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Worsted Weight Yarn – A Complete Guide To This Yarn Weight

I have answers to – What is Worsted Weight Yarn? Information on why and when to use it and recommended needle sizes to this thicker weight yarn.

balls of multicolored yarn

My Quick Recommendations

All of the above have excellent reviews from fellow crafters.

Table of Contents

What Is It?

Worsted Weight yarn is a best friend for any knitter and crocheter.

  • Medium weight yarn/thickness
  • Easy to work
  • Knits up quickly without much bulk
  • Many amazing colors
  • Great stitch definition
  • Showcase your beautiful skills
  • Designers love using this yarn weight

Also known as

  • Afghan weight yarns
  • Aran weight yarns,
  • Aran chunky yarn.

Major yarn manufacturers Lion Brand and Bernat claim this weight of yarn is their most popular yarn.

A versatile yarn weight for any knitted project and beginner projects.

According to The Craft Yarn Council Standard Yarn Weight System

  • Yarn weight is the medium category
  • Symbol number 4

You’ll find the number 4 symbol on the ball label. (Yarn label.)

This yarn weight system is used by all yarn companies, regardless of country.

worsted weight yarns from Knit Picks

It’s thicker than

  • Lace weight
  • Fingering (super fine)
  • DK Weight Yarn
  • Double Knitting
  • Baby
  • Crochet thread
  • Sport yarn
  • 8ply yarn

Thinner than

  • Bulky weight yarn
  • Super Chunky
  • 12ply yarn weights

Light worsted is weight No. 3, aka DK or 8ply.

Why Use This Versatile Yarn?

Wanda at Silly Sheep Designs worsted weight multi-colored yarn
Wanda at Silly Sheep Designs worsted weight multi-colored yarn. (Image shared with permission.)
Follow @kalamandah for more yarn goodness.

Use this yarn weight to test new techniques or stitches. If you’re a beginner knitter, use lightly shaded yarn. It’s easier to see mistakes.

Use this weight of yarn to create any knitted projects and garments.

This yarn weight is easily substituted, you have plenty of options to choose from! Yarn Manufacturers make it easy with a vast range.

Uses of This Popular Yarn

There’s an endless variety of inspiration!

  • Afghans
  • Sweaters
  • Cardigans
  • Scarves
  • Shawls
  • Cowls
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Mittens
  • Dishcloths
  • Sock patterns
  • Baby blankets
  • Baby items
  • Home decor
  • Throws
  • Cushion covers
  • Toys

There are no limitations to the selection of what you knit with worsted weight yarn. Using this yarn for gifts is the way to go.

Here’s one easy accessories project to do with one skein.

Learn To Knit A Headband pattern and video tutorial by the talented Knitwear Designer Chandi of Expression Fiber Arts.

What Is It Made From?

  • Cotton / synthetic blends
  • Wool (like Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Cascade Yarns & Plymouth Yarn)
  • Alpaca (like Rowan Lima)
  • Acrylic (Berroco, Red Heart Super Saver, Cascade Cherub yarn, Caron’s Simply Soft)
  • Wool / synthetic combinations (like with nylon for sock yarn)

The History

The yarn is named for the Worstead village in Norfolk, England. As far back as the 12th century, this town produced smooth, even yarn and was a hub for spinning fiber.

Wool Processing and Spinning: Worsted vs Woolen:

The word “worsted” doesn’t always refer to yarn weight. It also means a wool processing technique — the worsted method, instead of the woolen method.

The worsted process involves combing the short hairs out of the fiber. The same length fibers are spun parallel to each other, making a dense yarn.

What Knitting Needles To Use

  • Metric Needle Size Range = 4.5-5.5mm
  • (American) U.S. Needle Size Range = 7-9
  • United Kingdom Size Range = 8-6
  • Knitting Gauge Range in Stockinette Stitch to 4″ – 16–20 sts
  • Crochet Hooks – 5.5–6.5 mm s (I–9 to K–10 1/2)
  • Lace knitting – size 6.0mm-8.0mm
  • Knitting socks, potholders, or dish towels – 3.25-4.0mm

Note: The above are guidelines only.

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Knitting needle size or hook vary based on your knitting/crochet gauge. It’s essential to make a gauge swatch first before beginning a project.

See what tension and sized fabric you create and scale the knitting needle size up or down as necessary.

The Benefits

  • Worsted yarn has great stitch definition.
  • Not too light or heavy; being a medium weight,
  • Keeps you warm and snug without bulk.
  • Thickness doesn’t vary much between brands.
  • Great if on a budget. The amount of knitted fabric is more than if you choose bulky yarns. You don’t have to purchase as many balls.
  • Worsted weight is a fabulous choice for colorwork knitting.
  • One of the quick to knit up yarn weights
  • Easy care with superwash wool variants
  • The durability and strength of this type of yarn means it lasts the distance.
  • Plenty of knitting patterns and kits available

Now you have all the knowledge on this versatile and durable medium-weight yarn. Worsted weight yarn is perfect for knitting beginners.

What have you knitted with this yarn? Tell me in the comments.

About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie Morgan, owner and creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m real :) ) Thanks for being here.

I started Knit Like Granny to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

I love knitting and have met so many fabulous knitters through this site. I enjoy learning and helping others discover the joys of working with yarn.

Please say hello!

9 thoughts on “Worsted Weight Yarn – A Complete Guide To This Yarn Weight”

  1. I have trouble finding yarn that behaves as worsted wt yarn used to. And it always errors to the skimpy skinny side. My guess is that manufacturers are going for yardage and count on most people knitting scarves and Afghans

    • Hi Karen. Craft Yarn Council states yarn labeled Aran and Worsted are the same weight. Always do a swatch to check your gauge meets the pattern requirements. Cheers Jodie

  2. Aran is 100% Wool & is itchy especially to my Grandchildren. What Yarn is good to sub for this that is soft to the feel in the Worsted Yarn. I have an Aran Knitting Pattern for a pullover Sweater my Grandaughter wants me knit. She is age 8 wears a size 7 USA sweaters . Question is would a size 26-28 inch Aran size be a good fit for her.

    Appreciate any advice you can give me. Thank you. Christina.

    • Hi Christina. Try acrylic worsted weight yarn (like Red Heart Super Saver, Cascade Cherub yarn, or Caron’s Simply Soft). Comfy Worsted is a 75% cotton/25% acrylic yarn from Knit Picks. Any yarn substitution should be swatched first. Before knitting the entire sweater, wash and block the swatch. As far as what size would be best for your granddaughter, I’m no expert, so I’ll ask my readers. Cheers Jodie

    • Hi Christina. I asked on Ravelry, as there are many knowledgeable and knitters. Here are their responses:

      – I’m knitting a cardigan for my granddaughter, who’s 8. Since I don’t see her often, I work from measurements her parents send me. Her chest measurement is only 21″, so I’m doing the size 26″ chest. I have to knit the body and sleeves longer than the pattern calls for. I asked for the length from wrist to underarm and underarm to the bottom of the cardigan. It’s hard to get her parents to measure her! After I sent my granddaughter a tape measure, she asked them to measure her and send the measurements back.

      – Additionally, how quickly does she knit and how complex is the pattern? Since it’s July, she has several months before she can wear it. Some of us have multiple projects going, which can influence the timing. Some aran knitting can be fairly simple, especially if she’s using a thicker yarn. Worked in a lighter weight yarn, a complicated pattern may take a while. Could you encourage her to join Ravelry so we can talk directly with her? We don’t bite! And we love to help.

      – If your reader can’t get an actual measurement, the (US) Craft Yarn Council says a 26-28” chest measurement is Child Size 8-10. But since kids grow so quickly, err on the side of slightly bigger-than-current measurements.

      – You might make it with a bit more positive ease and the sleeves and body a bit on the long side – or knit the sweater so the hem and cuff are worked downwards so you could lengthen if needed.

      Hope these help. Cheers Jodie


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