsted weight yarn isn't enough; you must also know what needle or hook to use. Generally, the size recommended by CYC when using worsted weight yarns ranges from 9 to 10.5 (5.5 to 6.5 millimeters or I–9 to K–10 ½). Read more about crochet hook sizes.
That said, arts don’t come with specific rules, so needle or hook size is more of a personal choice. Meaning you can use sizes smaller or larger than the recommendation.
Likewise, the type of project you plan or want to accomplish will help determine your hook or needle choice. Here are some expert suggestions to guide you:
- Flexible, Tight (Dish Towels, Potholders, and Socks): 3.25 to 4.0 mm
- Stiff, Tight (Toys): 3.75 to 4mm
- Flexible, Flowy (Drapery, Blankets): 5.5 to 6.5mm
- Thicker Items: 6.5mm and above
- Lace Patterns: 6.0 to 8.0mm
As you can see from the above information, the size recommendations are not very specific. They come in ranges. Hence, experts propose that it’s best to have a small trial project or try out a particular needle or hook size before proceeding with your project.
By doing so, you can check whether or not you could achieve the texture, tension, or quality you're aiming for, so you can change into either a smaller or larger gauge. This way, you won’t waste any yarn because of a failed project.
What Are the Best Worsted Yarn Brands?
Now that you know what is worsted weight yarn and how to identify it, you're assured that you'll get the right type for your project. However, shopping for worsted yarns or any yarn for that matter can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner.
You’ll find several brands, and expectedly, there are low-quality ones. Although they’re most probably available at the lowest price possible, you can’t overlook the benefit of knowing which brand is the best.
As such, below are some of the most popular and established ones, not just in their country of origin but also in other countries:
- Lion Brand
- Knit Picks
- Mary Maxim
- Laxtons Specialist Yarns
- Black Isle Yarns
- Town End Yarns
- Wagtail Yarns
- Millpost Merino
- Australian Organic Wool
What is Worsted Weight Yarn - In Conclusion
Worsted is a type of yarn with a medium “weight” or thickness that has been used for centuries. It is durable, versatile, highly accessible, beginner-friendly, and more popularly utilized in the crocheting and knitting industries. To make the most out of it and enjoy its benefits, make sure you pair it with the right hook or needle gauge. We hope that we helped you answer what is worsted weight yarn when you can use it, and how to identify it.