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Worsted Weight Yarn – A Complete Guide

You have probably heard about this widely popular yarn. In this post, I share all the answers for the question – What is Worsted Weight Yarn?

balls of multicolored yarn

What is it?

Worsted Weight yarn described as a best friend for knitters and crocheters. It is popular because of its medium weight/thickness, ease to work with and knits up quickly without too much bulk.

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

A versatile yarn for almost any knitted project and a strongly suggested weight to begin with when you’re just learning how to knit.

According to The Craft Yarn Council of America’s Standard Yarn Weight System, this yarn is in the medium category and defined by the symbol number 4 on the packaging. Also known by the names Afghan and Aran weight. The Craft Yarn Council has information available on all sorts of helpful tips.

Often when shopping for this kind of yarn, you will find the number 4 symbol on the ball label. It is thicker than fingering, DK Weight Yarn, Double Knitting, Sport weight yarn or 8ply yarn and thinner than Bulky weight yarn, Chunky or 12ply yarn.

It comes in a multitude of amazing colors and the knitted fabric it creates is not too bulky. The stitch definition is clear and prominent using this weight of yarn. Perfect for when you want your beautiful knitting skill to be showcased. Designers love using this yarnweight.

Table of Contents

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 used with permission.)
Follow @kalamandah for more yarn goodness.

People will use this yarn weight to test new techniques or stitches, as the beauty of this yarn is how it shows stitch definition. If you are a beginner knitter, using a light shaded yarn is a good idea. It is so much simpler to see mistakes.

Use this weight of yarn to create any number of knitted projects and garments. One of the best things about this yarn weight is it is easily substituted. Due it’s popularity, you’ll have plenty of substitution options to choose from!

worsted weight yarns from Knit Picks

Uses of This Popular Yarn

An unlimited number of knitting projects use this weight of yarn. These items include afghans, sweaters, cardigans scarves, cowls, hats, gloves, mittens, dish cloths, sock patterns, baby blankets and home decors such as throws and cushion covers and toys.

There are no limitations to what type of worsted-weight yarn you can knit with. With an economical price point and variety on offer, using this yarn for gifts is a great choice.

Here’s one easy accessories project to do with one skein. Learn To Knit A Headband pattern and tutorial by the talented Knitwear Designer Chandi of Expression Fiber Arts. Chandi’s video tutorial is very easy to follow and this is perfect for beginners.

What is it Made From?

They are often made from:

  • Cotton / synthetic blends
  • Wool (like Malabrigo’s Merino Worsted)
  • Alpaca (like Rowan Lima)
  • Acrylic (like Red Heart Super Saver, Cascade Cherub yarn, Caron’s Simply Soft)
  • Or wool / synthetic combinations.

The History

The yarn is named for the village of Worstead in Norfolk, England. As far back as the 12th century, this town was producing smooth, even yarn and was a hub for spinning fiber. The term ‘worsted’ comes from a particular spinning method.

Wool Processing and Spinning: Worsted vs Woolen:

The word “worsted” does not always refer to a yarn weight. It can also refer to a technique of processing wool — the worsted method, as opposed to the woolen method. The worsted process involves combing all the short hairs out of the fiber. The same length fibers are then spun to be parallel to each other, making a dense yarn.

What Needles To Use

Recommended Needle in Metric Size Range = 4.5— 5.5 mm

Recommended Needle U.S. Size Range = 7 to 9

Lace knitting with this yarn requires going up several sizes. Use size 6.0mm to 8.0mm to create open lacework.

If knitting socks, potholders or dish towels, which need a tighter tension, go down several sizes to a 3.25 to 4.0 mm needle.

Of course, knitting needle size or hook can vary based on your knitting/crochet gauge. For more about knitting needles and checking your gauge read our knitting needles guide.

If you also crochet the Craft Yarn Council guidelines recommends using crochet hooks in the 5.5–6.5 mm size range (I–9 to K–10 1/2.

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The Benefits

  • As mentioned before, it is a go to yarn for many knitters because worsted yarn has great stitch definition It is not too light or heavy, being a medium weight it will keep you warm and snug without bulk.
  • Being so widely available, worsted yarn is easier to use different brands in the one project. The thickness doesn’t vary too much between brands.
  • Great for those of you on a budget as the amount of knitted fabric you get is a more than if you choose bulky yarns. Meaning you won’t have to purchase as many balls.
  • Worsted is a fabulous choice for color work knitting. Stranding which is the technique used in Fair Isle patterns for example, allows for smooth and clean floats. Floats are the lengths of yarn that will lay nice and flat on the wrong side of the work.
  • One of the yarn weights that is quick to knit up
  • The durability and strength of the threads with this type of yarn means it will last the distance. Of course you will need to take proper care of your knitted garments to make sure of this.
  • Plenty of knitting patterns and kits are available using this yarn.

So there you have it. A versatile and durable medium weight yarn. Worsted yarn is perfect for knitting beginners.

Now It’s Your Turn…

I’d like to hear what you have to say. What did you think about today’s guide?

Or maybe you have a question. Either way let me know by leaving a comment below right now or send me a message on twitter.

You can also contact me here.

About Jodie Morgan

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

I created Knit Like Granny to help show 1,000,000 people the benefits of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

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

Please say hello!

6 thoughts on “Worsted Weight Yarn – A Complete Guide”

  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 Lynda. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. That would be disappointing. Have you found any worsted weight yarns that you love?

    • Hi Karen. Thanks for your question. The Craft Yarn Council say that yarn labeled Aran and Worsted are the same weight. So you would be able to use Aran or Worsted weight yarn interchangeably. Sometimes you might find slight variations, so it is always best to do a swatch to check your gauge meets the pattern requirements. Cheers Jodie

    • Hi Jacob, thanks for getting in touch. In the UK the equivalent yarn weight for Worsted Weight yarn is labeled as Aran. Cheers Jodie


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