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 is a medium-weight yarn, particularly popular in the US. Learning more about worsted weight yarn is essential since using the correct yarn is one factor that contributes to the success of your crochet and knitting projects.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn
Worsted weight yarn is a medium weight yarn. It is also referred to as Aran, 10 ply, or category 4. This yarn is an excellent choice for beginners because it knits or crochets up fast and is widely available. You will also find light worsted weight yarn, which is slightly thinner and more similar to DK yarn or 8 ply.
On Overview of Yarn Weights
Before we discuss what is worsted weight yarn in detail, we first need to understand what yarn weight is and the different weight categories. Yarn weight refers to how thin or thick the strand is rather than how physically heavy or light it is. It reflects how many strands have been put together and the process used in manufacturing the yarn.
The Craft Yarn Council (CYC) Standard
To ensure a standard yarn weight system and category, the Craft Yarn Council was established in 1981. This non-profit trade association comprises some of the 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. Depending on where the yarn has been manufactured, they use specific weight names, which might be an easier way of knowing what is worsted weight yarn.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn's Weight Category
Below is the standard category for yarn weights and their equivalent names in several countries. As you can see, worsted weight yarn is a category 4.
|Lace or Laceweight
|3 or 5 ply
|3 or 4 ply
|Baby or Sock/Sport
|Jumbo or Roving
What is Worsted Weight Yarn's Guage?
The yarn label will usually tell you the number of stitches and rows in a 4 inch (10cm) square. For worsted weight yarn, this is generally in the range of 16-20 stitches per square. Knit or crochet a gauge swatch to check your number of stitches.
How to Identify Worsted Weight Yarn
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:
What is Worsted Weight yarn WPI and 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.
Worsted weight yarn has a WPI of 9 to 11 and sts/inch of 4 to 5.
Measuring the Number of Wraps of Worsted Weight Yarn
What if you have a pile of yarn and have 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 for 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. The number of wraps a worsted weight yarn will have is between 9 and 11.
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 that you will wrap the yarn around. Some brands even have a WPI chart for your convenience.
What is Worsted Yarns Hook or Needle Size
Crochet Hook Size
Generally, the crochet size recommended by CYC when using worsted weight yarns ranges from 5.5 to 6.5 millimeters or I–9 to K–10 ½. Knitting needles sizes should be 4.5-5.5mm or 7 to 9. 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. The type of project you plan or want to accomplish will help determine your hook or needle choice for the worsted weight yarn. Here are some 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, it’s best to have a small trial project or try out a particular needle or hook size before proceeding with your project.
You can check whether or not you can 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 is Worsted Weight Yarn - A Detailed Look
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. According to CYC and the table above, worsted yarn belongs to the medium-weight category.
As such, worsted also refers to a specific type of wool processing or spinning method. This technique produces a dense 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's Features?
In terms of qualities, the worsted yarn has an excellent stitch definition. That is why it is highly recommended for 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.
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. Worsted weight yarn has multiple plies, meaning thin or small yarns have been spun, twisted, and braided together.
Worsted weight yarn can be made of acrylic, alpaca, cotton, or blends of any synthetic fiber or thread, just like any other yarn type.
What is Worsted Weight Yarn Used For?
Undoubtedly, the worsted yarn is one of the most versatile and popular types that can be used for countless knitted and crocheted items. In fact, the Red Heart brand reported that their worsted yarn called Super Saver had been its best-seller 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 is Worsted Weight 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 can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll find multiple brands, and expectedly, there are high-quality and low-quality ones. As such, below are some of the most popular and established worsted yarn brands:
USA Worsted Weight Yarn Brands
- Lion Brand
- Knit Picks
- Mary Maxim
UK Worsted Weight Yarn Brands
- Laxtons Specialist Yarns
- Black Isle Yarns
- Town End Yarns
Australian Worsted Weight Yarn Brands
- 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 popularly utilized in the crocheting and knitting industries. To make the most out of it and enjoy its benefits, pair it with the right hook or needle size. We hope that we have helped you answer what is worsted weight yarn when you can use it, and how to identify it.