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Guide to Worsted Weight Yarn

Worsted weight yarn is a common crafting yarn for knitters and crocheters alike. But what is worsted weight yarn, exactly? How is it best used, and how do you choose the right one for your project? Look no further – I’ll answer all of your worsted weight yarn questions right here!

Guide to Worsted Weight Yarn

Worsted weight yarn is some of the most popular yarn on the market. And for a good reason! It’s versatile, easy to work with, and comes in a wide variety of colors and fibers. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about worsted weight yarn, from what it is to what projects it’s best suited for.

We’ll also provide tips on working with worsted weight yarn and getting the most out of your knitting or crochet experience. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced crafter, read on for all you need to know about worsted weight yarn!

What is Worsted Weight Yarn?

Worsted weight yarn is a medium-weight yarn that sits in between light and bulky yarns. Worsted weight yarn falls into the Craft Yarn Council’s 4/Medium category.

You may also hear it referred to as “afghan” or “aran” weight yarn, or as “10-ply yarn” in Australia and the UK. If you’re shopping for this type of yarn, look for the term “Worsted” or the Category 4 symbol on the yarn label.

Worsted yarn comes in various fibers, textures, and colors. You can purchase it in a skein, a hank, or even a yarn “cake.”

Where does the name “worsted” come from?

The name “worsted” comes from a particular spinning method used to create the yarn. The process involves combing the fibers before they are spun, which creates a smooth and durable finish.

Nowadays, the term “worsted” is also used to refer to the weight category of the yarn.

several bundles of blue and green yarn arranged from thinnest to thickest yarn weight, with cyc yarn weight symbols

Characteristics of Worsted Weight Yarn

Let’s take a close look at the characteristics of worsted weight yarn.

CYC Category

As we mentioned, worsted weight yarn falls into Category 4/Medium of the Craft Yarn Council’s standardized yarn weight system. This means it is thicker than a Category 3/Light (or DK) yarn but thinner than a Category 5/ Bulky yarn.

The exact size needles or hooks to use with worsted weight yarn will depend on your project.

But in general, the recommended knitting needle size for worsted weight yarn is a US size 7 to 9 (4.5-5.5 mm). The recommended crochet hook size is US size I-9 to K-10 1⁄2 (5.5 – 6.5 mm).

But remember, this is just a guide – you may need to go up or down a needle/hook size depending on your gauge and the pattern you’re using.

You may want to size up in order to create an airy, open fabric, or size down to create a tighter, sturdier fabric. As always, check your pattern to see which size needle or hook the designer recommends.

Gauge

When knitting with worsted yarn, expect a gauge of 16-20

stitches per 4-inches of stockinette stitch. When crocheting, expect a gauge of 11-14 stitches per 4-inches of single crochet.

Of course, this is just an average – your gauge may differ depending on the needle/hook size you’re using and your personal tension.

Meters/Yards per 100g

Worsted weight yarn typically has 170-240 yards per 100g skein. The exact yardage will depend on the fiber content of the yarn. Be sure to check the yarn label for exact details.

WPI

WPI refers to “wraps per inch.” Most worsted weight yarns have a WPI of between 9 and 12.

To measure the WPI of a worsted weight yarn, wrap the yarn around a ruler or other thin object. Count how many times you can wrap the yarn within one inch, and that will give you the WPI.

Ply

Ply refers to the number of strands of yarn that are twisted together to create the finished yarn. However, ply is not always an accurate indicator of a yarn’s thickness – two-ply yarns can actually be thicker than some six or eight-ply yarns!

So, while some countries refer to worsted yarn as 10-ply yarn, it doesn’t mean it necessarily is made of 10 plies. You’ll find plenty of examples of worsted weight yarns that have between four and eight plies. 

What is Worsted Yarn Used for?

Now that we know all about worsted weight yarn, let’s talk about some of the projects it’s typically used for.

Worsted weight yarn is a great choice for a wide variety of projects. It’s strong and durable, making it ideal for items that will get a lot of wear, like sweaters, scarves, afghans, and hats.

It works equally well for accessories like scarves and hats as it does for garments like sweaters and cardigans. And because it comes in so many different colors, textures, and fiber contents, you’re sure to find the perfect yarn for any project.

Why would you want to use worsted weight yarn?

There are many reasons why you might want to use worsted weight yarn. Here are some of the most common reasons:

It’s versatile. Worsted weight yarn can be used for a wide variety of projects, from garments to accessories.

It’s widely available. You can find worsted weight yarn in just about any yarn store – and even some regular craft stores.

It’s easy to work with. Worsted weight yarn is the perfect choice for beginner knitters and crocheters. It’s thick enough that it’s easy to see the stitches and works up relatively quickly.

It comes in many different colors, textures, and fiber contents. You’re sure to find the perfect yarn for any project.

4 skeins of yarn in a wire basket

There are many different worsted weight yarns on the market. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Cascade 220: This is a classic 100% wool yarn. It’s available in a ton of colors, and is perfect for just about any project.
  • Malabrigo Rios: This superwash merino wool yarn is soft, squishy, and comes in beautiful variegated colors.
  • Lily Sugar’n Cream: This 100% cotton yarn is soft, absorbent, and comes in a wide range of colors, from solids to prints.
  • Berroco Vintage: This wool/acrylic blend yarn is machine-washable, making it ideal for projects that will get a lot of wear.
  • Knit Picks Wool of the Andes: This 100% wool yarn is affordable and comes in a wide range of colors, from solids to heathers.
  • Knit Picks Swish Worsted: This 100% superwash merino wool yarn is soft, squishy, and comes in a wide range of colors.
  • Lion Brand Wool-Ease: This is a super popular wool-blend yarn that combines the warmth and softness of wool with the easy care of acrylic.

How to Check if Your Yarn is Worsted Weight

The simplest way to see if your yarn is worsted weight is to check the yarn label. Most yarn labels will list the weight of the yarn, as well as the recommended gauge.

If you don’t have a label (for example, if you’re using leftover yarn from a previous project or inherited a collection from your grandma’s basement), don’t worry! There are a few other ways to tell if your yarn is worsted weight:

WPI:  Wrap the yarn around a ruler or another thin object, such as a pencil. Lay the strands next to each other, covering one inch of length. Count the number of times you wrap the yarn in one inch to give you the WPI (wraps per inch).

Worsted weight yarn should have between 9-12 wraps per inch.

Gauge: Another way to tell if your yarn is worsted weight is to make a gauge swatch. The gauge is the number of stitches and rows you should have in one square inch of knitting.

If you’re knitting, use 4.5-5.5mm (or US size 7-9) needles. Work up a few rows using a stockinette stitch. Then, see if you get a stitch gauge of 16-20 stitches per 4 inches.

Or, if you’re working up a crochet swatch, you should have 11-14 single crochet stitches for 4 inches (or 10 cm) of your swatch.

Worsted Yarn FAQs

Here are some common questions about worsted yarn.

Can I substitute worsted weight yarn for another weight?

Yes, you can usually substitute worsted weight yarn for another weight. However, it’s important to check the gauge to ensure that your project will turn out the correct size.

Is worsted weight the same as aran weight?

Worsted yarn and aran yarn are very similar and are sometimes used interchangeably.

But, even though worsted weight and aran weight yarn are in the same CYC category, they may not be the same exact weight. Aran weight yarn is usually just a little bit thicker than worsted weight yarn.

What’s the difference between worsted and DK yarn?

DK yarn is a little bit thinner than worsted weight yarn. DK yarn is a Category 3/Light yarn, while worsted yarn is a Category 4/ Medium yarn.

Is worsted weight yarn 4 ply?

Worsted weight can be 4-ply, which means it’s made up of four strands of yarn twisted together. However, worsted weight can also be single ply, 2-ply, or more.

If you’re asking this question, you might be thinking of how worsted weight yarn is sometimes referred to as 10-ply yarn in Australia and the UK. In this case, 10-ply just means that the yarn is worsted weight. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the yarn is made up of 10 strands.

How can I substitute for worsted weight yarn?

Whether you can’t find a worsted yarn that suits your project, or you just want to use up some other yarn from your stash, there are a few ways to substitute for worsted weight yarn.

First, you may be able to get away with substituting aran weight yarn. Since aran and worsted are both medium-weight yarns in the same weight category (Category 4), they can often be used interchangeably.

Secondly, if your project isn’t size-specific, you may also be able to substitute DK yarn. This type of substitution would work best for projects like dishcloths, where the finished size isn’t that critical.

Another way that’s often recommended is to hold two strands of fingering yarn or sport weight yarn together to get the same gauge as worsted yarn. 

No matter which option you choose, we always recommend working up a gauge swatch to see whether your substitute will be satisfactory and your project will work up to the correct size.

What is the best worsted weight yarn?

The best worsted weight yarn is the one that’s perfect for your project. There are many different types of worsted weight yarns to choose from, so take a look at the list of our favorites in the post above.

Where can I buy worsted weight yarn?

Worsted weight yarn is available at most craft stores, as well as online. Some of our favorite places to buy worsted weight yarn are KnitPicks, WeCrochet, Lion Brand, and LoveCrafts.

Thank you for reading our guide to worsted weight yarn. We hope you found it helpful! If you have any questions that we didn’t answer, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you out. Happy crafting!